How to revise for Cambridge English B2 First Exam

Is your test date approaching fast? No problem – try our top 10 tips to help you revise for the Cambridge First exam.

1. Make a plan

What are your strengths and weaknesses? If you’re not sure, ask your teacher! Make a plan that gives you more time to practise your weak areas. For example, if you find listening difficult, aim to listen to the radio for 15 minutes each day.

2. Little and often

It’s hard to concentrate for long periods, especially if you’re doing grammar exercises from a textbook. If you can, plan your study in small blocks during the day. For example, you could look at interesting English websites while you’re on public transport.

3. Speak, speak, speak

Speak English every chance you get! If you live in an English-speaking country, start conversations with people you meet. If you don’t, take every opportunity to speak in class. Websites like also have details of language practice groups in your area.

4. Keep good notes

Avoid copying long lists of vocabulary or grammar rules from a textbook. Keep your notes simple, using keywords and different colours. Some students find that diagrams and pictures help them to remember things.

5. Read aloud

You might feel a bit silly, but reading aloud can help to fix information in your mind. It could also improve your confidence and pronunciation.

6. Use practice papers

You can find lots of example B2 First papers online. It’s useful to practise something once a week so you have a clear idea of how the test works. You’ll also see how much progress you’ve made! However, taking the test over and over again won’t improve your vocabulary. For that, try the next tip…

7. Make learning fun

You don’t have to spend hours filling gaps in sentences, or writing essays (though both can be helpful). Watching TV, listening to music and reading magazines are all good ways to improve your language skills. Or why not download a flashcard app? Many are free, so keep trying until you find one you like.

8. Think in English

A strange but useful tip: when you notice that you’re ‘talking to yourself’ – can you translate the voice in your head into English? The more often you can do this, the better. If you can’t translate something, make a note of the word or phrase to research later.

9. Pick up a pen

These days we rely on our laptops and rarely write anything with a pen. If you’re taking the Cambridge First exam on paper, practise the Writing section by hand in advance!

10. Take care of yourself

Eat a healthy diet, get fresh air and plenty of sleep. If you don’t look after your body, your brain won’t perform as well as it could. Remember the B2 First exam is just a test, not a life-or-death situation, so don’t spend every minute revising. Do as much as you can without feeling stressed, and the exam should be a piece of cake!

Laura Phelps

Laura Phelps is a teacher, trainer and writer with 15 years’ experience in English language education. After graduating in Linguistics with first class honours she joined the British Council Sri Lanka as a teacher, and went on to work in six more countries with employers including International House, Bell, Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill. Laura has published a number of student textbooks at primary, secondary and university level, as well as subject-specific resources for people working in the arts. She has also designed and delivered courses for in-service teachers and for BBC journalists in the Caucasus.