A brief guide to the BEC Exam Guide website and e-book.
Last week a student, Alessando, sent me a message asking how to use the website.
I wrote back asking for some specific questions. This is what he asked.
Here is my reply to him (which I hope will be useful for you too!)
The idea of the BEC Exam guide is to help students/exam candidates understand what the exam is and how they need to prepare for it in order to pass it and to pass with a good grade.
What do I need before I start using the website?
The website and E-book have been designed for people who have the correct level of grammar and vocabulary knowledge for the exam they want to take. This means it is useful if you have either a B1, B2 or C1 level BEFORE you start using the website and E-book because the focus is on the exam.
If you do not have exactly the “perfect” level for your exam, it is possible to use the website, and work on improving your grammar and vocabulary at the same time, using the books recommended for your exam (Business Benchmark and Business Vocabulary in Use – B1, B2, C1.
You should have some experience of all the four skills, reading writing listening and speaking in English. Each of the three Cambridge English business exams tests the four skills so it is important that you have already used them. If you do not have a lot of experience in reading writing or listening, then it is vital to visit the General Resources page.
Access to practice tests, a lot of practice tests! The logic of the BEC Exam Guide website is that you prepare for the exam by following the procedures with practice tests. There is a practice test available for each part of each exam on the website. I would recommend printing it so you can read the procedures from The BEC Exam Guide website or e-book, and work directly on the printed pages to highlight keywords, make notes and have a physical record of your work.
Where should I start on the website or in the e-book?
The best place to start for most people is with the Reading part of your exam. This is the easiest part to practice because you have written material to use. It will also help you see the style, vocabulary and the level of the exam you have chosen and to understand the style and logic of the website/e-book as well.
If you have never done a practice test before or if you have not had any lessons connected with the exam, then it is not necessary or useful to do a complete test without stopping.
Take your time and start with the easier parts of the reading exam (For B1 Business Preliminary Part 1 and Part 5, for B2 Business Vantage and C1 Business Higher, Part 1 and Part 3). Print a copy of the example provided, then read the procedure and look at the image connected with it, then do the same procedure using your printed copy. Do not give yourself a time limit until you have used the procedure several times.
When you have finished and have complete answers (or as many as possible) check your answers using the answer key provided. If some of your answers are not correct, try to understand why. “Find” the correct answers in the text and work “backwards” to connect the answer to the questions.
After you have worked on reading, then I actually recommend either writing or listening because you can use the free practice test provided and follow the procedures.
When should I read the articles?
The articles page provides some useful extra material and information to help you with your preparation. After you have done some practising then you will know more about what extra help you need.
How should I use the General Resources page?
It has two functions
1. It can help you practise and improve the skills which you are weakest at.
There are a lot of practices related to listening, writing and reading which you can use to develop these skills.
2. It can help you make English part of your normal daily life (not just your professional life).
There are different resources you can use which are not for “practising English”. They can be used to increase your exposure to and your enjoyment of the language, for example, 10 minute English (it is useful even without the worksheets),
I hope this is useful information and you should all feel free to ask useful questions like Alessandro’s.