For those of you interested in applying to U.K. or U.S. universities, I found two somewhat-dated (2012ish) articles in The Guardian and The Telegram. The information (with links) is here.
A few pictures for discussion purposes
Several previous exams from the Ministry of Education’s website including the sample spoken exam
Using the vocabulary you’ve already built – fluency
Sometimes it’s not the words you know, it’s how you use them. The most common words used fluently are sometimes the most eloquent. It’s better to use a word easily remembered than to try to retrieve a word infrequently used.
Here are some tips for reinforcing what you already know.
- Don’t do too much at any one time. A little work every day is far, far better than a marathon once a week. Repetition is key. Use the words over and over, in speech, in writing.
- You already know a lot of words. Now use them everyday so you’re in the habit of using them. Use worksheets to remind you of what you already know. Here are some examples. There are tons of worksheets on the web. The advantage to this strategy is that you can review subjects/topics as well as vocabulary – in bite-sized chunks. Search for C1/C2 material. You could start with Tim Weare’s blog (link to vocab here) because he focuses on helping students with the standardized language exams (link here). His material is written for teachers, but I’m sure you can find something of use.
- Listen to TED talks. Then either write (easier) or speak (much harder) a single paragraph summarizing what you’ve heard. It’s not easy. It gets you using academic language.
- Many TED talks have transcripts. Read them. Quickly. Then do the same exercise as in number 2.
- Here’s a link to the 3000 most common English words – there are some glorious words there.