viernes, 22 de marzo de 2019

Use of English part 4 tips

FCE Reading and Use of English Part 4 Tips

1. Introduction

Known as ' key word transformation', this is one of the hardest parts of the whole exam. It tests your grammar and vocabulary. You are given a sentence and a keyword. You have to be able to complete a second sentence so that it has the same meaning as the first sentence using 2-5 words.

2. The Rules / Common Mistakes

  • You MUST use the keyword, and you can't CHANGE the keyword. If the keyword is 'follow' you cannot write 'follows' or 'following'.
  • You must use between 2 and 5 words. It might be possible to create a grammatically correct sentence by writing 13 words, but you will get no points for that.
  • Contractions count as two words. Didn't = did not; isn't = is not; etc. However, can't = cannot = one word.
  • Correct spelling is very important here
  • Write your answers in CAPITAL LETTERS

3. Don't Waste Time Here

Because this part of the exam is so hard, do it quickly. Some questions will be too hard for you - write your best guess and move to the next one. If there is an answer you know, take a few seconds to double-check that what you have written makes sense.

4. General Tips

* Make sure the nouns and verbs in your sentence 'agree' with each other. I play/you play/he plays.
* Try to keep the meaning from the first sentence. Use the same words where possible. Example:
John finds trains very interesting.  
John is very interested in trains.
Not that I didn't write 'John is interested in trains'... the first sentence says 'very interesting'.

5. Some Case Studies

01. Paula can't wait to hear the band's new album.
Paula is really ________________________________ the band's new album.
One thing you could do is to match parts of the second sentence to the first sentence to see what's missing. Let me try to show you what I mean.
Paula can't wait to hear the band's new album.
Paula is really ............................................ the band's new album.
Does that make sense?
Now we can see that the phrase starting with 'is really...' means 'can't wait to hear'.
So do you know a phrase with 'forward' inside? Of course you do! You write some version of it at the end of every email:
I'm looking forward to meeting you.
I look forward to meeting you.
Grammar tip - in that construction 'to' is a preposition so the verb the follows must be a gerund (meeting/seeing/visiting etc).
01. Paula can't wait to hear the band's new album.
Paula is really ___looking forward to hearing__ the band's new album.
Why did I use the verb 'hearing'? Because the original sentence used the verb 'hear'. Easy!
Next one.
02. It's a shame I'm not able to come to your party on Saturday.
I ................................................................................... to your party on Saturday.
This one is a little bit tricky because there are so many ways to use the word 'could' in English. Also, you have to be careful to get the right tense. When is the party? Past or future? Yep, future.
Here are some wrong answers:
I could not come to your party on Saturday.     (that has a past meaning)
I couldn't have come to your party on Saturday.   (also past)
Anyway, we have to say 'it's a shame'. Here's the right answer:
wish I could come to your party on Saturday.
wish that I could come to your party on Saturday.
That means exactly the same as the original sentence. You could also say 'I wish I could GO to your party' but I advise you to use the same verb that's in the first sentence unless you have a good reason to change it.

Use of English part 3 tips


Guess what - it's another text with 8 gaps. This time it's a test of your ability to turn words into adjectives, nouns, verbs, or adverbs. You also need to know negative forms, like turning 'interested' into 'disinterested'.

What does it look like?

You get some text with words missing, and on the right is a 'root' word. You have to change that word to fit the sentence that it's next to. In example (0) the word you have to use is 'common'. The answer could be something like 'uncommon' or 'commonplace' (though that's more a CAE word). This time we need 'commonly'. You HAVE to change the word - you couldn't leave it as 'common'.

Just to make things clear

It's not a task where you match things on the left to things on the right. Everything is right next to where it should go.
Now, this part of the exam is a lot about nouns, adjectives, and all that stuff. So let's take a look.


The next few paragraphs are a VERY quick guide. To understand this grammar properly you need a good grammar book. I recommend Destination B2.
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 know a noun because of its ending. Look out for: -eer; -tion; -ment, -age, -al, ance, -hood, -iety, -ness, and so on.
Plural words or possessives are nouns.
Words connected to 'the, my/your/their (etc), whose, another, other, a/an' are probably nouns. Look:
  • I want another banana.
  • My banana is bigger than your banana.
  • Whose banana is this?
  • A banana is a wonderful thing.


Change the root word to make nouns that fit the sentences.
It is my __________ that global warming is a big threat to the planet.   BELIEVE
he __________ of One Direction is a complete mystery to me.  POPULAR
It was a great __________ to meet you today.  PLEASE

(Answers: belief/popularity/pleasure.)


Adjectives describe nouns.
Notice that adjectives often come after the verb 'to be'? What kind of word do you expect in this gap?
It is __________ to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.
Yep, an adjective.
So if the root was 'IMPORT' you'd probably know you needed to write 'important' in the space.
What are the adjective forms of:
Now plug those answers into these sentences. In one case you need a negative form.
Going to the beach can be very __________.
The way Bolt accelerated through to the finish line was __________.
People being interviewed expect the interviewers to be __________.

(Answers: enjoyable/unbelievable/objective.)


Adverbs are my favourite! Like adjectives describe nouns, adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs.
Remember this sentence from a minute ago?
People being interviewed expect the interviewers to be objective.
How objective?
People being interviewed expect the interviewers to be __________ objective.    COMPLETE

(Answer: to be completely objective.)


