1 2 3
As promised, let's move on to the next part mentioned.

Use of English, Part 3, is a new concept in language testing. There are only 6 items, so it is just 12 marks out of the 75 available. DO NOT LET THIS PART OVERWHELM YOU.
There's a bit of secret history behind this part.
As you might now, the revised CPE came out in December 2002. Before that, for years, there was an intense yet quiet debate in Greece (the main consumer of the CPE for generations) about sentence transformations.
Cambridge wanted to toss them out: the methodology behind Key Word Transformations was very much linked to lower levels of the Cambridge Main Suite: PET and FCE. You may not know how transformation drills came about in the first place, but the basic methodology is called "The Audio-Visual Method" and it came about in the fifties as a direct result of research on language learning done for the US Department of Defense. Transformation drills, therefore, were the rage way back when, and some teachers still speak of them fondly, but everyone else in the world called them old-hat.
The story is a bit more complex than this, of course, but the long and short of it was: Cambridge wanted tranformations out, but the Greeks pleaded for them, and that's why you have 14 marks based on KWTs and 12 based on this all-new exercise, Gapped Sentences.
How are Gapped Sentences linked to KWTs? Well, you may have noticed that the CPE is a bit light in conscious vocabulary testing. Sure, there are 18 marks in Reading, Part 1, Lexical Close, but that's a very small part in whole. Teachers can't really convince students to study, study, study vocab based on 18 questions that count for about 4 percent of the student's total mark on all five papers.
So Cambridge ESOL wanted to do away with KWTs and have a nice, hard vocabulary section worth a lot of marks right in there that forced students to understand the meaning of words and phrases and use them properly. Once they were vetoed by the Greek ELT community, things got a bit nasty.
The new CPE KWTs (once again, Key Word Transformations) are remarkably open in comparison with FCE 2-5 word transformations. This has been done deliberately. With 3 more words to play with, the Item Writers can do a lot more. It's still all about grammar skills, though, and that means that the space once envisioned for vocabulary in Use of English is far more limited.
That's why Gapped Sentences are as difficult as they are.

Gapped Sentences, though, have been something of a letdown. How hard can you make the items before you hit the logical ceiling of difficulty (a native speaker should, all other things being considered, be able to answer these questions)! There were also technical concerns that screwed everything up. Greece raised an objection to the form and insisted that ALL the items be the same part of speech, at least. Once this was granted, the writers couldn't come up with some REALLY hard stuff, like this:
I would like to ADDRESS the question of taxation without representation.
Get out you ADDRESS book and look up I.P. Freely, would you?

In the 1860's, Abraham Lincoln wrote a speech called the Gettysburg ADDRESS.
So, now that all the parts of speech are the same, the test responds well to intelligent strategy.
The importance of KEEPING A VOCABULARY notebook cannot be overstressed. There is a learning connection between the hand and the eye: you need to WRITE new words and phrases as you come across them DOWN, prefereably in an intelligent, well-thought-out way, but WRITE THEM DOWN in a list, WRITE THEM DOWN on a grid, WRITE THEM DOWN in a mind-map, JUST WRITE THEM DOWN!! Point clear? Vocabulary word demands discipline, but pays off handsomely given time.
Strategy 1: WE GO SLOW!
The easiest approach, when doing this part of them test, is to read off the three sentences and see if something jumps out at you. GO SLOWLY. Generally speaking, a word may jump out of you for one of the gaps, but not for the others, and out of kneejerk impulse, you'll put it down.

CHECK TO SEE IF THAT WORD COMPLETES AN IDIOM in the sentence. Here's an example.
Cambridge CPE Past Papers, Test 1, Item 28
Winning the competition came as a .. surprise to Marianne.

Robin is determinted to keep on collecting football stickers until he has a .. set.
Sir Ralph arrived at the fancy-dress party in full army uniform, .. with badges and medals.
Here, on this one, you might logically write "a full set."

Is it an idiom? No, it's just a collocation, something you've seen somewhere else before. Before you write "full" in the box provided on the answer sheet, physically write in your answer in all three boxes.

Winning the competition came as a FULL surprise to Marianne.

Robin is determinted to keep on collecting football stickers until he has a FULL set.
Sir Ralph arrived at the fancy-dress party in full army uniform, FULL with badges and medals.
If the first and the third sentences don't jump out of you as utter balderdash, you haven't been working on pumping up your vocabulary. "Full surprise"? Ridiculous.
You might not have seen that if you didn't WRITE DOWN THE ANSWER IN ALL THREE SPACES.
Strategy 2: HARNESS YOUR UNCONSCIOUS
Let's go back to this problem.
Winning the competition came as a .. surprise to Marianne.

