Advanced Use of English Part 1

Cambridge Advanced Use of English Part 1

On this page we will take a look at the first of the Use of English exercises in Cambridge Advanced, which is the multiple choice exercise. So we will briefly discuss how this exercise works as we assume most readers have seen this type of task before and don’t need a detailed introduction to it.

Purpose of the Part 1 Task

The Use of English Part 1 in Cambridge Advanced is effectively a reading task and the total is added to the reading test scores. It is a multiple choice task with four answers for each gap.
Options for this particular exercise can range from nouns to adjectives and phrasal verbs. Occasionally there may be some more complex linking expressions as well. The simplest way to describe the exercise is that it is a test of a student’s range of vocabulary.

Example sentence

Taking a look at the example from the exercise we’re going to use we can see this very clearly.

0 A deposits B piles C stores D stocks

Geological (0) …….. of salt were formed millions of years ago …

It is noticeable that although the words are similar in their general meaning there are some very specific differences between how we use them and this is what the Cambridge Advanced Use of English tests.

Let’s just review the meanings of these words so we can determine what the correct word is. We will then look at the exercise in detail and discuss each of the possible answers.

Firstly, in the sentence the topic is the natural resource of salt so we need to look at words that describe this idea.

  • The answer in this case is deposits, which refers to the natural quantity of a particular mineral that is available to be used.
  • Piles is a more general word that describes quantity but it has the sense of something stored on top of each other or it could be in a slightly disorderly organization. Equally it can also mean the same as lots.
  • Stores are goods collected together in a particular location to be used or sold but could describe salt but it is a stage after it has processed.
  • Stocks is a synonym of stores in this case and can also have the same meaning as supplies of goods.

From this first example it is clear the exam is testing if students can identify the appropriate word for certain contexts and this is the way to approach this exercise.

Use of English Part 1 exercise overview

Geological (0) …….. of salt were formed millions of years ago, when what is now land, lay under the sea. It is hard to believe that salt is now such a cheap (1) …….. , because centuries ago it was the commercial (2) …….. of today’s oil. The men who mined salt became wealthy and, although the work was (3) …….. and frequently dangerous, a job in a salt mine was highly (4) …….. . Nowadays, the specific microclimates in disused mines have been (5) …….. for the treatment of respiratory illnesses such as asthma, and the silent, dark surroundings in a mine are considered (6) …….. in encouraging patients to relax. In addition, some disused mines have been (7) …….. to different commercial enterprises, although keeping up-to-date with the technology of mining is essential to (8) …….. visitors’ safety. Some of the largest underground chambers even host concerts, conferences and business meetings.

1  A provision      B utility                 C material        D commodity
2  A match           B similarity          C parallel          D equivalent
3  A critical           B demanding      C extreme        D straining
4  A regarded       B admired            C approved     D honoured
5  A exploited       B extracted         C exposed       D extended
6  A profitable      B agreeable        C beneficial     D popular
7  A put down      B turned over      C made out     D set about
8  A enable           B retain                C ensure          D support

Completed Part 1 example

In this section we’re going to complete the exercise above and discuss all the answers and ways in which you can identify the best answer. 

Questions 1 & 2

Let’s take a look at the first two answers as they are in the part of the same sentence.

It is hard to believe that salt is now such a cheap (1) …….. , because centuries ago it was the commercial (2) …….. of today’s oil.

1 A provision B utility C material D commodity
Clearly in the sentence we need to decide what word can define salt. We can eliminate the first two words provision , which means the same as supply or things we need, and utility , which refers to services. Material is a very generic word so this is not correct for this sentence and we use the word commodity. In addition, the second part of the sentence helps us as it discusses oil, which is something else that is traded and is also known as a commodity.

2 A match B similarity C parallel D equivalent
In the second gap we need to consider words that describe things that are very similar so the word parallel is not possible here because it generally refer to things happening at the same time as each other. Both match and similarity just describe a general sense of being the same and the correct answer in this case is equivalent because it gives the idea of a value.

Questions 3 & 4

The men who mined salt became wealthy and, although the work was (3) …….. and frequently dangerous, a job in a salt mine was highly (4) …….. .

3 A critical B demanding C extreme D straining
For question 3 focus on the word work in the sentence. Critical means work that’s very important or essential, extreme refers to work that’s unusual and very risky and straining is commonly used when somebody physically lifts something so the correct answer in this case is demanding. This, of course, is a common collocation of work.

4 A regarded B admired C approved D honoured
For question number 4 sense of the missing word here is a word that means respect. Admired is used to refer to something or someone people have a very good opinion of, approved here not used after highly and honoured suggests that the people who worked in the mines got some kind of reward. The correct word in this case is regarded which describes an opinion that it was a good job to have.

Questions 5 & 6

Nowadays, the specific microclimates in disused mines have been (5) …….. for the treatment of respiratory illnesses such as asthma, and the silent, dark surroundings in a mine are considered (6) …….. in encouraging patients to relax.

