CAE Exam Class – Reading and Use of English: Part 1

by Simon March 13, 2020

CAE Exam Class – Reading and Use of English: Part 1

This page offers a guide to the first part of the Reading and Use of English Paper in the Cambridge Advanced (C1) Exam, what it tests, how to approach it and how to revise for it.

The first test in the Reading and Use of English Paper of the CAE Exam looks something like this:

Cambridge CAE Exam Reading and Use of English Part 1 Example

Cambridge FCE Exam Reading and Use of English Part 1 Example Questions

(The actual test paper is longer with 8 gaps for you to fill.)

What the test involves

Your task is to choose, from the four possible answers given, the best one to fill the gap.

Time you should spend on this test.

Approximately 10 minutes.

What’s being tested

This is a test of your familiarity with English vocabulary, and often tests your knowledge of collocations (words that are often seen/heard together in English).

How to do the test

1. Read the title

This will give you a general sense of what the piece is about. Good to know.

2. Skim through the text

Before attempting to choose answers, quickly read through the text to understand what the piece says. This will help you find the answers.

3. Work through the text from the top

Choose the word that you think is best as you go. The first gap (Numbered ‘0’) is an example. Don’t waste time trying to work out why the answer is correct, but read the sentence and move on to Number 1, then 2 and so on to the end.

If you are not sure of an answer, but have a good guess, put that in. If you really don’t know, leave it blank and move on to the next. You can come back to these when you’ve done the others and again after you finish other parts of the exam. The point is to not get ‘bogged down’ trying to figure out one answer. Better to use your time getting the one’s right that you can. This is a more efficient use of your time.

4. Go through the text once again

Completing any answers you missed and check the answers that you have already put in. Are you happy with them? Again, if you’re stuck on one answer, don’t get too ‘bogged down’ on one answer. It’s more important to move onto the next part of the exam where there are more points to be scored. You can always come back to this test at the end of the exam if you have time.

Answering the questions

Read through the whole sentence, paying particular attention to the words on either side of the gap. Look at the possible answers. If there is an obvious answer put it in. If you need to think some more, think about these things:

  • There may only be a small difference in meaning between the possible answers. What is the difference?
  • Is there a preposition following a gap which will be filled by a verb? – which verb uses that preposition?
  • Read the whole sentence with the word that you think is likely. Does it sound right? Then it probably is.


You will get one mark for each correct answer.

An Example

Let’s have a look at the sample test above. The first sentence within which we have to place a word reads: “He realised that he had to _______ their trust.”

We must choose from:

  • A: catch
  • B: win
  • C: achieve
  • D: receive

We are being asked which verb collocates with the noun ‘trust’. Do we catch, win, achieve or receive ‘trust’? The answer is B: win.

The second sentence reads: “The ______ this has given him into their behaviour has allowed him to dispel certain myths about bears.”

We must choose from:

  • A: perception
  • B: awareness
  • C: insight
  • D: vision

Notice the preposition ‘into’ which comes after the noun. So, do we have a ‘perception into’ something? No, we have a ‘perception of‘ something. Do we have an ‘awareness into’ something? No, we have an ‘awareness of‘ something. Do we have an ‘insight into’ something? Yes. Do we have a ‘vision into’ something? No, we have a ‘vision of‘ something. The answer is C: insight

The third sentence reads: “______ to popular belief, he contends that bears do not…”

We must choose from:

  • A: Opposite
  • B: Opposed
  • C: Contrary
  • D: Contradictory

What word have you heard/seen in front of ‘to popular belief’? This is a common enough phrase and you are simply being asked if you are aware of it. The answer is C: Contrary. Look up “contrary to popular belief” on Google. It returns over 80 million results.

What is the best way to revise for this test?

Because this is a test of your range and understanding of vocabulary and how words in English work together, the best way to prepare yourself for this test is simply to read and/or listen to as much good quality English as you can. Choose something you like… books, newspapers, websites about your interests, podcasts, TED talks, whatever… and get stuck in. Look up words you see or hear and don’t know in a good dictionary or online.

More practice

The above sample paper is taken from the official Cambridge English website from where you can download – or complete online – this test and/or an entire practice exam.

Happy studying!

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