CAMBRIDGE CAE Mission: Ace Your Use of English Test

Hello, once again! After having flicked through the CAE Exam in terms of Reading, Writing and Speaking, what else might there be on the menu? Well, indeed, it is time for the Use of English Paper, the part of the test where your use of language will be inspected in depth, just as a… say… dental inspection! Keep your knowledge clean, and the doctor will give you candy or, in this case, a CAE certificate.

What is there in the paper?

  • First of all, you might want to know that there are five parts to the paper and the solving part should take you no more than 60 minutes. Let us do a simple maths calculation, shall we? Five parts, 50 questions, 60 minutes. It seems fair enough, you have a tad over a minute for each question. Look on the bright side, at least you won”t get bored!

  • In Part I you are presented with a gapped text and for each gap you have to choose among four multiple-choice options.

  • In Part II, the gapped text is back! Only now, the options are gone and you have only yourself to rely on when filling in the blanks.

  • In Part III, you”ve guessed it! The gapped text strikes again! You are also given a stem-word for each gap and you have to change it and transform it in order for it to best fit the gap.

  • Part IV brings another challenge to the table. You are given three sentences for each question, out of which one word has been removed. One word to fit three contexts, one ring to rule them all! The preciousssss!

  • Part V requires you to rephrase a given sentence by also keeping a given word unmodified. It sounds a lot like equations, and indeed, A should equal B. In other words, the meaning of the rephrased sentence should have the exact same meaning as the original one.

How do you go about the matter?

  • For starters, get used to learning English as chunks of language, not as isolated words.

  • Try to learn as many idioms, expressions and fixed phrases as you can.

  • Whenever you are dealing with a verb, find its dependent preposition (e.g. accuse somebody of). The same rule applies to adjectives, as well (e.g. proud of, interested in).

  • Try solving exercises which have to do with phrasal verbs. They can be rather tricky since the wrong particle can trigger all the wrong meanings. Such a fine difference in terms of particles between put out, put off, put down. Try making up some sentences and you will see the world of difference one tiny itsy-bitsy word can make.

  • I know it sounds like simply too much fun, but do practice the different shapes of the words as they change form verb, to noun, to adjective, adverb, so on and so forth.

  • Check your spelling and be thorough about it. If one letter is wrong, you get no points for the questions in parts 2, 3 and 4.

  • Read extensively. What better way to produce written words in context other than reading written words in context?

  • Last, but not least, plan your time and practice enough as to make sure you do not run out of it by the time your moment of glory is done.

That”s all, folks! Check in next week for the tips on achieving a high score in your Listening paper and, in the meantime, drop us a line or two. Ask any questions you might have! Have a good, fruitful weekend!

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