Are you preparing to get the Cambridge CAE? We give you a list of tips to try to get the exam.
Reading and Use of English
Read regularly in English. Notice the patterns of the language and keep records of linguistic ‘chunks’ like verb + noun collocations and dependent prepositions. Then try to use them in sentences or paragraphs of your own.
When correcting word formation exercises in class, keep a record of the words you got wrong and review it regularly.
This paper is full of distractors which are there to try to trip you up and check how much of the text you really understand. To help you, first skim read the text quickly to get a general understanding of the content.
Make sure you read the questions carefully and underline key words and phrases. When you think you have the answer, check and double-check it by re-reading the part of the text that helped you find the answer.
Manage your time. Do as many free online practice tests as you can to improve your speed. Try not spend too long on questions that you are not sure about; – leave those for the end.
Pay attention to your spelling… (remember those rules like “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’”, etc.)
Get to know what the examiner expects. You are assessed on the content, how you communicate the ideas, organisation and your use of language. Each time you receive feedback on an essay, make a note of what you need to improve, cover the task and do it again! Repetition is the best way to improve and to really understand what is expected of you.
Read as many online model answers as you can, analyse their structure and highlight any useful phrases which the writer used to introduce or link their ideas. Make a note of them and try to use them yourself. Copying like this is great for perfecting the correct style and tone.
Always write a plan before starting to write with an indication of what you will include in each paragraph. You can also note down any vocabulary you are planning to use.
Practise planning by looking for questions online and spending 5 minutes brainstorming your ideas for each.
Manage your time and remember the word limit. Give yourself plenty of practice to ensure you spend the right amount of time and write the correct number of words.
Listen to as much English as you can outside class. You can watch videos on YouTube, lectures on Ted.com, listen to podcasts on your phone or even watch films in their original language.
Get as much practice as you can by doing online listening tests on exam preparation websites, e.g. flo-joe.com.
Use the time before each recording starts to skim-read the questions and the options, underlining key words and phrases in both. This will help you to pinpoint the section of the recording that contains the answer.
Try to predict the kinds of words you will be listening for. Is it going to be an adjective, a verb, a number, type of activity, a person?
As in the case of reading, watch out for distractors. For multiple choice questions, they like to catch candidates out by mentioning all the options. Therefore, try to get into the habit of eliminating options that have been discarded by the speakers and waiting before marking your final answer.
Get to know what exactly is expected by watching full speaking tests on YouTube. Analyse the candidates’ performance and make a note of their strengths and weaknesses.
The second part of the speaking test is a long turn where you have to speak alone for a minute. Practice this at home by recording yourself on your phone. Then listen back an analyse your fluency, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Then do it again. Remember that repetition is key!
Find a study buddy from NEP who you can practice speaking with outside class. You could even practice the Part 3 collaboration together via skype or WhatsApp video.
Keep a record of useful phrases for giving opinions, agreeing and disagreeing and interacting with your partner.
The fourth part is the discussion. Watch a Part 4 speaking test online and pause the video after each of the examiner’s questions. Answer the questions yourself, then listen and compare to what the candidates say on the video. Or find written questions online and record yourself answering them on your phone.