Can! Will! Should! Must! These are all followed by the infinitive without 'to'. So if you see this in the exam:
The most important factor seems to be how quickly muscles can contract and thus __________ the time a runner's foot is in contact with the ground.  MINIMUM
The word 'can' there connects with the verb 'to contract'. But it ALSO connects to the word in the gap. They're both verbs. So all I need to do now is learn what the verb form of MINIMUM is.
The most important factor seems to be how quickly muscles can contract and thus minimise the time a runner's foot is in contact with the ground.

Positive or Negative?

Read the sentences carefully because some of the words you need are in the negative form.
Example 1:
When I began cycling, I found the flat rounds easy but the hills almost __________.   POSSIBLE

That's a pretty clear example of a sentence that needs a negative word in the gap. The first adjective, 'easy', is positive. Then there is the word 'but' which introduces a contrast. Using another positive word would be kerrrrazy. Also, we HAVE to change the word. We cant' leave it as 'possible'. So that leaves us with the only option of 'impossible'.

Example 2:
Even skilled interviewers may, without realising it, __________ favour people who make them feel at ease.   CONSCIOUS
This is from a text about job interviews. What kind of word do we need in the gap? The biggest clue is the word 'may'. I know that may connects to the word favour. That means that favour is a verb. So the word that goes in the gap describes a verb - that's called an adverb.
The adverb of conscious is 'consciously'. But the meaning of the missing, which I know from the context of the whole text, has to be negative. The negative word we're looking for is 'unconsciously'.

use of english part 2 tips

FCE Reading and Use of English Part 2 Tips


This is very similar to part 1, except you don't have a choice of words - you have to think of the answer all by yourself! Oh, my god!

What does it look like?

Here's half of one:
The answer to (0) is 'as'. I work as a stunt rider.

Should I read the whole text first?

It's a good idea to read through the text before you start thinking of answers. If you don't read and understand what the writer wants to say you could put the wrong answer. For example, some words will be negative.

Can I write 'don't' as the answer?

No. Don't is two words - do not. He'll is two words - he will.
But can't is one word, because it's the contraction of cannot.

What are the most common answers?

You'll never have to write 'umbrella' in part 2. It's always grammar stuff.


I need to go to THE shop.
Heaven is A place on earth.


When WILL I be famous?
Who HAS eaten all my chocolates?


But ALTHOUGH the ozone layer is recovering, we must continue to take care of it.
One of the problems, HOWEVER, is that this technology is very expensive.


It was in HIS bathroom that he had the idea for the flux capacitor.
They discovered the kittens were living in THEIR garage.


The Black Widow spider, WHICH is perhaps the most famous of all arachnids, is actually rather friendly.
The person WHO ate my chocolate is in for a world of pain.


He was as tall AS his brother.
But shorter THAN his father.

Other tips

  • Sometimes you'll be able to choose an answer just by looking at the words before and after the gap. Practice doing that.
  • Sometimes you have to read the whole sentence, especially when we're talking about linking words.
  • If your answer is a verb, make sure it agrees with the subject. i.e. I play, you play, he plays.
  • Never use abbreviations. Write 'something' not 'sthg'. THIS IS AN EXAM NOT A WHATSAPP CHAT. :)
  • As always, be careful when filling in the answer sheet. Make sure you write the words in the right spaces!

use of english part 1 tips

FCE Reading and Use of English Part 1 Tips

1. Introduction

In part 1 you have a short text with 8 words missing. You must choose from 4 options the best word for each space. I think part 1 is a nice, easy start. I mean, it's easy in the sense that it doesn't take much brain energy. You either know the answers or you don't.

2. What it looks like

Here's the start of a text. The example answer (0) is 'branch' - genealogy is a branch of history.
And the first 2 sets of options.
You know what? Let's go through the process of answering these questions and see what that tells us about this part of the exam.
The answer can't be instead because it would have to say 'instead of'. 'Rather than' is good grammar. 'Except than' is wrong - should be 'except for'.
Lesson: You need to know which prepositions go with which words!
What about 'sooner'? There is an advanced phrase with 'sooner than', but it doesn't fit the meaning of the sentence. The writer wants to say that genealogy is about family history and not the type of 'big history' that people normally think of. So 'rather than' is the only choice that fits grammatically and logically.
It took me a couple of minutes to write the explanation, but actually choosing the answer took me five seconds. If I didn't know all the prepositions I would have just taken a guess and moved on.
This is another one where prepositions are important. See where it says 'in' after gap 2? Circle it! Underline it! That's the most important word in the sentence. Only one of the choices goes with 'in'. I'm not going to tell you which one. Go and study those words!
Summary - we're looking for grammar clues like prepositions, and we're looking for words that fit the meaning of the sentence.
To do well here you should brush up on phrasal verbs, collocations, and the kinds of synonyms you'd find in a 'common mistakes at FCE' book. Get some extra practice in the following article:

3. Should you read the whole text first?

Good question! Thanks for asking! It depends how much you read English in your daily life. If you read a lot, you will probably be able to just look at the sentences and find the best answer.
But most students should read the whole text quickly to get an idea of what the writer really wants to say about the topic. That will make it easier to choose the answers. The key word is quickly.

4. Tips

  • The best way to prepare for the Reading test is to READ. Read a lot.
  • If you know that two of the options have the same meaning, neither can be the answer. 
  • Remember to read the title. It's there to help you.
  • Never lose time trying to think of the answer to the example.
  • Prepositions!