12 Tips to Pass the Use of English and Reading for Cambridge B2 First and C1 Advanced Exams

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12 Tips to Pass the Use of English and Reading for Cambridge B2 First and C1 Advanced Exams

Cambridge Exams Tips With Dave, Beth and Lucy from Taylor School and Adriana from Expert English.  Links: Exam day tips and podcast, sample papers B2 First, sample papers C1 advanced , cursos presenciales y por Skype.

Tip 1 – Know the parts of the exam

There are 4 parts to the Use of English Exam

Use of English parts:

Part 1: Multiple choice cloze – gapped text with 4 options for each gap.

Part 2: Open choice cloze – gapped text with no options.

Part 3: Word formation – gapped text with a given word that you have to change to fit the sentence.

Part 4: Key word transformation – complete a gapped sentence so it means the same as the first sentence including a ‘key word’ that they give you.

Tip 2 – Go with what sounds natural (for part 1)

You have 4 words and you have to choose the best word. Read the sentence with each word in the gap. Eliminate the ones that definitely don’t fit. The more you read the easier it will be.

Tip 3 – Don’t look for long complicated words (for part 2)

The word is usually a preposition, linking word, auxiliary verb, article.

Tip 4 – Look at the sentence (part 3), look at the gap and decide what kind of word is missing: verb, noun, adverb, adjective etc.

Also be careful with opposites. Prefixes and suffixes often make meanings the opposite.

Tip 5 – Watch out for stupid mistakes (part 3)

Make sure you conjugate the verb, does the noun need to be plural? Be careful with spellings e.g. careful, carefully.

Tip 6 –You get 2 points for each answers (part 4)

Even if you don’t know, try. You might get a point.

Tip 7 – Identify what the question is looking for (part 4)

Each question is testing your knowledge of two things (phrasal verbs, active to passive, direct to indirect speech, etc). Look at the ‘key word’ as it often gives you a clue. Practice this a lot.


Reading parts:

Part 5 – Multiple choice

Part 6 – Gapped text

Part 7 – Multiple matching – You have four similar texts and you have to match sentences to the texts

Tip 8 – Don’t waste time.

Don’t try to understand every word or every sentence. If there’s something that you really don’t know, simply move on to the next question. If you really don’t know – put any answer. You don’t lose points for a wrong answer. You don’t have to do the pasts in order: Save the difficult tasks for lasts. Practice taking the exam in exam conditions.

Tip 9 – In the gapped text (part 6) look for clues

Obviously the meaning of the sentence is what you’re looking for but to check the sentence is in the correct place pay close attention to pronouns, linking words, articles (this, these, they, he, she, it, however, although) and make sure they match. These are the clues that some people ignore.

Tip 10 – Each question is only worth half (part 7)

There are 10 questions worth a total of 5 points.

Tip 11 – Underline key words in the questions and in the text.

This will help you find the answers faster.

Tip 12 – Leave time to transfer the answers to the answer sheet

The examiners will tell you when you have 10 and 5 minutes left. Use this time to transfer your answers. The question sheet is destroyed after the exam so they only look at the answers on your answer sheet.


Use of English Quiz

Part 1

The Norwegian town of Rjuken lies along the floor of a narrow valley …………… by sheer mountains.

closed     contained     surrounded     shut

Because of its location the town, with its 3,400 ………., has in the past lived in shadow for half the year.

totals   populations   numbers   inhabitants


Part 2

The homing instinct is what makes certain animals, birds and fish return …………… the place they consider home.

Cats often have this instinct. It was particularly strong in an American cat called ninja which disappeared shortly……….. its owners had taken it to it’s new home.


Part 3


It was warm, round, had a ………. view of a lake and appears to have been occupied for several hundred years.


Welcome to the oldest house in the UK, which was found with other fascinating relics ……….. at a site in Yorkshire.


Part 4

A very friendly taxi driver drove us into town


We ………………… a very friendly taxi driver.


I haven’t decided what sort of job I’d like to do when I leave college.


I haven’t made …………………. the sort of job I’d like to do when I leave college.


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