In the mind of a Cambridge exam candidate-to-be:
My reading comprehension skill is excelling. The more I write, the better I am at. Since I’ve set English on TV as the default language, no matter the speed of speech or the English accent, I easily understand and follow the flow of whatever podcast or series. All this makes me proud of the level I’ve reached. Still, there is something I haven’t fully mastered. I feel it. It’s the lexis range, it’s the vocabulary appropriate for the level that I set my sights on. I need to reach this level of sophistication in terms of lexis. What can I do? I am badly in need of help!
One year ago, our B2 First exam candidates have taken the exam with flying colours. Most have got a B score and some have reached an A. This has been a real boost to their confidence. Consequently, our students have kept up the good work, attending the C1 Advanced course. Given their initial sound preparation for the Cambridge B2 First exam, and having shown outstanding results in this examination, now, one year later, they have decided to join a C1 Advanced intensive course. Amazing!
And this is what each one has told me while reflecting on our intentions and aspirations:
My focus is going to me the vocabulary. Looking for LESS COMMON words and being REPETETIVE must be history! No more will I repeat the same mistakes again and again!
So, what does your success lie in? What is there that will do wonders for you?
RECORD THE VOCABULARY BY ORGANISING IT.
What at first, the moment you write it down, is merely passive vocabulary, is ultimately going to turn into an active one.
Today, we will explore different ways to organise the C1 (Advanced) vocabulary. If you are preparing yourself for B2 (First), this is also tangible.
Topic area English vocabulary organiser
The topic area vocabulary organizer is created with lexis taken from the following sources:
- scripts of podcasts, like https://www.ted.com/
- texts from the English coursebook
- vocabulary exercises from the coursebook
Since the units in the coursebook are normally divided into topics, e.g. the world around us, technology, work time, etc, all the content of a given unit, like reading tasks, audio scripts, language focus/grammar, or vocabulary is topic-related as well. So, before turning the page and starting a new unit, you must take advantage of this and make the most out of the exercises and exam tasks by creating a topic area organizer.
This must include the following:
- phrasal verbs,
All should be followed by translation and an example sentence, whose content must be as close to you as possible, like personal experiences, life anecdotes, childhood memories, etc.
Later on, in case you come across vocabulary related to a theme whose topic area you have already created, you should go back to this list, and add the given vocabulary to the list.
By recording the topic vocabulary, you remember twice as better a given word, phrasal verb or expression. And not only that. You are reflecting on it. This is what I call learning English to the full.
Download the PDF below. Print a sample of the topic area vocabulary organizer.
Word Formation Organiser
Levels like B2 First and C1 Advanced assess candidate’s ability to form words. Part 3 in the Reading and Use of English paper is the exam task in which candidates are required to show how well they can build nouns, adjectives, adverbs or verbs.
Here is how you should organize it.
Once the exam task is done, and you’ve (self-)corrected your answers, to remember the words you’ve made mistakes with, you should record your mistakes the following way:
THE CORRECT FORM
DO THE MATHS
UN+PROCEDE+NTED (adj)+LY (adv)
The football team I am a fan of have won unprecedentedly three matched in a row.
Here are other ways to do the “maths”:
- UN > +PRECEDE > +NTED > +LY = UNPRECEDENTEDLY
- OPPOSE > -E > +ING > +LY = OPPOSINGLY
- SPECIALIZE > -IZE > +ITY = SPECIALITY
Sparing a thought over the mistakes you’ve made is extremely important. Reasoning out the correct form is a must, and it will do wonders for your learning progress.
Download the PDF below. Print a sample of the word formation organizer.
We have organized the word forms; likewise we do with other mistakes made in Parts 1, 2 and 4 in the B2 First and C1 Advanced Reading and Use of English paper.
MAKE waste products
HAVE NO CHANCE TO WIN
THE CORRECT FORM
GENERATE waste products
HAVE NO CHANCE OF WINNING = THERE IS NOT A GREAT LIKELIHOOD / POSSIBILITY OF WINNING
This industry generates waste products.
Rather than providing an explanation, give an example.
I have no chance of winning the lottery.
Download the PDF below. Print a sample of the corrections’ organizer.
Useful Language Organiser
Throughout the Speaking and Writing papers of the B2 First and C1 Advanced Cambridge exams, candidates are required to show their ability in various skills, like:
- Expressing likes and dislikes,
- Making and reacting to suggestions,
- Agreeing and disagreeing,
- Giving an opinion,
- Making a decision, etc
- Introducing the (essay) topic,
- Making recommendation (in a report),
- Suggesting and advising (in a letter or email),
- Introducing counter-arguments,
- Giving an opinion, etc
During your exam preparation period, the coursebook provides learners with model essays in the Writing paper or model answers to see how exam candidates successfully perform in the Speaking paper. The scripts to the latest can normally be found at the end of the book.
What you should do is read them and record any useful language you could use in either the Speaking or Writing paper, otherwise you will keep using every day and common vocabulary that carry little or no weight.
Create your Magic Language Tricks Bag. It is worth the effort.
The difference the English vocabulary organizer makes to your success in the B2 First and C1 Advanced exams is undoubtedly enormous. All your consistent work and methodical vocabulary organization will ultimately turn into a high overall exam score.
This is all doable and reachable. I did it while I was preparing myself for the C2 Proficiency exam. I have reached it.
You can do it as well. You will succeed!
Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!