Robin is determinted to keep on collecting football stickers until he has a .. set.
Sir Ralph arrived at the fancy-dress party in full army uniform, .. with badges and medals.
What part of speech is the missing part? It's an adjective: you might not be able to tell from the third part, but in 1 and 2, it's just obviously an adjective and since it has to be the same in all three sentences, it's an adjective.
Subvocalize it like this.
Winning the competition came as a (something) surprise to Marianne.

Robin is determinted to keep on collecting football stickers until he has a (something) set.
Sir Ralph arrived at the fancy-dress party in full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals.
a (something) surprise
a (something) set
(something) with
Decode the meaning of the third sentence, which is obviously your biggest problem.
full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals.

Say it to yourself a few times:
full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals. full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals. full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals.

Anything yet?
If this doesn't work, go on to another item. Your unconscious works like this: it will just keep on churning away at the problem and an answer will pop up. Don't push it. Go on to KWTs. If you completely forget this item, well, you still have to double-check your answer sheet at the end of the Paper, so you won't completely miss it.

But just keep on repeating it as you get through different items.

full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals. full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals. full army uniform, (something) with badges and medals.

There is a good change, that somewhere during the test, it will come out.
full army uniform, COMPLETE with badges and medals. a COMPLETE set
a COMPLETE surprise
Strategy 3: FOCUS ON IDIOMS, DREAD ADJECTIVE+NOUN COLLOCATIONS

Nine times out of ten, the sentence of the three in the problem that will give you the answer beyond the shadow of a doubt will be an idiom. When you discover an idiom lurking among the problems, cherish it as your best friend.
Item 29
They heard the news of their wrecked holiday plans with .. hearts.
For anyone convicted of such a crime, there is a .. penalty.

Simon is convinced he will be able to carry that .. rucksack all the way.
The missing item is obviously an adjective, yet again. The last item depends on the MEANING of the whole sentence (another point, don't wimp out and read half the sentence!). Idiom alert!
This is what your mind should be saying to you:
wrecked holiday plans... (something) hearts
Happy hearts?
Sad hearts? Bingo.
A sad rucksack? Uh-uh. A (something) rucksack ALL THE WAY. Why are those last three words there? We also have "will be able to carry."

