Use of English in Reverse

Understand a range of texts.

Show your grammar and vocabulary control.

Produce written pieces.

Follow and understand a range of familiar spoken materials.

Produce spontaneous spoken language.

 These are the five main assessment purposes of the Cambridge B2 First exam in its four exam papers. Hold on, how come there are five general assessment criteria for just only four exam papers? 

There is one exam paper, Reading and Use of English paper, whose tasks (7) test both the candidates’ understanding of a range of texts and their control of grammar and vocabulary.

The other three papers are:

  1. Listening,
  2. Writing, and
  3. Speaking 

The Reading and Use of English paper is miles more difficult and challenging than any other. Succeeding here requires extensive reading, good knowledge of its structure, and a very good control of the B2 vocabulary and grammar contents.

The latest is hard work. For this reason, the Use of English parts, 2, 3 and 4, are the ones not easy to tame. To see it through, continuous work and a logical mind is required from the learners. Not even an infinite number of exam tasks completely do the trick. “Not very optimistic!”, you might say.

The secret lies in never giving up and trying out other techniques by adopting different approaches to the Use of English tasks. 

This is what I am doing, as a teacher, continuously investigating, comparing and analysing various ways to help my students with. Attending recently one of the Cambridge webinars has given me some food for thought. What I have tried later on has worked. It has done wonders to my students’ score in the Use of English parts. EUREKA!

What I invited my students to do has been trying the REVERSE method!

The urgency to improve B2 First Cambridge candidates’ score in the Reading and Use of English exam tasks needs action with no delay. So, let’s skip the theory!

Roll up your sleeves, my dearest learners 😉

Use of English Paper Quiz

First, you must see how familiar you are with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th parts of the Reading and Use of English paper. Good luck!

How many questions are there in Part 2?

How many marks are given in Part 2?

What type of task is Part 2?

Choose one:

  1. Multiple-choice cloze
  2. Word formation
  3. Open cloze
  4. Key word transformation

 

What is the format of Part 2? What does Part 2 look like?

What kind of words are missing in Part 2?

Choose one:

  1. Content words
  2. Function words

Which of the following are function words?

  1. Nouns
  2. Prepositions
  3. Auxiliary verbs
  4. Adjectives
  5. Conjunctions
  6. Adverbs
  7. Articles
  8. Main verbs
  9. Modal verbs
  10. Negation words

How many questions are there in Part 3?

How many marks is Part 3 worth?

What type of task is Part 3?

Choose one:

  1. Multiple-choice cloze
  2. Word formation
  3. Open cloze
  4. Key word transformation

What is the format of Part 3? 

What is the main focus in Part 3? 

Choose one option:

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Grammar
  3. Both

What changes must be made to the stems of the words given beside the text in Part 3? 

Choose one option:

  1. Use prefixes
  2. Use suffixes
  3. Make internal changes
  4. Use compounds
  5. Any from above

What type of task is Part 4?

Choose one:

  1. Key word transformation
  2. Word formation
  3. Open cloze
  4. Multiple-choice cloze

How many questions are there in Part 4?

How many marks are given for each question in Part 4?

True or false?

No points are awarded even though half of the answer is correct.

What is the total score in Part 4?

Which is the main focus in Part 4?

  1. Vocabulary
  2. Grammar
  3. Collocation
  4. All of the above

 

How many words must the second gapped sentence have?

Choose one option:

  1. From two to four words
  2. From three to five words
  3. From two to five words
  4. From two to six words

Can we make changes to the “key” word?

  1. 8 questions
  2. 8 marks
  3. 3 (open cloze)
  4. A short text with eight gaps
  5. 2 (function words)
  6. 2, 3, 5, 7, 9 (prepositions, auxiliary verbs, conjunctions, articles, modal verbs)
  7. 8 questions
  8. 8 marks
  9. 2 (word formation)
  10. A text with eight gaps. Each gap must be filled in with a word. Its stem is given beside the text. The stem provided must be changed to form the missing one.
  11. 1 (vocabulary)
  12. 5 (prefixes, suffixes, internal changes, compounds)
  13. 1 (key word transformation)
  14. Six questions
  15. 2 marks
  16. False. One point can be awarded if part of the answer is correct.
  17. 12 marks
  18. 4 (vocabulary, grammar, collocation)
  19. 2 (from two to five words)
  20. No changes can be made to the “key” word.

