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 "...Cambridge First Certificate FCE Exam...Reading" 
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Post "...Cambridge First Certificate FCE Exam...Reading"
How to Pass the Cambridge First Certificate FCE Exam – Paper 1 - Reading
by: Kenneth Keating

The Cambridge FCE Exam is difficult to pass at the best of times. It is set at an Upper-Intermediate level of English, or B2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) and comes in the form of five separate papers: Reading, Writing, Use of English, Listening and Speaking. Here are some invaluable hints about how you can succeed in the first paper, Reading, to help you get that all important grade.

Paper 1 - Reading: The reading paper is one hour long and is composed of three sections, each one examining different areas of understanding. Your time should be divided equally between each of the three sections and not weighted towards any one text as they are each of equal difficulty and value. However, it is important to note that each correct answer in the first two sections is worth two points where as the third section’s answers are worth only one point. This is because there are fifteen questions in the third section, while there are only seven and eight in parts one and two respectively.

The first section asks seven Multiple-Choice Questions, A, B, C or D, the first five or six of which ask for specific detail and the last one or two asking about the general tone of the article overall. The best method of doing this is to slowly work your way through the text. The questions are linear with the text, so do not go on to the second question if you haven’t already found the first one. When it comes to the last one or two questions the answers are always in the opening and the closing paragraphs where you must find the language indicative of the author’s tone. Be careful of distracters. It is very common to read little phrases such as “according to some”, or “regarded by many”. These phrases do not indicate the author’s opinion, rather the author’s perception of society’s general opinion.

The second section in the reading paper is a Gapped Text which tests the student’s understanding of text structure. Students are presented with a text from which sentences or short paragraphs have been removed. Candidates must replace each of these in the appropriate part of the text. Note: There is always one extra sentence that is not needed and is there purely to confuse students! This task challenges the student’s grammatical understanding from context as each student must read the text and the sentences and find a match. It is important to note that there is always correspondence between the sentences and the position in which they should be in.

Eg. He was walking back up the room in his soft shoes when he caught her. She had obviously not heard him approaching. In this example the personal pronouns ‘he’ and ‘her’ match with ‘she and ‘him’. Not only that, but from the context of the preceding sentence’s details, it is possible to see that the ‘soft shoes’ connects to the idea that she had not heard him coming.

Part two should also be approached linearly. Read the sentences first, then begin to read the text. Stop when you get to the first blank space and do not move on until you have found a suitable sentence to fit there, otherwise you run the risk of getting confused. However, on occasion you must read the sentence that follows the space as this is the sentence that might offer the connection and the matching, rather than the preceding one as previously mentioned.

Part three provides the students with a text composed of four, or maybe even five, separate descriptions on a similar subject, for example the description of four extreme sports, A, B, C, or D. Following this there are fifteen statements and students must connect each statement to the relevant piece of text, ie. the relevant extreme sport. This section is designed to test the student’s ability to locate specific information. The best way to approach this task is, again, linearly. Read through the first section, ie. the first extreme sport, eg. Base-jumping. Then stop reading and turn to the fifteen sentences. Read through them carefully and assign any statement the correct letter for Base-jumping if you think it is suitable. Focus only on Base-jumping (section one). This technique is based on the idea that it is too confusing to read all four sections and then try to assign each statement. Work with each section individually and you should, hopefully, have every statement assigned when you finish the final section.

The principle of these hints is that all three sections should be approached linearly, follow the order of the questions, or in the case of section three, the mini-sections, and avoid unnecessary confusion, which is the greatest cause of student distress.

I hope this has helped and, if I have just one last tip – if you don’t know the answer, guess! You don’t get penalised for a wrong answer and, who knows, maybe you’ll guess right!

Good Luck!

For more help book English lessons online at

About The Author
Kenneth Keating
IELO Director of Studies

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[Note: Due to a size limitation, the title, above, had to be abbreviated. Apologies to the author and - Admin]
This article was posted by permission.

Sat Feb 20, 2010 7:42 am
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