3 Jan 2018

How to do well in Pre-A1 Starters Reading and Writing Part 5

In this post, I’ll be sharing some insights and tips to help your students do Pre-A1 Starters Reading and Writing Part 5.

Note:  This part of the Pre-A1 Starters Reading and Writing Test has NOT changed.  From 2018, it is the same as it was before.

How do I do this part of the Test?

1.   Train students  to look at the three pictures and think about the story they show.

Let’s look at the three pictures in the Starters Reading and Writing Part 5 from 2018 Sample Papers 2.  You can download Sample Papers 2 here: https://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/153309-cambridge-english-starters-sample-papers-volume-2.pdf

In this story, we can see that there are four people.  They are probably from the same family.  The story is about the hat.

The story focuses on the hat, which starts off on the table in picture 1.  The bird picks it up in its mouth and flies away with it in picture 2.  In picture 3, we see that the hat is now a nest, with 2 baby birds and the mother bird living in it.  They are very happy and are singing to the mother and children.

2.   Tell students to notice the differences between the pictures.

Start by comparing pictures 1 and 2.

Then, the differences between pictures 2 and 3.

This will help them see the story even more clearly.

3.   Students should read the two examples.

These illustrate the point that all students have to write is one word to answer the questions.  Often, if a noun is needed, they will get the determiner (a/an/the) and possibly a preposition too if they are answering a ‘Where?’ question.  You can point this out using the second example.  See below for more on these clues.

4.  Tell students to notice the question word in each of the examples and what they are asking about.

Tip:   They may get these same question words in some of the questions they have to answer).

Question words from the Pre-A1 Starters Wordlist are:

How many

How old






Tip:  Make sure your students are familiar with all of these question words.  Give them lots of practice with them.

I always have sets of question cards in my classroom.  I use them over and over again to help students to brainstorm ideas, ask questions, etc.

This is something that I will definitely write in a future post and put the link here when I do!

5.  The answers (words)

As I wrote earlier, the answers to ‘Where‘ questions often have a preposition of place and a determiner written before the line where learners write their answer.

Tip:  Train learners to look out for these.  I get them to circle the preposition to make sure they look in the right place in the picture.

In questions 2 and 3, there is no preposition of place, but the determiner ‘the’ does tell us that we have to write the word for someone (2  Who) and something (3 What) in the picture.  I’ve seen lots of learners write ‘flying‘ for Question 3 because they only focus on the word ‘bird‘ and not on the question word ‘What‘ or the word ‘the‘ before the line.

In questions 4 and 5, we have no words in front of the line.

Question 5 often causes problems for students – many write ‘hat’ for the answer – but notice that there is no ‘the’ before the line – as I said before, a very useful clue!

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