1) You MUST spend some time DAILY reading and listening to authentic sources! Choose boring themes you wouldn’t normally read because the themes in the exam are not Harry Potter, Friends or BBC news. Watch some boring documentaries.
2) Time yourself when doing exam practice. If you don’t, you’ll have a shock on the day when you automatically work slower because you’re more nervous!
3) In the Reading and Use of English, you MUST transfer your answers after every section and not all at the end. if your answer sheet is incomplete and the time is up, you won’t be given any extra time. Your sheet will be ripped out of your hands and you will fail!
4) Paraphrase the reading texts and the listening question. If you don’t know how to paraphrase for these exams, well, join my courses and find out!
5) Spend maximum 25 minutes (or 20 for FCE but 20 for CAE and CPE if you’re a slow writer) planning your essay! Brainstorm your ideas and expand them with examples. Link them. Think of useful phrases and collocations. Check your plan quickly to make sure everything is in order. Now copy your essay over! Pay attention to the time!!!!
6) If you’re doing FCE, CAE or CPE in some language school and you just go through the textbook, you will fail miserably. You need an arsenal of sources: Vocab books, grammar reference books (MyGrammarlab etc), Trainers and real past papers. And again……. real authentic sources!!!
7) If you have many family commitments, a job etc, you need to be super organized to be able to get everything done properly. Develop a routine and make exam prep a hobby and not a chore.
8) Get rid of any negative attitudes and accept before the exam that you can’t do anymore. Just accept it. See the exam as something fun. Accept that you did as much as humanly possible in preparation for your exam. When positive, you’ll be able to tackle difficulties a lot more effectively unlike when being negative where you’d probably give up more and just guess.
9) Develop tactics for each part of the exam. If you don’t know how, pop to my school to find out. I will only share my major secrets with my students. If preparing yourself, experiment in different ways and sees what works best for you within the time limits.
10) Do the reading tasks backwards! FCE and CPE – part 7, then part 6, then part 5. CAE – part 8, part 7, part 5 thennnnnnn part 6. The last two parts of the reading in all exams require a lot of brain input. Students either get one or two wrong or mess them up completely. Part 5 is in chronological order so it’s easier to deal with. CAE part 6 is just stupid and is worth less marks than the other parts. However, in CPE, the difficultly in the reading texts purely depends on how abstract the text may be.