Such a crime? Why? A major crime. Important crime. Big crime. Penalty...big penalty. Major penalty. Major rucksack? NO. Major heart? NO.
If you've done your vocabulary work, the answer will come at you, and the starting point of that answer will be the sentence with the idiom. HEAVY hearts
a HEAVY rucksack
a HEAVY penalty
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
BUILD UP YOU VOCABULARY
If you haven't spent enough time building up your vocabulary, well, you can take consolation in the fact that the Cambridge CPE exam people understand that they do not promote good vocabulary learning skills among their candidates. They do not clearly understand, however, that in a world with limited vocabulary input in the target language, such as that of candidates studying for the test in Brazil, this policy effectively discriminates against candidates who are economically unable to go to Britain to study. They may not give a good goddamn, but their discriminatory policy and narrow-minded appraoch should not deter you from devoting a lot more effort to the difficult work of building your vocabulary than you might think you need based on your amateur analysis of what the test tests.
It's boring, but keeping that notebook will pay great dividends.
BE ON ALERT FOR STUPID STRATEGIES
Peter May, author of a somewhat popular book called Towards Proficiency , writes and teaches in England. As such a person, he has a number of "innovative" strategies for helping students pass this test, and almost all of them are geared toward students studying in Britain, immersed in the language.
Peter May is also one of the most egotistical fools writing junk preparation materials for Cambridge exams. I have it on good authoirity that he only reached his present lofty position as an Oxford University Press writer because he is a champion kiss-up when he needs to be. May knows how the game is played and he writes to make as much money out of students and gullible teachers as possible. I've met the man and I can attest to those insurmountable facts.
To get back to the point, May actually recommends writing down all the words that spring to mind for each gap in the gapped sentences and then seeing if any match.
This is a stupid strategy, because your mind, deprived of a "full English" immersion environment, will most likely be unable to think of many alternatives. Moreover, you will not improve with practice. Moreover, I doubt that this strategy words with foreign language learners in Britain, either, despite their more advanced passive vocabulary resources.
However, it's in the book, because materials writers have to write SOMETHING down in test-prep books, and depending on how much of an *** the writer is
Unless you are personally dealing with someone who has actually prepared students for this test, TRUST NOTHING. Look at the dates that your books are published, as well. Good materials only come out, as a rule, years after the examination in question is revised. A book is more profitable if it is rushed to market just as soon as a new version of a test comes out, but it is also full of what the writer THINKS will be on the test, and not what s/he has actually experienced in preparing students for it.
That's why when I saw that you were keeping a tip file, Rafe, I started worrying. The new CPE came out in December 2002. Pretty much anything that's out there right now is half-witted materials written by people who don't understand the test. The other half is written for the British market. No one with real brains who actually prepares students abroad is currently writing internationally available materials for CPE. The main figures are: Nick Kennedy-Macmillan (works in England), Kathy Gude-Oxford (works in England), Leo Jones-Cambridge (works in England). William S. Fowler, the old expert in this test (who worked in Spain and was the first person to talk about the problem I am outlining here), died before the actual revision came out.
Pretty much all that you're going to find out there is junk, written by people jumping on the revision and hoping to make money. Some books have good parts, but you have practically no chance of finding your way through the minefield.
GET A PRIVATE TEACHER, WITH REAL EXPERIENCE in preparing kids for CPE in Brazil. Everything else is a dangerous strategy, especially dealing with people in Usenet groups who may or may not know what they're talking about and who hide their identity behind stupid Internet aliases!!!
thank you very much... you've been very helpful, if you want to write more I'd appreciate...
Try out our live chat room.
Like I said...what do you need to know about? I've spent the last five years exclusively preparing students in something of your situations for the CPE and other examinations.
other part that I find rather difficult that one which we have to rewrite a sentence using the word given, and we're supposed to write among 3 and 8 words...
Concerning other examinations, I hold the FCE and I'll probably apply to CPE next year. I was wondering if it would be worth applying to the Michigan Proficiency... Somebody told me that it's easier than Cambrigde Proficiency... Do you agree with that?
Thanks again...
other part that I find rather difficult that one which we have to rewrite a sentence using the word given, and we're supposed to write among 3 and 8 words...

Key Word Transformations...I'll get on those soon, but it's a bad time right now.
Concerning other examinations, I hold the FCE and I'll probably apply to CPE next year. I was wondering if it would be worth applying to the Michigan Proficiency... Somebody told me that it's easier than Cambrigde Proficiency... Do you agree with that? Thanks again...

Yes and no...and I'll get on that in a bit, too.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
ok, thanks. I'm looking forward to it.
ok, thanks. I'm looking forward to it.

All right, Raf, here we go.
Key Word Transformations (those seven question on the U of E portion of the test that you're worried about here, which I will hereafter refer to as KWTs) are one of the odder aspects of the CPE. It's important to give you and the group some background on this.

My most accurate snitch once told that Cambridge, in the revision of the CPE, tentatively decided to get rid of KWTs. After all, sentence transformations are part of an older method of language teaching involving DRILLS. Now, many language teachers still feel that the ability to conduct effective oral drills in class as a means of introducing material is one of the distinguishing features of a professional language teacher, but the majority of us, influenced to a great degree by something called "the communicative approach," feel that such drills are artificial in the extreme and that we would be better off without them.
What is this "communicative approach"? By and large, it is an idea that is the creation of a group of linguists headed by a fellow named Henry Widdowson who, at the moment, is still one of the most respected professionals in the field. The approach holds that in teaching language, especially to adults, we should do our best to devise activities that force the student to actually communication their needs and wants or, in its "light" version, place our students in situations that force them to assume a character and role-play their way out of a situation.
The most strident critic of this approach is Michael Swan, who, back when the approach first emerged, argued in a pair of articles that while the communicative approach did have its merits, it didn't actually force students to learn language items. There is a certain merit, according to Swan, to forcing a student to communicate, but when students fail to communicate in these situations, it may not be indicative of a certain lack of "communicative competence" (another fantastically complex and nebulous Widdowson & Co. academic concept), but rather, may be due to not having enough vocabulary at one's command to deal with the communicative problem at hand.

Swan's critique, in my view, has never been adequately met. Widdowson, in his response to Swan's articles, basically lambasted him for being an old warhorse, and never really got down to commenting on Swan's actual points.
It is worth mentioning that Michael Swan, at the time, was generally recognized to be the world's foremost language teacher, and Widdowson as the world's foremost Second Language Acquisition linguist. Widdowson's real-world experience in the trenches of language teaching was therefore necessarily limited, but he did know his academic politics and how to lambast someone in an academically-oriented article. To trainee teachers, the communicative approach sounds like the greatest thing since sliced bread, but for those of us who have smelled the smoke and seen the elephant for some time, well, Swan's argument makes a great deal of sense.

