16.5. 2016 Frequently asked questions about Cambridge courses

Is it better to do the paper-based or computer based exam?
We recommend the computer-based exam to our students for many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • The computer-based exams are held more frequently compared to the paper-based exams. You receive your results back faster and you also don’t need to sign up so much in advance. The registration deadline for the computer-based exam is usually only 3 weeks before the official exam date, whereas in the paper-based exam it is up to 6 weeks.
  • In the listening paper you have your own headset to listen to the tracks, guaranteeing perfect sound quality without any echo or background noises that might occur when an audio file is played in a room.
  • The writing tasks can be edited much quicker and easier using a computer. Besides, most of us are much more used to typing on a keyboard compared to writing by hand. You can correct any mistakes and add or delete words and phrases without creating a mess on the exam paper.
  • In the Reading paper the ‘gapped text’ task is made easier on a computer due to the fact that the removed sentences (FCE) or paragraphs (CAE/ CPE) actually move into the correct place in the text, allowing you to read the completed text in one go when checking.
  • And don’t worry, you will still get scrap paper to take notes and there is a highlighter option – just like in Microsoft Word – in case you want to highlight parts of the text. Click here to watch a video summarizing the main benefits.

What happens if I fail the exam?
Failing an exam is never a good experience and our experienced teachers at Oxford House will discuss your progress with you throughout the course to ensure that you only sign up for the official exam once you are ready and have a good chance of passing it. In case you are not ready yet, your teacher will recommend a suitable next course to help you improve your level and exam scores further.

Can I also just re-sit the part of the exam that I failed, or do I have to retake the whole exam?
No, you cannot just re-sit part of the exam. You will have to take the whole exam again with all 4 parts.

Do I have to pass the FCE before I can take CAE?
No, you don’t need to have passed the FCE exam before you can sit the CAE. However, you will need to have the required level and familiarize yourself with all 4 papers in the exam before you sit it. The level requirements are: a strong B2 Upper-intermediate level for FCE and a strong C1 Advanced level for CAE. If you are unsure about your level, come and visit us at Oxford House to do a written level test and speaking test with one of our teachers.

Why do I have to do a level test?
The level test helps us to ensure we help you choose the correct course which is appropriate for your level and for the goals you want to achieve. This is obviously very important and we want to make sure we help you as best as we can. Before you sign up to one of our courses we ask you to complete a level test. The level test includes a multiple-choice test, a written task and a speaking test. After that a teacher will discuss your results and your goals with you to help you choose the correct course type.

Do I have to follow the recommendation of the level test?
All of our level testers have been specially trained and are experienced teaching Cambridge exams. Therefore, you will only be able to sign up for exam which they recommend for you. If you are still unhappy with their decision you can arrange a meeting with the Director of Studies to discuss it further.

Will I definitely pass the exam after I completed a preparatory course?
Our courses are excellent courses to prepare candidates for the official exam. Apart from attending the course you will also have to complete homework regularly and study several hours per week outside class. You will also have the opportunity to attend the AM training course for free throughout your whole course. Your work in class and also outside class is essential and will help you to improve your English to get ready for the exam. However, every student is different and some make quicker progress than others. The Oxford House mock exam is one way of finding out if you are ready and your teacher will discuss your results with you in detail afterwards. There is no guarantee that you will pass the official exam but our teachers only recommend you sit the exam if they think you have a good chance of passing it. If they think you are not ready yet, they will show you want you can do to improve your level further.

Why do you have a mock exam?
We feel that a mock exam allows students to experience what the real exam is like in a safe environment and without the added pressure of having to pay an exam fee.  Mock exams are always held on the last lesson of the course.

Is it necessary to do the mock exam at Oxford House?
It is not compulsory to sit the mock exam but we strongly recommend you do take advantage of this excellent opportunity in order to test yourself before sitting for the real exam.

Can I also do the mock exam on different day? Are there any alternative days for the mock exam?
We offer one mock exam date per course. The mock exams take place on a last lesson, therefore we kindly ask you to ensure that you will have time on this day and attend the mock exam.

Can I be recommended for the official exam without sitting the mock exam?
Yes, in some cases the teacher is able to recommend a student for the exam without the mock exam.

Can I be recommended for the official exam if I have failed the mock exam?
You should be able to successfully pass the mock exam. In case you will not be successful, the teacher will consult your situation with you. You can still sign up for the official exam by yourself through the British Council.

How much does the official Cambridge exam cost?
The fee for the FCE exam is around 4 400 CZK and 4 600 CZK for the CAE exam. The fee is not included in the price of the preparatory course. Please be aware that the price might change in the future.

How can I prepare for the exam outside of class?
There are many ways to improve your English outside class and to help you prepare for the exam. We regularly post study ideas and tips on our Facebook, you can also connect to our network OH connect. As students of our school, you can use the library, which is available at the reception. We offer books at all levels, along with audio CDs.
Do you have any other question? Contact us.