Gapped Text

Hello Readers :-)

I am so happy to see that some of you are becoming frequent flyers of my blog! Thank you! I would also like to thank for the ones that are liking and sharing it! That is what gives me energy to keep posting <3

Today we’ll see how the 6th part of the CPE looks like! It is the Gapped Text. Some think that this is the worst exercise of all the reading ones, as it needs you to pay a lot of attention to spare parts of a text. Also, there is one option that won’t fit anywhere, so it is only useful for messing up with our minds. And, if it wasn’t enough, each right answer grants you 2 marks. Anyway, I found that this exercise gets easier while you practice it, so I promise I will find more examples in a near future and share it here with you. Meanwhile, we’ll work on the one provided by Cambridge.

This part tests candidates’ understanding of text structure and their ability to follow text development. The task requires candidates to select from 8 options the correct extract to fit in each of the seven gaps in the text. In order to suceed, t is necessary to practise skimming and scanning texts. The internet is a lovely place for finding those texts.

This is the sort of exercise that each person applies a technique to. I tend to read the first and the following parts of the text, and then seek for what I think is the first answer. Then, I re-read it and check if it is working well. When I am 100% sure, I move to the next one. After I finish the whole question, I re-read the whole text again. If it is not making sense, I tend to restart the exercise. But I am not sure this is the best way of doing it! Please share your technique :D

Let’s try?!

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(remember that this image becomes larger when you click it)

My answers:

37. F / 38. D / 39. G / 40. A / 41. C / 42. H / 43. B

Correct answers:

37. F / 38. D / 39. H / 40. A / 41. C / 42. E / 43. B

Well, as I thought this text was very hard, I am not feeling disappointed by my results, but, I could’ve done better!

How did you go? Do you really find this the most difficult part of the Reading and Use of English?

Happy Studying! :-)

 

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Multiple Choice

Hi There!
Happy Saturday everyone!

Today we’ll see the part 5 of the CPE (Cambridge Proficiency Exam), into the Reading and Use of English section. This is the Multiple Choice part. This part tests candidate’s detailed understanding of a long text, including its purpose and organisation, and the opinions and attitudes expressed within it. After the text, you will find 6 multiple-choice questions, which will test understanding of the text. In general, the text comes with a title and a subheading. You should also be able to deduce meaning from context, and interpret the text for inference and style. The questions are presented in the same order as the information in the text, and the final question my depend on interpretation of the text as a whole.

A few tips:

1. Read the whole text first and see if you get an overall about it;
2. Read the questions;
3. Re-read the text, looking for the answers. Highlight points.
4. Check all possibilities, even if one seems obvious.

So, time to try! Let’s do it :-)

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ps: when you click the image, it will grow bigger – I know that the text seems small at first!

Vocabulary: There are two new words on this text for me:
Unduly: excessively
Ploy: a manoeuvre or tactic in a game, conversation, etc; stratagem; gambit

So, let’s do it!

31. B, 32. B, 33. D, 34. C, 35. A, 36. C
The correct answers are: 31. C, 32. B, 33. D, 34. A, 35. A, 36. C

Unfortunately, I got two wrong questions here. And this part of the test grants you 2 marks for each correct answer.

How did it go for you?!

Happy Studying! :)

 

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Keyword Transformation

Good afternoon readers!

I am sorry for the delay on posts this week. I’ve been to Sao Francisco, and, albeit I left plenty of posts scheduled, those were not enough. I plan to catch up on this during the weekend that is coming, but for now, I couldn’t leave the blog with any new posts, right?

So, we are following the exam order, and today we’ll talk about the part 4, keyword transformation. This is similar to word formation, but the focus is on grammar and vocabulary. It is important to note that each correct answer receives up to 2 marks.

This part consists of six key word transformations, plus one example. Each question contains three parts: a lead-in sentence, a key word, and a second response sentence of which only the beginning and the end are given. We’ll have to fill the gap in the second sentence so it is similar in meaning to the initial sentence. The key word must be used.

