So, you’ve completed the Reading and Use of English Part 1 of your Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE). Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the rest of the exam. But when you turn to Part 2, you see something which looks the same, only they’ve taken away all of the multiple choice options!

Don’t panic though. With the right preparation, time management, and exam strategy, you’ll be fine.

In this edition of our Passing Cambridge C1 Advanced guide, we’ll give you information about what to expect in Part 2. We’ll also show you what they’re testing you on, as well as useful tips and advice for tackling this section of the exam.


What is in Part 2?


You’re given a short text with 8 gaps in it. You need to complete each gap with only one word, not including abbreviations or contractions. The completed sentence needs to make sense both grammatically and in the context as a whole.

Once again, there is an example of what you need to do, numbered (0) – so make sure you don’t complete this one too by mistake.


What are they testing me on in Part 2?


On first impression it may look like Part 2 could be testing you on every word under the sun. However, there is actually a much smaller focus in Part 2 than Part 1.

All of the missing words will either be very common grammatical items, such as articles, auxiliary verbs, prepositions or pronouns, or key vocabulary words in the context of the text. These can include parts of a phrasal verb, a linking word, or a word in a fixed expression.

Let’s look at a couple of examples. What do you think they are testing you on in these two gaps?

This research shows, if (15)……..else, that language is a social activity, not something invented (16)………isolation.

(Question taken from Cambridge C1 Advanced sample paper on their website)

If you said the missing word for (15) was nothing, great! This is an example of a missing key vocabulary word which fits into the fixed linking expression if nothing else. It works well in the context of the sentence as a whole.

As for number (16), the word you need is grammatical and something which is typically found with the words around it. So well done if you correctly said the preposition in!


How should I answer the questions?


There’s only one mark available for each correct answer. That makes it important to complete Part 2 swiftly in order to save as much time as possible for the later sections.

By following this strategy you will hopefully do well and save some time too:

1. Read the title of the text first, it will give you an idea about its content and any key arguments you might find in it.

2. Next read the text all the way through without thinking about what word might be in each space. This will help you identify the context of each sentence and paragraph. This is very important for any missing linking words like if, despite, and although.

3. If, when you’re reading it for the first time, some of the missing words come to mind, then write them in straight away. It’s really important to trust your instincts in Part 2, but be aware of false friends or any common translation errors.

4. Now go back to the beginning. Look again at each gap, as well as the words and context around it. What do you think the type of word might be? Does it look like it’s in the middle of a fixed expression? Or could it be a preposition or article? Thinking about the type of word can help you to narrow down your choices.

5. Once you’ve put a word in each gap, go back and read it again from beginning to end. Does it seem to make sense? If not, don’t be afraid to make some last minute adjustments.

6. Copy your answers onto the separate answer sheet, and never leave anything blank. You don’t lose anything for wrong answers, so if in doubt, make a guess.


Tips for Studying and Resources


As we said in our previous post about Passing Reading and Use of English Part 1, the best way to prepare for this part of the exam is to read as much in English as you can handle!

  • The more you read, the more you begin to identify common trends in the language, such as with phrasal verbs. When you begin to notice more of these, you’ll feel a lot more confident about putting words in these gaps without any options to help you. We always recommend starting with a little bit of reading each day, and make sure it’s something you enjoy – so you’re much more likely to keep it up!
  • If you find reading a bit of a chore, why not look elsewhere for inspiration? Check out our post: The 10 Best Instagram Accounts for Learning English. You’ll find plenty of resources here which will help you build up your knowledge of key vocabulary and grammar words.
  • Our recommended time limit for Part 2 is about 7 minutes, which takes some practice. Take a look at the Cambridge English website for some sample tests and start timing yourself. There are also plenty of books out there which can give you more real exam experience.
  • Finally, check out our website for specific Advanced C1 exam preparation courses. With a teacher to guide you, and classmates to share ideas with, you’re much more likely to maximise your potential on the big day of the exam.

We hope that you now have a much better idea about what to expect in Reading and Use of English Part 2, and how to confidently answer the questions. Come back soon for our next section on our Passing Cambridge C1 Advanced guide!

Glossary for Language Learners


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

To take away (pv):: to remove from a place.

To make sense (pv): to make something understandable.

Under the sun (id): in the whole world.

Swiftly (adv): quickly, rapidly.

False friends (exp): a word or expression which looks like something from your own language, but has a different meaning.

To narrow down (pv): to make smaller – usually a choice.

To handle (v): to cope with or manage.

Trends (n): a common development in society.

To keep it up (pv): don’t stop, keep going!.

Chore (n): Work which you have to do, but usually don’t want to.


pv = phrasal verb

id = idiom

adv = adverb

exp = expression

n = noun

v = verb

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