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15 December 2014

End of Term - Look Back & Forward

Happy Holidays!

It's been a busy term. Over the holidays, take a few minutes one day and think about:


  • Review your writing homework from Term 1- make a list of your biggest successes.
  • Write a list of reminders: "I need to check...", "I need to include..."

Use of English

  • Review your Use of English. Which part of the exam is your best one?
  • Which do you need to do more work on?

  • Take some time to read, watch and listen to any English you can during the holidays. Every little helps. Start with a song at the bottom of this post!

Reading & Listening

  • As above, take a look at the question types you've tried - work out your weaker ones. 
  • Take a look at workbook exercises. You should find examples online too. We probably have some links if you look through our A-Z.
  • Youtube has lots of Speaking tests to take a look at to remind yourself what to do (and not do!) in the tests. Review a couple!

Your progress

  • Compare your marks from the start of term to the end, especially for the end of term exams. Would you imagine your scores would have been the same if you'd done that test in September? 
    • If the answer's NO, congratulations, you're making progress.
    • If the answer's YES, talk to your teacher at the start of next term - you might need some extra help, which we can give you.

The next 3 months

  • Set some priorities:
    • Keep your list of Writing Reminders handy
    • Try to do some extra practice on your weaker Use of English areas
    • Read and Listen to something a couple of times a week (at least!)

Have a Wonderful Christmas Time!

03 December 2014

Reading Skills Practice for First

Go here for an exercise about Skimming and Scanning.

02 December 2014

Proficiency Speaking

The BBC's 60-second archive. Ideas and practice for your long-turn.

Link here.

Advanced - Article Writing Exercises

From One Stop English, here's lots of excellent practice material on article writing.

01 December 2014

CAE Leaflet Week: Practice Planning!

Now's your chance to put to work what you have seen - on page three of this PDF are three exam questions. Spend five minutes planning one or more using the intstructions below and post your ideas here if you want us to comment!

- Decide who is the target audience/reader and what is the formality level?
- Explain what the reader should have/know/be given/do next at the end of reading your piece
- Decide how many paragraphs you would write and their functions, with some language examples
- List the vocabulary topic area(s) and some examples, with synonyms where/if possible

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26 November 2014

First Sentence Transformations

12 minutes of video to help you practice.

25 November 2014

Proficiency Speaking

The speaking exam decoded.

Advanced Exam Practice

Link here. This materials for the 2013 exam, but still useful for the 2015 version.

21 November 2014

Report Writing

A link to an article on report writing.

Note that we don't recommend very short (numbered) sentences in the writing exams - they limit your range of language

19 November 2014


An article on persuasive language. Recommended for

PROPOSALS at Advanced
PART 1 at Proficiency

Link is here.

14 November 2014


Use of English practice is here.

11 November 2014

Proficiency Practice Material

Materal from the previous version of the exam, but much of it is still good practice. Note that Reading Part 1 is much like Use of English Part 2 in the current exam.


05 November 2014

Paragraph Writing

An interesting article with advice on paragraph writing is here.

04 November 2014

Linking Words Quiz

Below are 15 questions about linking words. Print this page out and spend 15 minutes working on it. Be ambitious and try it without using your books..

  1. For with which word is the same as for example?
  2. Which four word expression do you use to give emphasis to two things? Clue: "NOBA"
  3. What's a difference between Besides and Furthermore?
  4. Do you know a synonym for Furthermore starting with M?
  5. There are four expressions starting with In that you can use to summarise. How many do you know?
  6. What's the opposite of the former?
  7. What's the difference between because of and because?
  8. How many synonyms for because do you know?
  9. Can you think of two alternatives to So?
  10. How many alternatives to But do you know?
  11. What's the difference between In spite of and despite?
  12. What's the difference between although and despite?
  13. What changes do you have to make if you use however in place of but?
  14. Can you use nevertheless?
  15. Can you use unlike?
Go here to check your answers (which are in the same order as the questions) on this page from English at Home. Ask your teacher if you have doubts.

28 October 2014


"The higher your level, the more important it gets."

Take a look at our updated Vocabulary Page - link on the menu bar - for advice and suggestions on the area everyone needs to work on.

20 October 2014

Getting ready to write.