The structure must be manipulated and we are allowed to use between three and eight words for each sentence, including the keyword. In some cases, a verb might need to be changed to a noun to make sense. The keyword can’t be changed. Attention: Contractions count as two words! it’s = it is = 2 words.

Another tip, granted by Cambridge, is to pay attention to the whole sentence that is being formed. It might indicate if a verb will be in plural or singular, as an example.

Although you can score up to 2 marks, you can score only 1 if your sentence is only partially correct, or zero, if you change the keyword or answer it poorly.

Let’s try?

part 4 key word transformation

 

So, as usual, I will write my answers and then provide the correct ones!

25. Passengers were instructed to move way down the bus by the driver.
26. Mira tried not to take sides between her two colleagues.
27. The carnival’s success is under threat due to lack of support.
28. The manager stated that his decision was not open to discussion.
29. No matter how late it is when you get home, please text me.
30. I just caught a sight with Emma as she walked past the restaurant.

My impressions are that I got the 25 and the 30 somehow wrong. Let’s check!

25. were instructed or told to / make their way
So I got half of the question right :/

26. not to take sides or to avoid taking sides / in the argument
I got half of the question here too, because I forgot to add “in the argument”. :/

27. sucess is under threat / due to or because of or owing to (a/the) lack of
Finally one right :)

28. was not / open to further
Didn’t use further, so again, half of the question! :/

29. matter how / late it is or may be or might be
Yey!!! :)

30. Caught a glimpse or Caught a sight / of Emma
Got the first part right, the OF I missed. :/

I guess I would have scored the 60% required on this test. What about you? How did you go? What do you think is the most difficult part of this question?

Happy Studying!

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Word Formation

Hello!

I hope you had some sort of fun during the last post, when I fail to answer the test and to give enough explanations about how to learn to that question. As I told you, that is the sort of question I found the most difficult one, and for that I should compensate on other parts. I don’t know if I already told you this, but in order to pass the CPE you need to have a total score equal or superior to 60%, and one part compensates the other.

Word formation will test you on affixation and compounding of words. So, it is important to keep in mind that you will need to form a word from the given root, and it could go to a lot of different directions.
Cambridge suggests we read the whole text before filling gaps. We also need to be aware of the range of possibilities that can be formed from the sample base word.

Before trying to answer the questions, I will share with you a small explanation about how words are formed in the language.

  1. Affixation: Is the process of forming words by adding affixes to morphemes.
    English uses only prefixes and suffixes:
    sing + er = singer
    un + real = unreal
  2. Compounding: Is the process of forming words from two or more independent words.
    girl + friend = girlfriend
    text + book = textbook

Although there are some other forms of word creation, as clipping, acronyms, etc… I wouldn’t focus on this now, as usually the test will ask you for those above. But keep in mind that they usually have one negative form in the middle of the text, exactly to test if you get the whole meaning of it.

Let’s try?!

CPE Sample Test Word Formation

17. scarceness 18. genetically 19. occurrence 20. sensibility 21. unxxxx 22. advantageous 23. progressively 24. evolution/evolutionary

Observations: Misspelled words cause the candidate to loose marks, as well as two answers. I just did it like above to show you how I thought, as I’ve agreed on sharing you my thinking process ;-) Also, each correct answer gives you 1 mark. Good luck!

Let’s go to the answers:
17. scarcity/scarceness 18. genetically 19. occurrence 20. sensitivity 21. spectacularly 22: advantageous 23. progressively 24. evolutionary

How did you perform on the test? I didn’t get the spectacularly – not very common word. Terms could only be evolutionary, so I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should. And I got completely wrong number 20.  :( An extra sign that I need to practice more word formation!

Go ahead and study it too! You can find some interesting websites on our helpful study websites post.

Happy studying!

 

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Open Cloze

Hello there!

How did you do on the multiple-choice cloze exercise? Did you try others from the suggested websites? Did you study with your book?

