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In this lesson, you can learn about how to do the Cambridge FCE reading and use of English
You’ll see what to expect in the FCE reading and use of English test and how to improve
This is part two of a two-part video on the FCE Reading and Use of English exam.
In this lesson, you’re going to learn about parts five, six and seven.
If you haven’t seen part one, then go and watch that one first!
All the questions in parts five and six are worth two marks each.
The questions in part seven are worth one mark each.
The good news is that these parts of the test are based on reading texts, which many students
find easier than the more grammatical questions.
The bad news is that you need to allow plenty of time to read and answer these questions.
Make sure you practice your time management before the exam so you have enough time for
the questions at the end.
So that's the basic information you need.
Let’s look at each part of the exam in more detail.
In part five, you’ll be given a longer text, with six questions at the end.
Each question is multiple choice, with four possible answers.
The questions in part five often focus on understanding people’s feelings and ideas,
instead of simple facts about the text.
Look at this sample question.
Pause the video and read it.
This is an extract from the longer text.
Look at the multiple-choice question that goes with it:
What can be inferred about the woman who walked into the coffee house?
She was a regular customer at the coffee house.
She had not expected Jane.
She wasn’t really Mrs Greene.
She had just woken up.
Remember that inferred refers to something that is not directly said.
That means that you need an overall understanding of the text, its ideas, and how the people
mentioned in the text might be feeling.
You won’t generally be able to find one word or phrase which gives you the answer.
So, you have to look for clues to see what people are thinking, or how they feel.
Can you work out what the answer is?
If it’s difficult, re-read the text and try to eliminate some of the possible answers.
Let's look together.
When you read the text again, there is no mention of the woman being a regular customer,
or of not being the real Mrs. Greene.
She might be a regular customer of course, but there aren’t any clues in the text that
So, you can cross out options 'a' and 'c'.
That leaves only 'b' and 'd'.
At this point, you could guess and have a 50/50 chance of getting it right.
But, of course, it’s better to figure out the correct answer.
Option 'b' says: "She had not expected Jane."
This might seem possible, especially since the woman doesn’t even talk to her!
But, the fact that the woman knew the time and place to arrive doesn’t fit with that.
And look at what Jane says in the text: “…I’ve come for the meeting, I’m your new assistant,”
said Jane cheerfully."
She says that she already is the new assistant, which means that she is definitely expected,
so this can’t be the right answer.
Now look at option 'd' again: "She had just woken up."
Look at the text again.
Can you find any clues that might show that the woman had recently been asleep?
In the text, the woman is described as having "bleary eyes" and "grunting" at Jane, before
ordering "a large coffee."
All of these are things you might have or do when you’ve just woken up.
This shows that the correct answer is 'd': "She had just woken up."
To prepare for this part of the test, it’s useful to read stories, interviews, or maybe
blog posts; read texts which focus more on people, their thoughts, opinions and feelings.
As you read, try to infer meaning from the clues in the text.
Ask yourself questions like:
What’s this person’s opinion?
How do I know?
What kind of person is this?
How do I know?
Asking yourself these kinds of questions while reading will help improve your reading level
in English and you’ll be more likely to get a better score in your FCE reading and
use of English exam.
Now, let’s move on to part six!
In this part of the exam, there will be one, shorter text, with six sentences missing.
The six missing sentences will be given to you in random order after the text.
A seventh, extra sentence that wasn’t removed from the text will be there as well, just
to confuse you!
You have to read the text, then the sentences, and decide which sentence fits in which gap.
Let’s look at part of a sample question:
As before, you can pause the video to have time to read the text and think about what
might be missing.
You can see that the first sentence in the text has finished.
However, after the gap, the text starts with a 'but'.
What does that mean?
It means that you’re looking for a contrasting idea.
Do you see how the structure of the text can give you an idea of what to look for?
This is important, because a common mistake is only to pay attention to the words before
You need to pay attention to the words after the gap, too, because they can be equally
Look at the text again.
You need a contrasting idea, but what could the contrast in the text be?
Now, look at the missing sentences.
Can you see which one is the correct one?
Okay, do you know which is the correct answer?
The correct answer is ‘b’.
Do you know why?
In the text, it says:
But, for a gymnast in particular, this lengthy period has to start before the effects of
adolescence set in…
The key words here are in particular.
The text is talking about gymnasts in particular, so the missing sentence isn’t specifically
Answer 'c' specifically mentions gymnasts, so that needs to be eliminated.
That leaves only answers 'a' and 'b' that are more general.
If you get stuck, look for other clues.
There’s often more than one clue which can lead you to the correct answer.
The text mentions a lengthy period.
When you read answers 'a' and 'b' again, you can see that 'b' mentions at least a decade,
which is also a lengthy period.
Of course, in the exam, you will have seven sentences to read through, not three, and
the text will be longer, but the principle is the same.
Remember about the main points here:
Pay attention to the words before and after the gap.
Think about what kind of idea is missing: is it an example, a contrasting idea, an extension
of an idea already in the text, or something else?
Look for any clues that can confirm or eliminate a possible answer; remember that there could
be more than one way to find the right answer.
Next, let’s talk about part seven of the reading and use of English exam.
Part seven is another kind of matching activity.
This time, you’ll have ten questions, followed by one long text or several shorter texts.
Each section of the text will have a letter, for example, A – D.
You’ll need to match each question to the correct section of the text.
Each section can be used more than once.
The most important skill here is skimming: you need to be able to read a text quickly
and find the most important pieces of information.
Let’s look at a sample question so you can see what to expect.
First, read the instructions:
In the exam you’ll get ten questions, but let’s look at two questions so you can practise
this part now.
Here are the questions:
Which person saw a film that…
1) Contained two stories.
2) Finished in an unrealistic way.
Now, look at four extracts from a text.
We’ve shortened them for the video, so they’ll be longer in the exam, but this will show
you what to expect:
Pause the video and read the extracts, then start again when you’re ready.
In this part of the test, you’re looking for similar ideas that can be expressed in
Let’s look at the first question:
Which person saw a film that contained two stories?
This is an easier question, as the text directly mentions one of the films having two stories.
Can you see which one?
The correct answer is B. Can you see why?
This question is relatively easy, by FCE standards.
However, with other questions, you’ll need to use inference and understand indirect meanings
to find the right answer.
Now, look at the second question:
Which person saw a film that finished in an unrealistic way?
Read the text again; can you figure out the answer?
A is complaining about a lack of originality, but it doesn’t say it finished unrealistically.
B mentions that only one part of the film held their interest, which also doesn’t
You can immediately eliminate those two options.
That leaves you with just two options: C or D.
C says that a setting with an uncertain future shouldn’t have a happy ending, while D complains
that the love story doesn’t seem like love to her.
Do you know the correct answer?
D does complain about a lack of realism, because he or she says that the supposedly intelligent
characters do stupid things.
However, the question relates to an unrealistic ending, not a general lack of realism.
C is the only answer which fits, because C complains that the ending does not fit with
the overall setting and mood of the film, i.e. it’s unrealistic.
Now that you’ve reached the end of this two-part video series, you should have a good
understanding of the FCE reading and use of English exam, and some ideas on how to practice
and prepare yourself for it.
Check out our website for more English lessons including FCE preparation lessons.
Oxford Online English.com.
See you next time!