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How to do Use of English Part 1 for the Cambridge B2 First

by Mark July 23, 2021
Dublin English Courses

So, you’re thinking of taking the First Certificate exam? Welcome to this series of posts about the Cambridge B2 First exam, sometimes known as the FCE exam. The whole exam is divided into four different ‘papers’ – Reading & Use of English, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. This page offers a guide to the first part of the Reading & Use of English exam in the Cambridge B2 First Exam, in which you have to complete a Multiple Choice vocabulary task, what it tests, how to approach it and how to revise for it. Don’t be afraid, Use of English part 1 – let’s go!

General Information about the Reading & Use of English Exam

The Reading & Use of English exam lasts for an hour and fifteen minutes (75 minutes). There are seven parts to this exam – the first four parts are Use of English exercises (testing grammar and vocabulary), and the remaining three are Reading tasks.

In Part 1 you have to complete a Multiple Choice Text vocabulary task; in Part 2 you have to complete an Open Gapped Text (a gapped text with no multiple choice options – testing grammar);  Part 3 is a Word Formation exercise where you must complete a text using keywords that you’re given (testing vocabulary); Part 4 is called Keyword Transformations where you must complete a sentence so that it means the same as an example sentence that you’re given.

Part 5 is a Multiple Choice reading exercise; Part 6 is a Missing Sentences exercise in which you must complete six gaps in the text with seven possible missing sentences; and finally Part 7 is a Multiple Matching exercise where you have to match 10 statements/questions to four-six short texts.

What the test involves

Part 1 is a multiple-choice vocabulary exercise. Part 1 features a gapped text of about 150 words with 8 gaps (and 1 example) and four options (A-D) to choose from.

Time

In the Reading & Use of English exam you have 75 minutes in total and it is up to you how you spend the time, but I would recommend spending about 5 minutes on this exercise. It’s multiple choice, so the answer is on the page in front of you – it’s just a question of choosing A, B, C, or D!

What's being tested

This is a test of vocabulary, collocations (words that are commonly used together, for example – adjectives that are used with particular nouns; adverbs that are used with particular verbs etc…), set phrases and common expressions.

How to do Use of English Part 1

Read the title

This will give you an idea of what the text is about. This is helpful to know because the more you understand the context, the easier some of the answers will be.

Skim through the text

Quickly read through the text to give yourself even more of an understanding of the context.

Read through the text more slowly

Read the text more slowly and look at the words that come before and after each gap. The options that you have will all be the same type of word (all nouns, all adjectives etc…) so you need to focus more on the actual vocabulary that is being used in the text. If you’re not sure of an answer you can move on and come back to it later. But remember, you don’t lose points if you write an incorrect answer, but you’ll definitely get zero if you choose nothing!

Answering the questions

One of the main things you need to consider in answering these questions is collocations. Collocations are words that are used together – just because they are! Unfortunately, there aren’t many rules for these – the best way to revise for this is to try to read as much as possible so you get experience of the language and how words are used together. For example:

POWERFUL STRONG
PERSON A powerful person A strong person
COMPUTER A powerful computer X

 

Although the adjectives ‘powerful’ and ‘strong’ have a similar meaning, they can’t be used in the same way with every noun. We can, for example, say ‘a strong/powerful person’ but we can’t use the adjective ‘strong’ with the noun ‘computer’.

Also, pay attention to any prepositions that appear after the gaps. Prepositions are often particular to certain verbs or nouns so consider the A-D options and which prepositions can (or can’t) be used with those words.

Another thing to look out for is the use of gerunds (-ing forms) or infinitives after gaps.

Scoring

You will get one mark for each correct answer.

What is the best way to revise for this test?

Because this is a vocabulary test, the best thing to do is to try to increase your vocabulary knowledge as much as possible. This could be done by reading – fiction is generally better for this exercise as there will be a much wider range of vocabulary used.

Test Yourself

5

Use of English Part 1 (B2 First)

Choose the correct answer from the multiple choice options. In the exam you will have one whole text with 8 gaps to complete.

1 / 8

______ of the most important things to know is how to answer the questions.

2 / 8

John _____ in passing the exam on his first attempt.

3 / 8

Could the person ___________ car is parked outside please move it? It is blocking the entrance.

4 / 8

Becoming good at something means __________ the time to learn to do it well.

5 / 8

Lots of flowers give _____ a beautiful scent.

6 / 8

I don’t think we should do something different, we should ______ to the plan.

7 / 8

I ____ jogging two or three times every week.

8 / 8

At the movie premiere all the actors and actresses walked along the red ____.

Your score is

Thank you for reading our post. For more information about the Cambridge B2 First Exam (FCE) you can check out the official site here. Thank you for reading our post. You’ll find more English grammar tips elsewhere on our site and if you’d like information on our English courses in Dublin, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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