Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Tips and FAQS for the Reading paper of the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam

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Here are some tips and answers to questions we often receive on the Reading paper of the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam.


  • Read the sources, titles and subtitles of the texts where given; they are there to help you.
  • Read each text carefully before you answer the questions to get an overall impression and understanding of it. This includes Part 3, the multiple-matching task.
  • Check the words around the gap carefully (Part 2). The missing word(s) may be forming part of an idiom, fixed phrase or collocation.
  • Check that the completed paragraph makes sense in the passage as a whole (Part 2). The missing sentence must fit the overall context.
  • Keep the development of the text in mind.
  • Read the questions carefully and check each option against the text before rejecting it. (Part 2)
  • Don’t try to answer any questions without referring carefully to the text.
  • Don’t spend too much time on any one part of the paper.
  • Don’t forget to record your answers on the separate answer sheet.
  • Don’t assume that if the same word appears in the text as well as in an option, this means you have located the answer.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What aspects of reading are tested in this paper?
You will need to show that you can understand:

  • specific information
  • main ideas
  • text organisation and structure
  • tone
  • gist (meaning)
  • opinion
  • attitude
  • detail
  • purpose.

You will also need to be able to deduce meaning (work out the meaning of unknown vocabulary).

How many marks is the Reading paper worth?
Reading, Writing, Listening, Use of English and Speaking are each worth 20%of the total score for the Cambridge English: First for Schools exam.

How long should I spend on each part?
There is no time limit for each task; some tasks may take longer than others and you should be aware of how long you need for different tasks. However, remember that each part (1–3) is worth approximately the same number of marks overall.

How do I answer the Reading paper?
In this paper, you need to put the answers on an answer sheet by filling in a box in pencil.

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

April 27, 2013 at 10:00 am

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