Cambridge English Southern Europe

Experts in Language Assessment

Tips and FAQS for the Use of English paper of the Cambridge English: Advanced exam

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Here are some tips and answers to questions we often receive on the Use of English paper of the Cambridge English: Advanced exam.


  • Read extensively to build up a wide range of vocabulary in different contexts.
  • Check your spelling in all parts of the test.
  • Make sure you transfer your answers to your answer sheet as you finish each part.
  • Read the surrounding context before giving an answer.
  • Read the instructions, the information about the texts, the titles and the texts before starting to answer.
  • Read the texts again to check your answers make sense.
  • Check that the answer has the right meaning and that it fits in with both the local grammatical context and with the text as a whole. (Parts 1, 2 and 3)
  • Don’t leave any questions unanswered.
  • Don’t give alternative answers for any questions.
  • Don’t wait until the end to copy all your answers on to your answer sheet.
  • Don’t copy the words on to your answer sheet. Only one letter (A, B, C or D) is necessary. (Part 1)
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How many marks is the Use of English paper worth?
The Use of English paper makes up 40 marks or 20% of the total marks of the examination. See more details about the format of the exam

Are marks deducted for incorrect answers?
No, marks are deducted if candidates give an incorrect answer. A candidate is either awarded the mark for the correct answer or gets no mark if the answer is incorrect. You are advised not to leave any question unanswered.

How do candidates record their answers?
Candidates write their answers on the answer sheets provided by shading a lozenge or by writing words (3–6 words allowed for answers in Part 5). The answer sheet is marked according to a mark scheme and then scanned by computer. You must transfer your answers to the answer sheet within the time given for the paper (1 hour).

How important is spelling in the Use of English paper?
All spelling must be correct in this paper. Candidates will not get a mark for answers which are not spelled correctly. American spelling will not be penalised if used consistently.

What happens if a candidate gives two or more answers to a question?
If a candidate offers two or more answers and one of these is incorrect, no mark is awarded. If all answers given are correct, candidates are awarded the mark for that question. Candidates should write only one answer for each question.

In the open cloze test (Part 2), are words like ‘doesn’t’ and ‘isn’t’ counted as one or two words?
Two words. To count the number of words, you should take the full form into account, e.g. ‘didn’t’ = ‘did not’ = two words.

Written by Cambridge English Southern Europe

May 9, 2013 at 10:00 am

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