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Best 9 Tips for Passing the Cambridge Advanced Exam

Best 9 Tips for Passing the Cambridge Advanced Exam


by Vittorio Pelosi


Want to know how you can crack the Cambridge Advanced Exam? Become a pro with 9 must-know tips that will change the way you study English.




Are you ready?


Tip 1

The Reading Paper. All you need to know about reading is contained in the acronym: CLOGS.

Learn it, use it and see your Reading scores rocket up!

C IS FOR CONTENT. Read the text quickly to get a general idea of the content.

L IS FOR LAYOUT. Take a moment to look at any big visual clues to the text. Are there any pictures? Headings? Sub-headings? How do they help us understand the content?

O IS FOR ORGANIZATION.  Read the first sentence of each paragraph. They will tell you how the rest of the paragraph is organized. Underline linking words (for example, however, but, furthermore). These are like signposts telling you what’s coming next!

G IS FOR GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY. Now we can read the text in detail. As you read down the page cover the text below the line you are reading with a blank sheet of paper.  This is a surprisingly effective way to help you focus!

S IS FOR STYLE. Who is writing the text? Who is he or she writing to? How does this affect the choice of language?


Tip 2

The Reading Paper. Multiple Choice questions.  Ahh, those dreaded multiple choice questions. Did you know that examiners are paid to include options that are designed to confuse you? They are called distractors. Is there a way to not get tricked? Of course there is! Simply read the sentence stem and find in the text where the information is located. (Synonyms will help you here!) Then decide what is a likely answer to the stem BEFORE reading the options. Done. No more distractions! P.S. This also works wonders with the multiple choice questions in the listening paper!



Tip 3

The Use of English Paper.” How am I meant to know the answer?”,” You either know it or you don’t!” Have you ever said anything like this in desperation? Well, don’t tear your hair out just yet. Yes, there are a lot of expressions and collocations to learn, but there is a way to do it! When you’re reading a text, underline the nouns and look left and look right. That’s it! Simple, eh?  You see to the left of a noun is often another noun or adjective and to the right is often a preposition. Circle the three parts – that’s your expression.


Tip 4

The Use of English Paper. Hold on, I hear you say. OK, I have my expression but I told you that there are too many to learn. Well, guess what? We can help you with that too. Buy a small notebook that can fit in your pocket and list all your expressions alphabetically under its use. (For example, is the expression used for Comparing or Criticising or giving an Example?) Then practice writing out only the first letter of each word of the expression. Can you remember it now? How many words are there in it? Say it aloud and listen to the rhythm.  Try it and watch the expressions stick in your mind. If you are unsure of a word, you can always check it in your Cambridge advanced learner's dictionary. Making this a habit will make you a Use of English Pro!



Tip 5

Writing. “How can I write fluently?”,”How can I use the right words?”,” How can I avoid mistakes?” Steal. That’s right, steal. Steal the best expressions you can find. Search either online or in book form for model exam writings and steal all the best expressions!  Don’t forget the expressions in a model answer ARE fluent, USE the right words and AVOID mistakes. Put them in your notebook too. Try them out in your next writing!


Tip 6

Writing. Why do I get a good mark for my essays, but not for my proposals? Ah, that comes down to what we call ‘style.’  The Cambridge Advanced Exam writing asks you to write more than one type of text to see if you know whether certain vocabulary is appropriate for each context. So, while you are stealing the best stuff from online model answers, ask yourself: is this formal, or informal? Could I use this expression in other writing tasks or just this one?


Tip 7

Listening.  Think of this paper as a test of your preparation and prediction skills. We always know when a student will be amazing in the listening paper by watching them in the silences before the listening starts. Are their heads up? Bad sign. Daydreaming? Not good. Instead look at the question, underline key words. Try and predict answers where you can. You see, your brain can’t simultaneously read language and listen to language. One will be compromised. So be prepared by reading the questions first so you can focus on listening!



Tip 8

Listening. I can hear you saying- “Come on, I don’t have time to read all the questions in the listening- particularly in the multiple choice.” I hear you. But you still will be unable to listen and read the options at the same time. Something’s got to give. So, Tip 8 is this: With multiple choice listening read the question and then focus on the listening. Take notes on what you hear but DON’T read the options. Then during the second listening (yes, you get to hear it twice!) compare your notes with the options available to you.


Tip 9

Speaking. Who do you think knows your speaking ability the best? Your teacher? Your friends? Well, I don’t know but I can tell you who knows least about your speaking ability....YOU! Just think about it for a moment. When have you ever heard yourself? So, and I’m afraid this is tough love, tip number 9 and my final piece of advice to make you go from zero to hero in the Cambridge Advanced Certificate is this.. Record yourself on your phone! There, I’ve said it. Be brave and do it! You won’t like it at first but, you will notice those little pronunciation and vocabulary mistakes that you missed when trying to get an answer across previously.


There you are. If not a complete guide, then nearly. My Best 9 tips for passing the Cambridge Advanced Exam!


Here at Wimbledon School of English in London, we run Cambridge exam preparation courses throughout the year. IELTS preparation, Medical English, OET, ACCA, TEA and more! We are one of the only English schools in London that offer both exam preparation and the opportunity to do your exam in our London Exam Centre.


Get in touch today to find the correct English language course for you!

WSE Team