Top tips for the Reading and Use of English FCE exam

Here you are the main things you have to keep in mind when doing each one of the seven sections of the Reading and Use of English FCE exam:

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Multiple Choice Cloze (Part 1)

Part 1, the Multiple Choice Cloze, focuses mainly on vocabulary but also occasionally grammar. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Multiple Choice Cloze task:

  • There will always be a title to the text. Use this to get an idea of the theme of the text.
  • Read the text first before you attempt to answer any questions. Sometimes an understanding of the wider context is necessary to choose the correct word.
  • A key tactic in this exercise is to look for clues around each gap. The word (or words) before or after the gap will often be part of a set phrase and will help you decide which of the choice of 4 words is the correct one. For example, in Q2 above, the set phrase includes the word after the gap ‘in’ as in ‘result in’.
  • If you find it difficult to make a choice eliminate those you know are wrong and if necessary make a guess as to the correct answer – you might be lucky!

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Open Cloze (Part 2)

Part 2, the Open Cloze, focuses mainly on grammar. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Open Cloze task:

  • Make sure you read the title and the complete text first before attempting to answer any questions. Having an overview of the content will sometimes help you to identify missing words.
  • Remember that only one word is missing and that contractions count as two words!
  • Pay attention to the clauses and words around each gap as these will usually help you identify which part of speech is missing. For example, if the gap is after a verb, is it possible a dependent preposition is missing? If the gap follows a comma, could the missing word be a relative pronoun? If the gap appears at the beginning of a sentence, could the missing word by a linking word such as ‘However’ or ‘Although’? You’ll need to read the sentences before and after to work this last one out.
  • Remember that Part 2 focuses mainly on grammar so the missing words are likely to be pronouns, prepositions, determiners, adverbs, linking words, etc.

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Word Formation (Part 3)

Part 3, the Word Formation, focuses on vocabulary. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Word Formation task:

  • Make sure you read the title and the complete text first before attempting to answer any questions. Having an overview of the content will sometimes help you to identify the form of missing words.
  • Decide whether the missing word is a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, etc.
  • Pay attention to the sentence containing the gap and decide if the missing word has a positive or negative meaning.
  • If the word is a noun does it need to be in the plural form?

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Key Word Transformation (Part 4)

Part 4, the Key Word Transformation, tests your ability to paraphrase through your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. A wide range of language could be tested here, however, some patterns appear quite often. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Key Word Transformation task:

  • Look out for two necessary changes in each sentence. You will often be required to make more than one change in the transformed sentence such as using a set expression as well as a change from active to passive. The good news is you can get 2 marks for each question!
  • Don’t forget to include the keyword and remember not to change the form of the word.
  • Use between 2 and 5 words – no more. Remember that contractions count as two words.
  • Certain language points tend to feature in this task such as active to passive, formal to informal, the use of phrasal verbs, and other set expressions. Make a note of any new patterns you come across each time you try a Key Word Transformation task.

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Multiple Choice (Part 5)

Part 5, the Multiple Choice, focuses on the understanding of a long text, including detail, opinion, and also text organization features such as the use of examples, comparison, and reference. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Multiple Choice task:

  • Read the text first before you attempt to answer any questions.
  • Read each question, find and underline the part of the text which answers the question. The answers to the questions will generally follow in the same order in the text.
  • Don’t choose an answer simply because a word in the question appears in the text. Examples of this can sometimes distract you from the correct answer.
  • Find evidence in the text to justify your chosen answer.

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Gapped Text (Part 6)

Part 6, the Gapped Text, focuses on how texts are structured. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Gapped Text task:

  • Read the whole text first before you attempt to answers any questions. This will give you an idea of the overall structure.
  • Read the paragraphs to get a general idea of the topic of each one.
  • Look out for cohesive devices that help link ideas. These could be things like time phrases, cause and effect, or contrasting linking words and expressions, pronouns, or synonyms that refer forwards or backward in the text.
  • Make sure any paragraph you chose fits both with what comes before and after. You will often find one that flows logically from the preceding paragraph but which does not fit coherently with the following paragraph.
  • As you work through the task, be prepared to change your opinion on an earlier choice. If you don’t do this and your original choice is wrong, you are limiting the choice of remaining paragraphs.
  • Don’t simply choose a paragraph because it contains a similar word or words to the paragraph before or after. You will need to match paragraphs based on the development of ideas or opinions.

Tips for the B2 First (Cambridge English: First, FCE) Multiple Matching (Part 7)

In Part 7, the Multiple Matching task, there is an emphasis on locating specific information in a text or a group of short texts. Here are some tips to follow when attempting the Multiple Matching task:

  • Read the questions quickly first then the text(s) to get an idea of the focus of each one.
  • Look through the questions again and try to match the easier ones first. The easier ones will often be those that paraphrase something that is stated in the text.
  • Make sure any match you choose answers the question fully.
  • Don’t simply match a question with a section of the text that contains the same words.
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