What does this ancient history (1980s vintage) have to do with KWTs? Well, in an interesting twist, Swan's long-term writing partner, an American turned UK language teacher, Catherine Walker, was the commissioned expert who was responsible for revising the Use of English paper of the CPE in 2002.

We have KWTs on the First Certificate in English (FCE) and the CPE. The physical difference is simple. On the FCE, you are allowed 2-5 words to fill in the gap, while on the CPE you have to use 3-8 words.

FCE transformations, for experienced teachers, are a matter of introducing students to the most commonly used structures of transformation. There is an excellent section in a book called Cambridge First Certificate Handbook , by Helen Naylor and Stuart Hagger, published by Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-62918-7 which covered the most common areas. At FCE level, the book works superbly. It is still worth working through the KWT section in your CPE preparation.
The problem is those three extra words in the CPE version of KWTs. As far as my research can tell, NO ONE has managed to grasp that the CPE transformations are VASTLY more open than FCE KWTs. That is to say, while in the FCE, only two or so versions of answers would be accepted to fill the 2-5 word gap, in the CPE, a KWT might have six or so possible answers. This is a real problem for candidates preparing for the CPE. One might spend a lot of time working through possible variations in CPE practice books, get to the test, and only then realize that you hadn't seen the same kinds of transformations.

Once upon a time and long ago, I had to do a seminar based on W.S. Fowler's notes on the revised CPE. Do NOT use his skills books! Unfortunately, halfway through his revision of the materials, Fowler keeled over while playing tennis. This explains why I, of course, did the seminar!
Fowler was of the opinion that in general, CPE KWTs would contain two standard elements, a structural point (something you'd find in a thick grammar practice book), and a lexical point (an idiom, a collocation, a common word combination). I have not found this to be true. Some KWTs have only structural points, others have only lexical points. There might be as many as three points tested, as few as one.

There are, however, two marks available for each KWT, both in FCE and CPE. The way that the marks distribution is decided is by drawing a line between the words in the answer somewhere in the middle of the whole answer. The two marks are not interdependent. I have repeated asked if there is some kind of standard procedure in drawing this line, and have received equivocal answers. One prominent Cambridge ESOL employee/seminar leader (test guru in the pay of the organization) has insisted that the line reflects "discrete testing points." This is an example of what she meant, which incidentally is an actual item from the December 2002 (0300) examination (the regular internation version).
38 I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt the meeting.

intention
I'm sorry, I .. the meeting.
Cambridge markers are directed to accept:
did not have any intention / of interrupting
didn't have any intention / of interrupting
had no intention / of interrupting
Clearly, the split lies between two points here.
You need to know the structural point of no=not any, as in "have no intention" or "didn't have any intention" and you also need to know that this point is followed by "of" and an -ing form. Two discrete testing points, even though one might argue that there are three points: that verbs following "of" usually take -ing forms. But on the whole, you see that there is some kind of logic behind the split.
Incidentally, you could write:
...I had no intention / I hate English... and still get one mark. The marks, once again, are not interdependent.
However, this item appears in the December 2002 (0301) version (the test that is given out in Greece.
38 The guide pointed out to us the magnificent carvings above thewindows.
drew
The guide .. the magnificent carving above the windows.
Cambridge markers are directed to accept:
drew our / attention to
drew to / our attention
Where exactly are the "discrete testing points" here? This KWT clearly has only ONE testing point, whether or not the candidate knows the idiom "draw attention to." The split is based on nothing more than the desire of Cambridge ESOL people to have two marks in this question.
In short, the seminar leader who dished out the "discrete testing point" *** to the hundred or so teachers attending her seminar needs to be beaten to a bloody pulp for misdirecting teachers in the hope of advancing her career by appearing to have all the answers. This is a very common fault among people who are paid by Cambridge ESOL to promote these tests.
This is not, not, not a cheap shot at my colleague Einde O'Callaghan, the number one poster in this group, who moonlights as a Cambridge ESOL employee and is paid to administer the test in Germany. Cambridge ESOL hires other people to do seminars all the over the place and make money by lying to people, hoping to indirectly promote language teaching books they have authored. Einde is not, I repeat, NOT!!! one of those cheap hucksters.

