Hello Exam Seekers,
Are you testing your B2 CEFR Level of English? Well, recently, I updated the B2: First – Reading and Use of English Exam
- [Part 1: Multiple-Choice Cloze] [Sample 1A] and [Sample 1B]
- [Part 2: Open Cloze] [Sample 2A] and [Sample 2B].
- [Part 3: Word Formation] [Sample 3A] and [Sample 3B].
- [Part 4: Key-Word Transformations] [Sample 4A] and [Sample 4B].
If you haven’t read them yet, make sure you check out both samples!!!
Keep in mind that the samples above are from what I call the first part of the exam. What does that mean? Well, this is a Reading and Use of English exam, which means that there are some tasks that test your knowledge in relation to Grammar and Vocabulary (Use of English), and some tasks that assess your knowledge in relation to your Reading Comprehension skills.
Basically, the first part is testing your ability to:
- Multiple-Choice Cloze: choose the correct word [Vocabulary] from a list of words provided to complete the sentences;
- Open Cloze: figure out the words [Vocabulary] to complete the test – no words provided;
- Word Formation: transform the provided word into one that fits correctly [Vocabulary – Part of Speech];
- Key-Word Transformations: rewrite part of a sentence using the words provided [Vocabulary/Grammar].
The second part of the exam, which I am talking about today, focuses on testing your ability to understand a text and show comprehension. Today, I bring to you Part 5: Multiple Choice. So, when you finish reading [Sample 5A], go and check [Sample 5B], okay? However, before digging into the exercise, let me tell you about the differences between Part 1 – Multiple-Choice Cloze and Part 5 – Multiple Choice:
In Part 1 – Multiple-Choice Cloze, you will receive a text with gaps (Cloze Test) which you have to fill with provided words (Multiple Choice). For Part 5 – Multiple Choice, you will receive a text and 6 questions with 4 options each – A, B, C, D; you are supposed to choose one of the alternatives to answer the comprehension question correctly. Each right answer accounts for 2 marks, therefore, a total of 12 marks. For this reason, save some time and prepare well for the reading exercises.
Whenever I have to do a reading activity, I will always look into the questions and answers before going to the text. This helps you to have more guided reading, and you have some extra time to focus on other activities, rather than ‘wasting‘ time reading the whole text more than once. Also, you can save this extra time for a review before transferring your answers to the answer sheet.
Something to take into consideration is the keywords that you may find in the question and in the alternatives. Those will be key not only to your understanding but also when trying to identify the opposites or synonyms in the text, making sure you can deal with a variety of expressions and ideas and still manage to get to the correct answer.
Additionally, something that may come in handy is to know that the questions tend to follow the order of the text. So you are less likely to find the answer to the first question in the last paragraph unless this is a question regarding the main idea of the whole text. What I used to do was read the first question and read the first paragraph, and go in that order until the end.
So, let’s work with the sample below:
As I said, I would first go and read the question and the alternatives, and underline the key points mentioned:
- 31 In the first paragraph, what is Caitlin’s main point about the island?
- A It can be dangerous to try to cross from the mainland.
- B It is much smaller than it looks from the mainland.
- C It is only completely cut off at certain times.
- D It can be a difficult place for people to live in.
Then, I would read the first paragraph:
We live on the island of Hale. It’s about four kilometers long and two kilometers wide at its broadest point, and it’s joined to the mainland by a causeway called the Stand – a narrow road built across the mouth of the river which separates us from the rest of the country. Most of the time, you wouldn’t know we’re on an island because the river mouth between us and the mainland is just a vast stretch of tall grasses and brown mud. But when there’s a high tide and the water rises a half a metre or so above the road and nothing can pass until the tide goes out again a few hours later, then you know it’s an island.
As you can see the sentence that will lead you to the answer is ‘and nothing can pass until the tide goes out again a few hours away,’ which is at the end of the paragraph. That is possible to identify once you realize that ‘cut off‘ – in option C – means the same as ‘to make a place difficult or impossible to enter, leave, or communicate with,’ as described in the Macmillan dictionary.
So, the letter “C” is the correct alternative.
As suggested by the Cambridge website, some of the things you have to practice are: ‘reading for detail, opinion, tone, purpose, main idea, implication, attitude‘. So make sure you analyze the text in different ways and practice different types of exercises so that you can work all those skills within a balance.
Along with all those reading skills, you should also be able to identify some grammar use as well as cope with a variety of vocabulary – as I said before, regarding different expressions, synonyms, and paraphrasing – and one of the best ways to practice those skills is to actually read and jot down new vocabulary as well as its meaning.
Let’s read the second question and alternatives:
- 32 What does Caitlin suggest about her father?
- A His writing prevents him from doing things he wants to with his family.
- B His initial reaction to his son’s request is different from usual.
- C His true feelings are easily hidden from his daughter.
- D His son’s arrival is one event he will take time off for.
After underlining the key points in the alternatives, let’s read the second paragraph:
We were on our wayback from the mainland. My older brother, Dominic, had just finished his first year at university in a town 150 km away. Dominic’s train was due in at five and he’d asked for a lift back from the station.
So far, nothing was mentioned about the dad’s reaction. Let’s keep reading:
Now, Dad normally hates being disturbed when he’s writing (which is just about all the time), and he also hates having to go anywhere, but …
As you can see here, the author talks about her father: he is a person who writes a lot and doesn’t like to be disturbed when writing. It suggests that alternative A is a possibility. However, why would they have mentioned Dominic – her brother – at the beginning of the paragraph? It probably suggests that her father’s actions are going to be affected by the son’s arrival. That’s alternative B or D. Let’s keep reading:
…but despite the typical sighs and moans – why can’t he get a taxi? what’s wrong with the bus? – I could tell by the sparkle in his eyes that he was really looking forward to seeing Dominic.
As predicted, both B and D are a possibility, eliminating A from the correct alternatives. So, let’s analyze B and D and choose the one that best fits:
B His initial reaction to his son’s request is different from usual.
Was his first reaction different from the usual? No. As mentioned in the paragraph, the father sighed, moaned, and complained. So, the most appropriate alternative is D:
D His son’s arrival is one event he will take time off for.
Meaning that he will stop writing for a while to take his son from the train station. What makes alternative D the correct one is reinforced by the last sentence: I could tell by the sparkle in his eyes that he was really looking forward to seeing Dominic. He was looking forward to seeing his son, so he would take some time to see his son.
Well, it’s your turn to try. Now, finish doing the task above before moving on to the second sample! Try reading first the questions and answers and highlight the most important words from each alternative – and question – before reading the text. It may seem a silly tip, but when you get used to doing this, the technique will not only save you time but also give you a more guided look at the text and help you find the answers easier.
If you want the answers for this task, check the end of the post. Now, tell me! Do you find the Reading part easier or more difficult than the Use of English one? What is your biggest struggle when it comes to reading? Share with me in the comment section below!
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Have a great week,
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OBS: All samples provided by Cambridge.