What is the in the Use of English Paper and how can I prepare?

by / Wednesday, 01 June 2016

My last blog focused on the last three sections of the Use of English and Reading exam. This blog will now focus on the first four parts.

The first four parts of this paper are designed to test your knowledge of and ability to produce accurate vocabulary and grammar at Upper-Intermediate -CEFR B2 level.

What is Part 1?

Multiple-choice Cloze

-Candidates are given a text with eight gaps
-Candidates must choose from four possible A,B,C,D options to fill in the gaps
-This task tests you on your awareness of everyday vocabulary,  including phrasal verbs, idioms, collocations etc.

What is Part 2?


This is similar to part one in that it is a text with eight gaps, except this time you don’t have any options to choose from and it mainly aimed at testing your grammar. Common items you must use to fill in the gaps include – pronouns, relative pronouns, articles, quantifiers, modal/auxiliary verbs, conjunctions and prepositions.

What is Part 3?

Word Formation

Candidates are presented with another text with eight gaps. At the end of each line that has a gap there is a ‘prompt’ word. You must change this word so that it fits the gap appropriately, testing your knowledge of word families, prefixes and suffixes.

What is Part 4?

Key Word Transformation

This part tests your ability to paraphrase. You are given six sentences and a key word beside each sentence. You must try to paraphrase the meaning of the first sentence into a new sentence using between two and five words including the key word (contractions such as – I’m – count as two words).

Students often find this part difficult but you can pick up to two marks for each correct sentence compared to one mark in parts 1-3.

Tips for Use of English

The best advice I can give you for preparing at home is to –read, read, read! By reading texts at B2 level you will not only be improving your reading speed but you will also see the level of vocabulary and grammar that is expected from you in the exam.

Read a variety of text types – you may come across any text type in the exam from newspapers to magazines, to articles, to reports to informational material such as brochures or guides.

Always pick out new vocabulary in ‘chunks’ – make a list in a vocabulary notebook of useful collocations e.g. verbs + dependent nouns or adjectives +nouns and  try to notice verb forms e.g. if a certain verb is followed by a gerund or infinitive etc. as these are the areas you will be tested on.

Spelling matters – make sure you are familiar with appropriate spelling – students often lose marks for spelling especially in part 3.

Never leave an answer blank – you won’t lose marks for taking a guess and getting it wrong.

Useful resources

Phrasal Verb Machine App (Cambridge University Press) – available for download on Android and iPhones.

LearnEnglish Grammar App (British Council) – available for download on Android and iPhones.