Reading and Use of English Paper (Word formation)

EXAM COUNTDOWN – STRATEGIES AND ADVICE

PAPER 1:  Reading and Use of English  PART 3:  Word Formation

*This is a task with eight gaps, based on a text of between 150-170 words

WHAT’S TESTED?

This is a test of your ability in word formation.  The focus is on vocabulary and the formation of words from a root, using prefixes and suffixes, internal changes and compound words.  There may also be a grammatical element (such as plural forms, verb tenses and participles) to the changes that need to be made.  Some of the words you have to form may be part of fixed expressions or collocations.

You may be given a noun and have to transform it into a verb, or produce an adjective from a noun.  It is important that you know the meaning and the functions of the many different prefixes (e.g. un/in/dis/re-) and suffixes (e.g. -ally/ion/able/ment) and that you are familiar with compounds (e.g. worldwide/outcome/downsize).

STRATEGY

Always read the title and the whole text carefully, ignoring the gaps for the moment, to get an overview of the topic and to understand the main points of each paragraph or group of sentences.

SYNTAX

Use your knowledge of grammar to understand what part of speech the missing word is (e.g. noun, verb, adjective, adverb) and think through the range of possible affixes, negative prefixes and suffixes.

SEMANTICS

Look carefully at the way the sentence is constructed to decide whether the missing word should be positive or negative.  Look for evidence of two opposing ideas.  When the root presents several possible derivatives, look at the context carefully to check that you have the derivative with the correct meaning.  Remember that more than one change to the stem word can often be required.

EXAMPLES

Let’s look at the verb DECIDE and it’s derivatives. Look at these two sentences and think about syntax.

  1. The people couldn’t believe that once again their Prime Minister was shown to be a weak  and ___________ leader.

  1. Even after she had asked her friends and family for advice, Nadine was still ____________ whether to go to college or not.

In both sentences we need an adjective.  Here are the possibilities……

decided

undecided

decisive

indecisive

deciding

….now think about semantics.  We can see from the meaning and construction of the sentences that we need a negative adjective in both.  Now check the meaning of both derivatives.

a) undecided: (not before a noun) not having made a decision about something important

b) indecisive: 1. unable to make clear decisions or choices 2. not having a clear result

ANSWERS 1(b)   2(a)

Now look at these two sentences and think about syntax:

  1. Due to internal disagreement there were weeks of __________ about who would get the promotion and when.
  2. It was a maddening trait of his, this __________, which in his case was complicated by his extreme politeness.

This time we need a noun in both sentences.  Here are the possibilities:

decision(s)

indecision

decisiveness

indecisiveness

…The semantics tell us that we need a negative noun in both sentences.

a) indecision: the state of being unable to decide what to do

b) indecisiveness: describing a person’s inability to make clear decisions or choices

ANSWERS 1(a)   2(b)

To sum up, don’t forget these TOP TIPS:

1)      Analyse the text on two levels:  SYNTAX and SEMANTICS

2)      Check to see if the word is plural or singular

3)      Remember the root word ALWAYS has to be changed

4)      Brainstorm the root word to see how many forms you can think of…

5)      Remember….TIMING.  Don’t let the clock tick away for the want of ONE WORD. Take an educated guess.

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Speaking Exam

Hi again!

I hope Saturday’s mock went well!!! Remember you will get results and feedback from your teachers throughtout the week.

But, now that the die is cast for the written parts it’s time to take a look at the Speaking Test!!! Let’s get started by taking a look at some students’ Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) as I’m sure you’ll find them handy! 😉

FAQs (Speaking Exam)

Can I choose my partner for the Speaking Exam?

No. This is organized by the exam center.

What if my partner in the exam doesn’t speak or speaks very little?

Firstly, this is rare. You must remember that in the speaking exam, you are marked individually. Examiners never compare candidates. You just concentrate on what you have to do, inviting your partner to join in a conversation by saying “What do you think?” or “Do you agree?” If your partner doesn’t respond appropriately, the examiner will see that you have done your best.

What if my partner speaks too much?

Again, this is unusual. If this happens, interrupt! There are many ways to politely interrupt in this situation (ask your teacher). Remember, the idea is for candidates to interact with each other and the examiner. If one candidate tries to dominate a conversation, it will not count in his/her favour.

What if my partner seems to speak much better English than me?

This is irrelevant to the speaking examiners as they will never compare candidates. You are marked following a strict criteria where there is a maximum and minimum score any candidate can receive according to level.

What happens if I don’t understand a question?

Don’t worry. Ask the examiner to repeat it and if you still don’t understand, he/she will probably just ask you another one. You will not fail the speaking exam for not understanding a question. Your result is based on your performance throughout.

Can I ask the examiner questions?

No, but with one important exception, “Could you repeat that, please?”

How can I find out more information about the details of the exam?

Information about times, dates and the cost of each exam is displayed around the school. However, you can also ask your teachers or at reception for further information.

And now, shall we look at some detailed info about the exam? Check the following presentation!

http://www.slideshare.net/EuroschoolOfEnglish/slideshelf

I hope you have liked today’s post and I would really like to hear what you have to say. As you already know, our students’ opinion is very important for the Euroschool team so….

we have opened the comments section! So, now you can let us know what you think of our blog, as well as suggestions or new ideas both for our website and the Red Lobster!

😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

What are you waiting for? We are looking forward to hearing your opinion! 🙂

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PET exam: Reading Part 2

Hi everybody!

We are back as promised to give you a hand with the practice for the PET exam (B1 level).

In this exam you will have to go through 8 different parts in 1h30 minutes and therefore timing is one of the biggest problems for candidates. In today’s post we will talk about how to address Reading part 2 so you can do it in approximately 10min! 😉

http://www.slideshare.net/EuroschoolOfEnglish/slideshelf

I am positive this will help your preparation for the exam and we are looking forward to hearing your feedback but in the meanwhile, why don’t your try this technique with a brand new Reading Part 2? 🙂

http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/preliminary/how-to-prepare/