Here are some important things to remember about Cambridge English exams, and what you as a parent can do to help your child prepare.
Cambridge exams test all four skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Help and encourage your child to practise all of these skills.
In Speaking tests, candidates are asked questions about themselves. To help your child practise this, you could choose a time when your family speaks English and ask questions like ‘What did you do yesterday?’ Candidates are often given a picture to talk about. Ask your child to find pictures of everyday scenes or family photographs and ask them to talk about them in English.
n the Reading papers, candidates need to read many different kinds of text. These are based on real-world texts. Encourage your child to read teen magazines, graphic novels, graded readers and short stories. In addition, they should also read factual information – brochures, advertisements, instructions, signs, recipes, websites etc. Encourage your child to find out more about their hobbies in English and to read emails and blogs in English.
Candidates often need to write messages, emails or letters in the Writing papers. Try to encourage your child to do things like:
- regularly write to other English-speaking friends or relatives, if possible
- speak to the school about joining Penfriends
- communicate with other English speakers online (but ensure that they use the internet safely and never give away personal information online).
Candidates may also be asked to write a short story, an article or review. Look for writing competitions on the internet and encourage your child to get involved.
A good way to help your child write essays is to encourage them to plan the essay. Ask, ‘What are you going to put in the introduction, the middle paragraph(s) and the conclusion?’. Cambridge English examiners check that an essay:
- is organised into paragraphs
- answers the question fully
- communicates ideas clearly
- contains a range of vocabulary and grammatical structures.
So if your child has written an essay for homework, you could go through it using this checklist.
Your child will feel much more prepared and confident about their exam if they know exactly what they will need to do.
These tips are very useful in preparation for the Cambridge Checkpoint and IGCSE Exams.
You can also visit the Cambridge English website here for more information.