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Tips for FCE Reading and Writing

Bob Obee

Sibiu and Bucharest



Format of Paper 1 (Reading)

Part 1 a text followed by 8 multiple choice questions gapped text task with 7 sentences removed from a base text one text or several short texts - multiple matching questions

Part 2

Part 3



Part 1 One text with multiple-choice questions (gist, attitude, opinion, detail, main idea, text organisation features etc.) Part 2 Gapped text with sentences removed (text structure, cohesion and coherence) Part 3 Multiple matching (specific information,detail opinion and attitude)

Multiple-choice elimination
I shifted uncomfortably inside my best suit and eased a finger inside the tight white collar. It was hot in the little bus and I had taken a seat on the wrong side where the summer sun beat on the windows. It was a strange outfit for the weather, but a few miles ahead my future employer might be waiting for me and I had to make a good impression. There was a lot depending on this interview. Many friends who had qualified with me were unemployed or working in shops or as labourers in the shipyards. So many that I had almost given up hope of any future for myself as a veterinary surgeon.
1 As he travelled, the writer regretted his choice of A B clothes. C career. D means of transport.

Part 1: testing focus /question spread



3 4

main point main point

7 8

detail (inference)
lexical meaning gist

Reading Part 2

How things fit together

Question 9: option D
Mrs Hart was one of four theatre lovers chosen to judge all new drama productions last year. They were part of a panel that also included five professional theatre critics.

Question 11: option G

Being a judge was hard work, though. In

one week alone, her duties involved her

reviewing as many as seven plays. But I

never got sick of it. Even the plays I didnt

like always had some redeeming qualities.

Question 13: option B

In this situation, there is surely a danger
of the professional critics dominating the

discussions. That didnt happen at all. It

was all very civilised and friendly.

As a boy, Chris Peters collected hundreds of vintage cameras, mostlyfrom jumble sales and dustbins. Later,when the time came to buy his first house, he had to sell his valuable collection in order to put down a deposit. A few years after, he took up the interest again and now has over a thousand cameras, the earliest dating from 1860. Now Peters just cannot stop collection and hopes to open his own photographic museum where members of the public will be able to touch and fiddle around with the cameras. Whilst acknowledging that the Royal Camera Collection in Bath is probably more extensive than his own, he points out that so few of the items are on show there at the same time that I think my own personal collection will easily rival it.

Built-in check
Which person had to re-start their collection? received an unexpected gift? is aware that a fuller collection of items exists elsewhere? has a history of collecting different items?

insists on purchasing top-quality items?

has to protect their collection from damage? would like to create a hands-on display of their collection?

Classroom activities to familiarise students with FCE Reading

Students draw lines from reference words to the nouns/phrases they refer back to. Students practise underlining the key idea in a paragraph or text. Students check all the multiple-choice options against the text and justify their choice. Students collect synonyms for important words in a text. Students complete jigsaw reading tasks in order to focus on text structure. Linking words are removed from a text and students are asked to replace them. As a homework assignment, students are asked to find texts and write questions for a multiple matching task.


Writing Part 1

Task Awareness : Communication

- Audience whos it to - Purpose - Result whats it for what effect/result you want


ESOL Criteria Composite Feedback

CONTENT SCALE (for all CEFR levels)

5 All content is relevant to the task. Target reader is fully informed. 4 3 Minor irrelevances and/or omissions may be present. Target reader is on the whole informed. 2

1 Irrelevances and misinterpretation of task may be present. Target reader is minimally informed.


Band 5

Communicative Achievement Uses the conventions of the communicative task effectively to hold the target readers attention and communicate straightforward and complex ideas, as appropriate. Organisation Text is well-organised and coherent, using a variety of cohesive devices and organisational patterns to generally good effect. Language Uses a range of vocabulary, including less common lexis, appropriately. Uses a range of simple and complex grammatical forms with control and flexibility. Occasional errors may be present but do not impede communication.


Band 3

Communicative Achievement Uses the conventions of the communicative task to hold the target readers attention and communicate straightforward ideas. Organisation Text is generally well-organised and coherent, using a variety of linking words and cohesive devices. Language Uses a range of everyday vocabulary appropriately, with occasional inappropriate use of less common lexis.

Uses a range of simple and some complex grammatical forms with a good degree of control. Errors do not impede communication.

