Part four of the reading and use of English paper in the CAE exam has proved to be one of the most challenging for students. One possible reason students find this part difficult is because students don’t approach this task with an analytical mindset. It’s very important that you look at the grammar of each sentence and ask yourself what structures are being used. Could I use a conditional here? If the first sentence is in the active form, can I make the new sentence passive? That’s a past participle, so am I being asked to use a perfect tense? These are all possible questions that you need to think about when you do this part of the CAE exam. Around half of the marks available require you to change the sentence from one grammatical form into another. Students are also tested on their knowledge and use of collocations, idioms, phrasal verbs or other types of vocabulary; all of which you are expected to know how to use in order to pass this level. Combine this with the fact that if a student passed the B2 exam a year or so before starting to prepare for the advanced exam but they haven’t continued to use English on a regular basis, then they will have lost some fluency or we can say that they have become «rusty». Of course passing the CAE exam is very important, but being fluent in a language isn’t just about memorising grammar rules and lists of vocabulary. If you really want to master English and score higher marks, you need to have spent time reading, watching films or TV, listening to music and interacting with other English speakers. This will allow you to become familiar and fluent at changing between different grammatical forms, use phrasal verbs, colloquial expressions or idiomatic language.
In this post, we look at part 4 of the reading and use of English exam from the Cambridge English website, which is available here.
In part 4 of the CAE exam you must:
- Use between 3-6 words. Most contractions count as two words. It might be possible to complete the sentence in a grammatically correct way using under three words or more than six, but you will not score any points if you do this.
- Do not change the word. For example, if the word given to you is ‘with’ you can’t use ‘without’. If the word is ‘move’ you can’t use ‘moved’.
- Each question carries 2 marks. You might not know the whole answer but sometimes one correct word will give you a point.
- Never leave any question blank. If you really don’t know, you have nothing to lose by making an educated guess!
1. As long as you explain the process clearly at the conference, your boss will be pleased.
If …………………………. the process at the conference, your boss will be pleased
This question is mainly testing your knowledge of three things; the first conditional, verb/noun collocation with the verb » to give» and use of prepositions. Remember what we said about looking at the grammar? You should already notice that this looks like a first conditional structure. You should know that «give» collocates with the noun «explanation». So your answer needs to be:
Notice that you are also being tested on your knowledge of the other parts of speech from the adverb «clearly» and the verb «explain».
2. They say that a visitor to the national art gallery damaged an 18th-century painting.
A visitor to the national art gallery ……………………….. an 18th-century painting.
Here, you are being tested on your understanding and use of the adjective «alleged», which we use when we want to refer to what is said or thought to be the stated illegal or bad thing that happened. If you had been reading the news in English regularly, you are likely to have seen this word before.
So how do we make the complete sentence?
Ask yourself what the meaning of the sentence is. Why would somebody say this? It sounds like news of a recent event. Remember that if we are announcing the news of recent events, we often use the present perfect tense. The adjective «alleged» can be followed by the infinitive «to have», this allows us to make the present perfect simple so that the new sentence becomes:
3. I really don’t mind whether Jill chooses to come on holiday with us or not.
It really ……………………….. whether Jill chooses to come on holiday with us or not.
In this question you are again being tested on your knowledge of collocations. You don’t have to change a lot here, you only need to replace two words from the original sentence and remember to add the object:
4. Without the help that Joe gave me, I don’t think I’d have finished the course.
If it ………………………… help, I don’t think I’d have finished the course.
For this question from the CAE exam, we have another conditional. Can you spot which conditional it is? That’s right the third conditional. Questions like these shouldn’t cause any problems for you and when the new sentence begins with «if», it is very likely that you need to write a conditional structure here. Which means the answer is:
5. We can assure our customers that we will take every possible measure to maintain the quality of the products on our shelves.
We can assure our customers that we will ……………………….. to maintain the quality of the products on our shelves.
In this question, we are being asked to recall our knowledge of collocations with the verb «to take» and several possibilities are allowed here:
We can assure our customers that we will do everything it takes..
We can assure our customers that we will do anything it takes..
We can assure our customers that we will do all it takes..
6. Following some complaints by local residents, the government withdrew its proposal to build a new runway at the airport.
The government’s proposal to build a new runway at the airport………………………………some complaints by local residents.
In this final question, you are being tested on your ability to use the passive voice, as well as your knowledge and application of idioms. Like conditionals, making the passive voice from active forms shouldn’t be difficult for you at the advanced level. How can you recognise that this is what we need to do in this question? We can see that the object «proposal» from the first sentence is the beginning of the new sentence. Once you have established this, you will quickly realise that it is probably a passive structure that we need to make. From your knowledge and experience, what other words do we need to use with «light» to make a phrase that is similar to «because of..»? The phrase that you need to make is «in (the) light of».
So there we have part 4. We hope that you found this post useful and that if you have found this part difficult, try to use the techniques mentioned here. Do you have any other ways of tackling this part, or practice questions you are struggling with? Comment below!