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Reading


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Reading


CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH TEST


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?

Yes.

 

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


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Reading 1 and 2


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Reading 1 and 2


CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 1


1. Let's Get Started

If you read the introduction to the Reading and Use of English exam you'll know that we recommend you start by doing part 4. But so that we don't confuse everyone, these tips will be presented in 'normal' exam sequence. Part 1 is about vocabulary with some grammar. You are given a text with some words missing - you must rebuild the text by choosing the correct word from a choice of 4. To make it even more fun, the 4 choices are usually quite similar.


2. Tips

  • Nothing prepares you for the Reading test better than reading. Read a lot. Candidates who often read in English (for work, for fun) find this part of the test manageable, while those who never read tend to find it very hard.
  • If you are 100% sure that two of the 4 choices are completely identical, then neither can be the answer. There is always only one word that fits grammatically and has the right meaning.
  • Remember not to waste time thinking of the answer to the example! The missing word is shown right above the headline (in the grey box).
  • Double-check every sentence for prepositions that might link to the missing word. For example: some verbs are always followed by 'for', others are never followed by 'for'. If the word 'for' is in the sentence, it's likely to be important.
  • A great book that helps with this part of the exam is CAE Testbuilder. It has 4 exams inside, but the best part is that it explains why the right answers are right, and why the wrong answers are wrong. Very, very useful.

3. A Part 1 Case Study

Here's the start of an example Reading test 1 from Cambridge. (In the real exam there's another paragraph and 2 more gaps to fill.)

CAE handbook

And here are the first 6 sets of words to choose from.

cambridge english

Here's how a good student (you) should do it:

1) Read the title. It's about black bears. Do you know anything about black bears? (You probably know a lot about black beers, but that might not help here.) Maybe you know that black bears are scary and can climb trees.

2) Quickly read the text. Reading the two paragraphs gives us an idea of the topic - the biologist likes bears and doesn't think they are so scary.

3) Look at question 1. Which option collocates with 'trust'? Maybe you think catch trust and win trust sound good, but you're not sure which one is right. Just choose one and go to the next question. This is a part of the test where we don't want to spend too much time.

4) For question 2 you've decided insight or vision both sound good. You aren't sure which one... until you read the sentence again. It says 'into their behaviour'. Into! That links with insight. 'Insight into their behaviour' - yes, it sounds good. Let's choose that.

5) Question 3 - You have read a lot of texts in English and the only one of these words you have ever seen at the start of a sentence is Contrary. You choose that. Lucky you read all those BBC articles!

6) You look at space 4 quickly, and think the answer must be 'desire' - but you double-check for prepositions. Good idea - it says 'for'. You need a verb that precedes 'for'. Well, bother goes with 'with', not 'for'. Hmm... both 'care for' and 'hope for' sound good. Why is CAE so haaaard? Wait a minute - do bears hope for fruit? Of course not, only humans can hope for things. So care for must be the right answer. Am I right? I hope so! 

7) You read the rest of the sentences twice, three times, but you can't think of any answers. You don't know these words. Disaster? Not really - there are lots of other points available in the Reading and Use of English test. You decide to move on to part 2 without wasting any more time here. If you manage your time well, you'll be able to come back here and have another think. And if not, you can just take a guess at the answer. Five or six minutes into the exam, your answer paper looks like this:

cae reading test

3 points you're pretty sure about and one that's 50/50. And you didn't waste a single second of time. Great!



CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 2

In part 2 there is a text with words missing. Whereas in part 1 you pick from a choice of words, in part 2 there is no such help. You have to use your knowledge of grammar to produce the right word.


1. Tips

Write only one word. One! Only! Cambridge consider contractions like 'won't' to be two words (will not), so that will never be an answer in part 2. 

Start by reading the title, then quickly read the whole text. This will help tell you if words should be positive or negative.