Today’s post is about part 2 of the “Reading and use of English” paper: The open cloze. In my opinion this is the hardest of all the questions. This happens mostly because I feel that my idioms, phrasal verbs, collocations, etc… knowledge is not so good, and this question has no clues besides the text around the gaps. I tend to score very low grades on this sort of question, and I know that is the one I will have to compensate with other grades. At least, each correct questions gives you only one mark, so less worse, as I say.

The idea is to proceed almost the same way as we did on the multiple-choice cloze exercise, by doing it live while I write the post, correcting my mistakes with you and then writing sentences or trying to use the expression on a day-by-day sentence. The difference on today’s post is that I will have sentences for all the expressions! I am even thinking about creating a bank of words and expressions for myself, let’s see how it goes.

Cambridge suggest that teachers orient their students to treat this question as they would read any text, and pay attention to the title and to the text before attempting to fill the gaps. You should always keep in mind the meaning of the whole text before answering.

It is also important to read the whole sentence before deciding on a word. There is always the possibility of negatives, conditionals or other structures that might put forward the opposite point of view! Be careful! Special attention should be paid to the words right before and after the gap, as they might bring clues or be part of an expression that would be completed by the missing word. Attention: only ONE word per gap.

Let’s try it!

CPE_Cambridge_Open_cloze_exercise

My answers: 9. enough 10. lacking 11. in 12. ? 13. with 14. way 15. ahead 16. giving

I am not sure about 10, 11, 12 (which I couldn’t answer, I would create something on the day!) But let’s check! I crossed the ones that were wrong ok?
Very low score! The answers are: 9. enough, 10. incapable, 11. on, 12. up, 13. with, 14. extent/degree, 15. ahead/forward, 16. giving.

9. Sophisticated enough: This one is tricky because we all know what enough means, but sometimes, you wouldn’t say sophisticated enough, so this answer could skip your mind. This is a case when a comparison meaning is on the sentence, so you should look at it and try to guess.

10. Incapable of: I knew that something with a negative, absence meaning was to be added there, but the “striking up relationship”s got me there. To strike up is to start something in a informal way, in general a conversation, or a music.

She was incapable of understanding the Governor’s speech.
It can be difficult to strike upconversation with a complete stranger.

11. is on the horizon: once again, lack of knowledge about the expression, although I knew this one, I wasn’t thinking properly and got it wrong.

12. to make up a: Guys, I’m struggling with this one. Probably based on context and vocabulary knowledge, as for me it was difficult to find one.

13. Engage with: To make an effort to understand or deal with something or someone

14. I missed the context here, but it makes total sense to be extent or degree. Is about knowing the language and what would fit in there. To a certain extent…

15. I really don’t know how I got this one right, because it depends a lot on the previous one. Anyway, further forward/further ahead means: at a greater distance from a place or from a certain time.

16. Simple ING form, you need to understand what would look better in context.

 

Hey, I will keep trying this exercise, as I perform poorly on it, and also share some knowledge I can learn until the test (tips, sources, etc…)
If you have suggestions, please share with us!

Happy Studying! :-)

 

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Multiple-choice cloze

As per our post about the Structure of Reading and Use of English, you already know a bit about this part of the CPE exam. I tend to think that multiple-choice questions are easier than the open ones, as it gives you a hint about what could be right. Although this sort of question is easier than the others, there are some strategies to approach the question. The idea is to practice a lot, using the available online websites (you can find a list here) or by using your books, in case you’ve decided to buy one.

I will share a sample here, and I will test myself. I promise to share my mistakes and also what I did after I found them! But before going to the sample itself, let’s discuss a bit this sort of question.

First of all, as it is not one of the most difficult questions from the exam, they give you one mark per correct answer.

The tip is to read the whole text trying to imagine what could go there (this will help you with the gapped text too!) and understand the meaning of it, the nuances, and what wasn’t clear without the gaps. According to Cambridge, you will need knowledge on the following areas in order to succeed on this task:
– Understanding of the context;
– Meaning of words;
– Fixed language: fixed phrases, collocations and idioms;
– Vocabulary and grammar: phrasal verbs and linkers.
– Grammatical elements: the answer may be correct because it agrees with a following preposition or is the only one of four verbs which fits the structural pattern.

