CAMBRIDGE CAE MISSION: Ace your Reading Test (Parts 3 and 4)

Hello, everyone!

It’s Thursday, so it must be time for a new drop of STRATEGIES and TIPS for the CAE examination… and the crowd goes wild! All those of you preparing your exam, or maybe contemplating the idea of preparing it at some point in time, greetings to you, hop in and let’s go!

The moment has come to dissect the Reading Paper, Parts 3 and 4. For a better understanding of the whole Reading Paper, please check out the previous article (on Part 1 and 2).

Without any other further ado, let’s dive into the last two parts of the CAE Reading Paper:

Part 3 – Multiple choice is back! Indeed, you assume correctly: 4 options for each question.

  • this time, however, you have to be ready to “go fishing” for the writer’s attitude, opinion, tone, but also you may find questions that ask you to choose an answer related to what one or more of the characters feel, express, experience. Keep a close reference to the text!
  • Just as in Part 1, remember the rule of the THREE: underline, choose answer, overrule the other 3 options. If you can’t overrule one, go back to the text and try to provide an underlined clue that points in that direction. Then, repeat procedure.
  • The challenge of Part 3 is that you will have to distinguish between apparently similar viewpoints, outcomes, or reasons.

Part 4 – This part deals with multiple matching. You are given a set of texts and 15 statements. All you have to do is match each statement to the right piece of text.

  • I agree, 15 statements?! The good news is that at this point nobody expects you to perform close reading, you won’t have to go in the very depths of the texts. Quite frankly, who would have the mental strength to do that after the first 3 parts have run you over?

  • The key here is to skim and scan for particular information. Read the fragments briefly, take each statement, look for that particular piece of information in one of the texts. Repeat procedure for each statement. You’ll see, it gets easier and the process will be sped up by the fact that once you’ve gone through half of the statements, you will have become quite familiar with the fragments and you’ll aim with more precision at one or the other.
  • Since you are required to identify specific information, it comes in handy to underline what is relevant in the statements (the key words). Thus, you neglect any irrelevant distractors, and you avoid getting lost.
  • Mind you! A question may consist of two parts, for instance: a writer’s enthusiasm when being confronted with a fortunate event. You may be tempted to find evidence of a fortunate event in a section of the text but you may, at the same time, fail to realise that it may be the wrong section as no enthusiasm is expressed in that part. Focus on clues that a text offers for the whole question, not just parts of it!

… still, never lose sight of this golden rule:

Do not panic if you find some words difficult or unknown. Try to deduce as much as you can from context, read sentences, not isolated words!


Good luck solving your practice tests and tune in next week for some more tips on the CAE Writing Paper this time! In the meantime, comment away! Let’s take this opportunity to share opinions, difficulties and queries related to one of the trickiest English tests known to man.

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