Sometimes more than one word might be possible - for example if 'whereas' fits, 'while' might also fit. Either answer is okay, but don't write both.

This is one part of the exam where looking at the answers you get wrong while preparing is a goldmine. In fact, the whole next section is about that.


2. An Incredibly Detailed Analysis of Part 2

I went through every 'open cloze' test in every Cambridge book I could find and made an Excel spreadsheet of all the answers. The results were very interesting and a little bit surprising.

The most common answers were (in order of frequency):

to - being - which - for - with - one - not - as

Do you know the grammar rules behind those words? What sort of sentence uses the word 'to'? If you're reading a book at the moment, would it be useful to take a page and see how many times the word 'to' is used, and maybe study those sentences? Yes! I like the way you think!

Here is a graph showing all the data rather beautifully (might not display correctly on a smartphone):


3. Some advice based on the data

a) If the missing word is at the start of the sentence, ask yourself if a gerund fits. Many answers were -ing forms - having and being were very frequent.

b) Of the relative pronouns, the most common by far was which. Study defining and non-defining relative clauses!

c) 'With' came up frequently, but so did 'without'. That's why you should read the text as a whole before you start thinking of the answers.

d) Similarly, 'if' was very common, but so was 'unless'. Unless means 'if not', so again, reading the whole text to get the writer's opinion is vital!

e) While 'to be' was, naturally, the most common verb and has its own section, other verbs were quite common. Mostly they are verbs which are useful in some advanced grammatical structures. For example, 'have' (and has, had, etc) are useful for making perfect tenses. Do is useful for emphatic language. Take is used in many phrasal verbs.

f) Linking phrases! You need to know these for the writing and speaking parts, but if you have mastered the words whereas, although, however, despite, spite (in the phrase in spite of), there are many easy points to collect in this part of the exam. Also but, so, while, and such things.

g) Prepositions. Everyone's least favourite part of English. Except Cambridge. Cambridge LOVES prepositions. Look for uses of in, of, by, out, before, after, and all the rest. 

h) These words aren't the most frequent, but there will be 3 or 4 in your text - no, there, once, even, suchsince, it, myself (or themselves etc), what, either, and these.

i) The! I was amazed how many times 'the' was the answer. Poor little 'a' was much less common.

 

Try typing those words into dictionary.com - it will give you some example sentences of how the word is used in normal English.


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Reading 3 and 4


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Reading 3 and 4


CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 3 TIPS

This is a Word Formation task which will be familiar to students who did the First Certificate. Word Formation activities test your ability to change one type of word into another, your ability to use prefixes and suffixes, your spelling, and your reading comprehension.

You are given a text with 8 words missing and you must fill in the correct word. It's different from part 2 because in part 3 you are given a base word that you have to change (whereas in part 2 you are given no help).

It looks like this:

* You must put the ___________ word into the gap. MISS

Answer = missing (change MISS into an adjective because it describes 'word', which is a noun)


Step 1 - Understand how to do the task

* It's not one of those tasks where you have to match the left column to the right column:

At the end of every line with a word missing you'll see a word in bold, capital letters. That is the word you must transform to be used in that line. Do not use that word to fill in an answer elsewhere on the page!

* You need to read the whole text to get the writer's opinion on the topic. That's because you'll have to change some of the words into negative forms, and you can't do that if you only read the sentences containing the missing words.

* To do it well you need to understand how sentences are built in English - that means understanding the function of verbs, nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. That sounds hard, but it's really not so bad when you get the hang of it.

* Then you need to learn all the different forms of words. This is the hard part!


2 - Nounspotting

This quick guide is no substitute for getting a proper grammar book, but here are a few quick tips. These things are nouns - names (Captain Jack Sparrow); concepts (time, information); names of jobs or types of people (skiiers, doctors, scientists); things (cheesecake, flowers).

- Sometimes you can't spot a noun based on its ending, but sometimes you can. Look out for: -eer; -tion; -ment, -age, -al, ance, -hood, -iety, -ness, and so on.