So, let’s go to a sample question. You can find more of those through the internet, by using our friend Google. Search for Multiple-choice cloze CPE. The one below is the sample provided by Cambridge.

Part 1: multiple-choice cloze

Part 1: multiple-choice cloze

So, let’s go to my answers:

1. capturing / 2. emerged / 3. deplored / 4. resorting / 5. holds / 6. invariably / 7. addressing / 8. illustrated

Oh, I’m not sure about numbers 3 and 4, and afraid of a few others! Let’s check my answers!!! (I will cut the ones I got wrong, ok? The correct answers are:  B B D A B D B C)

First things first, sometimes you can save yourself when you don’t know the meaning of one word out of four. It was what happened with me on question 4. I didn’t know the meaning of “resorting” but I knew the meaning of all the others, and I was able to tell those were wrong. The same didn’t happen for question 3, where I went with deplored because I didn’t know its meaning and I didn’t trust that dismissed would go there. My good luck on question 4 compensated my bad luck on number 8, where I made the silly choice of thinking of it in Portuguese, where illustrated would make total sense :( Anyway, 6 out of 8 is 75%, and you need to score 60% to pass the test. Not excellent, but doable.

So, let’s find out what the words I didn’t know means – that’s the magic of the learning process: being curious and using the dictionary (Cambridge’s, in this case)!

Deplored: to say or think that something is very bad.
e.g.: He said that he deplored all violence.
e.g.: The attitude of the Minister is to be deplored (= is very bad).

Resorting: to do something that you do not want to do because you cannot find any other way of achieving something.
e.g.: I had to resort to violence/threats to get my money.
e.g.: When she didn’t answer the phone, I resorted to calling up to her from the street.

Depicted: To represent or show something in a picture or a history.
e.g.: Her paintings depict the lives of ordinary people in the last century.
e.g.: In the book, he depicts his father as a tyrant.
e.g.: People were shocked by the advertisement which depicted a woman beating her husband.

Now, the final touch! To create some sentences using the new words you’ve just learned (or me, in this case):

Breaking up with your bride at the church’s entrance is to be deplored.
I am not very keen on having to resort to a mortgage, but it was the only way to afford the living costs in London.
I was overwhelmed by this movie! It depicts the government as it truly is.

I will also try to use those new words on a writing essay or on my day by day conversations. I just hope I don’t find anything to deplore!

I hope you found this post useful! Please, share your thoughts! It is the only way I can improve the blog and its content.

Happy studying! :)

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CPE’s Structure: Reading and Use of English

Hi there!

Today you’ll find a lot of information related to the Reading and Use of English part of the CPE test. It consists on a basic description of the exam, format, timings, structures and tasks. My intention is to develop content to each of the tasks and then link it to this post, so see it much more as a guide for now than as a proper explanation. I also found a sample of the answer sheets, so for the ones with problems with filling lozenges, it is time to practice :-P

READING AND USE OF ENGLISH

GENERAL DESCRIPTION*

Paper Format: For parts 1 to 4, the test contains texts with accompanying grammar and vocabulary tasks, and discrete items with a grammar and vocabulary focus. For parts 5 to 7, the test contains texts and accompanying reading comprehension tasks.

Timing: 1h30m, for 53 questions.

Task types: Multiple-choice cloze, open cloze, word formation, key word transformation, multiple matching, gapped text, multiple choice.

Text types: Books, non-specialist articles from magazines, newspapers, internet articles

Length of text: 2,900 to 3,400 words

ANSWER FORMAT
For parts 1, 5, 6 and 7, candidates indicate their answers by shading the correct lozenges on the answer sheet. For parts 2 and 3, candidates write their answers in capital letters in the space provided on the answer sheet. For part 4, each correct answer receives up to 2 marks; for parts 5-6, each correct answer receives 2 marks; for part 7, each correct answer receives 1 mark. There are a total of 72 marks available for the test. Below you can find a sample of the answer sheet:

 

Answer Sheet

Answer Sheet

 

Answer Sheet

Answer Sheet

 

STRUCTURE AND TASKS
Below you’ll find some information about each of the parts. Note that the titles are linked to deeper posts about each of the questions:

Part 1: Multiple-choice cloze
The main focus is on vocabulary, e.g. idioms, collocations, fixed phrases, complementation, phrasal verbs, semantic precision.
Format: A single text with eight gaps. Candidates must choose one word or phrase from a set of four to fill each gap.
Number of Questions: 8 (8 gaps, duh!)

