A Message from Andrew Girardin, creator of cae exam tips

You might have seen that I recommend italki (to have online lessons with great teachers) and Grammarly (to improve your writing).

This page is where I tell you about other resources that might help you. The textbooks I use in my class, some opportunities for listening practice, and reviews of some smartphone apps.

If you want to buy a book, please disable adblockers and refresh the page - that way, the links will take you to your local Amazon store (UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, USA).

My Online Course

I made an online course! It’s so awesome it’s hard to describe in words. I wrote a short article about it, or you can go directly to my online English course website. There’s a unit you can try for free.

Lessons With Me

At the moment the only way to get lessons with me is by coming to stay in my Airbnb flat and having private lessons.

Books for CAE students



The best CAE coursebook is Ready for Advanced by Roy Norris. (It used to be called Ready for CAE but Cambridge changed the name of the exam.) It teaches all the grammar and vocabulary you need to pass the exam, plus most exercises are formatted exactly the same as in the exam.

That means you're getting exam practice while you're learning English. Perfect!

I use this with all my CAE students and I even use it with students who don't want to take the exam, because the reading texts are interesting and there's great variety in the topics.

The workbook would make a great additional purchase - it repeats and recycles the grammar and vocabulary from the coursebook - doubling your chance of remembering what you study! I promise my students that if they finish the coursebook plus the workbook they will pass the exam, and so far it has always been true.

When exam time comes close, you want to do practice tests. That's when you turn to the official Cambridge exam books.

They are expensive. You can save money by buying them without the CDs, but that only makes sense if you know someone who can lend you their CDs.



The final book I use is called English Vocabulary in Use. It's from Cambridge University Press (maybe they know something about Cambridge exams?) and it's divided into topics like 'money', 'sports', 'British vs American' etc. The left-hand page explains all the new vocabulary, the right-hand page has 4 or 5 exercises.

If vocabulary is your main weakness, this is a good choice.




Almost any kind of reading will benefit you - reading a magazine will help you with vocabulary and reading Harry Potter will reinforce all kinds of sentence structures (reported speech; inversions; conditionals!).

'Holes' is a book that everyone will enjoy. Don't read any reviews, don't check the story on Wikipedia, just buy it, read it, then write to me and tell me how great it was.

It's the best decision you will ever make!

Listening Practice


My girlfriend hates audiobooks - she says she can't focus on them. For normal people with healthy concentration spans, audiobooks are a great way to practice listening skills.

And I love 'em - I've got more than 100 audiobooks in my collection. (Including all the Harry Potter books read by Stephen Fry, about half of the Terry Pratchett books, and the next ones I want to buy are the Game of Thrones series.)

My students who regularly listen to things in English (audiobooks, How I Met Your Mother, BBC radio, etc) do better in listening exercises than those who don't. It's simple.

Pop down to your local library or second-hand store and see what’s available. I live in the middle of nowhere and there are loads here. There are also loads on


I am totally addicted to podcasts - it's like a radio show but you can listen whenever you want. iPhone users already have a podcast app, but there are lots to choose from. Whichever app you use, check out This American Life; Planet Money; and anything from the BBC. (Let me know if you find anything you think would be really helpful for other CAE students.)


Smartphone Apps


A simple vocabulary builder. Free, and some students really like it. Here's my video review of Magoosh.


Google Translate

Just phenomenal! Everyone has their own favourite electronic dictionary but only Google Translate has features that make people's jaws drop. Watch me use it in this video. No - I haven't used Photoshop to change anything! It's really happening!