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Skills for life reading

Reading Entry 2
Examination Report
Skills for Life Reading Examination Report: Entry 2
This report is based on candidate performance on one version of the Skills for Life Reading Entry 2 tests in
2008/9.
The report is intended as an aid to teachers and colleges in preparing candidates for future Cambridge
ESOL Skills for Life Reading tests.
Test 087

There were 42 marks available on the paper, 12 for Part 1, 14 for Part 2 and 16 for Part 3. The number of
marks for each individual question is provided on the question paper. The breakdown of marks available for
each assessment focus (Text, Sentence and Word) is shown below.
Sentence

All three parts of this paper were of a very similar level of difficulty, although Part 2 was slightly more
difficult. Overall the paper was well done with candidates scoring best on Sentence focus questions and
least well on Word focus questions. This is mainly because many weaker candidates left blank the open-
ended Word focus questions (spelling and vocabulary deduction questions). Candidates should be
encouraged to write something as they will not lose marks for wrong answers.
Part 1

Part 1 begins with a note giving instructions to friend who will be house sitting.
Most candidates found Question 1 fairly easy but half of the weaker candidates chose ‘to invite Piotr to her
house’, possibly because of the words ‘staying in my house’ in the first sentence. They seem to be relying
on phrases without reading for overall meaning. Questions 2 and 3 posed few problems but Question 4, a
spelling question, while quite easy for stronger candidates, caused problems for the weaker ones as many
thought that ‘else’ was a misspelling of ‘also’. 18% of candidates overall left this question blank.
The second text in Part 1 is part of an instruction leaflet about recycling. For Question 5, 32% of candidates
identified the text as an advertisement rather than a leaflet, possibly because they were going by the layout
alone without considering the content. Question 6 posed few problems apart from Question 6E, where
almost two thirds of candidates failed to identify ‘can’ as a synonym of ‘tin’. Questions 7 and 8 are open-
ended and proved more difficult. Over half of the candidates correctly identified the blue bin as the answer
to Question 7 and 89% of the stronger candidates did so. Question 8 was left blank by 17% of candidates.
Candidates who included the word in a sentence or phrase, e.g. ‘The lid must be closed’, did not get the
mark as they have not indicated that they have identified the word. They should be advised to follow the
instructions as to the number of words they should write.
Part 2

Part 2 is based on a leaflet about waste and recycling. For Question 9, 29% of candidates chose Option B
– ‘in a phone book’ – possibly because there are a few phone numbers in the text. Option A – ‘in a
catalogue’ – was also quite popular. Again, candidates seem to be using layout alone and had not paid
attention to textual clues i.e. ‘Welcome to the winter edition of City Matters.’
Question 10 was straightforward for the stronger candidates, 93 – 100% of whom got sections 1, 2, and 3
right. The weaker candidates did not do well on this question. Section 4 was the most difficult for all, as
27% used the distractor ‘A’, possibly because the name of the High Trees Parent Group is quite prominent
in the text. It is however, merely part of a list and therefore not a suitable heading for the section. There
were also problems of format for some candidates – some wrote single words or phrases in the spaces,
taken either from the text or the given headings, and some put more than one letter in a space. None of
these were awarded marks. For Question 11, C was the easiest, answered correctly by 18% of candidates,
and A was the most difficult, answered correctly by only 19% of candidates. This may have been because
they did not connect ‘must’ and ‘have to’.
Question 12 was unproblematic for the stronger candidates but nevertheless 30% overall chose Option B –
‘Public Health Unit’ – as being the last in the phone book. This does indicate genuine A – Z error and not a
misreading of ‘last’ as ‘first’. The pattern was very similar for Question 13.
For Question 14, a referencing question, nearly half of all candidates chose Option A – ‘People who drop
rubbish’ – indicating that they are choosing the option that is nearest to the pronoun without reading for
meaning.
Question 15 was straightforward but Question 16 was answered correctly by less than a third of candidates
and left blank by 13%. Candidates were distracted by other names in the text: Bradford City Matters, High
Trees Parent Group
, etc.
Part 3

Part 3 consists of three texts written by students about rubbish in their area. The multiple-choice questions
17 – 21 were mainly quite straightforward, with only Question 20 causing problems, particularly for the
weaker candidates, who favoured Omar. This may have been a vocabulary issue. Question 22 caused few
problems. For Question 23, direct and indirect questions were accepted and in spite of 22% of candidates
not answering this question, 54% were awarded the mark. Questions 24 and 25 were not answered by a
third of the candidates. For Question 24 many candidates did not directly answer the question ‘When?’,
although they had identified the correct part of the text. Examples of answers that were not accepted are:
‘ten years’, ‘They decided to do something’, ‘when he collect money’ ‘when they had flowers all over the
town’. ‘Ten years ago’ and ‘in the summer’ were both accepted. Candidates should be advised that the
answers can usually be taken straight from the text, e.g. for Question 25 the best answer is ‘The tap water
is really clean’. Questions 26 and 27 were reasonably well done but weaker candidates were attracted by
‘park’ as the answer to Question 27, maybe not fully distinguishing the difference between ‘equipment’ and
‘area’.
Questions 28 – 30 were not attempted by the weaker candidates, possibly because they had run out of
time. For the spelling questions, candidates should be advised not to write words that are in a different line
and to notice when some of the words are used elsewhere in the text or in the questions e.g. ‘equipment’.
Recommendations for Candidate Preparation

All Cambridge ESOL Skills for Life tests are based on the Adult ESOL Core Curriculum and cover all the
Basic Skills Standards in each mode at each level. Therefore, by following the Adult ESOL Core
Curriculum,
teachers will be preparing their students for the tests. Candidates will benefit from being
reminded of the following Dos and Don'ts:
Do

• practise reading as many different types of text as possible • practise different reading skills, i.e. skimming, scanning, deducing meaning, identifying references, • bring world knowledge to your reading, but this should not replace reading the actual texts as candidates’ experiences may be different • read all the instructions and introductions to texts and try to imagine the situation or scenario in • read the questions very carefully so that you know what you have to write. Think about the kind of information you need to look for in the text • always look at all the options in multiple-choice questions before making a choice • tick the boxes for the correct answers. Do not use other symbols. Make sure you know how many • cross out your wrong answers very clearly • use words from the texts, where possible, to answer the questions. You do not need to use different • leave any questions blank. Answer all the questions. You will not lose marks for writing a wrong • always choose the option that contains a word that is also in the text (word spotting). Look at the meaning of the question and look for synonyms in the text. • write long answers to questions. They can usually be answered in a few words but make sure you give enough information to answer the question. • write any extra information. Give only the answer to the question. If it is not clear to the examiner that you have understood the question and identified the correct answer, you may not get a mark. • use your dictionary too much. This will take too much time and you do not need to know the meaning of all the words in a text to answer the questions.

Source: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/images/37893-sfl-e2-reading-report-2009.pdf

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