Study Tips for FCE and CAE Exams

It’s that time of year when tests are just days away and I know you must be feeling nervous, so I thought a few tips could be useful to you!

When it comes to speaking and writing what you say and write is equally important as how you say and write it.


  • Answer the question! Don’t just single out the topic and discuss it randomly. Listen to the question or instruction and answer it properly.
  • Make sure you use vocaularly appropriate to the topic and your level.
  • Don’t try to impress the examiner by using vocabulary you know you can’t pronounce because you will get nervous and will probaly make a mistake.
  • Speak loudly, clearly and try not to speak too quickly.
  • Listen to the question and pay attention to the tense used. In other words, don’t use past tense if you are supposed to discuss what you will be doing next year.


  • Answer the question! Don’t get off track.
  • Think about the following; What is the purpose of the writing task? Who are you writing to? Who will read what you are writing? What style or register do you have to use?
  • Choose the vocabulary carefully, it needs to be specific to the topic.
  • Avoid repetition, try to use synonyms as an alternative.
  • Are you using the correct tense?
  • Punctuate!
  • Use signal words to help you order your ideas or to move from paragraph to paragraph.


  • Scan the questions quickly to try to get an idea about what you’ll be listening to.
  • Underline any words that you think may be important or unusual and think of an antonym or synonym.
  • Listen for signal words that may indicate a contrasting view / opinion.
  • Always write something down, never leave a question blank, that way you have some chance of getting it right.
  • Listen for words / phrases that may be similar to those written in the question.


  • Read the text to get an overall idea of what you’re reading. Write a few key words next to each paragraph to prompt your memory when you are looking for specific information.
  • Read the questions and underline key words.
  • Skim the text to identify main ideas. Remember, important information is often found in the first and last sentences of a paragraph.
  • Look for synonyms, antonyms or signal words that could be helpful.
  • Always write something down, even if you don’t know the answer.

Good luck!

Patty Thomas. (Academic Manager – GV Sunshine Coast – Maroochydore Campus) 


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