C2 Proficiency Exam Guide: Word Formation

Reading & Use of English Paper


Context: Part 3 of the Reading & Use of English paper involves a text with eight gaps and focuses on the task of word-building. This includes creating words using affixation, internal changes, and compounding.

Task: Candidates must transform base words (provided beside each gap) to fit the context of the text. This may involve changing the form of the word significantly, such as turning 'honest' into 'dishonesty' or 'person' into 'impersonal.' Understanding of the text beyond the sentence level is often required.

Objective: To assess candidates' ability to manipulate and build words appropriately in context.

Scoring & Marks: The eight questions are worth eight points, so one point for each. There are 72 points available for the whole Reading & Use of English paper.

How to Approach

  1. Comprehensive Text Reading: Read the entire text (or sentence) before attempting the gaps. Understanding the overall context is crucial, especially when a negative form or a more complex word structure is needed.
  2. Word Formation Awareness: Be aware of the various forms a word can take, including negative and compound forms. Practise tasks where words are transformed in different ways can be helpful.
  3. In-depth Vocabulary Study: When encountering new words, note all their possible forms, not just the base word. Use a good monolingual English dictionary for thorough research.

Example Question

1. Why don't you demand a bigger say in the running of the company? Your _____________ acceptance of every decision is harming the health of the business.

Assessment Focus

Focuses on lexical manipulation, including affixation and compounding of words.


How It Looks

example Word Formation question from C2 Proficiency
C2 Proficiency, Example Word Formation Question

Student Suggestion

"I used to play a game with my sister to see who could create the most real English words from, say, ten root words. She usually won, but we both got much better. It was like a sort of mental Scrabble!" - Sergio Silva

Practice Exercises

We have a page on the site to practise: C2 Proficiency: Word Formation Exercises

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