The Cambridge First Certificate in English Examination

The Use of English Exam- Paper 3 (1 hour 15 minutes)

By Viv Quarry (

The Use of English paper is in five parts with a total of 65 questions. Candidates must write all of their answers on the answer sheets provided and have one hour fifteen minutes to complete the exam. Questions 1-30 and 41-65 are worth one mark each and questions 31-40 (Sentence transformations) carry two marks each.


You should practice transformations of linking words with a positive to negative change (too - not enough), Gerund/infinitive (interested in - want to), indirect and reported speech ("Where is...?" - She asked him...), relative pronouns (He was born.. - The house where he...), Part of speech/ vocabulary (Have a job - be out of work / find a word - look it up), grammatical (active - passive / modal verbs / pres. perf etc) and comparative, superlative and in/equality transformations (smaller - not as big as). Before the Use of English test, make sure that you have revised the grammar section at the back of your course book.

Make sure that you have got a highlighting pen to mark areas in a text, a pencil and several reserves to mark the answer paper and an efficient rubber to make corrections.


Articles, Gerund or infinitive, Irregular verbs, Make, do, have & go, Phrasal verbs, Prepositions, uncountable & plural nouns + Linking words and prefixes and suffixes worksheets. Vocabulary from all vocabulary areas in your notebook.


Part 1 - Multiple choice cloze test (15 questions)

There will be a text with 15 gaps. Under the text you will find 15 four-part multiple choice questions to fill in the missing words in the text. This is mainly a test of your vocabulary.

Part 2 - Open cloze test (15 questions)

A text with fifteen gaps in it. You have to write ONE appropriate word into each gap. This is a test of both grammar and vocabulary.

Part 3 - Key word transformations (10 questions)

You are given a lead-in sentence followed by a given word and gapped sentence. Using the word given, you have to complete the second sentence without changing the meaning in the first one.

Part 4 - Error correction (15 questions)

There is a fifteen line text. You must analyze each line. If you think the line is correct, you put a tick on the answer sheet. If you think there is an unnecessary word on the line, write this word in the appropriate place on the answer sheet.


Part 5 - Word formation (10 questions)

You will see a text with gaps, and on the right are root words. You have to use appropriate prefixes and suffixes to transform these root words into the correct form to fit into the gaps in the text.


The sentence transformation exercises in part 3 are worth more marks than any other section, so do this part first while you are still fresh.

DO NOT SPEND TOO MUCH TIME ON ONE QUESTION! It is common in Cambridge exams to put a question at the start of the test which a native speaker would find difficult. The reason they do this is to see if the student will spend a long time trying to answer the question (and still probably get it wrong), and then run out of time so he or she hasn't got time to answer the easier questions later in the test.

If you find a question difficult, make a note of the question number and leave it until you have finished all of the questions that you can answer. Go back to it at the end, and if you still can't answer it, guess.

In multiple choice questions, there are often two answers which are similar, one which looks correct and is usually a 'red herring' - this means an answer which looks correct at first sight (it may include words taken from the text) but it is there to distract you, and one answer which is completely wrong. The correct answer will usually be found as one of the two similar answers. (See example below)

a) Looks correct. (Red Herring)

b) Similar. (Possible)

c) Looks incorrect. (Wrong)

d) Similar. (Possible)

For all types of cloze tests (gap filling), always read through the entire text before attempting to fill in the gaps.

When choosing a word to fill in a gap do the following:

A. Identify the part of speech.

Is it: a noun, a verb, a modal verb, an adjective, an adverb, a preposition, a linking word or an article?

If it's a verb, what form should it be (present, past, past participle, gerund or infinitive)

B. Are there any prefixes and suffixes to help me understand it?

C. Does the context (before or after the word) help to explain it?

D. Is there a word in my language which is similar? Yes - Is it a false friend?

At the end of the exam, make sure that you have answered all of the questions on the answer paper. If there are any questions that you haven't been able to answer, guess the answer. In the FCE, you won't lose marks for incorrect answers, so guess and in a multiple choice question you stand a one in four chance of getting it correct by accident.


Relax! Next is the listening test, take it easy and do the best you can.