Part 2: Open cloze 
The main focus is on awareness and control of grammar with some focus on vocabulary.
Format: A modified cloze test consisting of a text with eight gaps. Candidates think of the word which best fits each gap.
Number of Questions: 8

Part 3: Word formation
The main focus is on vocabulary, in particular the use of affixation, internal changes and compounding in word formation.
Format: A text containing eight gaps. The stems of the missing words are given beside the text and must be changed to form the missing word.
Number of Questions: 8

Part 4: Keyword transformations
The focus is on grammar, vocabulary and collocation.
Format: Six discrete items with a lead-in sentence and a gapped response to complete in 3-8 words, including a given keyword.
Number of Questions: 6

Part 5: Multiple choice
The focus is understanding of detail, opinion, attitude, tone, purpose, main idea, implication, text organisation features (exemplification, comparison, reference).
Format: A text followed by 4-option multiple choice questions.
Number of Questions: 6

Part 6: Gapped text
The focus is on the understanding of cohesion, coherence, text structure, global meaning.
Format: A text from which paragraphs have been removed and placed in jumbled order after the text. Candidates must decide from where in the text the paragraphs have been removed.
Number of Questions: 7

Part 7: Multiple matching
Understanding of detail, opinion, attitude, specific information.
Format: A text, or several short texts, preceded by multiple-matching questions. Candidates must match a prompt to elements in the text.
Number of questions: 10

When the posts with the samples of all questions from this part of the exam are ready, I will link them to this post!

Happy Studying :-)

PS: I know that sometimes “happy studying” could be sarcastic. But please, this is not the case. As we are both navigating through this test, I am really wishing you to have a happy time studying, as I am, while I write this blog!

 * all the information was based on the official Cambridge CPE Handbook 2013.

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The Speaking part of CPE Test

This is usually something that frightens everyone willing to take the CPE. I was very scared. First of all, I am from Brazil, as you know, and I have the “brazilian” accent. Secondly, as most of my English vocabulary was acquired by reading, I thought that pronunciation was not one of my strengths.
But I started digging for some tests online, I also watched a video at the Cultura Inglesa class, and I found out that it is easier than it seems, and that probably, almost everyone could get a good grade if they practice a bit.

I need to confess I am lucky in regards to use my English while speaking, as I work for a British company, and also I have a British boyfriend who doesn’t speak a word of Portuguese. So my everyday skype calls and conferences are a great deal of help.
I know that many of you are not in my situation, so, I will take the formal path and then share some advices! I hope you like it!

First things first, know the test structure.

Overall:
The average test length is of 16 minutes. You will take the test with another candidate, and you will find two examiners in the room. The first one will be conducting the exam, and the other one will be only evaluating it and taking notes that will be discussed afterwards with the main examiner.
When the total number of people taking the test is an odd number, the test could be taken by three people at the same time.

The Cambridge CPE speaking test consists of 4 parts:

The first one, is a simple interaction with the examiner, where they will ask your name and a simple question as where do you live, what do you do for living, what is your name and maybe ask for some opinion about something related to your answers. Remember that the other person will also be interviewed as you are, but the questions might be different.

The second part, which usually scares the test takers the most, is the pictures part, when they give the students 5 different pictures. The examiner will ask you both to focus on 2 out of those 5 pictures and will ask questions. You should discuss with your colleague and get to conclusions. After this, you both will be asked to look at all pictures and some sort of task will be given: Which picture represents better….? What picture should we use for an advertising campaign related to….? etc…

You should discuss it with the other person, share your thoughts and impressions, go through each of the pictures examining it and trying to connect or disconnect it to/from the question. An answer should be given to the examiner (together with the reasons why you chose that one)!

