Tag Archives: Cambridge

Phrasal Verb of The Day – Come across

My FCE4 course finally started.  We have classes again and new classmates, which for me, is exciting, considering the fact that only three of us made it through the last course. Anyway, let’s move on to the phrasal verbs. This is what happened yesterday.

One of the five FCE  papers consists on Use of English, in which you have four different types of tasks. Again, one of those tasks is called Open Cloze, which is about thinking of a single word to complete the missing gap in the text given. We have several of those type of exercises in the Student’s Book and yesterday  we had a text about the Post-it® notes. The two initial paragraphs went like this: “I had not realised quite how many inventions and discoveries had come about by chance until fairly recently when I was given a book on the subject. I came _______ some very interesting facts indeed. Did you know, for example, that Post-it notes, those small, yellow, sticky […]”. I have to admit the word across didn’t come to my mind (looks like I need to invest more time on phrasal verbs with come, he he he) , instead, I picked the word with. As you already know, it was wrong. The thing is that come across in this context means to find something by chance, to find it unexpectedly.


  • I came across with the solution to that math problem fooling around with some basic formulas.

Hope it helps!


Phrasal Verb Of The Day – Break out

Hi everyone, today’s phrasal verb is break out. How do we use it?

Well, you can use it in cases when something happens suddenly or starts abruptly like a fire, a riot, etc. You can also use it for saying that something is ready for action or use.


  • A riot broke out in prison.
  • Break out the guns, we’re going for a hunt!
  • There’s been a fire break out in the city mall. Firefighters are already there.

Active Vocabulary vs. Passive Vocabulary. My experience during an oral exam

On Monday I had my FCE3 exam. No, I didn’t take the FCE exam for the third time.

At the institute I attend, the FCE preparation course lasts four months, and every end of the month we have an exam contemplating most of the actual FCE test: reading comprehension, writing, use of english, listening and the ‘dreadful’ speaking.

I have to admit that speaking is something I really need to improve. It’s not that I’m not being able to communicate myself, but the thing is that I need to be more exposed to having everyday conversations in order to get used to do it more naturally; not having ‘to think’ when it comes to use the language.

Here’s the thing, in your head you have two types of vocabulary: active and passive. This means that there are some words you understand, but for some reason, you don’t use them while speaking, thus, the passive vocabulary. Maybe this isn’t the most accurate explanation, but I hope it makes sense.

That leads to what happened at the exam. Usually you will be given a sheet of paper with two pictures you have to contrast. In picture number one a young couple was deciding how to redecorate their living room (it looked like a living room for me) and the girl was asking him what he thought about… more about this later. In picture number two, a boy was raising his hand to ask the teacher a question. The speaking task in fact was: “You have two pictures in which people are asking questions in different situations. Contrast the pictures and say how they are different”. Ok, those weren’t the exact words but you get the idea.

This is what happened. I started to contrast both of them saying that, asking question in the classroom has more impact, than those regarding esthetics as in picture number one. I continued saying that “in picture number one the girl is asking if this thing that goes on the wall (I don’t know how to call it), looks fine for him and works well for the room”. Yes, as you have spotted, I said “if this thing that goes on the wall”. Can you guess which word should’ve been there?

Wallpaper, the word in fact was wallpaper. I’ve got it after my oral exam finished, and, as if I was speaking out loud my thoughts, I said “wallpaper” and the teacher replied smiling, “Yes, wallpaper, better late than never”.

So, there you have it, even a simple word like that needs to become active in order to use it later during conversations. Just another interesting learning experience.

Let’s carry on!

My FCE Exam Schedule, Ouch!

Today I’ve got an e-mail from someone of the staff from the institute I’m studying on. The e-mail had two attachments. One of them was about the rules for 2013 FCE exam, and the other was the “Confirmation of Entry and Timetable” for the exam day. They’re official documents from the University of Cambridge (they’re PDFs to be honest, but they have the Cambridge logo!).

I have to admit it kinda shook me off! I mean, I’ve already knew about the length of the exam, but to have it timetabled on a piece of paper was something more… scary, maybe? My exam starts at 8.30 in the morning and it going to finish at 2.48 in the afternoon. Wow… It’s going to be a long day…

Anyway, I know this post is pretty random, but I think that this kind of moments are the bits and pieces that in the end, makes the whole picture look complete. It adds to the overall experience if you will.

So, let’s keep going on!

Phrasal Verb of the Day – Set off

What do you think set off means? To turn off something? To end something? Well, what it really means is to leave. It’s usually used when you talk about traveling.

Here’s an example:

  • “We’d better set off early tomorrow. We have a long journey.”
  • “We’d better leave early tomorrow. We have a long journey.”

Another one:

  • “Richard will set off at nine o’clock. That means he will be here at 10.30″

Hope it helps!

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