We’re sure you’ve done a great job answering the questions for Reading Part 5 of your Cambridge English C2 Proficiency exam. But now you’re faced with a completely different challenge.

In front of you is a jigsaw puzzle of a story, with some big gaps, odd linking expressions, mysterious pronouns, and a lot of marks at stake. In this latest post of our Cambridge English Passing C2 Proficiency Guide, we’re here to help you tackle Reading Part 6 effectively.

Before we start, here are some quick revision questions from our Guide to Reading Part 5 post.

  • What are the 5 different types of language you can be asked to identify?
  • What is our 5 stage strategy to help you answer the questions?
  • What are the 2 different types of reading which can help you prepare for this part?

Can you remember them all? Check out the post if not!

Now, let’s have a look at what Part 6 is made up of, how best to choose the missing paragraphs, and some useful tips for studying.


What’s in Part 6?

You are given a text where some of the paragraphs have been removed and placed in a random order at the end. The texts can be taken from journalistic, academic or literary sources; and the title or subheading is designed to help you identify its genre.

Your job is to decide which paragraph goes back into each gap. However, there is also one extra paragraph which isn’t needed, so don’t get caught out by that!

Just like in Reading Part 5, there are 2 marks available for each correct answer in Part 6. With a total of 7 questions, this is, in fact, the part with the most marks available in the whole Reading and Use of English exam. Therefore, we recommend spending up to 18 or even 20 minutes on this section.


What is this part testing me on?

The objective of this part is to test candidates on their ability to understand the cohesion, structure, and global meaning of a text. This means that it’s not just about understanding the meaning of individual words, but much more about wrapping your head around the whole context.

For example, here is one of the paragraphs you can choose from to put into the main text:

A: “To add to our woes, there was no wood nearby…..”

What kind of situation do you think it follows?

If you said some sort of problem, great!

Here, you are being tested on your understanding of the word woe and also how it combines with another problematic situation. This is a great example of how the text must flow from one paragraph to the next.

(Example taken from the Cambridge English C2 Proficiency Handbook – on the Cambridge Assessment website)


What’s the best way to choose the correct missing paragraph?

There’s no doubt about it, there’s a lot to do in this part of the exam, and not much time to do it in! But we’ve divided our strategy up into two halves to help you use your time efficiently:


Find the important language

1. Firstly, read the whole text quite quickly. Don’t worry about understanding all the tricky words just yet, right now you just need to get a feel for the text as a whole and the order of events.

2. Next, read all the paragraph options and begin to identify the people, places, and things that were also mentioned in the main text.

3. Underline the linking expressions used in both the paragraph options and main text. For example:

“The next morning we awoke…” – This suggests that the previous paragraph will have details about the end of the previous day, or something which happened at night.

“From there, we got a lift…” – This one probably follows on from a paragraph containing a specific place, and part of an unfinished journey.

4. Underline the different pronouns used in these paragraphs, and begin to think about what they could possibly refer to. For example:

We hit it off immediately…” – Who is the text talking about here? Have at least two characters been mentioned yet?

“This gives us an indication of…” – What are they referring to here? What is this?


Start making your choices

5. Look at the development of the main text and language you’ve underlined before and after each gap. More often than not, in C2 Proficiency, it’s the language which follows a space which gives you more clues about the cohesion of the text.

6. Start to put in the missing paragraphs you are most confident about, followed by the ones which you are less sure about. However, don’t ignore the paragraphs you’ve already used and be prepared to change your answers if something doesn’t look right! Remember, if you get one wrong, there’s a good chance you could get two wrong.

7. Now, take a look at the one paragraph you’ve decided to leave out. Check it against each of the spaces and double check it doesn’t fit anywhere better than your first choice.

8. Finally, read the whole text again to double check the story flows well and sounds cohesive.


Tips for studying and resources

Before leaping headfirst into the C2 Proficiency exam, there are a few ways you can practice doing the type of activity you need to do in Reading Part 6:

  • A great idea is to print out and cut up some sample Reading Part 6 exam questions. With the main text and paragraphs now separated, you can move everything around and physically put the different options into the various spaces. This will help you to visualise the text as a whole, and allow you to easily recognise the cohesive tricks that are used by the examiners. You can even do this with newspaper or online articles. It’s amazing how this visual aid really helps!
  • Start reading a variety of different text types, and get a feel for how they link together from one paragraph to another. Are there different styles used by academic writers or journalistic ones? Check out our advice about Extensive vs Intensive reading in our Guide to Reading Part 5 post for more information on this, and our Good Learner Guide for some extra motivation.

  • Practice justifying your ideas with a partner. If you’re not able to explain why you’ve chosen one paragraph option over another, there’s a good chance it’s not right.

Our in-house Exam preparation courses are designed to give you an opportunity to do just this under the guidance of our experienced teachers. These courses run either each semester or from October until June, depending on your needs. Have a look at our website for more information, or drop in and speak to our reception team.

We hope this has helped you feel more comfortable about this daunting part of the exam! Keep a lookout for our next Passing C2 Proficiency Guide for Reading Part 7, coming soon.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

At stake (exp): at risk.

To get caught out (exp): to find yourself in a difficult situation.

Cohesion (n): a complete and well linked structure (of a writing).

Wrapping your head around (id): to completely understand something confusing.

Woe (n): things that cause worry or distress.

Tricky (adj): difficult.

To get a feel for (exp): to feel more in control of / get used to something.

To hit it off (exp): to get on well with someone straight away.

More often that not (exp): frequently / usually.

To leap headfirst (exp): to try something without hesitation or preparation.


exp = expression

n = noun

id = idiom

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