Tag Archives: FCE exam

Trying to get back on track…

I haven’t been posting anything in the last couple of days… Looks like I have to improve myself as a blogger, he he. The good thing is that I have a bunch of ideas to play with and I hope they will soon make it to an actual post.

Yesterday for instance, I had my second preparation class for the FCE exam. We had a mock exam and some funny things (mistakes actually) happened during it. Can you believe that my teacher told me that if I put Organization with “z” instead of “s” I will loose points? “Because it’s Cambridge, not an American exam”. It may sound obvious for someone that have been used to British English, but I’ve been learning American English since a kid. Anyway, lesson learned.

Another funny thing that happened (mistake apparently) occurred in the writing task. I had to write a short story beginning with the words “He was staring at the window waiting for the phone to ring.”. What happened here is that I came up with a bad ending (according to my teacher) and, in her own words “You killed the mood, you can loose points for that. You totally killed the mood.” Is that possible? Well, what I’m going to do is to transcript my short story in a post and hopefully, I will have at least a couple of comments about it. I really need to know if I were that flipped.

P.d.: My Iron Man 3 movie review has a lot of mistakes, I have to re-post it…

Phrasal Verb of The Day – Keep up

Hi everyone, today’s phrasal verb is keep up. Basically, it means to remain at the same standard or position as someone or something else; to maintain a necessary pace or level.


  • You need to keep up with the metronome’s rhythm, otherwise it will sound awful.
  • The teacher told me to keep up the good work.





Phrasal Verb of The Day – Drop off

Drop off is a phrasal verb that has a lot of meanings. We’ll see two of those today.

1. If we want to say that we’ll be leaving someone in a specific place:

  • I’ll drop you off at the airport at 7:30 am. Is that OK for you?

2.  If we want to say something is diminishing:

  • Because the rains this year have been scarce, there’s been a great drop off of the water level in the river.

Hope it helps!

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!

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!

Phrasal Verb of the Day – Give back

I will try to post a “Daily Phrasal Verb” kind of thing. Today’s give back.

Pretty obvious, isn’t it? It means to return something.


  • Why don’t you give back something to society? Do volunteer job at your local school!
  • You have to give back the CD you borrowed from her.
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