Tips on how to excel at Cambridge Exams – Part 2

(Obs.:  I will be back only on the 4th of January)

Tip number (3) –  multiple-choice part

As you know, this is a longer text. (FCE and CPE – part 7 & CAE – part 8). In order not to get anxious and/or frustrated, you will read the first question and focus only on the first paragraph. Then, you move on to the second question and second paragraph and so on. Everything is in order. Again, you should underline the keywords in the questions and in all the options (answers). This should take 7’ to 10’.

Tip number (4) –  word formation part

This is Part 3 (FCE – CPE). To tell you all the truth, this is my favourite one. Remember, you will never use the root word as it is displayed, you will always have to use affixes (prefixes and/or suffixes). Also, there will always be a negative word. That means, that you are going to use the following prefixes at least once, or maybe twice, in order to provide a negative meaning to the word: in- / im-/ il- / ir- ; un- , de- / dis- / a- . After you transform all the words, you start reading the text. The word you have transformed is highly likely to be the correct option. (This should take 4’ – 5’)

Tip number (5) – writing paper

Three points to be made: 1. Answer the question that is being asked, 2. Use the proper layout, 3. Have your ideas well organised. For that to be achieved, you have to read attentively what the exercise proposes and break it down into. Below there is a proposal sample (2015 CAE mock).

“There are plans to demolish an old unused building in the town where you are a student. You feel that the building should be saved. You decide to write a proposal for the town council explaining why you think the building should be preserved, suggesting what could be done to modernize it and saying how the building could benefit the local people”

You should start with “You decide to write a proposal for the town council explaining why you think the building should be preserved. Then, in your ‘development’ paragraph, you will go on about “suggesting what could be done to modernize it. Next, in your conclusion, you will finally “say how the building could benefit the local people.

Layout wise: Proposals and Reports have headings, such as “Introduction”, “Development” and “Conclusion” or more specific headings according to the topic, e.g.: “Reasons why the building should be preserved” etc.

As for the Essays, Reviews, and Articles, they carry titles. However, what is paramount is to organise your compositions into three paragraphs (if you need to have four paragraphs, prefer to have two in the development part). Remember to show off: use linkers, hedging structures, inversions, etc. (You should take 30′ – give or take – to write each composition)

Tip number (6) – for the listening paper

Remember, to underline all the keywords from the questions and the answers (options). For part 2 try to predict if the words to be used will be verbs, adjectives, adverbs, etc. For part 4 (CAE-CPE), you will have to do both tasks at the same time. Do not try to do them separately.

Tip number (7) – Timing and regulations

  • Do not wear clothes/shoes with words on them (especially if they are English words).
  • You may have a water bottle (transparent and without the label).
  • You cannot speak or leave the room during the Listening Paper.
  • Please, oh, please, try to arrive at least 40 minutes before your speaking paper starts.

Tip number (8) – General Tips

  • Two days before the exam relax and do things you like doing. You have already studied and practiced what you had to.
  • Eat well, sleep well and really rest.
  • It will sound like a cliché, but, “trust yourself!”.
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Beatriz Solino de Francisco

Beatriz holds the Cambridge Train the Trainer and the DELTA Mods II and III(Teaching Exam Lessons). She has a Licentiate’s degree in English Language from PUC SP (2007). CPE level of proficiency and she has been teaching for 15 years. She is an Academic and Pedagogic Coordinator. She is currently doing a Company Management MBA at FGV.

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