Lindsay Warwick

Skills development: a Formula for exam preparation

Helping students with exam strategies is vital on an exam preparation course, but how can we help learners develop the skills they need in the exam AND to communicate in the real world? Let’s reflect on the sub-skills tested in the four papers in the Cambridge First exam and consider how to help students develop them online and offline


Exam preparation courses can be extremely rewarding for both teacher and learner, with a clear goal and a clear outcome. However, it can also be very easy to get so caught up with exam preparation that teachers and learners forget to focus on actually developing learners’ language skills for use beyond the course. In this session, I’ll look at how we can make sure that Cambridge First exam courses focus on skills development as well as exam strategies so that learners are prepared for the exam but also develop transferable skills.

Firstly, we will spend time reflecting on different Cambridge First exam tasks and what skills learners need in order to be able to complete them successfully e.g. identify a speaker’s attitude in an article or understand fast, connected speech. I will demonstrate this with one exam task, and then ask participants in groups to look at other exam tasks and come up with ideas. I will elicit these ideas from the whole group.

We will then look at transferring those skills into lesson objectives (e.g. By the end of the lesson, students will be better able to identify a speaker’s attitude) and staging the lesson in a way that allows learners to achieve that objective and achieve useful exam task practise too, in face-to-face, online and hybrid lessons. I’ll give an example, and ask participants to come up with their own ideas in groups and share them.

Finally, there will be time for questions.


Lindsay Warwick is a teacher, trainer and materials writer. She has been teaching general English and exam preparation courses for over twenty years and has trained new and in-service teachers all over the world. She is co-author of Pearson’s new exam course Formula, Pearson’s new general English series Roadmap, and other Pearson series including Gold Experience, Gold Preliminary and Expert IELTS.