- If you have a word which can be made plural or into a possessive form, it's a noun. (Two solutions/ the solution's result = solution is a noun.) Read the part 3 text carefully to check if you need to make your noun plural!

- If you have a determiner in a sentence, look for a noun. If you can't find one that goes with the determiner, the missing word is a noun. Determiners include the, my/your/their (etc), whose, another, other, a/an.

Their ___________ was very clever.  SOLVE

The ____________ was more dangerous than they had expected.  PURSUE

An incredible number of ___________ failed to understand the significance of the study.  SCIENCE

(Answers: solution/pursuit/scientists.)

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3 - Adjectives describe nouns

Adjectives are the most common answers in part 3, slightly ahead of nouns. Look at this:

adjectives for CAE

Red/old/fast are adjectives - they tell us about the noun 'car'. (Notice that adjectives sometimes follow 'to be' - that might be good to remember.)

In the Cambridge exam you won't have such easy words, of course, and it might not always be so clear which noun the adjective refers to.

These collocations are typical of the English used in part 3: 

low temperatures and changeable weather

artificial oxygen and local guides

great benefit

personal point of view

They are all adjective-noun combinations. The best tip to check if a word is an adjective is to quickly transform the sentence so that the word follows 'is'. Example:

The great is benefit. (Ugh! No!)

The benefit is great. (Yes, sounds good. Great is an adjective.)

Or:

The artificial is oxygen. (Please don't! It hurts my ears!)

The oxygen is artificial. (Ah, that's better... artificial is an adjective.)

Common endings for adjectives:

-able; -ible; -al (careful! this works with nouns too); -ial; -ant; -ate; -ative; -ive; -ing; -ed; -ous; -ly (not always an adverb!); -y; -ful; -ness; -ic; -ary; -ory.


4 - How to use an adverb

Your grammar book will deal with advanced usage, but this guide will cover a lot of situations. Adverbs describe verbs, other adverbs and adjectives.

Adverbs used frequently by Cambridge are increasinglyprogressively, dramatically and others which describe the rate of change. Also, they're fond of adverbs that start sentences, such as alternatively,  surprisingly, etc.


5 - Essential verbs

Do you know how to change words into verbs using 'en', 'under', and 'out'?

how to use verbs

My sleeves are too short - I need to lengthen them.

The thrilling music heightened the tension of the final scene. 

The Prime Minister undertook to find a solution to the crisis.

The actress underwent surgery on her nose.

The new album outsold the old album by two to one.

Red crabs outnumber blue crabs.

(After you've learned those, you can start work on verbs formed with over-, down- and up-. !!!)


6 - Positive or Negative

When you've decided if you need a verb/adjective/etc in a space, and you've got an answer, always read the paragraph again to make sure the meaning is correct. A few words on every test will be negative.

CAE word formation

Here's an example from a Cambridge text about climbing Mount Everest:

"During the month of May, ............................. weather presents a number of safe opportunities to make the climb." FAVOUR

Because the text was about Everest, students will quickly fill in 'UNFAVOURABLE'. On careful reading of the sentence, better students realise the word 'safe' is key. The answer therefore should be FAVOURABLE.

The next sentence is:

"As a result, the sheer number of climbers has brought an ............................. problem - overcrowded conditions." EXPECT

An EXPECTED problem? But the last bit of the sentence - overcrowded conditions - is the last thing you'd expect on Mount Everest. So here we need the negative form, UNEXPECTED.

Common negative prefixes:

dis-; in-; im-; il-; un-; il-; de-; mis-

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7 - Further help - CAE Exam Tips videos

 
 


CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 4 TIPS

Alarm! Alarm! Some students think this is the hardest part of the whole exam. And they might be right! It tests a wide range of grammar, vocabulary, and you need to be able to change informal language into formal, active into passive, and more! Can you do this one?

