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Cambridge FCE exam – Reading and Use of English part 1.

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Cambridge FCE exam (First Certificate in English) is an upper-intermediate (B2) level exam developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment.
It’s one of the most widely taken exams and it’s accepted by numerous organisations and universities as a proof of ability to communicate in English for work and study purposes.

Today we are going to focus particularly on the Reading and Use of English – Part 1 and some useful tips to complete this section with the most success.


fce exam english


Changes in 2015

First of all, we would like to remind you that since January 2015   some changes have been introduced into the exam, particularly into the Reading and the Use of English parts.
The Reading and the Use of English papers are now merged, with the overall allocated time of 1 hour 15 minutes.
There are 7 sections in this part.

 What is Part 1?

Part 1 of the Reading and Use of English paper consists of a text and a task that tests your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. The task has eight multiple-choice questions related to vocabulary in a text.
Here you can find an example of the part and even take a chance to practise.

students sitting for an english exam


How much time do I have?

Remember that all 7 parts must be completed in 1 h 15 mins.
Here is the first tip – do not spend too much time on part 1! As this is a multiple question type of a task, it does not require as much thinking and writing as other parts do.
It might be even better to start with parts which require more thinking and leave part 1 until the end. There is no need to follow the chronological order.

time management


Hope for some luck! 

If you are running out of time, you could answer the questions in part 1 even randomly (or follow your personal lucky pattern).
To get a point with random answers is much better rather than leaving empty answer boxes for parts where you need to think of a word and write it down accurately! 

Core knowledge

As we mentioned, part 1 of the Reading and Use of English paper does test your grammar and vocabulary knowledge. Therefore, we advise that you do spend a vast amount of time on learning the core grammar and vocabulary structures specific for this level such as phrasal verbs, collocations, prepositions, word transformations, modal verbs, etc. It could especially help answer the multiple-question-type task within minutes, if not seconds.

Helpful clues

Read the sentence and look for any clues. Pay attention to prepositions/adverbs following or preceding the gap as they could easily identify the correct answer. Make sure you read the whole sentence before you give an answer. 

Reading the text?

Do not try to read the text thoroughly as you will lose time! Instead, read the heading to get an idea about the content and skim through the text quickly. The best tip here would be to read a lot of authentic materials as a part of your preparation. Not only will it help to increase your reading speed, but also to get exposed to the language and choose answers quicker.