• christopherianwils

FCE Use of English Part 2- Everything you need to know

Updated: May 3

What do you have to do in part 2?

Open cloze (A cloze is a text with gaps). You have to fill in eight gaps in a text in this part, but you don’t get any options. You decide what the missing word must be. This part focuses on grammar and some vocabulary. Here is an example for you:




At the very top, there is always an example for you. The example is the gap in the text with the number 0. A lot of students get confused because they try to put the first answer in gap 0. Ignore that and start with number 9. I have seen many people getting zero marks because they made this tiny but terrible mistake.


Reading & Use of English Part 2 tests your grammar as well as your vocabulary. It is part of the Use of English portion of the exam together with parts 3 and 4.

The 3 most difficult things about this part?

In the seven parts of Reading & Use of English, there are different problems that candidates experience and I explain them a little bit more below. Continue to read the Tips & strategies section to find out about the best solutions.


1. Candidates don’t know how to do the task

This problem is nothing that I can do much about, but it is your responsibility to be ready for the exam. Some candidates try to put phrases or even whole sentences in the gaps when you just need one word in each space. So, study before you walk into the exam, plan for each task and remind yourself of the requirements on the day of the exam.


2. Candidates don’t know enough grammar or vocabulary

This is more or less the same problem as in 1). You have to study your grammar and vocabulary before taking the exam. This is nothing any teacher can do for you, so start early and lay the foundation for a successful test because you only have three parts in Reading & Use of English (parts 2, 3 and 4). You have to collect high marks in all three if you want to pass.


3. Candidates have problems with time management

With only 75 minutes to complete all seven parts, Reading & Use of English makes everyone sweat a little bit. Again, a good strategy and planning are at least half of your success. Don’t be lazy, put your backside in front of your desk and start working on it.


Tips & strategies

My general advice is to read as much as you can in preparation for the exam. Reading works so well when you try to improve. 5-10 minutes a day of active exercise can do wonders for your language development so don’t wait and grab a book or magazine, read the news daily or check out a blog about your favourite topic. Whatever you enjoy reading is the right thing to read. However, to get the greatest benefit possible you should always give yourself a little exercise to do. Highlight 5-10 new words or expressions and look them up in a good online English dictionary or grammar book like English Grammar in Use. After a while, you will see nice results.

For more specific advice let’s start with making a plan. Cambridge B2 First is an exam that always looks the same, only the content changes. That’s great news for you because you can take care of everything else beforehand so when the time comes you can fully focus on the content. My recommendation for Reading & Use of English Part 2 looks something like this:

  1. Read the title and text quickly (optional)

  2. Look at the sentences and analyse the gaps

  3. Decide what word fits the gap

  4. Read the text again

This is the short version, but keep reading below for more details and examples on each step.


1. Read the title and text quickly (optional)

The first step is something I suggest to everyone, but some students are more confident or more advanced in their reading skills or feel comfortable with grammar and vocabulary. If you belong to this group, you can start with the next step, but I think that most people benefit from reading the text QUICKLY to get a general overview. Cambridge usually chooses pretty strange topics for their texts and if you don’t know what it is about, thinking about the grammar might become an even bigger challenge.




Do you know anything about motorbike stunt riders? I didn’t think so…neither do I. Find out what you are dealing with first and then tackle the task.


2. Look at the sentences and analyse the gaps

Before we any questions we need to check the sentences and gaps very carefully. The main challenge in part 2 is to find the missing grammar piece to make the sentence correct and meaningful. So, have a look at the information that is already there, draw the right conclusions and then go to the next step. Let’s look at the example from before about motorbike stunt riders:




Once again, don’t worry about gap 0 because it’s the example. Start with number 9. In this sentence, there are two ideas (“The Le Mans race track in France was” and “I first saw…”), but they aren’t logically connected. It looks as if the second half describes what happened at the race track so we need a word that establishes this connection between a place and the description of that place. Think about it and then go to the next part to check.

This step is more important than the others because there is always just one correct word for each gap. Spend an extra minute on your analysis as the correct answer usually comes to mind very easily if you do it the right way.


3. Decide what word fits the gap

Now it is time to collect marks. As I said above, with a good idea about the grammar and meaning of the sentence you should be able to find the missing word quite quickly.

In our example, we found that we need to connect the two ideas of a place and some detail that describes it. I’m sure that by now you’ve figured out that ‘where’ is the missing relative pronoun.


4. Read the text again

After you finish the last gap read the text one last time to see if everything makes sense together or if you might want to change an answer or two. This is your safety net as you spend your time on this task thinking about tiny details and we sometimes forget the meaning of the whole text. Don’t skip this part – it can save you a mark or two.

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