1. Basic Tips

  • The instructions say 'you must use the word given.' It doesn't mean the actual word 'given', it means the word provided! 
  • Use between 3-6 words. Most contractions are 2 words (won't, don't = will not, do not). It might be possible to complete the sentence in a grammatically correct way with 2 words, or with 22 words, but you won't get any points for that!
  • Don't change the word. If the word given is 'TO' you can't use 'INTO'. If the word is 'GO' you can't use 'WENT'.
  • As I said, this section is very hard because there's so much you need to know. But each question is worth 2 points. You might not know the whole answer but sometimes one correct word will give you a point. 
  • Try to keep the same meaning - If the first sentence says 'Tom said...' then don't write 'He said...' in the second sentence.
  • Check your tenses - if the first sentence is in the past tense, the second should be, too!

2. Time Management Flowchart

In the introduction to the Reading and Use of English test we suggested you START the exam by doing part 4, and don't spend too long on it.

Use this flowchart to help you determine how much time to spend on each question:

cae exam tips

3. A Case Study - Thought Process Example

Remember the example question from the intro? It's from the Cambridge CAE handbook. Let's go through it step by step.

If you've studied the word 'spite' before you probably know it comes in the phrase 'in spite of'. So the temptation with this answer is to put 'in spite' before 'of experience'. Something like:

Anna got the job in spite of experience in public relations.

No! That doesn't make any sense. If she had experience in public relations we wouldn't need to use the phrase 'in spite of'. So 'in spite of' has to go at the start. Yes, we have 'of' twice, and it looks weird, but it's the only way.

Anna got the job in spite of .......................... of experience in public relations.

We've used 3 words and can use a maximum of 3 more. But the good news is that we've already got 1 of the 2 points available.

The next part of our answer has to mean 'she didn't have much experience'. How about: 

Anna got the job in spite of not having a lot of experience in public relations.

Sounds good! But it's 7 words. Too many! So we try again. By now I'm anxious to move on to the next question so I'll just think for 15 seconds or so. Fortunately the answer pops into my head right away because I studied really hard:

Anna got the job in spite of her lack of experience in public relations.

 

As you can see, there's a lot involved in this part of the exam. You'll need to study all kinds of grammar, phrasal verbs, set phrases etc etc etc.

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Reading 5 and 6


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Reading 5 and 6


CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 5

Part 5 is a long text with six comprehension questions. Each correct answer is worth 2 points. The text is loooong, the answers all seem to be the same.... it's a test of concentration, understanding, and of your patience. Remember that time you saved in parts 1 to 4? You might burn some of it here... [Note - there's a lot of text in this section - studying this page on a desktop will be much better than on your smartphone.)


1. The basics

  • Read everything: It's not enough to read the text carefully. You have to read the questions and answers carefully too!
  • The answers are sequential. The answer to question 5 comes after the answer to question 4 in the text.
  • The only exception might be the 6th question - sometimes it asks you a question about the whole text. Another reason to read the questions carefully!
  • Leave your own ideas and biases at the door. You might be an expert in the topic - if anything, this is a disadvantage! You have to read the text for what the writer says, not what you assume he says.
  • Always question your answers - overconfidence is especially dangerous in this part of the exam.

2. How to get better

The surest way to improve on this part of the exam is to read a lot in English. My students who read 'for fun' do this part much more quickly, much more accurately, than the students who hate reading. So... read! (There are a lot of things you can read - romantic novels, crime fiction, Game of Thrones. Don't feel you have to read something super boring.)


3. Look out for traps

Everything here is a trap. (Well, 75%.) Why do all the answers seem plausible? Because if you just read the text quickly every answer seems possible. But before you write your answer, remember what Admiral Ackbar says in Star Wars.

cambridge certificates

Common Traps 1 - Who?

Imagine a text that describes how George Lucas irritated his fans by changing Star Wars.

