B2 First Key Word Transformations

FCE Key Word Transformations Practice

On the Cambridge FCE Reading and Use of English exam, there are seven parts. Today you will learn about and practice Part 4 – Key Word Transformations. Many students think this part of the exam is challenging, but it just takes strategy and practice!

How to do Reading and Use of English Part 4

To begin, in part 4 each question has a sentence and a key word in BOLD. You must use this key word to complete the gap in a second sentence so its meaning is as close as possible to the first sentence.

You MUST use the key word in your answer. You CAN’T CHANGE the key word. For example, if the key word is “WRITTEN,” you cannot use the word “wrote” in your answer.

Use between 2 and 5 words. ** Contractions count as TWO WORDS! For example, won’t = will not. If you are unsure, always write out the entire word.

Use a pencil for this test. Write your answers in CAPITAL LETTERS only.

There are 6 questions total in this part. You can earn up to 2 points for each question.

Grammar and Vocabulary for B2 First Reading and Use of English part 4

What grammar structures and vocabulary does part 4 test?

This part of the FCE exam tests different grammar structures and vocabulary. Here are some of the most common ones that appear on the exam. 

If you are taking a course, these structures and vocabulary should be covered by your teacher. If you are studying on your own, make sure you know the rules for each one. 



Verb patterns


Reported speech

Future forms 

Future time clauses

Causative – have/get

Verb tenses – especially perfect forms

Wish and other hypotheticals


Phrasal verbs

Set expressions

Words like height, weight, length, width

Linking words

Word forms

Example Key Word Transformation and Strategy

Look at the example question below:

He tried to keep running although he felt tired.


He tried to keep running _____________________________ tired.

Step One: Cross out words that are the same.

He tried to keep running although he felt tired.


He tried to keep running _____________________________ tired.

First, I cross out any words that are EXACTLY THE SAME in both sentences.

Step Two: Focus on the remaining words and try to find the grammar or vocabulary rule.

He tried to keep running although he felt tired.


He tried to keep running _____________________________ tired.

I need to focus on although he felt. Although is a linking word of contrast. This is the structure that I have identified.

Next, I start to think about other linking words and expressions of contrast while keeping in mind that I need to use the word SPITE.

Step Three: Choose your answer between 2 and 5 words.

He tried to keep running although he felt tired.


He tried to keep running _____________________________ tired.

In spite of and despite are both linking words/expressions of contrast. Remembering that I have to use the EXACT KEY WORD, I decide not to use despite.

Now, I remember that after in spite of I need a verb + ing form of the verb. So, I look at my original sentence and identify the verb “felt.”

Change the subject + verb in the original sentence to a verb + ing form to fit the second sentence.


Step Four: Check your answer. Did you use the key word? Do you have the correct word count? Did you write your answer in CAPITAL LETTERS?

He tried to keep running although he felt tired.


He tried to keep running IN SPITE OF FEELING tired.

Finally, I need to check my answer.

  • Key word SPITE? Yes.
  • Correct word count? 4 words, yes.
  • Capital letters? Yes.
Common mistakesfor B2 First Reading and Use of English part 4

Common mistakes on FCE Key Word Transformations

  • Changing the key word – you MUST use the exact word 
  • Using too many words – maximum of 5 words
  • Spending too much time – if you don’t know the answer, take a guess and continue with the next question
  • Pronoun gender and agreement- if the first sentence uses a name, try to use the name in your second sentence. Sometimes you will need to use “her / his / she / he” etc. in your answer – make sure it matches the gender in the first sentence
  • Subject-verb agreement – make sure your subject and verb match. For example, “she is singing” not “she are singing”
  • Writing sentences that are too different – try to use the same words where you can when possible (words like very, really, etc. that appear in the first sentence). Make sure these are expressed in the second sentence as well.

FCE Key word Transformations Practice

Try these 10 key word transformations. Use the steps from above to help you and check your answers at the end of this post.

1. It’s a pity we don’t have a warmer climate!


If _____________________ a warmer climate!

2. Someone is going to redecorate our terrace for us next week.


We are going to _________________________________ next week.

3. I will only bring a jacket if it rains.


I will _________________ it rains.

4. They found the ring when they were fixing the garden.


They ____________________________ when they were fixing the garden.

5. I regret not selling my house sooner.


I wish _______________________ my house sooner.

6. Fashion is the same as it was in the 1970s.


Fashion  _______________________________________ the 1970s.

7. The teacher didn’t let them leave the class.


They  _________________________________ leave the class.

8. How many pyramids did the Egyptians build?


How many pyramids ________________________ the Egyptians?

9. My colleague probably won’t come to the meeting.


My colleague  ____________________________ to the meeting.

10. You’ve got to decide what you want to study next year.


It’s _________________________ what you want to study next year.

B2 First Key Word Transformations


How to score your answers:

You can earn up to two points for each answer.

The two parts of the answer are separated by “ — “

If your answer to the left of the  “–” is EXACTLY the same, give yourself one point.

If your answer to the right of the “–” is EXACTLY the same, give yourself another point.

Depending on your mistakes, you may earn 0, 1, or 2 points per answer.

  1. ONLY — WE HAD
  5. I HAD — SOLD

*Words in ( ) are optional. You can still earn the full point for “time” if you didn’t write “high time.”

For more FCE Practice, try these posts.

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