FCE Use of English tip: Part 1

FCE Use of English tip: options in Part 1
Intermediate to advanced level (B1-C1)

If you are planning to take Cambridge FCE in December, you are probably doing lots of practice. You can make the most of your practice by thinking about how you could use the wrong answers!

The first part of this section of the exam is a multiple-choice exercise with a text. You have to choose whether the correct answer is A, B, C or D. This question is in the current FCE and the updated one from 2015.

Here is a piece of text with possible answers for the gap:

People are sometimes confused when they try to find Oxford University. (1) …….. than there being a single campus, Oxford University is a collection of colleges which you can see as you walk around the city.

1. A   Instead      B   Apart     C   Rather     D   However

Quite often two of the possible answers have the right meaning for the text but need, for example, a different preposition. Alternatively, you might find that the correct answer is a fixed expression or collocation.

In this example, ‘Instead’ and ‘Rather’ can have similar meanings but only ‘Rather’ is correct because it can be followed by ‘than’. My tip is to practise using any other word that could be used in the text. In this case, you could use ‘Instead’ by replacing ‘than’ with ‘of’.

Of course, in the Cambridge FCE Use of English section, you can’t change the text but when preparing for this part of the exam, it is useful practice and may help with Part 2 and Part 4 too.