Then there's a question:

How did George Lucas feel about the new version of Star Wars?
A - irritated.

The answer can't be A because it was the FANS who were irritated.

Common Traps 2 - The Most

Questions like this are common: What was his main field of interest? / What was his most valuable painting? / Which subject did he specialise in?

The text might mention several interests, multiple paintings, many subjects. But only one is the main; only one is the most valuable; only one is his specialty.

Common Traps 3 - Suspiciously Obvious Connections

The text says 'The writer canceled his projected holiday.' One of the questions asks, 'What was the writer's attitude to the holiday?' And option A is 'He had foreseen the need to take out travel insurance.' It's a trap! A good student understands that 'projected' and 'foreseen' are similar sorts of word, but this part of the test is about understanding the text, not just individual words. So be suspicious if it is this easy. Reading again, more slowly, leads us to see that the two sentences have nothing to do with each other.


4. A quick case study

Let's take a look at a paragraph and question from the Cambridge CAE handbook. Take a couple of minutes to read the text, the question, and the answers.

This book examines how the ever-changing role of colour in society has been reflected in manuscripts, stained glass, clothing, painting and popular culture. Colour is a natural phenomenon, of course, but it is also a complex cultural construct that resists generalization and, indeed, analysis itself. No doubt this is why serious works devoted to colour are rare, and rarer still are those that aim to study it in historical context. Many authors search for the universal or archetypal truths they imagine reside in colour, but for the historian, such truths do not exist. Colour is first and foremost a social phenomenon. There is no transcultural truth to colour perception, despite what many books based on poorly grasped neurobiology or – even worse – on pseudoesoteric pop psychology would have us believe. Such books unfortunately clutter the bibliography on the subject, and even do it harm.

Q - What problem regarding colour does the writer explain in the first paragraph?

A Our view of colour is strongly affected by changing fashion.

B Analysis is complicated by the bewildering number of natural colours.

C Colours can have different associations in different parts of the world.

D Certain popular books have dismissed colour as insignificant.

 

Whoo! That's a lot of text to read and understand in two minutes. And this is just one question. Now you see why you have to hurry through parts 1-4...

The first thing to look at is answer B, because there doesn't seem to be anything in the text about a 'bewildering number of natural colours'. Scan through the text again looking for words that mean 'a large number' or 'bewildering'. There is 'complex' which some students might connect with bewildering, but nothing about numbers. We can rule B out.

A seems to be possible because of the sentence 'colour is first and foremost a social phenomenon.' Doesn't that mean fashion? Well, no. Fashion is one small component of society. So, no, it's not A.

D also seems plausible, until we read it more carefully. It says 'certain popular books' which means best-selling books, but the text says 'pop psychology'. Pop psychology means 'popular psychology' - which is psychology made simple for the general public to understand. It doesn't mean popular as in best-selling. Furthermore, the pop psychology books say there is a 'transcultural truth to colour perception' - they don't say that colour is insignificant. So we have two reasons to cross out answer D.

So what does 'There is no transcultural truth to colour perception' MEAN, anyway? Transcultural means 'across cultures'. Association can mean perception. So another way to write the sentence would be 'Colour can have different associations in different parts of the world.' Ding ding ding!

cambridge english language


NOT EASY. Make sure you give yourself enough time in the exam to go through this process, and make it easier for yourself by reading as much as you can between now and the exam.


5. Do the homework I set my students


6. Watch me do part 5 on the CAE Exam Tips YouTube channel

I made a video of me trying to do part 5. It was very late when I did the recording and I was very tired. I made some mistakes and didn't follow my own advice, or even the plan I made at the start of the video! It's a bit of a mess, but I think watching me make mistakes might be more useful than watching me be perfect all the time! 



CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 6

In part 6 you read 4 short texts from different writers. You have to answer 4 questions, each worth 2 points. You have to understand each writer's opinion on various topics and compare them with the opinions of the others. You might have to read each text several times, so it could use up a lot of your precious exam minutes.


