My Essential Grammar Online Course

If you're struggling to reach an advanced level of English, this is the course for you. Whether you're planning to take a Cambridge English exam or just want to level-up your grammar, this comprehensive course based on my 21 years of experience teaching English will help you achieve your objectives. Let's do this!

Should you take an English Exam?

Many students are surprised by my initial answer to this question.

But it’s not that simple… of course.

Maybe you’ve already registered for an exam and you’re in the middle of your preparation. If that’s the case, I’m sure you had a valid reason for embarking on the exam preparation journey. But, for many people it’s not that simple and they often struggle to take the decision, which is understandable as there are obvious advantages and disadvantages that have to be taken into consideration. In fact, one the most common questions I get asked is “Should I take an English exam?” and many people are surprised (given the fact that a lot of my videos and courses are on Cambridge English exam preparation) that my first response is “No” quickly followed by “unless…”

I say “no” because learning a language shouldn’t be about passing exams or getting certificates. First and foremost, it should be about communication, and exam preparation can often interrupt the learning process rather than contribute to it. So, if you feel you have a good relationship with English and you’re happy with your progress, maybe you should think twice before signing up for that exam.

However, I always add “unless” because there are many valid reasons why you might want to take an English exam, including;

  • Personal Development: Exam preparation can be a rewarding and motivating experience, and some individuals see English exam preparation as a personal goal to measure their language progress and get a sense of accomplishment. I would say that this is the most common reason for the majority of my C2 Proficiency (CPE) students.
  • Organisation and Structure to your Studies: Many language learners find it difficult to organise their studies and find themselves simply watching a couple of episodes of their favourite series a week or listening to a podcast every now and then and nothing more. English exam preparation can encourage you focus in a more systematic way and really help you reach the next level.
  • Academic and Educational Purposes: Many students and professionals take English exams as part of their academic requirements or to apply for educational opportunities abroad, such as enroling in a university or pursuing a degree programme in an English-speaking country
  • Employment and Career Opportunities: Taking an English exam can enhance job prospects and career opportunities, especially in multinational companies or industries that require English proficiency.
  • Immigration and Visa Requirements: Some countries have English language proficiency requirements for individuals seeking immigration or work visas. An English exam certificate can serve as proof of language skills for visa applications.
  • Study Abroad and Exchange Programs: If someone is interested in participating in a study abroad or student exchange program, they may need to demonstrate their English language proficiency through an English exam.
  • Certification and Standardization: English exams are designed to assess language skills based on standardised criteria, providing a consistent measure of proficiency that is recognised internationally.

If any of those apply to you, you may want to contact your nearest exam centre. But… bear in mind exams should be short term goals and the moment you start to feel overwhelmed by the process, I recommend you consider another path which is more sustainable. 

Feel free to contact me if you have a questions regarding English exam preparation or you need more information about my online Cambridge exam courses.

Ben Gill

English teacher

How to prepare for the Cambridge English Exams – 6 essential tips

B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency (FCE, CAE, CPE)

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need to take exams. People would just study to gain knowledge for practical use and enjoy the process.

But, in the real world, there are situations in which it is necessary to demonstrate your English level (job interviews, university applications, immigration processes) and exam certificates are often required. The Cambridge English exams (specifically the B2 First, C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency levels) are particularly prestigious and sought after, so getting one of these qualification can be very valuable.

I’ve been helping students prepare for the Cambridge English exams for almost two decades now and these preparation tips are based on my experience and observations over those years.

1. Get to know the exam (like the back of your hand!)

I’ve had students who didn’t really have an advanced level of English but they passed the C1 exam because they prepared so well. They really got to know the exam. And, on the other hand, I’ve known people who had a very high level, maybe even C2, but they took the advanced exam and failed because they were a little bit too cocky… a little bit too confident and they didn’t really know what the exam was asking of them. So, that is the number one tip, and it’s the most important: get to know the exam like the back of your hand.

2. Start preparing early

Start your preparation early! I recommend at least two months preparation, six months would be great… why not a year? If you’re thinking of taking the exam next year, start preparing now. You can’t really have too much time preparing for this exam because it’s not really just about learning a few grammar areas a little bit of vocabulary and practicing your speaking. These are big and difficult exams; even the B2 First is a tough exam, so you need to improve your level of English in general. Don’t leave it until the last minute, you’ll soon realise that you need more time.