After this, you’ll move to the third part, which in my humble opinion, is one of the most difficult ones. You’ll have to talk about a random subject and talk about it for 2 minutes, sharing your opinion about it, giving pros and cons, comparing situations and putting yourself in context. On the question card you’ll have three different ideas to help you with the approach.
After you finish it, the other candidate will be asked to share his impression about it too, so it is very important to pay attention to what is being said by him when it is not your turn. You or the other person will go through the same process but the question will be completely different.

Then, the final part consists of a series of questions, sometimes related to each other, sometimes not that much, where each of the candidates should take it and answer. The test will be over after those questions.

So, I found a few things online to help us with this task, but I would suggest the following approach:

Watch the video (below) first, take notes and analyse it. Think which grades you would grant them, how rich is their vocabulary, how clear is their speech, how well they use complex forms during their exam. Then, you can go and read the Cambridge official sample test with examiners’ comments related to this video, which will give you a clear idea about how the examiners think and evaluate, and will also probably serve to calm you down!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts with us! We’ll move forward on this task on another opportunity, and I will link it here.

 

Happy studying :-)

 

 

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Should I buy a book?

Hi there! Although there are many publications focused on the CPE, I haven’t made my mind on this subject yet.
I heard from some teachers that it wouldn’t be as useful as I was thinking, but others think that it would be a great way of studying. Of course, it all depends on your Google skills, because you can find a lot of books online. Some of those are meant to be online, others errr, not that much.

But yes, by using torrents you could build an interesting library to help you with the CPE, in case you are short of budget.
* I don’t encourage anyone to do it, as you can buy second hand books for a very good price on Amazon.

My approach to this subject so far was to use all the free and legal websites available, plus one good grammar book to help me with some of my Grammar issues. I’ve been using my “English Grammar in Use” by Murphy, that follows me for at least 10 years now.

English Grammar in Use

English grammar in use Raymond Murphy

If you are looking for a grammar, I would recommend this one. It is very organised and friendly, and it has a test by its end where you can find out exactly what are your grammar weak points, and then focus on studying it. I also use this grammar when I am working and a doubt appears – as the index is perfect, you can quickly find the solution to that specific problem.

If I manage to buy it quickly, I will have one of the books from official Cambridge’s list delivered to my boyfriend’s place, and I will get it from him by the end of May. If it happens, I promise to update this post and share my thoughts. My idea is to buy the Proficiency 1, by Cambridge, and the cover is below. If you have one of those books, please share your impressions!

Cambridge Proficiency 1

Cambridge CPE Proficiency 1

Happy Studying! :-)

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What are the 4 papers on CPE?

Hello All!

I hope you are happy and studying hard!

This post is a short version of what to expect from each of the parts of the exam, and what is the marks composition of each. All this informations are based on Cambridge’s official handbook.
More detailed information on each test will be published soon, with examples, when possible.

There are four different papers: Reading and Use of English, Writing, Listening and Speaking. The reading and Use of English paper carries 40% of the marks, while Writing Listening and Speaking each carry 20% of the marks.

Reading and Use of English: 1 hour 30 minutes
You will be tested on your ability to understand texts from all sorts of publications (fiction and non-fiction books, journals, newspapers, magazines, etc…) The tasks will show if the candidates are capable of control their grammar and vocabulary well. There is a post dedicated to this paper. Read it here.

Writing: 1 hour 30 minutes
You will be tested on producing two different pieces of writing: a compulsory task in Part 1, and one from a choice of five in part 2.

Listening: 40 minutes (approximately)
You will be tested on your understanding of a range of spoken material, as conversations, lectures, seminars, broadcasts and talks.

Speaking: 16 minutes
Candidates will be tested in pairs or in groups of three, and will be assessed on their ability to take part in different types of interaction: with the examiner, with the other candidate (s) and by themselves.

During the following posts, I will go deeper on each of the papers, telling about the questions and the expected knowledge to answer them correctly!

Happy studying! :)

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