1. What to expect

There will be a common theme to the 4 articles. Let's take the example of 'food'. Here's a very, very simplified version of what you get. Four texts:

I like wine. Pizza is the best Italian food.
— Writer A
I like wine. Pasta is the best Italian food.
— Writer B
I hate wine, but pizza is the best Italian food.
— Writer C
I hate wine but pizza is much nicer than pasta.
— Writer D

And then 4 questions like this:

Which writer:

[1] - has a different opinion on pizza to all the others?

[2]- says the same thing about wine as writer C?


2. How not to do it

Even in the simple example above it's easy to get things wrong if you go too quickly and don't double-check your answers. For example, for question [1] a lot of students would choose D because it seems to be the most different. But the correct answer is, of course, B - he's the only one who says pasta is the best food. If you only skim read, it's possible to mistake 'pizza' and 'pasta' - we often only see the first and last letters of words.

But there's no possibility of making a mistake on question [2], surely? Well, I'm ashamed to admit that even an exam genius like me made this very stupid mistake the first time I tried one of these 'cross-text multiple matching' activities. I gave the answer 'C' if you can believe it! Of course, C is the one answer it can't possibly be! Embarrassing. But that's what happens when you don't read the questions.


3. It's not that simple

Let's increase the level of difficulty a bit.

Pizza seems to be an omnipresent force in our culture - every romantic movie features a gorgeous young couple laughing and joking over a pizza and glass of rioja. Pizzerias are so ubiquitous that one could well be forgiven for assuming that the cuisine is universally loved. Nothing could be further from the truth; if heaven is a pizza, give me hell any day. It has one redeeming quality - you get a lot of calories for your money.
— Writer A
When American culinary scientists perfected a method of forcing cheese into the crust of a pizza, they achieved the seemingly impossible. They took an already heavenly creation and gave it wings. Italian purists, descendants of the meal’s inventors, may sneer and call it vandalism, but they must count themselves in the minority. The popularity of stuffed-crust pizzas is no flash in the pan. They are here to stay, and rightly so.
— Writer B
The humble pizza - surely the most overrated and overpriced foodstuff on the planet, since it is just some dough, tomatoes, and cheese - has its roots in southern Italy, but has become a worldwide property. It is a dish that belongs to us all, and few, if any, modern tweaks to the recipe come from the land of its birth. The most recent upgrades - thick crusts, stuffed crusts, an almost infinite range of toppings - have all come from the United States in general and New York in particular.
— Writer C

Which writer - 

[1] - expresses a different view to the others about pizza?

[2] - agrees with writer B about the origins of pizza?

[3] - disagrees with writer A about the cost of pizza?

Oooh, that's a lot of text! So let's get straight to the point and start working on those questions. First, we need to work out everyone's opinions on pizza. Read through the texts carefully and you'll see that A would rather go to hell than eat it, B says it is heavenly, and C says it's overrated. (Reminder - in the exam there will be 4 texts, not three.) Which one is different? That's the answer.

For question 2 we have to re-read B and get his opinion about the origins of pizza. What does he say about it? He says Italian purists are the descendants of its inventors. Text A doesn't say anything about where pizza comes from. Text C says it has roots in Southern Italy. B and C say the same thing, which means C is the answer.

And what about the cost? A says pizza is good value for money. B doesn't say anything about the cost of pizza. C says pizzas are overpriced. C is the opposite of A, so there's the answer.


4. More Help

If it isn't completely clear what to do and how to do it, don't panic! I'll be making videos about this part of the exam. Oh! I've done one already. Take a look!


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Reading 7 and 8


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Reading 7 and 8


CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 7


Cambridge calls part 7 a 'gapped text' activity. You get a long text with six paragraphs removed (leaving 6 gaps, hence the name of the task). Your job to is put the paragraphs back into the right place. It's quite hard, and Cambridge make it harder by including an extra paragraph that doesn't fit into any of the spaces.