3. Dig out your old grammar notes

This is very useful and practical tip. You’ve probably studied a lot of grammar at school and you’re probably bored with it, but that grammar will be extremely useful in the exam. You have studied it, you know it, so you need to revise it, You need to refresh your memory of all that grammar you have studied over the years. So, dig out your old notes. Your own notes are the best notes because you wrote them and you’ll remember what you were thinking when you wrote those notes and you’ll have a connection to that time, so it’s better than just reading a book that somebody else has written. Your own notes are more valuable.

4. Immerse yourself in English

Immerse yourself in the language. Surround yourself with english. This should be pretty obvious. These are not easy exams so to prepare you really need to expose yourself to as much input of the language as possible. Very obvious activities like watching films and series in English, Youtube videos in English, joining Facebook groups where you can chat to people in English, reading in English (different books if possible or just internet articles on various subjects). You need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible for the exam, and there’s a lot of text to read in little time. Generally, immerse yourself in the language as much as possible… and that leads me on to tip number five.

5. Pay attention!

It’s all well and good immersing yourself in the language, surrounding yourself with all this input… but, if you don’t pay attention, you’re not going to get the full benefit from it. You can read a book and enjoy the book, and that’s great… if you’re not preparing for an exam. But you are preparing for an exam, so you need to pay attention to the grammar that is used, the vocabulary, the punctuation, etc. When you finish the exam, I recommend that you do the opposite, I recommend you just do things in english for fun, but as you’re preparing for an exam, you need to pay attention.

6. Find a study buddy

Find a partner you can study with. Ask around… ask your friends, your family, your colleagues at work, your classmates. Try to find somebody who’s also studying for the same exam. If you can’t find anyone, look further afield. Get on the internet and find relevant Facebook groups, Discord channels, Telegram communities, and so on. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are studying for these exams, so there are a lot of people that really need to practise and find a partner like you. The advantages of finding a study partner are numerous, not only for the speaking paper of the exam (practising the speaking paper is extremely useful) but also for sharing resources, motivation and accountability purposes. Also, if you have a partner who’s taking the same exam as you, you can actually do the speaking part of the exam together, which is so valuable.

If you follow these tips, you’ll stand a much better chance of passing your exam and getting your desired score.

Want to pass with the best score possible? Check out my online preparation courses for detailed tips on how to approach every part of the B2 First, C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency Cambridge English Exams.

Ben Gill

B2 First Preparation Course

In my Complete B2 First Cambridge English exam preparation course I share all of my 20 years of experience helping students prepare for and pass this exam. The information and tips you need in order to get the best score possible are presented in video form so I can explain exactly what's required for each part of every paper. We'll also look at sample tasks for all the parts so that you get a real understanding how to implement my tips in practice.

Regular quizzes will help to reinforce the strategies you learn and make sure you don't forget the most important aspects of the lessons.

When you purchase the course, you'll receive an email from me inviting you to join my TTP Exam Academy Telegram group where you'll have the option of asking me and your fellow members questions on the exam and/or the preparation process.

Let's get started!

My C2 Proficiency Preparation Course

The C2 Proficiency Cambridge English exam is one of the most demanding English exams out there... but I guess that's one of the reasons you've decide to take it, right?

Whatever your reason and however much experience you have with the Cambridge English exams, you're going to need some guidance in order to pass the exam with the best score possible.

In my C2 Proficiency preparation course, I share with you all my tips on strategy and approach based on 20 years of experience helping students prepare for these tricky exams. We'll look at every part of the exam in detail and go through sample exercises so there are no surprises for you on the day of the exam. There are also regular quizzes to make sure you're paying attention!

My C1 Advanced Online Preparation Course

In this course, I share my tips and recommendations based on my 20 years of experience (yes, I'm old) helping students prepare for and pass the C1 Advanced Cambridge English exam (previously known as the CAE). It is a complete course in which I look in detail at every part of the exam and give my advice on strategy and approach as well as going through sample exercises so you know exactly what to do on the day of the exam. There are also regular quizzes to make sure your paying attention!

If you're feeling a bit lost with your preparation and don't know where to start and how to organise your studies, this is the course for you!