ESOL Criteria



Communicative Achievement

Language : Accuracy and Range

The local market it is outdoors so that it is exposed to the elements. [org] As Being
Many cloths shops are expencieve, because there are brands [accuracy and range]

Brands Such shops can

On the hole it is recomented that tourists should visit the local market. [register] I would On the whole, tourists

Use of English

Use of English
Part 1 Multiple-choice cloze (lexical/lexico-grammatical) Part 2 Open cloze (grammatical/lexico-grammatical) Part 3 Word formation (lexical,lexico-grammatical)

Part 4 Key word transformations (lexical and grammatical)

Multiple- choice : Question analysis

Time find pass waste fly have make spend drag go take 1 A took B went C flew D passed

Controlled tasks
multi-faceted tasks that aim at reinforcing form / word associations :
What would the opposite action (of the highlighted verb) be in each case. My friends left Portugal last week We boarded the plane just after midnight. She left home on Friday. They got on at the last stop. Hes just come back from a trip.

Lexis grammar



Jane arrive

John really fancies Jane so changes his mind John wants to avoid Jane


The Jules Rimmet trophy, great prize PROFESSION soccer, is better known as the world cup

Think Cambridge FCE : Word Formation

Lexis grammar



Jane arrive

John really fancies Jane so changes his mind John wants to avoid Jane

at first never since get became

1 He hasnt had a holiday for years. Its ___________ had a holiday in years. 2 The last time it rained here was in May. It _____________ May. 3 How long have they been married. When _____________ married ?

Authentic v Genuine
1 You only get depressed because you worry. If you _______ not get so depressed NOT 0 1 2 3

2 Youre always blaming me for things that go wrong. 0 1 2 3 Whenever _____________ me ANYTHING 3 I didnt phone because I didnt know you were back 0 1 2 3 I _____________ Id known you were back. IF

Where are the other bits ?

1 Theres no need for you to bring a present as well 2 Theres no law that requires drivers to wear seat-belts. 3 I suppose its possible that her phone isnt working 4 Its not possible for someone to lose so much weight so quickly.




SUMMER CAMPS Helen says that people taking part in the summer camp usually sleep in a 9 ______ The summer camp is a chance for teenagers to meet people and learn 10 ______ As an example of a practical activity, Helen tells us about a team which built a 11 ______

Listening Prediction Part of Speech

Listening Prediction

Paraphrases youll hear

Using tapescripts
Interviewer: I see. And what did you do when you left school?

Well, for me staying at home and being a farmer, as my grandmother hoped, wasnt an option, but I didnt have the qualifications to be an engineer, which was what I wanted. I tried being a journalist because I thought it might give me opportunities for adventure, but I didnt make a very good one, Im afraid! The only other work Ive ever done has been something temporary to raise funds for an expedition.


Format of FCE Speaking

Par t 1 2 3 4 Format Social interaction Individual long turn
Interaction pattern 3-way between candidates and interlocutor candidate talks about two pictures KEY Strategies


Collaborative candidates talk together around input Task


3 -way between candidates with question from interlocutor

Part 1 [interview] interaction

strategy one :

short answer - expansion

Part 1 : Key strategy

Short Answer Not really Expansion I never seem to get the time ..Im very busy with school

Shape of question (specifically what) Appropriate short answer Expansion ( how much information)

Part 1: Topic Areas

everyday Life

likes and dislikes

free-time activities your town / country future plans learning English

Questions- short answer

holiday ?
future ?

Nowhere No idea really special

I do actually

STAIGHT FACE I do actually

Sample Task
Work with another student. Practice interview sequences with these short answers. Think of questions and how to expand on these answers.

Only at weekends. Whenever I can A few times.

None at all I do actually.. It depends.

Collaborative practice
you give a short answer you extend you extend some more What do like about living in Bucharest ?

Strategy two : your partners answer

Think about and practice relating your answer to your partners answer. ..even if only through pronunciation. For me its the same . Im a bit different to/ Like Sergio . I dont get out so often

Active Listenin g

Free time

How different are your weekends in the summer and the winter ?

Part 2
How can we ensure that students have plenty to say in their long turn ?