Part 7 is a hard part of the exam that gets easier the more you practice. 

CAE gapped text

1. A good key fits only one lock

The 'key' to this task is to know that each gap in the text can only be filled by one of the paragraphs. Read any good text and it'll be so full of clues about the structure that you could run it through a shredder and - if you had enough time - recreate it. Don't believe me? The police do it all the time! (see photo)

How to start

Read the whole text. Read all the paragraphs.

Then pay special attention to the sentences before and after the gap - a lot of the most important information will be there. You don't have to start with the first gap - always start with the one you think is going to be easiest and leave the hardest ones till later. The first answer you choose will be a 1 in 7 chance, but the last one is 1 in 2.

But be careful! Sometimes there won't be a clue in the sentence immediately before or after the gap. You really do need to read the whole text to get its meaning - sometimes the 'clue' is the entire paragraph.

 


CAE clue

2. Get a clue

Detectives use clues to fill in gaps. 'Lord Haversham was killed by a left-handed man at 1:25 in the morning... the only person alone at that time was Charles the butler.' You can develop similar skills by looking for clues in your Cambridge part 7 text. 

What sort of clues are in a text? 

  • Names and pronouns (Jack... he... this...)
  • Chronology (Then... Finally...)
  • Quotation marks ("I couldn't believe it.")
  • Contrast words (However, but)
  • Verb tenses (had gone... will have finished)
  • Cause and effect (Therefore... as a result...)
  • Repetition (in other words...)
 

In the next section we'll look at those things in more detail.


3. Fill in those gaps

Let's start filling in gaps by looking for clues!

Names and Pronouns 1

Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack. [1] __________________________. Then he died.

Choose one of these sentences to go in gap [1]:

A - He ate all the chocolate in London.
B - Their house was on a hill.

Okay so that's pretty easy, right? Jack links to 'he', not 'their'. Also, there's a link between eating all the chocolate in London and then dying, so the story has a logical flow.

Names and Pronouns 2

The documentary featured interviews with many of the top scientists in the field. [2] __________________________.  But the story was far from funny, and many viewers wrote to the BBC to complain about its depressing ending.
A - It was watched by 8 million people.
B - One was Simon Baron-Cohen, brother of the famous comedian.

This one is harder. Both answers are attractive - there are lots of possible links. The pronouns help, but are not the complete story. In answer A, 'it' would refer to 'the documentary' while in B, 'one' refers to 'top scientists'. And 8 million people seems to link to the word 'viewers'. But reading the whole text, only answer B makes sense. There's a strong logical link between 'comedian' and 'not funny' and that is revealed by the word 'but'. Which brings us to...


Contrasting phrases

We've seen the power of 'but'. Here's another example:

The website was not immediately popular. [3] __________________________. 
A - However, in 2014 visitor numbers surged and it briefly became the number 1 site in its category.
B - In 2014 visitor numbers surged and it briefly became the number 1 site in its category.

Which do you think creates a better flow to the story? The sentence before [3] is 'negative' so I expect a contrast word or phrase to introduce a 'positive' sentence. Thus, A.


Time phrases

In the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood, actors and actresses were tied to restrictive contracts that put their interests below the interests of the movie studios. [4] __________________________. 
A - These days, however, they are free to choose projects that interest them.
B - More movies are now made in India than in Los Angeles.

Pronouns help us here - 'they' and 'them' in answer A refer to 'actors and actresses'. And we also have help from the time phrase. 'The golden age' is a period of time (if that wasn't clear there's also the past tense 'were tied'), which contrasts (using the contrast phrase 'however') the phrase 'these days'. 

Sentence B might be true, but is irrelevant to the sentence before the gap.


