DOs and DON'Ts
Studying is so personal. Perhaps we all study in different ways. Even when we study in groups our minds need to find a way to link the new bits to previous concepts. No two minds share exactly the same information saved in their virtual disks. Mmm all this sounds rather techie, as if our brains functioned like a computer! But learning has a lot of similarities with computers and the Internet. Just think: When we study, we slowly classify information in folders or tag it with a good label. That helps you retrieve it –remember it easily. Not too different from the way search engines work!
Learning goes beyond the tagging and storing metaphor. We need to know what to do in totally new situations. Applied knowledge is about transferring, adapting, and sometimes creating anew! An exam requires these skills. A good exam will not ask you if you just remember something, it will push you a little bit further to know if you can solve the unexpected with some success. No matter how many past papers you’ve done, the next one will be new. An exam is a new problem that will require knowledge and strategy to solve it. The idea is that with what you know you can deal with it.
I imagine what you may be thinking at this point: Easier said than done! I grant you that. Exams are perfect for triggering off anxiety and some nervousness. Don’t ask me why, but I have always felt a bit tense before and after an exam –never during the exam. I probably feel more in control while writing or speaking than waiting for the mark! The thing is you choose to sit for an exam. You try to do your best and then you will enjoy a sense of achievement.
By the time you put yourself to the test, techniques should have been internalised already. I have received some emails asking for help with dos and don’ts. Actually this FCE blog is mainly about useful learning and study tips. As most of my posts deal with specific techniques for each part of the exam, I thought it would be a good idea to have a general picture. So here it goes. Let’s see what other teachers have prepared to help you.
Dos and Don’ts
The Cambridge Teacher’s Resource site offers detailed techniques for every part of the FCE test. A must read I would say...
Longman outlines different techniques when studying for all parts of the exam. These are more general than the ones in the
OneStopEnglish features tips for Speaking and Use of English. Written for teachers, these tips are very detailed with activities and lesson plans.
Teacher Dude is a native teacher of English living in
As I said before, this is the general picture: The complete dos and don’ts grouped together in one post for your convenience. Remember to practise them separately –slowly linking to previous knowledge in your brain CPUs! Start by learning the tips of the parts you find most difficult at first, but it will prove a good exercise to reflect on all of them. They are not capricious; they state abilities that all of us as native speakers of our language naturally possess. It’s just that when we learn a foreign language all those skills demand a little more effort to learn.
To sum up, you should keep a balance with your study priorities and allow time to learn all of these throughout your exam preparation:
- Solid knowledge of the Language
- Techniques to transfer that knowledge
- Exam Timing procedures to ensure success
To all of you struggling towards the exam...Do you have any comments or questions on these techniques? How about those who have already passed the exam... Do you have any advice of your own to share?
Hope to hear from you! Don’t forget to mention your country of origin, there are so many fcebloggers out there...
Photo by Reinhardt Hoft