The quiz above has not only tested your familiarity with the Use of English parts, it will also serve as a tune-up for what follows next.

Are you ready to become the almighty lord of the B2 First Use of English tasks? 

Worries away. What I will ask you to do is create the three Use of English exam tasks (2, 3 and 4) starting with an already competed text. This technique is called THE REVERSE. It consists in revisiting a text from an exam task and transforming it into three tasks:

  • Open cloze (part 2)
  • Word formation (part 3)
  • Key word transformation (part 4)

The text that serves the best is the completed text from Part 3. We can find it in any Reading and Use of English paper from sample tests. You can also use any of the texts from Part 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7. Even the transcript to the audio tasks could be useful.

Let’s now embark on our upside down journey!

B2 First Use of English

Completed Part 3 Text

Same family, different people

The three children grew up in the same home, with the same rules and values, but for friends of the family the fascinating thing is that now, as young adults, they all have very different personalities.

Grace, 23, always has to be busy. She never seems relaxed, even in her spare time. Ever since she was a young girl, she has always been highly motivated to succeed, and now that she is working in a business environment she makes no secret of how ambitious she is: her aim is to be Managing Director before she is 30.

Whereas Grace can sometimes appear rather unemotional, even cold, Evie has strong feelings about almost everything. She can also be quite sensitive to what others say, particularly if she feels their comments are unfair. But she is always kind to her friends, and sympathetic whenever any of them calls round to talk about their problems.

Daniel, just 19, is far less sociable and hates being indoors for long. He’s the most adventurous one of the three.  He’s mad about sports and loves riding motorbikes at terrifying speeds. For this reason, he takes too many risks, and he gives his family a lot of anxious moments; however, somehow he always manages to get home safely. 

B2 use of english part 2

Use of English Part 2 task

Turn the text above into a part 2, open cloze, task by taking out eight words and leaving eight gaps instead. Remember that they must be function words. When  taking them out of the text, since they carry little meaning, we easily understand it. These words are:

  • adverbs (more, less)
  • auxiliary verbs (are, have)
  • articles (the, a/an)
  • conjunctions (although, but)
  • modal verbs (may, can)
  • prepositions (as, to)
  • pronouns (he, us)

Possible Part 2 exam task

Same family, different people

The three children grew up in the dame home, with the same rules and values, (1) ……………….. for friends of the family the fascinating thing is that now, as young adults, they all have very different personalities.

Grace, 23, always has to be busy. She never seems relaxed, even in her spare time. Ever since she was a young girl, she (2) ………………..always been highly motivated to succeed, and now that she is working in a business environment she makes no secret of how ambitious she is: her aim is to be Managing Director before she is 30.

(3) ……………….. Grace can sometimes appear rather unemotional, even cold, Evie has strong feelings about almost everything. She (4) ……………….. also be quite sensitive to what others say, particularly if she feels their comments are unfair. But she is always kind (5) ……………….. her friends, and sympathetic whenever any of them calls round to talk about their problems.

Daniel, just 19, is far (6) ……………….. sociable and hates being indoors for long. He’s (7) ……………….. most adventurous one of the three.  He’s mad about sports and loves riding motorbikes at terrifying speeds. For this reason, he takes too many risks, and he gives his family a lot of anxious moments; (8) ……………….. , somehow he always manages to get home safely. 

Can you identify the part of speech for each of the eight missing words? Do the matching activity below.

  1. but
  2. has
  3. whereas
  4. can
  5. to
  6. more
  7. the
  8. however
  • An article
  • A modal verb
  • An auxiliary verb
  • An adverb (2)
  • A conjunction (2)
  • A complement of an adjective
use of english word formation

Use of English Part 3 task

Transform the completed text into a part 3, word formation, task. Choose eight words and shorten them to their root word, e.g. fascinating – FASCINATE. Remember to write the words in CAPITALS (at the end of the line if possible, as in the exam task itself). Leave a space in the same line of the text instead.