5 A exploited B extracted C exposed D extended
The word extracted here refers to removing minerals from the ground, exposed means to show something or to allow access. The final option here of extended means to make something bigger so the correct answer in this case is exploited which means to take advantage of the situation. It also means to use up resources, like for example salt.

6 A profitable B agreeable C beneficial D popular
Profitable generally speaking talks about a financial advantage and agreeable is something that is very pleasant or enjoyable. We use the word popular to describe how the general public feel about something so the correct word in this case is beneficial, which refers to the benefit to individual patients in this case.

Questions 7 & 8

In addition, some disused mines have been (7) …….. to different commercial enterprises, although keeping up-to-date with the technology of mining is essential to (8) …….. visitors’ safety.

7 A put down B turned over C made out D set about
For question 7 it is all about the meaning of the phrasal verbs. Put down can have of the meaning of explained, made out can mean identified or to pretend something has a particular meaning and set about means to start doing something. The final verb turned over means to give control of something to somebody and this is the correct answer.

8 A enable B retain C ensure D support
For this final question we need a word that means to help in some way. Enable means to make something possible, retain means to keep. The final two verbs both have the sense of offering help but support can also mean provide physical help so the correct answer in this case is ensure which means to guarantee.

How you can do the Use of English Part 1 better

The key to being able to do the part 1 exercise well is to build your vocabulary range. There are a number of ways you can do this.

  • Learning about multiple meanings
    The first thing to do is to investigate the multiple meanings of individual words and when they are used. let’s take a look at a brief example here using the word work. In this short sample from the Cambridge dictionary online on work it lists a number of different definitions. You  need to become familiar with many of these types of definitions, especially the more common ones.

work noun (ACTIVITY)

A1 [ U ]

an activity, such as a job, that a person uses physical or mental effort to do, usually for money:

I’ve got so much work to do.

Carrying heavy loads around all day is hard work.

What time do you start/finish work?

A2 [ U ]

the material used by someone at work, or what they produce:

I’ll have to take this work home with me and finish it there.

All the furniture is the work of residents here.

work noun (PLACE)

A1 [ U ]

a place where a person goes specially to do their job:

Do you have far to travel to work each day?

Thousands of people are seriously injured at work every year.

B2 [ C ]

something created as a result of effort, especially a painting, book, or piece of music:

The museum has many works by Picasso as well as other modern painters.

the poetic works of Tagore

Vocabulary Building
  • Phrasal verbs
    Become familiar with as many phrasal verbs as possible.  Here is one example  of a phrasal verb from the exercise – turn over. As with the suggestion on multiple meanings we need to know many of these definitions.
    – If an engine turns over, its parts move in order to make the – engine start running
    – to sell and replace goods at a particular rate
    – to make a particular amount of money from sales
    to give something or someone that you control to someone else
  • Collocations
    This is a very large area in English and it is extremely important to be able to identify a lot of them. In some cases this can be as simple as that preposition that used. However, as you can see from the exercise itself, it can also relate to specific word combinations.   There are a number of collocation dictionaries online.
  • Synonyms
    Another very large group of words in English is that of synonyms. While some words are exactly the same in meaning, some may have small differences and may be limited in where we can use them.
    Looking  at an example from our exercise of the word ensure we could produce the following list.

    Ensure, guarantee, reassure, assure, maintain

All of these synonyms or part synonyms do match ensure but they also have their own individual meaning and situations where we can use them. For more details look at synonyms at this online thesaurus.

Other strategies 
  • Reading
    While this is an essential part of exam preparation it’s also an opportunity to see words in context through identifying you vocabulary that you may not have seen before. apart from trying to understand the text itself it should also be a a task that you do every time you read something, to find some new words and expressions.
  • Word games
    The most traditional and commonest of this type of activity are crosswords. There are many examples online and also many free apps that you can download. Crosswords provide you with a link between definitions of words and the answers and can be a good test of the vocabulary you already know. Furthermore, you can get good at them quite quickly!

Some final thoughts

At higher levels, particularly at C1 Advanced, the Use of English Part 1 is very challenging. In part, this is due to the wide range of the country you may find. As we pointed out earlier improving your own knowledge of vocabulary is one of the key elements. Let’s just summarize.

  • Build your vocabulary range
  • Learn as many meanings of phrasal verbs as possible
  • Look closely at the whole sentence to help you decide which words might work
  • Don’t forget also to look at other grammar in the sentence as there may be details to help you find your answer, for example preposition

Part 2

Put a single word in each of the gaps in this exercise.

Part 3

Change the form of the word given at the end of a line to produce a new word.

Part 4

Complete a second sentence, with the same meaning by using the keyword given.

Now on Udemy!

First Exam
Course

Preparation

Learn all about the Cambridge First exam, how it is organised and what each of the different parts is about. 

–  Explore each part of each exam.

–  Learn key strategies. 

–  6 hours of extra practice exercises to improve reading, Use of English and Writing performance.