Bring a dictionary (or two)

Do you prefer to have a dictionary at hand when you’re writing something important? Do you often check which preposition to use after ‘responsible’? Do you want to make sure you got the past tense of ‘become’ right when you write a letter? In Euroexam, you can!

Candidates sitting for the written part of Euroexam are allowed to use any printed dictionaries during the test, and even during the preparation phase of the speaking exam. Yes, you can even use bilingual dictionaries, business dictionaries, and thesauruses! That's great news, isn't it? So, don't forget to bring your favourite dictionaries to the exam if you want, because you can use all of them, practically as much as you want.

So how can I benefit from this?

Imagine sitting for an exam where:

  • you can use the dictionary to look for more appropriate and varied vocabulary, e.g. to find the words you want to use in your presentation
  • you can check words in the instructions to make sure you fully understand what you have to do
  • you can check the correct use of linking words in the writing section (e.g. 'although' is used in complex sentences)
  • you can proofread your own piece of writing to smooth out some of the errors (e.g. checking prepositions, irregular past tenses, infinitive or gerund etc.)
  • you can check the keywords of the instructions and questions (e.g. in the paragraph headings, descriptions, statements, comprehension questions) of any reading or listening tasks, the words you really need to understand in order to be able to complete the task 
  • you can use a dictionary during the preparation time before the speaking exam to extend the range of words and phrases you express yourself with.

What kind of dictionary can I use?

Any kind of dictionary, monolingual or bilingual, is welcome as long as there are no handwritten notes in it. We suggest that you bring a reasonable number of dictionaries (one-volume dictionaries are easier), ones you know well and can use easily and fast.

  • monolingual (English-English)
  • bilingual (e.g. English-Russian, Russian-English)
  • thesaurus, dictionary of synonyms, idioms, phrasal verbs etc.
  • printed (no electronic or online dictionaries can be used)
  • without any handwritten notes
     

Tips on dictionary use in the exam

Reading

You can use a dictionary throughout the whole test. Most candidates will use bilingual dictionaries, even at B2 level, which is fine. However, at C1 level, you should aim to be using a monolingual one.

Suggestion: Use your dictionary to look up some words in the questions and instructions if you are unsure of them. In the reading texts, only look up words which you think are important for completing the task successfully (you will find them in the sections of the text where the answer to a question is “hidden”). Before deciding to use a dictionary for an unknown word or phrase in the reading texts, try to guess its meaning by using the context around it. This technique is faster than looking up words. ☺

Remember, you have only limited time in the reading test, so choose carefully the words or phrases which you really do need to look up.

Writing

You can use a dictionary throughout the whole test.

Suggestion: Use the dictionary first and foremost if the task itself is not clear enough to you, the situation, information about the topic, points to include in your letter etc. When actually writing the text, try not to look up too many words, after all, you need the time to work out how to express yourself. But when you have finished writing, you could then check certain vocabulary items quickly with a dictionary.

Listening

While the recording is being played, you must not use your dictionary.  You can  use the dictionary after the recording, during the extra 5 minutes when you are transferring your answers to the Answer Sheet.

Suggestion: Use the dictionary to look up words in the instructions and questions to see if you have understood the task correctly.

Don’t try to write down unfamiliar words from the listening texts, and then try  to look these up in the dictionary in the last 5 minutes. Use the dictionary instead, to check what you think you know, but you are not quite sure about!

Speaking

You can use a dictionary during the ten-minute preparation period you have for one of the tasks. This is true at all levels of the Euroexam.

Suggestion: Think about the task (e.g. the story) and note down key words (especially verbs, key nouns, most important adjectives, linking words) you will need to tell the story. If you think you can deliver the task without looking up any words or phrases, then do not feel that you have to use the dictionary. Only use it if you need a word which is essential for you to complete the task successfully.

Don’t look up and use new and difficult words and expressions that you don't know how to use.