A Teacher’s Guide To The Cambridge PET Reading And Writing Exam

A few times in my teaching career so far, I have seen teachers who think that Preliminary (PET) and the B1 level is easy to teach. No planned lessons, no care when it came to continuity, and no real understanding of the requirements, nor the skills that the students need. In reality, teaching PET will set you up for teaching the more advanced levels, if that’s what you want. The grammar you have to explain here serves as the foundation for everything you have to teach later on and in other classes. So here is my guide to the PET reading and writing paper, including what students should focus on when preparing for each part.


The reading exam consists of 5 parts and combined with the writing, makes up 50% of the overall score.

Part 1

  • 5 questions with notice style announcements. Students must read the notice and chose the most appropriate meaning from a choice of 3.


  • Throughout the course, show them similar signs and announcements with no multiple choice questions. Have them answer questions like ‘Where might you see it?’, ‘What does it mean?’ and ‘Who is it for?’.
  • Focus on the use of the passive voice, which is common in these questions.
  • Remind students that the principle themes of the notes are, Information, Prohibition, and Advice. Make sure that they know the markers for each.

Part 2

  • 5 questions in which the student should read the preferences of 5 people and match them to the description of the most appropriate place or experience.


  • Encourage students not to ‘word spot’ or try to look for the same words used in both the bio and the texts.
  • Practice paraphrasing and synonyms.
  • Have them take on the role of the person in the question and look for what they like don’t like about each offer, justifying their answers at the same time.

Part 3

  • 10 questions where the student must read a text and decide if a given statement is true or false.


  • Practice skim reading and scanning texts for answers
  • Underline key words
  • Read the statements first
  • For homework one day, perhaps give them an article and have them make a true or false activity of their own from it.

Part 4

  • 5 questions about a given text.


  • Teach vocabulary consistently throughout the course
  • Revise ways or expressing opinion and attitude
  • Answer questions 2,3, and 4 first (more factual information) and then questions 1 and 5 (more about the overall meaning of the text and in some cases, the opinion of the writer)

Part 5

  • Multiple choice cloze exercise with 10 gaps and 4 options for very answer.


  • Read the text through first
  • Look at the words before and after each gap
  • Read whole text back with answers after finishing to make sure that it makes sense.
  • Before the exam, students should be confident with verb patterns, dependant prepositions, phrasal verbs, auxiliary verbs and synonyms of words that they learn in class.



The writing consists of 3 parts and is, together with the reading, worth 50% of the overall score.

Part 1

  • 5 questions in which students must read an original sentence and replicate the meaning of it filling in the gap of a second, incomplete sentence. For example;

My sister wouldn’t lend me her coat.

My sister refused to let me borrow her coat.

To get this part right, the students have to practice all forms of their grammar, the question always tests some form of it. Be it passive voice, relative clauses, comparatives, anything! So the best thing you can do for them is make sure that they understand all of the structures provided.

Part 2

  • Students must write a short note of between 35 and 45 words on a specific topic. For example;

Your friend said that she would meet you yesterday at the cinema, but she didn’t come. In your note you should;

  1. Ask your friend if she’s okay
  2. Ask why she didn’t come to meet you
  3. Suggest another time to meet
  • Candidates must include a name for their ‘friend’, so get them to imagine one if it’s not provided with the question.
  • They must stick to the word limit.
  • It is imperative to include all three points given in the question.
  • Grammar and spelling mistakes do not affect the score unless they impede the examiners understanding of the note.

Part 3

  • A letter of around 100 words, responding to a letter from a friend or penpal.


Students should be sure to include the following for top marks;

  • Conditional (First or Second)
  • Relative pronouns
  • Connectors (However, therefore, so, either/or, etc…)
  • A range of verb tenses (4 +)
  • Expressions such as; “It’s great to hear from you!’, ‘I look forward to seeing you’ and ‘I was glad to get your letter’.
  • Phrasal verbs could be included if appropriate.

Part 3 is worth 15 points of the writing exam, while parts 1 and 2 combined are only worth 10. So if there is a lack of time they should always do part 3 first.

Download and view a sample paper here; Preliminary (Pet) Reading and Writing Sample Paper

I hope that this guide has helped with your doubts about the paper. If you have any questions, let me know in the comment section and I’ll be sure to answer it!



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