In light of the above points, this is what you need to know to do well on this test.
Trust NO one's questions, other than Cambridge ESOL, when preparing for these tests. The fake questions written by "test experts" do NOT appropriately reflect the level and nature of the real CPE. There are several culprits in this regard who should be named. Peter May, Kathy Gude, but most especially, MARK HARRISON. Longman's CPE U of E book, written by Fiona-Scott Barnett, isn't half-bad, but it still isn't right. I've already talked about Fowler.
You can generally trust books by Cambridge University Press for accurate practice materials, but be careful. Base your final preparation on real Cambridge ESOL Past Papers...they're boring, but they're accurate. Analyze those questions very, very carefully.

Remember that the two marks for KWTs are not interdependent. Write something down! Take a guess if you have to. You could get a mark out of sheer, blind luck. Moreover, you have a good deal of information locked up in your mind as passive vocabulary. Your guess may just be right because you have unconsciously tapped this source. Don't laugh! I've seen it happen a hundred times. Sometimes, you can indeed use the Force, Luke.
Be prepared for KWTs of different complexity sitting right next to each other. Just because you needed eight words to complete a fantasically difficult KWT does not mean that the next one will be just as difficult. Students often make the mistake of thinking: no, it CAN'T be that simple. Sometimes, it is. Sometimes Cambridge just needs two easy marks in U of E and hands you something you could have answered before you even heard of the Cambridge Proficiency.

Once again, use Cambridge First Certificate Handbook in your CPE preparation. The KWT section has never been equalled in any other book of my experience. The kinds of things you will face in the CPE will be more difficult, the questions will most likely have many possible answers, but some general familiarization with the general kinds of transformations Cambridge asks you for at FCE level will still help you get through the CPE questions and not miss any easy marks.

After you get done doing the KWTs, you should go over them again. I tell my students that they can look at three things (not because there are only three things, but it's an easily remembered number). It helps if they write down the answers to these three questions right after each of the practice items (and before they check their answers!)

Have I remembered all the prepositions I need? (Yes or no) Have I spelled everything properly? (A surprising number of marks are lost because of this.)
If I were creating this test, where would I put the split? Why?

The last question should be answered slowly and justified carefully.

My last bit of advice is to pay close, close attention to building your lexical vocabulary of idioms, phrases and collocations. My main problem with the new CPE is that it does not really, openly, encourage students to study their vocabulary. You can point to certain sections (Reading, Pt1 and U of E Pt3,4) and tell students that they need to write, Write, WRITE these expressions down, but it is the rare student who takes these warnings to heart before it is too late in the game. Vocabulary is "the silent skill" of the Cambridge Proficiency, and that's too bad.
That's all I have on this topic. Next up on the agenda, the Michigan English Language Institute's Examination for the Certificate of Proficiency in English, more commonly known here in the ancient land of the Hellenes as the Michigan Proficiency.
...or rather, the "Mee-tsee-gahn Praw-fee-seh-see."
This is not, not, not a cheap shot at my colleague Einde O'Callaghan, the number one poster in this group, who moonlights as a Cambridge ESOL employee and is paid to administer the test in Germany.

Thanks for your comments. I must point out that I only do the oral exams.
Cambridge ESOL hires other people to do seminars all the over the place and make money by lying to people, hoping to indirectly promote language teaching books they have authored. Einde is not, I repeat, NOT!!! one of those cheap hucksters.

I wouldn't even dream of writing a language teaching book. The longer I do this job the less competent I feel in some ways - at least in the sense that I feel less certain that I know ALL the answers at the various levels of competence. In advanced classes I often feel that I fly by the seat of my pants as I'm constantly faced by questions that I didn't anticipate. It makes the job more exciting, of course.

My only advantage is that I'm a native speaker with some experience, knowledge and understanding of the way the language works.But I haven't got the conceit to think that I would be able to write a book that would be any help to other teachers. I'm more a practitioner than a theoretician as far as language teaching is concerned.

As regard the Cambridge peoploe i have to deal with - my supervisor has what I regard as a healthy "distrust" of the "wisdom" of Cambridge, which enables us to take a much more relaxed attitude to the exam. Although I must say that the oral part of the exam isn't the greatest problem for Germans. I personally think that they have most problems with parts of Paper 3 - which brings us back to the topic of this thread.

Regards, Einde O'Callaghan
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
I have a correction to post on this thread: Catherine Walker's name is really Catherine WALTER.
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