Cambridge PET – Reading Part 1

There is a big difference between reading and understanding the text. In PET reading part 1, students decipher the meaning of five short texts found in everyday situations.

This is my second post focusing on PET exam preparation. Click the link to check out the first part about teaching PET writing Part 1.

In PET reading revised exam for 2020 students complete six parts. Reading part 1 is relatively easy to look at and quick to complete. Candidates look at five short texts such as an e-mail, a notification, a label, a warning sign, etc. and need to choose a paraphrased sentence that is true to the text. This part is short and seems so simple that many students may not think too much about it. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving, and if we don’t prepare our students to confirm their answers, they may lose some points that can be essential to get a pass.

Just like before, using B1 Preliminary Handbook and Sample Papers for B1 Preliminary can be found by clicking the links or downloaded directly from the Cambridge Assessment English website. I highly recommend checking this website as it is full of official resources. All the pages needed for this lesson, are specified in the lesson plan.

It is a relatively short lesson plan that concentrates on explaining reading part 1 and drills four steps that should be followed to pass with flying colours. The lesson plan and the worksheet following the four steps can be downloaded for free at the end of the post.

If your students want to score high in reading part 1, get them used to these four steps!

Step 1 – understand the context

It doesn’t seem like a big deal, and students usually understand the context without any issues, but it is crucial. It is essential to understand if a given text is, for example, a suggestion or an obligation. Let’s imagine a sign at a local food court – “Please be considerate! Make sure your table is clean before leaving”. Is it an obligation or a request? It is a friendly reminder or a suggestion, but by no means clients are obligated to clean the tables. Therefore, once it is clear we know what modal verbs to look for!

Step 2 – underline the keywords

I can’t tell you how many eye-rolls I get when I ask about the keywords! It seems so basic that is constantly omitted. Even in the case of a short text, it helps and narrows the focus to only a few words. It also leads to the next step…

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Step 3 – think of synonyms (and paraphrase them!)

Yes, the time is limited, and it’s quite hard to think about every single synonym, but there is no harm in jogging your students’ memory and trying to recall some of the previously learnt words. I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to know many synonyms for each keyword. However, it is a good practice to allow the students to think on their own, and predict the words that can be seen in the multiple-choice answers. You can also ask them to paraphrase the text and see if it corresponds with the options given in the exam.

Step 4 – choose the answers and justify them

Well done, you’ve chosen your answers! It is a good habit to go back to the answers and think about why the chosen option is correct, and the other two aren’t. It will make candidates aware of certain grammar and vocabulary that otherwise could be missed. It is also a good practice to finish the task with a group discussion, so all your students understand and learn from their mistakes.

I suggest using PET – reading part 1 worksheet only initially. You want to develop a routine and ensure that students follow the steps needed to complete the task successfully. Once you see that your students do well in this part, your job is done. Let them do the tasks as they would in the exam.

Feel free to download the lesson plan and the worksheet (with the answers!) below! Make sure to follow my blog for more PET exam preparation!

Cambridge PET – Writing Part 1

Teaching writing can be quite hard – especially teaching writing for exam preparation.

Like every teacher, I have my most and least favourite things to teach. It is quite easy to focus on the parts that we really enjoy and neglect the parts that we don’t fully understand or we just don’t have that much fun with. I’ve got some groups that I can play around with, we can watch some videos, listen to music… There are also some groups that are strictly preparing for the Cambridge exams.

While preparing for Cambridge exams I always try to make sure that my students understand each part of it, but most importantly, they know how to produce answers. As in every exam, there is a certain key that learners need to follow and if they know how to achieve that, they can score really high!

There are so many resources distributed by Cambridge Assessment English. As I am not reinventing the wheel, I decided to use one of their materials and adapt them to my class. In order to follow my lesson plan, it is necessary to download B1 Preliminary Handbook and Sample Papers for B1 Preliminary. You can download them by clicking the links or by going to the official website. All the pages used in this class are specified in the lesson plan.

This lesson consists of two files, a lesson plan and a worksheet that is designed to help learners understand how to approach writing part 1 exam task and how to answer it by following the Cambridge writing assessment scale. There is an additional worksheet with suggested answers to make sure that learners understand each step of the exam task. You can download all three files by clicking the links at the end of the post.

In order to score high, it is important to get your learners used to following the steps of the exam task analysis and planning before writing.

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Step 1 – text type

As a group look at the exam task and identify the type of text. This part of the exam is mandatory and students are always asked to write an e-mail. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but I can’t remember the number of times that my students forgot over and over again what they were expected to write.

Step 2 – recipient

One part of the assessment is correctly identifying and approaching the target reader. In this part, students should be aware that most likely they will have to write an e-mail to a friend or a teacher, which obviously will affect their vocabulary.

Step 3 – register

Once learners name the recipient, they should be able to identify the register of their response. In the case of writing to a friend, they can use contractions and less formal language. If the message is intended for a teacher, they should change the register appropriately.

Step 4 – content points

Allow your students to read the message again and identify four main content points. Once students know what they need to address, they should be able to respond correctly, for example, if the message tells them to suggest an activity, learners should use appropriate language and vocabulary relevant to the task. Emphasise that the answers shouldn’t be longer than 100 words, therefore they need to focus on answering the content points without getting too distracted.

Step 5 – plan

Based on the content points learners should be able to plan their answers. If you do it for the first time ever, you can do it as a group to show that students should only write basic ideas and some useful vocabulary. It is quite difficult to convince learners to plan their answers, but remind them that according to the writing assessment scale, they can score up to 5 points for well-organised, linked and coherent answers. Remember that the planning stage shouldn’t be longer than 5 minutes.

Step 6 – write your answer

Now following the plan, students should write their answers in about 10 minutes. It is good to get your learners to work under a time limit to avoid any bad surprises in the exam.

Step 7 – check your answer

Yes, you made it! The answers are written and the exam is about to end. However, tell your learners that if they find themselves with some spare time on their hands, they should read their answers AGAIN and see if they still make sense. It is also a good idea to drill some most common errors, so your pupils know exactly what they are looking for. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.

In order for your learners to really know what they need to do, it is good to spend some time explaining the writing assessment scale. Go through each of the points and back them up with some examples for better comprehension and give everyone a copy of the scale. To make it even more effective try following each writing with peer assessment because there is no better way to learn than from each other!

Hope you enjoy this lesson plan! You can download the lesson plan, writing worksheet and suggested answers below! Be on the lookout as there is more exam content to come.