Part 2 : the bigger picture

situate move back and forth plus specific task dimension

Safe speculation language

It looks [a bit] like I suppose its It could be . Its probably something/somewhere like

Support for teachers

Teacher Support Website Free resources lesson plans, handbooks, etc. Exam discussion forums Teacher tips

Publications for exam preparation Past Paper Packs Speaking Test Preparation Packs Top Tips Series for candidates Seminars and conferences

Tips for CAE Reading and Writing

Bob Obee

Sibiu and Bucharest


Performance - CAE
Romania performance vs top 10 countries 2011
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Reading Germany Mexico Romania Czech Rep Italy Russia Switzerland France Poland Bulgaria Writing Bulgaria Germany Romania Czech Rep Russia Italy Switzerland Portugal Agrentina Poland Use of Eng Bulgaria Romania Agrentina Poland Portugal Germany Czech Rep Russia Italy Mexico Listening Germany Portugal Switzerland Romania Bulgaria Czech Rep Poland UK France Mexico Speaking Germany Mexico Romania Czech Rep Italy Russia Switzerland France Poland Bulgaria

*June session only


Gapped Paragraphs
Following an initial reading of the base text, a candidate spends quite a lot of time focusing on and highlighting different elements of the opening lines of the missing paragraphs. The candidate then does the same thing for the opening lines of the paragraphs in the base text. The result looks like this:

F Over the next hour or so the noise grew to terrifying dimensions. By the time we edged around the bed to confront it, we were convinced we would be faced with mountains of white water, instead, despite all the sound and fury, the Zambezi seemed only slightly ruffled by a line of small rocks.

Multiple-choice : yes, no, doesnt say

Your article should show you are passionate and knowledgeable about environmental issues, it should also be objective and accurate, while being creative enough to hold thereaders interest. We are not looking for think pieces or opinion columns. Your aim should be to advance understanding and awareness of environmental issues ,you should be able to convey complex ideas to readers of this general interest magazine in an engaging and authoritative manner.

Your article should A. focus on straightforward concepts B. include a range of views C reveal the writers standpoint

Multiple choice : Main points

CAE December 2004 The singer and the song In modern pop music, the harmony is surrendered to a process of distortion, involving much mixing and editing. Sometimes serious doubts arise as to whether the performers made more than a minimal contribution to the recording, which owes its trademark to the subsequent sound engineering, designed precisely to make it unrepeatable. Hence, pop fans find themselves deprived of one of the most important gifts of music the gift ofsong. It is almost impossible to sing the typical pop song unaccompanied and still to make musical sense. The best you can do is impersonate your idol with a karaoke machine which will give you the benefit of full instrumental backing.

Summary points
This could be summarised in one or all three of these points:
The technology is more important than the singer's voice these days. It is hard to copy pop singers because of technology. The song should be more important and interesting than the singer.


In Writing in L2 students even Advanced ones need handholding and guidance with every step of the process

- Data collection - Selecting - Planning - Drafting - Crafting - Editing - Rewriting - Proof-reading

Writing Assignment Cycle

1 Set the task
5 Feedback
Envisioning improvement Allow time for data collection/selection

2 Exposure

4 Composing
Help with drafting

Focus on register organisation ..

3 Writing clinics

Read the extract from your friends letter and from your diary below. Then, using the information appropriately, write a letter to your friend saying whether or not you would recommend the job to your friend and giving your reasons.

Do you think Id like the job? Most of all I want to hear plenty of music. Id like to make enough money for a holiday too. If I could use my English and get useful work experience, that would be great! Cheers, Jan
July 2 Boring office work! No chance to learn anything. I answer the phone and make coffee. July 10 Pay day! Things are improving! The moneys not bad. July 15 Did some translation and dealt with enquiries from English visitors.

July 22 Another free visit to festival!



A letter


An essay [article]

and above all I shall do no harm

! . , ? ; : -

dash full-stop inverted comma colon comma semi-colon question mark exclamation mark apostrophe

1 The problems of pollution, deforestation and managing waste are low government priorities. 2 The truth is simple : economic needs are put before environmental ones every time.

3 Coastal areas should or rather must make use of tidal energy.

4 Some foods given green labels have been produced in an eco-friendly way ; others have not.

5 Rainforests must be preserved at all costs : they act as the lungs of the earth. 6 Poverty and greed, the results of modern economic policy, are the twin causes of environmental destruction.

7 Our parents generation has known about climate change for twenty years and done nothing. Its shameful !
8 We need to be careful when using the term : blame.

Perfect Essay
Respect the Land When we consider a subject as sweeping as the environment, we often focus on its most tangible aspects - the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we put on the table. Those things are critically important. But to me the environment is also about something less tangible, though no less important. It is about our sense of community - the obligation we have to each other, and to future generations, to safeguard Gods earth. Those are values I learned firsthand, as a young boy on my familys farm in Tennessee. We didnt call it environmentalism back then; it was simply common sense. My earliest environmental lessons came from our efforts to stop soil erosion - by stopping the formation of gullies that would wash away the vital topsoil on which our farm depended. Large farmers who leased their land for short-term profits didnt worry about soil erosion at the time: thats one of the reasons three hectares of prime topsoil floats past Memphis every hour, washed away for good.