Read more about parts of speech, like nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in the following article: Parts Of Speech And Their Position In The English Sentence

Possible Part 3 exam task

Same family, different people

The three children grew up in the dame home, with the same rules and values, but for friends of the family the fascinating thing is that now, as young adults, they all have very different (1) __________________ PERSON.

Grace, 23, always has to be busy. She never seems relaxed, even in her spare time. Ever since she was a young girl, she has always been highly motivated to (2) __________________ SUCCESS, and now that she is working in a business environment she makes no secret of how (3) __________________ AMBITION she is: her aim is to be Managing Director before she is 30.

Whereas Grace can sometimes appear rather (4) __________________ EMOTION, even cold, Evie has strong feelings about almost everything. She can also be quite (5) __________________ SENSE to what others say, particularly if she feels their comments are unfair. But she is always kind to her friends, and (6) __________________ SYMPATHY whenever any of them calls round to talk about their problems.

Daniel, just 19, is far less (7) __________________ SOCIETY and hates being indoors for long. He’s the most adventurous one of the three.  He’s mad about sports and loves riding motorbikes at (8) __________________ TERRIFY speeds. For this reason, he takes too many risks, and he gives his family a lot of anxious moments; however, somehow he always manages to get home safely. 

Write down all the possible word forms to the eight stems from the sample task: 

  1. PERSON
  2. SUCCESS
  3. AMBITION
  4. EMOTION
  5. SENSE
  6. SYMPATHY
  7. SOCIETY
  8. TERRIFY
VERB
NOUN
ADJECTIVE
ADVERB
use of english key-word transformation

Use of English Part 4 task

Turn six sentences from the completed text into a key word transformation activity, thus creating a part 4 task. Remember that the answer must contain between two and five words, including the “key” word given.

Example:

0 The three children grew up in the same home.

BROUGHT

The children’s ………………………………………………………. in the same home.

The gap can be filled by the words “parents brought them up“.

Now, it’s your turn.

Possible Part 4 exam task

1. For friends of the family, the fascinating thing is that now they all have different personalities.

FASCINATED

The family’s friends ………………………………………………………. their different personalities.

2. She never seems relaxed, even in her spare time.

APPEARS

She never ………………………………………………………. even in her spare time.

3. She has always been highly motivated to succeed.

INTERESTED

She has always  ………………………………………………………. succeeding.

4. Her aim is to be Managing Director before she is 30.

BECOME

She wants to ………………………………………………………. the age of 30.

5. She is always kind to her friends.

UNKIND

She ………………………………………………………. her friends.

6. Daniel, just 19, is far less sociable.

MUCH

Daniel, just 19, ………………………………………………………. unsociable.

Are any of your questions similar to mine?

Why don’t you try and do the task I have prepared? Complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first sentence, using the word given.

The possible answers to my six questions are:

  1. ARE FASCINATED Ι BY 
  2. APPEARS TO Ι BE RELAXED
  3. BEEN HIGHLY/VERY Ι INTERESTED IN 
  4. BECOME MANAGING Ι DIRECTOR BY/UNTIL
  5. IS NEVER Ι UNKIND TO
  6. IS MUCH Ι MORE

You have created three new tasks, which are similar in structure with Part 2, 3 and 4 from the Reading and Use of English paper in the Cambridge B2 First exam. I am sure the Cambridge team would be most interested in publishing your work as part of an official exam. Amazing! 

Before you get officially employed as a Cambridge exams content developer, challenge your classmate or B2 First buddy to do your three tasks.

Why did I invite you to adapt an already completed text from a Part 3 task and create three exam tasks of your own? What’s the point?

You have now become much more knowledgeable about what to expect in Parts 2, 3 and 4, like the kind of words needed to complete Part 2, the simple root words given in Part 3 and their complex family words you need to fill the eight gaps with, as well as how part 4 works.

Creating exam tasks is second to none. It arms you with a logical mind. This is what you need to succeed in the Cambridge B2 First Reading and Use of English paper.

Stay tuned for more words of advice and handy material!

Share article