1. Introduction

The Reading and Use of English paper is about grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. There are 8 sections to do in 90 minutes, so it will test your speed and concentration, too.

2. Changes in 2015

The Reading and Use of English sections have been squashed together. Now you have 8 tasks to do in 90 minutes. The new format avoids some repetition that was in the old-style exam.

3. What these pages will teach you

  • Why you shouldn't start with section 1
  • How to prepare
  • How to improve your time management
  • The importance of spelling
  • Which answers are the most common
  • Some tips and tricks

4. The Order

One of the main tips for this part of the exam is the order you do the 8 sections. 99% of students start at part 1 and finish with part 8. But is that really the best way? Take a look at the answer sheet:

cambridge examen

If you're naturally good at exams, your eyes will have been drawn to the different types of answers required. Part 1 is multiple choice and for part 2 you need to write a word. Which should you do first? Part TWO. Why? Because if you run out of time at the end, you can quickly fill in part 1 with random answers (or just choose B every time - that's what I do!). You don't lose anything for a wrong answer and you might get a couple more points. However, there's no way you will get extra points by guessing words for part 2.

cambridge grammar

Parts 2, 3, and 4 all have fields where you must write one or more words. You should do these first.

Next, there are some parts of the exam where you either know the answer or you don't. There's not much point wasting time on the answers you don't know. Use that time on other parts of the test where you can make 'educated guesses'.

So for those reasons I propose you do the test in this order:

cambridge tests

Start with part 4. Do it quickly. You either know the answer or you don't. Don't waste time here.

Go to part 3. Spend a bit more time here. You can lose 'easy' points by being careless.

Part 2 has a lot of 'you know it or you don't' kind of questions, so do it quickly.

Next is part 1. It's also one with 'I know this' or 'I have no idea' type questions. Race through this part.

Then you can do parts 5 to 8 in whatever order you want, and you should have a fair amount of time left in the bank.

5. Time Management

90 mins. It's the length of a football match or some movies. In this time you have to read and understand 3,500 words of text, use grammar, answer tough comprehension questions... Time management is the difference between a pass and a fail! Here at CAE Exam Tips we recommend you use the 80/20 rule to help you.

advanced english test

The 80/20 rule says that 20% of your time gives you 80% of your results. When you get dressed in the morning you spend 2 minutes putting on your clothes and 8 minutes getting your hair just perfect. When you get a new phone you spend 2 hours learning how to use it, and 8 hours changing the wallpaper and the ringtone...

What this means in the CAE exam is - go through the exam as fast as you can, because you will get 80% of your final score quite quickly. Then with the time you have at the end you can try to answer those other questions you weren't quite sure about.

6. Titles

Almost every part of the Reading and Use of English test has a title. There is a reason for this - titles help you to quickly know what you are about to read. If you don't read the title you are just making life hard for yourself!

7. A warning about examples

The Use of English sections (parts 1-4) come with examples. These are for students who know nothing about the CAE exam before they enter the room. Amazingly, such people exist! For someone like you, who is a bit more serious about life, these example questions are just a time sink. (A hole in the ground that sucks in your time.) You MUST NOT waste your time by trying to think of the answer to the questions marked zero.

cambridge english exam

8. Is spelling important?



In the next sections we'll go into more detail about the different parts of the Reading and Use of English paper.