One Way to Plan Your Work

There's no single way to plan a writing answer, but here's a two-step process that tries to get you to focus on

- the tasks you've got to do
- the language you need to use
- avoiding copying from the question
- getting variety in your vocab

Take a look at this question:

Apply this two step process.

Step 1.
a. Underline all the FUNCTIONS you have to carry out in this exercise.
b. Highlight the important information words in the question.

Here are's our version:

QuestionYou are reading an English language magazine and you see details of a language school that you are interested in.


If you would like to study English on a course that has been specially designed to meet your needs and interests, then contact the Principal of the Effective Learning School giving details of your:
  • Motivation for studying English; length of time studying English; strengths and weaknesses in the language
  • Preferred start date and length of course
  • Hobbies and interests
We will contact you once we have received your details in order to arrange a programme of study for you.
Write your letter to the Principal of the school. (around 120-180 words)

Step 2
a. For the ideas you underlined, think of ways to say or write those functions
b. For the words you highlighted. Think of examples and/or other words with the same or similar meanings.

Here are's our try:

"I am writing to you to..."
"I would like/would rather"
Giving examples 
"For example", "such as", "including"

"I'm good at", "I really enjoy", "I find xxxxx really (enjoyable)"
 "I wish I could...."
Start date: 
I'd like to begin on
I'd like a course that lasts
Hobbies and interests: 
When I get some free time...

What youve done is use the question to write a plan, and produce a list of language you need in your answer.- We managed to write over 40 words there - for a 150 word essay! 

It's all going to be relevant as you've used the question for inspiration! Ut's probably more or less in the right order too.

Now all you need to do is connect it all up, personalise it, add in some linking words and make sure the formality is OK - and you should get a satisfactory mark!

Give it a try on your next homework!

03 September 2014

Writing a Livelt Reviews

Here's some stuff on reviews. Mark Kermode is our review man, and here are a couple of bits of his stuff for you.The "task" really is to enjoy and see how enthusiastic he gets - and see if you can think of things you can be so energised about!

First, Quantum of Solace:

Now, for contrast, here's some Mamma Mia;
And finally, a personal favourite, The Da Vinci Code, in audio only:

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14 April 2014

Proficiency Practice

Proficiency - Time to Study!

Lots of free practice exercises, although others need registration and payment, and we can't take responsibility for that! Parts 1,3 and 4 are appropraite for the current exam format.

10 April 2014

FCE Listening

Go here for the start of an online listening test.

09 April 2014

Advanced - Study and revise.

Advanced - Time to Study!

Lots of free practice exercises, although others need registration and payment, and we can't take responsibility for that!

07 April 2014

Grammar and Vocabulary for First

First - Time to Study!

Lots of free practice exercises, although others need registration and payment, and we can't take responsibility for that!

03 April 2014

2013 First Reading Sample

 Reading exercises, with answers on the final page, is here.

01 April 2014

Writing Reports

A quick summary of dos and don'ts!

31 March 2014

First Video Lounge 5

Our latest link is to a video with advice for the Listening test.

27 March 2014

CAE Video Lounge 4

Another video, this time: The Writng Test described.

25 March 2014

FCE Video Lounge 4

Advice for the FCE Writing Test.

21 March 2014

CPE Quizzes




Multiple choice practices.

20 March 2014

Advanced Video Lounge 3

The Speaking Exam, in depth

18 March 2014

Advanced Video Lounge 2

Planning to register? Already registered? Get ready for the exam.

17 March 2014

First Video Lounge 3

Another video, this time reviewing Sentence transformation from Part 4 of the test.

14 March 2014

Proficiency Vocabulary Quiz

Try yourself out on an online vocab quiz:

10 March 2014

First Video Lounge 2

Examiners Talking About the Speaking Test

Go here.

06 March 2014

Advanced Video Lounge 1

Video Advice for Use of English

04 March 2014

Proficiency Listening Test

Link to  Youtube Video of a CPE Listening test.

Answers availabel from the link on the page.

03 March 2014

New Listening!

We've added a Link to a page of Advanced Listening Actvities to the Listening Hub.

First Video Lounge

First Video Lounge

The Video Lounge will expand to link to lessons about the exams on the net.

A video review of FCE Use of English Part 1

11 February 2014

First Key Word Transformations

First TEST 

A youtube video full of tips for the Key Word Transformation part.