As a teenager, I learned that such short-term thinking was causing even more serious problems. One of the books we discussed around our family table was Rachel Carsons classic Silent Spring, about pesticide abuse. As it did for millions around the world, Carsons book helped awaken in me that our planets life is too precious to squander. Today, the threats to our environment are even clearer to see and much greater in scope and number. We live in a world where climate change, deforestation, holes in the ozone layer and air pollution are growing sources of concern. Our challenge is to find new ways to address those problems by reaching back to our oldest values of community and responsibility - by inspiring a greater respect for the land and resources we share. If we are to protect and preserve the environment on a global scale we must all do our part, as nations, as families and as individuals. The need for awareness has never been greater, and the opportunity for us to make a difference is just as great. If we practice and teach the right kind of care and commitment for the environment it will continue not only to bring us its natural gifts, but also to bring us together.

Writing Clinics
- Manageable - Transparent outcomes

Support / Scaffolding

- Feedback
- ESOL framework - Composite feedback

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for you interest in visiting our country . And you are welcome to visit our city, Trieste and all its surroundings. Trieste is a city with old traditions and a long history that begins in the distant years of the Roman Empire. The city centre is worth a deeper visit, thanks to its unique buildings and old-fashioned cafes - not to mention all the places not in the tourist guides. Do not get surprised if, round the corner, you discover something you didnt expect. To come to know Trieste then you need to make a walk through its streets where you will find peaceful parks which are considered an oasis of peace.

Use of English






What is there to teach ..?

Is the Use of English paper . more about grammar . or more about vocabulary ?

Depth of knowledge phonetic and orthographic dimensions main meanings main contexts of use syntactic properties underlying form and derivatives network of associations with other words connotations

Use of English Cambridge Advanced Syllabus

word formation gapped sentences multiple-choice cloze open cloze word formation key word transformations
register in Writing paper

phonetic and orthographic dimensions main meanings main contexts of use syntactic properties underlying form and derivatives network of associations with other words connotations

Spelling mistakes from corpus at CAE level Romania

which collaboration behalf rehearsal schedule spacious together diseases numerous expansion wich colaboration behaf rehursal shedule spaceous togheter deseases numerrous expantion

One day : One focus

poss comprehenssustainbiodegradvalusuitexhaustrenewreverscompataccessaffordflexfashionresponsprofitvisfeasdesirreus-able


Exam Practice
Tidal Energy
Based in Sheffield [UK] Pulse Tidal is a company that has developed an 1 ______ machine that generates electrical power from the ocean tides; providing electricity that is clean and 2 ______ and unlike other 3 ______ energy sources totally 4 _________. Our power comes from the current created as the tides ebb and flow, a motion as 5 _______ as the rising and setting of the sun


One day : One focus [or maybe 2]

poss comprehenssustainbiodegradvalusuitexhaustrenewreverscompataccessaffordflexfashionresponsprofitvisfeasdesirreusun im ir nonin-

What is the specific meaning of the missing word? Is the positive or negative form of the word required?

What part of speech is required in the gap? Is it a derivative or compound of the given word? Is there more than one derivative form to consider? What is the spelling?

Match them up
Aerial photography
Photography was still in its (29) ..... when, in 1858, French artist Felix Tournachon took the first aerial photograph from a hot-air balloon. From these crude (30) ..... , aerial photographs have been taken from (31) ..... higher vantage points and now cameras on satellites can capture images of earth from space. This would have been (32) ..... in 1858





imagination (n)

imaginings (n)
imaginary (adj)

[un] imaginative [ly] (adj)(adv) [un] imaginable (adj)

[un] imaginably (adv) unimagined (adj)

Transformation Familiarisation
44 Do you think you could help me to fill in this application form? WONDERING + I .... me a hand filling in this application form. 48 Unless the weather improves, they will have to stop the tennis match. +MEAN+ If the weather doesnt get .. the tennis match.

Transformation Answer Awareness

44 was wondering if/_____ ][ you could/____/might ___/give 48 (___) better ][ it will mean stopping

][ shows where the answer is split into two parts for marking purposes.

Improvise a bit
Discuss with another student what you about possibilities, procedures, fees and expectations of candidates when applying to universities overseas.

Firm it up
admissions requirement obstacles interviews course dates language requirement accommodation finance type/length of course

Wheres the grammar

must may can should might cant have to might not have to be able to be allowed to be bound to be due to be expected to be obliged to are likely to are supposed to be willing to be about to

When and how does the grammar come in.

