The Cambridge B2 First Exam is a popular English exam for students hoping to work or study in English. Today we will look at Part 1 of the B2 First Reading and Use of English exam.

Part 1 of this exam is known as “multiple-choice cloze” and has a short text with 8 multiple-choice questions. Each question has four choices: A, B, C, or D. 

For more information on other parts of the Reading and Use of English exam, visit the official Cambridge English website.

This part of the test is quick. If you know the answer, that’s great! If not, take a guess and move on to the next part of the exam.

While reading often in English will help you the most with this part of the exam, there are some tips and tricks to help you study and practice for this part of the Cambridge B2 First Exam.

What’s on the B2 First Reading and Use of English Part 1?

This part of the exam tests:

  • Vocabulary – similar words. Do you know the difference between see, look, watch, and stare? What about hear, listen, and listen to? Some questions will look at similar sets of words, so know when to use each!
  • Phrasal verbs. A phrasal verb is a phrase that is made of a verb and one or two particles. The particles are prepositions, adverbs, or both. The meaning of the phrasal verb is different than the words alone.

For example, carry on. The word missing may be the verb “carry” or the particle “on.” I recommend writing a phrasal verb list in the back of your notebook. Add new phrasal verbs with their definition(s) and example sentence(s) each time you learn a new one. Remember, some phrasal verbs have MANY different meanings depending on the context.

  • Idioms. An idiom is a group of words that has its own meaning different from the words by themselves. 

For example, keep an eye on someone/something. One of the words, in this case, probably “keep”, “eye” or “on”, will be missing and you need to recognize it. Just like when learning phrasal verbs, write a list of common idioms as you learn them.

  • Collocations. A collocation is a set of words that go together. 

For example, a hard frost. There aren’t any rules for collocations. You just have to remember them as a set. Try to write down a list of collocations as you learn them.

How to Do Part 1 of the B2 First Reading and Use of English Test

  1. Read the title and text QUICKLY. Ignore the gaps and options. Read fast to get the MAIN IDEA of the text.
  2. Look at question 1. Look carefully before and after the gap. Circle or highlight any words that could be parts of phrasal verbs, collocations, idioms, etc. 
  3. Look at the options for question 1. If you don’t know the answer, cross out any answers that you think are wrong. If you need to, take a guess.
  4. Move on to question 2 and repeat the process.


Try this sample test from the Cambridge official website. The answers are at the end of this post.

Tips and Tricks

  • Keep lists of phrasal verbs, collocations, and idioms in your notebook and add to them as you learn new ones. Review these lists weekly!
  • Highlight or circle words before or after the gap like prepositions, verbs, and nouns. These will help you identify phrasal verbs, collocations, and idioms.
  • Read in English! My students who love to read in English do well on this part of the exam. My students who dislike reading think this part is really difficult. Read the news, blog posts, or books just for fun for 10-15 minutes a day.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time on this part of the test. Take a guess and move on!

Final Thoughts

Part 1 of the B2 First Reading and Use of English exam is quick but tricky. If you want to practice reading to improve your score, try 6 Minute English from BBC or Breaking News English.

Take a look at:

B2 First Writing Exam Tips

B2 First Speaking Exam Tips

Past Habits in English – Used to and Would

If you have any questions, please leave me a comment. Happy studying!

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Cambridge B2 First Reading Part 1 Practice

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