Knowledge of the language is essential but does not guarantee an
excellent result. You still need to be able to solve the tests – it is a separate
skill, not enough to pass a language test, but if you are not practising it
may lower your score, and if you perfected it, you will increase your score
despite your relatively weaker language skills.
The ability to solve tests consists of two things – on the one hand, full
awareness of what tasks the test consists of and what are they designed to
check, and on the other hand, strategies for solving each task.
Reading and using language – text with gaps and four possible answers
(multiple choice cloze)
This kind of task appears in addition to FCE, CAE and CPE on other exams.
It may also appear on an English test at school. The task checks the
knowledge of collocation, phrasal verbs
the ability to use the best expression in a given context,
words that have similar but different meanings, so precision in using
The most common expressions, e.g. relations between prepositions
(of, on, in, for, etc.) and other parts of speech – verbs (approve of),
nouns (ban on, in advance) and adjectives (eligible for),
Grammatical connectors, e.g. because, hence, (in) addition (to).
So in order to get through this task smoothly on the CAE, CPE, FCE exam,
you have to practice these language aspects in all kinds of ways. In a text
with gaps and possible answers, called multiple-choice cloze, only one
word fits, although to mislead the student, synonyms of the correct answer
are added as alternatives. Sometimes most or even all options fit
grammatically, but only one word makes semantic sense (meaning).
There are many strategies that you can use to increase your chances of
getting the maximum number of points:
Depending on the amount of time and individual speed of reading,
read the whole text – knowing the context will make it easier to
activate the appropriate vocabulary in your brain, that will fit the
As you read the text, try to fill in the gaps without looking at possible
answers. It is also a good exercise to solve another common
examination task – a text with gaps, part two in Use of English in FCE,
CAE and CPE.
The most important rule – focus on the text around the gap, the text
just before the gap and just after the gap. There is usually the key to
choosing the right answer.
The previous rule is related to this one: pay attention to the form of
words in possible answers. If there is a plural form of the verb after
the gap, e.g. "are", only the plural word will fit.
When you run out of time, because you have started this task for
some reason at the end, do not read the whole text, but only the
sentence with the gaps and try to choose the correct answer on this
basis. The disadvantage is that sometimes the answer key will be in a
different part of the sentence, not necessarily bordering directly on
the gap. However, this is the ultimate survival strategy and should
not be overused, but applied as a last resort.
If you have a problem choosing the answer, try a negative selection.
Do not think about what fits, but about what definitely does not fit.
Again, if you have time or you attended a speed reading course, it's a
good idea to read the gaping sentences after you have chosen an
answer to see if your answers make sense.
Fill in all the answers if necessary – guess. Even if your internal code
of honour allows you to do so. Especially in this task where you have
a 25% chance to select the correct option and usually it is a chance of
1 to 3 or even 1 to 2, because in many cases you can reject one or two
When preparing for the exam, especially in the first stages, use the
books, test books that contain hints next to the task or explain in the
answer key why the answer is correct or not. This allows you to feel
the thinking style of the test developers. And a single book is not
enough, even in the best, most comprehensive, one type of task
appears several times – not enough to train you to a level that
provides comfort during the exam. You can also prepare for the
language exam together with an experienced teacher who will have
the materials and share his or her experience with you.
Practice speed reading. In your mother tongue, you usually read about 200
words per minute, in a foreign language you usually read less, especially if
you come across many unknown words. Meanwhile, tests, especially those
confirming language proficiency at C1 and C2 levels, are prepared with the
assumption that you are able to read and understand texts at about the
same pace as the native speaker. This skill is very helpful in life, but difficult
even in your mother tongue, not to mention a foreign language. However,
you can significantly speed up your reading pace with a few tips
(significantly – in the sense that this affects your ability to solve language
Learn as much language as possible. The better you know the
language, vocabulary and grammar, the faster you will read in it.
Read as much as possible, even in your free time, not necessarily
with a view to preparing for the exam. The brain trained in reading in
a given language stops seeing single letters (pay attention to how
preschoolers read – they spell, "knock") and starts grasping whole
words or even a few words often appearing in your company at once.
This is what you have to strive for, and simple reading in a foreign
language will help you to do so.
Solve tests under time pressure – too much stress paralyses but in
the right amount, it helps in critical situations, which undoubtedly
include exams. By practising you become more resistant to stress.