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So, is it just me, or does the number of students wanting to take standardized exams go up in the summer? Sometimes, they’ve been studying with you all year, and other times you get urgent tutoring appointments a few days before the exam, am I right?  (In fact, I just got back from one!)

Which Exam Should Students Take?


Usually, students here in Spain want to take the First Certificate Exam (FCE – level B2) – check out my post on that, here, the Cambridge Advanced Exam (CAE – level C1) or the Cambridge Proficiency Exam (CPE- level C2). Instead, in Canada I was always preparing students to take the TOEFL exam, and often the IELTS (University entrance levels, somewhere between C1 and C2 I’d say!).

Here is a guide to the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning, In case you aren’t familiar with the letter labels above.

In case you haven’t seen my post on FCE tips check it out here. You have access to my free printables library, right? I have a free worksheet on FCE tips, fluency speaking tips and more! A CAE worksheet will be up in my June 2017 printables  headed to your inbox in a couple weeks!


Free Printables Library

7 Websites and Study Tips for the CAE

Well, where do you send students for last minute practice! What tips can you give them a month before the exam?  Here are 7 of my favourites:


 1. Official Exam Books & Website

Okay, so we’ll start with an easy one. Now, I know they are a bit pricey, but I’ve bought a set of the official exam books for the FCE, CAE and CPE.  The Objective books are also really great for additional practice and colloquial expressions.

Amazon often has the best prices for these books.

Of course, don’t forget the official exam website!  There are always previous papers on there for more practice!





2 Flo-Joe

So, you’ve heard of Flo-Joe, right? If you haven’t, I’d definitely recommend checking them out here.  On this site you can easily find:

  • CAE Practice Tests for Reading & Use of English
  • CAE Writing Practice
  • Practice organized by section, or grammatical type  (Use of English with time expressions)

They even have a teacher’s site!



3  Phrasal Verbs Practice 

If you know me, you know I love teaching phrasal verbs.   Phrasal verbs are particularly important at the CAE level, as it is a level of near-native proficiency.

Phrasal verbs  (verbs + preposition combinations such as “make up” and “take down” can have SO many meanings that they are overwhelming for students.   I find the best way to teach phrasal verbs is through fun stories.

Want to learn more? Check out my post on The Ultimate Phrasal Verbs Game  and sign up for the free printables library to grab the game cards.




4  Speak, Speak, Speak

Well, that’s obvious, you say!  How many of your students spend time speaking English outside of class, on a regular basis? Unless you’re teaching intensive or immersion English classes, my guess is – not many!

Here are a few ways to encourage your students to speak outside of class:

  •  There are a lot of language exchange meet-ups on this site, all around the world.  Students can find a language exchange partner, or a group that speaks in English for half the meeting, and their native tongue for the other.  Last year, I went to a French/Spanish/English meet-up twice a month and it was incredible for practice!


  • Do everything in English   Now, depending on where your students live, this can be difficult.  However, if you live in a place where this is possible, ask students to write their grocery lists, interact in the supermarket, and book appointments in English. Perhaps there is an “ex-pat” area of your city where there are mostly English speakers.  Have students head there and practice their English!


  • Think in English  –   Actually, this is what helped me the most with French.  Think in English! Try to have that inner dialogue we all have with ourselves – in your target language.  Perhaps you won’t know all the words, but that’s yet another excuse to learn them 🙂


5  English Grammar Websites

So, don’t forget how important grammar is at this level!  While it doesn’t have to be perfect, the CAE markers are quite strict!  Here are three of my favourite sites to work with students on for intense grammar practice:

  • Perfect English Grammar    A great website from a teacher in the UK where you can find excellent grammatical explanations and practice
  • English Club   Excellent explanations and practice exercises!
  • English Page   –  Don’t be scared away by it’s ancient design – this site has some great gap fill activities for prepositions and phrasal verbs (over 40 pages of exercises!)



6.  Expressions & Idioms

Of course, the more expressions and idioms you can correctly use in the speaking section, the better! Well, they should sound natural, of course.  Just yesterday, one of my students told me she had a mock exam at a British Council course she is taking, and they were blown away by her use of expressions!

Don’t forget that you can find a idioms and expressions game in my free printables library!


7 CAE YouTube videos (do mock sessions)

Finally, remember to show your students the official CAE videos on Youtube!  They are completely free and released by the official Cambridge examiners. It’s a session showing real students, how their exam went, and the grades they received. This is crucial to helping your students become less stressed before the exam.   Here is just one example of the videos:



Well, that’s my short and sweet post on the CAE. I hope my tips were helpful!

Do you have tips you’d like to share? I would love to hear from you 🙂

Happy Teaching!




P.S. Photo fans, today’s photo is simply a collage of my computer (which I love by the way; it’s an ASUS Zenbook), and one of my favourite CAE  prep books.

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