You / Them Pair / Plenary Look at this / Do it again

must may can should might cant have to might not have to
be able to be due to be likely to be allowed to be bound to be expected to be obliged to be supposed to be willing to

be about to

I expect that shell get permission to go too. She Im sure they will require you to have a Bachelors degree for such courses. You

Creativity Use Play

Whenever As soon as After Before The moment When Until As long as

Dedication poem

Ill be there for you


Paper 4 (Listening) Intensive listening focus

feeling attitude opinion f_______ speakers p______ main p______ agreement of speakers listeners c______ of action general g_____ understanding a point of detail interpret c________

Two Listenings

[Part 1]

Listen to the recording and listen for evidence as to why answers A and B are not correct. What makes Patsy continue acting in soap operas? A. the feeling of security it gives her B. the irregularity of the filming schedules C. the enjoyment of working as part of a team D. the challenge of reacting to changes in the plot

First to eliminate / narrow

Patsy: I cant speak for everyone, but for me the joy of an ongoing series is that you can go on happily week after week, turning up with the rest of the cast at the studio, thinking that you know whats on the cards but you arent always aware whats found the next corner. So its no good as an actor saying, Oh, but my character wouldnt do that! Maybe you feel sure that she wouldnt, given that youve played her for years in a variety of situations. It doesnt mean to say something cant be flung at you, as it would be in life, that actually throws you off balance and you react in an unexpected way. And thats whats intriguing. Thats why I dont like to know too much about the coming storyline

The second time to confirm/decide

Now the second time you listen decide which answer, C or D, is correct.

Part 4 Focusing on paraphrase

Admiration/respect I couldnt help looking up to [them]. Fondness for something I have affection for [that period]. To feel patronised by someone He talked down to me. To be agitated about something He went right over the
top as if it was the end of the world.

He was surprised

He couldnt believe his eyes.

Linking Listening to other skills

You will hear a nature conservation worker called Brian Dover talking about his job.

For questions 714, complete the sentences.

CONSERVATION WORKER Brians parents used to have a ____________________ (7) so he met people who told him about wildlife. The subject Brian chose to study at university was __________________ (8).

Brians present job involves both _____________________ (9) and practical skills.

Transformation exercise
1. He used to meet people who told him about wildlife COME He would often _________ people who told him about wildlife. 2. Thats what he chose to study at university CHOSEN That was ________________ at university.


Speaking : Areas of competence

Grammatical Resource Lexical Resource Pronunciation Discourse management Interactive communication

Global achievement

Discourse Management
This scale refers to the coherence, extent and relevance of each candidates contribution. The candidates ability to produce a coherent flow of language is assessed. Also assessed here is how relevant the contributions are to what has gone before.

Interactive Communication
The ability to use language to achieve meaningful communication. This includes: - initiating and responding without undue hesitation - the ability to use interactive strategies to maintain or repair communication

- sensitivity to the norms of turn-taking.

B2 scale
- good control of simple forms - attempts some complex language - can exchange views on a range of familiar topics - relevant with very little repetition - extended discourse despite hesitation - is intelligible - maintains and develops interaction

C1 scale
- good control of a range of simple and some complex forms. - can exchange views on familiar and unfamiliar topics - initiates and responds appropriately, - links contributions to those of other speakers. - develops interaction and negotiates towards an outcome - extended relevant contributions are relevant with clear organisation - Is intelligible.. intonation is appropriate. .

Format of CAE Speaking

Par t 1 2 3 4
Collaborative candidates talk together around input Task


Interaction pattern

KEY Strategies



3 -way between candidates with question from interlocutor

Part 3
How can we help students to interact appropriately ?

So a good Part 3 candidate will..

establish in context .. actively listen support and comment . seek and help to clarify initiate and respond probe and question . help navigate ..
.. agreeing / disagreeing . tend to seek closure

How effective might these suggestions be in improving health care? Which two would benefit the local community most?

On the floor practice

What makes you say that ? Im not so sure . This is obviously connected with .

This would be my first . ..and another reason for ..

I see what you mean I doubt though

Wouldnt you say though

Patterns of Interaction

Part 4
Encourage simple across turn strategies

Across turn And

Skills and strategies



Support for teachers

Teacher Support Website Free resources lesson plans, handbooks, etc. Exam discussion forums Teacher tips

Publications for exam preparation Past Paper Packs Speaking Test Preparation Packs Top Tips Series for candidates Seminars and conferences