Cambridge Advanced (CAE) Use of English

The CAE is one of several exams from the University of Cambridge that certifies English language proficiency. The five parts it’s composed of are: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, and Use of English.

Structure of the Use of English portion

The Use of English portion of the test lasts 60 minutes (don’t plan on any extra) and is composed of about 50 questions. The goal is to see how you apply grammar rules and vocabulary in a given context. The questions must be answered through multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and word formations or transformations. You’ll put the answers on a separate sheet of paper, after making sure to read the instructions attentively.

Parts 1-3

Parts 1 through 3 include 37 questions based on passages that could be taken from magazines, journals, or books. In specific, the first part includes 12 blanks that each have four multiple-choice options to choose from for each question. The second part includes 15 blanks and the object is to think of the appropriate word to fill the blank. The third part includes 10 blanks, each one corresponding to one of the words provided at the end of the text. You’ll be required to use the appropriate form of the given word and fill in the blank.

Parts 4-5

Meanwhile, parts 4 and 5 include 13 questions based on a sentence. In the fourth part each question is composed of 3 sentences. Each sentence has one blank. The missing word is the same for each sentence, and you’ll need to choose the best one. In the fifth and last part there are eight questions. Each consists of a given keyword, a model sentence, and a sentence that needs to be completed with six words, one of which must be the keyword provided. The sentence with empty spaces to fill in should be similar in meaning to the model sentence and the keyword can’t be changed.

Practice for free

To pass the Use of English portion of the CAE you need to practice a lot, especially to get accustomed with its structure. To do this, you can find practice exercises on a few different websites for free. On the site Examen English, for example, you’ll find a passage of a text in which you’ll be asked to fill in the blanks with the appropriate words within 15 minutes. Also the International House Bristol site offers a series of free exercises that will help you prepare for the Use of English section not just for the CAE but also for the FCE and CPE. The exercises offered are timed but you have the option of pausing them. The English-Online website offers exercises that let you choose the best word between a few different options to fill in the spaces. You’ll practice all five parts included in this section by clicking on the English Aula site. If your intention, however, is to take a full-on mock test just like the CAE you can click on the site for English Tests. Happy studying!

Full list of practice tests for the CAE Use of English section

Exam English

Free English Exercises by International House

English Online

English Tests

English Aula

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