QUOTATION MARKS

A gap or two might be in speech marks ("") - that makes it pretty easy to find the answer (in my opinion, anyway!). Ask yourself: which of the sentences sounds like it was voiced by a real person? If there is a text written in a neutral register and one of the answers has the pronoun 'I' then that has to go inside the quotation marks.

But there was more to his performance than scoring the winning goal. He also motivated his younger teammates, driving them forward, boosting their morale when needed. '[5]_____________________.'
A - He had become a true leader of men.
B - I felt like I was on top of the world, like that woman in that movie.

Answer: B.

AND THE OTHERS?

There are more tips that I could give you about this section, but the best advice is for you to practice this exercise and learn how the answers are chosen. Don't just do the activity and forget about it - think about why those sentences were taken out. What does Cambridge want to test you on?

You and a friend could take a text each, remove some sentences, and test each other. Once you've put the sentences back, you could discuss whether those were the same sentences that Cambridge would remove from the text.


4. Case Study Video

Watch as one of our exam experts (me) does a Cambridge Gapped Text activity.



CAE READING AND USE OF ENGLISH PART 8

Part 8 gives you 4-6 short texts and 10 questions. It's called 'Multiple Matching' because you have to match the ten questions with the short texts. Most students find it easier than the other parts of the reading test and can do it quicker.


1. How to do it, my way

Start by reading the introduction to the task and the title of the texts. The intro will say something like 'You are going to read an article about the importance of money in sports' and the title might be 'Can You Buy a Gold Medal?' Even if you don't like sport you will have some idea of vocabulary and topics to expect.

Next, scan the first text - not too quickly or you'll just have to read it again. Then read question 1 and underline the keywords. Were those keywords (or their synonyms) mentioned in the text? If not, go to question 2. If yes, find the place in the text where it was mentioned and read it more carefully. If it's a match, write A in the first box.

Once you've been through the ten questions, you should have between 2 and 4 questions with an A next to them.

Now repeat the process with text B. It will be a little quicker this time because instead of going through 10 questions you're only going through 6-8. Repeat with C and D (and E, F, if there are more than 4 texts). 

This is the most efficient way to do the Multiple Matching exercise - if you have one or two empty spaces at the end, don't panic. You should have time to try to find them.


2. How to do it, the Cambridge way

Cambridge don't agree with me about my method. They think it's better to read the questions first, then look for that information in the text. That's why they put the questions before the texts!

If you can remember the ten questions when reading through the texts, this method is best. But if you read the questions, then the text, and realise you have forgotten the questions, you've just wasted some precious time!

Try both ways and find the method that suits you. Remember that time management is as important as accuracy. Once you've chosen a strategy, keep training using that method.


3. Problems and Pitfalls

As always, Cambridge give you plenty of opportunity to choose the wrong answer! The most common trap is with exact word matches - if a keyword in the text is the exact same as the word in the question, be careful! It's almost certainly not the answer.

Be careful of partial matches. If a question says, 'Which text says that the money spent on sports has always had a political dimension?' then it isn't enough to find a text that mentions politicians, or mentions the current situation. You must find something that matches all the keywords - [money spent on sports] [always] [political].

Finally, a huge problem will be not knowing the meaning of one or more keywords. If you don't understand a certain word in the exam, you won't be alone! (If you understand every word in the Advanced exam maybe you should be studying a Proficiency course!) While preparing for the reading exam, practice the skill of guessing the meanings of unfamiliar words.


4. Tips

- Practice guessing the meanings of words. Predict the meaning, based on the context, before you look it up in the dictionary.

- Take a practice test and photocopy the texts, without looking at the questions. Then take some time to create questions of your own. This will be hard, but when you compare your questions with the ones from Cambridge, you'll learn a lot about how the tests are created. Knowing how Cambridge create the questions will really help you to answer the questions! Try it!


5. Video Help


End

That's all for the Reading and Use of English tips. I hope you found them useful! Now you can check out the Speaking Tips; Writing Tips; or Listening Tips, or read one of these great articles: