Key to Scoring High on Exams. Learning to Distinguish a Fact From an Opinion

Your ability to distinguish a fact from an opinion is often tested in exams. Opinions in particular, often appear as distracters in international exams such as Cambridge IELTS, FCE and CAE. “Distracters” are the incorrect answers presented as a choice in multiple-choice questions. But what makes a distractor seem like the correct answer? We will find out about it shortly. But first, let’s examine a sample question. This will help you understand distractors better and learn to eliminate them so that you can score higher in your exams. 

Look at the following extract:

All the students sat an important English exam on Friday morning. Fernando found the exam very difficult. He didn’t have much time to prepare for it and he failed the exam.

Now decide which of the following statement(s) are true:

1- Fernando’s English is terrible.
2- Fernando knew some of the answers to the questions.
3- Fernando hoped to pass the exam.
4- Fernando had much difficulty with the exam.

Please take a few moments and choose your answers as if you were in a real exam.

Did you choose anything other than number 4? You would be surprised how so many learners tick the statement 1, 2 and 3 as true. But these are all distracters. Let’s find out why. 

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3 Simple Ways To Improve Your English Listening Comprehension

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Have you ever struggled with a particular audio material and later realised how simple it was? You read the transcript of the audio. Other than a few phrases, you have understood most of what you have read. But why did the same text sound so alien when it was in an audio format? 

For many learners, listening is indeed such a challenging skill, and there are some good reasons for this. Firstly, you don’t have any control over the speed of the speaking. You can’t always stop people and get them repeat what they have said. Similarly, it is not possible to pause and re-listen to every audio material. Unfamiliar accents also add to the challenges. There are many different English accents in the world, and the likelihood is, you are not familiar with at least half of them. Your own pronunciation is also something to watch out for. If you mispronounce words, then you don’t necessarily recognise these words in an audio, because they sound like completely different words to your ears.

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