Don't let Paper 3 of the First Certificate freak you out.

Most of my students don't really like the Use of English paper (Paper 3) of the First Certificate exam. But I'm surprised at how many people really, really loathe it. They find it frustrating because they don't know how to manage the new words they learn, and they can't always remember why one words is more appropriate than another word in a specific context.

Remember this: 50% of the words in the Multiple Choice Cloze are not possible for technical reasons. It could be for several reasons: maybe they've given you an adverb form when you need an adjective; maybe that adjective needs a dependent preposition that isn't in the body of the text; maybe it's a word that we use in relation to people, not ideas. Or maybe it's a false friend. Whatever.

If you're doing practice exercises to help you with this part of the exam, try this:

a) Print out the "Right Word, Wrong Word" worksheet and write the name of the exercise at the top of the first page, along with a brief description of the topic of the text. You can find the worksheet here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/37990867/RightWordWrongWord-1

b) Your first job is to look at the options and if you know that there are one or two words that aren't possible, get rid of them.

c ) Now you're down to the remaining 50% - two - options, but you don't know which one is the right one.
- Get out your English-only dictionary. (A translating dictionary will not always provide the information that you need to do this properly.) Look up the word, then look at the structure of the sentence, and look at the ways in which you can use the word (or phrase).
- What does the dictionary say? Look at the possibilities and use the one that fits with the information the dictionary tells you.
- Once you're done, don't second-guess and don't change your answer if you're not sure. Nine times out of ten, your first reaction will be the correct one.
- If, after all this, you're still not sure....guess. Really. You have a 50% chance of being right and the examiners won't take points away for any wrong answers you have.

d) When you're done, check your answers and DO NOT ERASE ANY WRONG ANSWERS. Instead, write down the explanation next to the wrong answer and make a mental note to practice the word/phrase most often.

Good luck!

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