How should I prepare for my Cambridge FCE/CAE course before coming to England?
A Cambridge Exam course in the UK is rewarding, satisfying, challenging, hard work and fun, all at once. If you are keen to make the most of the course and pass the exam at the end of it, you can’t start early enough! We suggest you prepare by looking at the following things before you come to England.
About the structure of the exam:
Have a look at the Cambridge websites to learn about the content and shape of the exam.
Learn more English:
Look at Learn English, the British Council site for students of English. It contains lots of advice and practice material for students, including some jokes!
About the grammar:
You need to be right on top of the grammar because there is not enough time to learn it from scratch, so have a look at all the basic grammar and remind yourself about tenses, verbs, auxiliaries, prepositions, articles etc. This is key if you want to get a head start on an FCE or CAE Cambridge course.
About the vocabulary:
Read as much as you can and notice new words. Make vocabulary cards for yourself with the word on one side and the meaning on the other, with an example sentence. Keep checking the cards to test yourself! It’s a great way to prepare and to learn English.
Read something / anything / everything you can in English. Get a few ‘graded readers’ and try to read one a week. Look at the internet and read as many articles as you can. And notice the new vocabulary!
In the UK the BBC is a fantastic resource, so watch the BBC news. Use subtitles at first to help you. Listen to BBC podcasts. When preparing for CAE or FCE this is a great way to make sure that you learn English with the correct context as well.
Practice writing: an email to a friend, a short essay about yourself, a description of your town/city, about your favourite place, music, activity … etc. Bring a short composition explaining why you want to do the exam course with you to give to your English teacher so they can learn more about you.
If you have any English friends or contacts, have a ‘language exchange’ with them: speak half the time in English and half the time in your language. Correct each other!
Record yourself on your phone and listen to the recording. How do you sound? Compare yourself to people recorded speaking English. Can you improve your pronunciation? Pronunciation is a key part of both CAE and FCE courses so preparing yours is very advisable.
Improve your General English. A good level of General English will give you a better chance of passing a Cambridge exam course well.