Cambridge English Language Assessment Northern Europe

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Cambridge English: First – DOs and DON’Ts

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  1. Read the sources, titles and subtitles of the texts where given; they are there to help you.
  2. Read each text carefully before you answer the questions to get an overall impression and understanding of it. This includes Part 3, the multiple matching task.
  3. Remember, the missing word(s) may be forming part of an idiom, fixed phrase or collocation, so always check the words around the gap carefully. (Part 2)
  4. Remember, the missing sentence must fit the context of the passage, so always check that the completed paragraph makes sense in the passage as a whole. (Part 2)
  5. Keep an overall idea of the development of the text. You will need to check that the sentences chosen to fit the gaps in the base text fit the progression of the argument or narrative as a whole. (Part 2)
  6. Read the questions carefully and check each option against the text before rejecting it. (Part 2)


  1. Don’t try to answer any questions without referring carefully to the text.
  2. Don’t spend too much time on any one part of the paper.
  3. Don’t forget to record your answers on the separate answer sheet.
  4. Don’t assume that if the same word appears in the text as well as in an option, this means you have located the answer.



  1. Read the whole question thoroughly and underline important parts.
  2. Make a plan for each answer, including ALL points.
  3. Expand the points in Part 1 if you can, using relevant ideas and information.
  4. Write in paragraphs, whenever appropriate.
  5. Use a range of vocabulary, even if you are unsure of the correct spelling.
  6. Check tense endings, plural forms and word order in sentences.
  7. Check irregular past tenses and question formation.
  8. Check irregular past tenses and question formation.
  9. Use language that is appropriately formal or informal for the task.
  10. Choose a Part 2 question that you feel confident you can write about.
  11. Write clearly, so that the examiner can read your answer.


  1. Don’t misspell key words which appear on the question paper.
  2. Don’t use the exact words from the question paper too much.
  3. Don’t mix formal and informal language.
  4. Don’t use formal linkers in an informal letter.
  5. Don’t waste time writing addresses for a letter, as they are not required.
  6. Don’t answer Question 5 if you haven’t read one of the books.
  7. Don’t worry if you run slightly over the word limit.

Use of English


  1. Read the words following the gaps in Parts 1 and 2 as they may have an effect on the answer.
  2. Make sure that any verb you write in a gap in Part 2 agrees with its subject.
  3. Write the prompt word in your answer in Part 4 without changing it in any way.
  4. Write between two and five words as your answer in Part 4.
  5. Remember that the words you need to write in Part 3 might have to change into a negative or a plural.
  6. Check your spelling in all parts of the test
  7. Make sure that you transfer your answers to the answer sheet accurately.


  1. Don’t write the answers to any of the examples on your answer sheets.
  2. Don’t choose your answer in Part 1 before you have read all the options.
  3. Don’t write out the full sentence when answering the questions in Part 4.
  4. Don’t leave the base word in Part 3 unchanged.
  5. Don’t decide on your answer before reading the whole of a sentence in all parts.
  6. Don’t give alternative answers for any questions.



  1. Listen to and read the instructions throughout the test. Make sure you understand what you are listening for and what you have to do.
  2. Use the preparation time before each recording is played to read through the question and think about the context.
  3. Use the information on the page to help you follow the text.
  4. Look carefully at what is printed before and after the gap in Part 2 and think about the kind of information that you are listening for.
  5. Write only the missing information on the answer sheet. (Part 2)
  6. Write your answers as clearly as possible.
  7. If you have an idea of the correct answer the first time you hear a recording, check that this is correct the second time.
  8. Answer all the questions – even if you’re not sure.
  9. Make sure you have transferred your answers accurately to the answer sheet.


  1. Don’t rephrase what you hear in Part 2; write down the exact word(s) or figure(s) that you hear on the recording.
  2. Don’t complicate your answer by writing extra, irrelevant information. (Part 2)
  3. Don’t spend too much time on a question you are having difficulty with as you may miss the next question.
  4. Don’t rush to choose an answer just because you hear one word or phrase – concentrate on the overall meaning. (Parts 1, 3 and 4)



  1. Make sure you are familiar with what happens, and what skills you need to show, in each part of the test.
  2. Practise speaking English as much as possible in groups and in pairs, both inside and outside the classroom.
  3. Listen carefully to the instructions and questions during the test and respond appropriately.
  4. Speak clearly, so that both the interlocutor and assessor can hear you.
  5. Use all the opportunities you’re given in the test to speak, and extend your responses whenever possible.
  6. Ask for clarification of instructions or a question if you’re not sure.
  7. Be prepared to initiate discussion as well as responding to what your partner says.
  8. Make full use of the time so that the examiner who is listening hears plenty of your English.


  1. Don’t prepare long answers in advance, or learn and practise speeches.
  2. Don’t try to dominate your partner or interrupt them abruptly during the Speaking test.
  3. Don’t leave long or frequent pauses.
  4. Don’t worry about being interrupted by the examiner. This shows you have spoken enough. The tests have to keep to the time limit for administrative reasons.

Written by cambridgeenglishde

November 12, 2012 at 7:49 am

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