B2 Level English: The Most Useful Exercises

12 Aug 2019

Have you decided to take a test to certify your B2 level of English to improve your language skills but can’t find the most useful exercises? No problem. We’ve chosen the best resources to help you pass the exam. But don’t forget, the only formula for success is ‘to study’!

In this article you’ll find:

  • B2 English level: a student profile
  • The most useful exercises to pass a certificate at this level
  • Advice for reaching a B2 level of English
  • Online resources 

B2 Level English: Student Profile

First of all, let’s start with the student profile created by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

  • Reading: you can understand the main points of long and quite detailed texts, including technical or specialized articles, and not only topics related to daily or familiar topics.
  • Listening: you can understand long conversations even if expressed with little clarity. When you listen to the radio or watch TV programs, you understand what the speakers say without much effort.
  • Writing: you can write clear and well-structured texts of a certain length regarding various themes, and you can express your opinion about current affairs. 
  • Speaking: you can express yourself in English in a spontaneous and relaxed way, managing to communicate your ideas without particular difficulties.

So in the exam you’ll have to show an intermediate / upper-intermediate knowledge of English, both written and spoken.

The exam is divided into four parts described above (the timing, score and division of the exercises indicated here refer to the First Certificate of English, however they don’t differ much from other certificates). Here are the specifics:

  • Reading: this lasts 75 minutes and consists of seven exercises based on texts and multiple-choice questions
  • Writing: this lasts 80 minutes and requires you to write two texts which could be an essay or a letter
  • Listening: this consists of four exercises completed in 40 minutes
  • Speaking: this includes four exercises – two done with a partner and two with the examiner, for a duration of 14 minutes

To pass the exam you’ll have to get a score of 160 out of 190, so each point is crucial in making the difference. You therefore need useful exercise books to arrive at the exam as well-prepared as possible, but also ready to face each element of the test (the type of questions, the maximum length, duration and structure, etc.) 

Do an Online English Test to find out what your current level is

The Most Useful Exercises to Pass a Certificate at this level

Let’s start with the most useful exercises to pass the B2 English level certificates, identifying them stage by stage in order to develop your ability in each language skill:

  1. Reading and Use of English: to reach a fluent level of reading you should read at least one book a month in English. Unfortunately we don’t always have enough time to dedicate to this activity, however it’s essential for the test. Alternatively, you can dedicate ten minutes a day to reading magazines or newspapers. If you are used to doing research on the internet, start navigating in English pages – in other words, make English your routine. It’s vital to gain a command of the grammatical rules and reading really helps that.
  2. Writing: what’s the best exercise for this skill? Simple, it’s to write! Take pen and paper, or your PC/Tablet and start to write in English. Generally the topics you’ll need to focus on are tourism, politics and sociology. Always use a grammar reference book to check for any mistakes and to consolidate your grammatical and lexical knowledge.
  3. Listening: as much as you can try to ‘feed yourself’ on English every day. To improve your listening comprehension skills start to watch TV programs in English, listen to podcasts, and buy audiobooks. Thanks to the technology we have today, we’re spoilt for choice. The resources are easy to obtain and represent a great advantage for you. A very useful exercise you can do is to listen to a recording of your choice several times at different speeds.
  4. Speaking: of all the four skills tested in the exam, the speaking part is perhaps the hardest to practice, but it’s not impossible! You just need some strategies. The first and most simple is to find a friend or relative who you can talk with. Don’t forget that you can do that with someone who lives far away, using Skype or Facetime. Another excellent way to practice is to read out loud the material you’re using to prepare for B2. In order to prepare correctly, it’s important that you know what the appropriate exercises are to reach a B2 level and practice also with the support of didactic multimedia material, like CDs and DVDs, that is useful for practicing both listening and speaking.

Advice for reaching B2 in English

The faster you’re able to learn the notions you need, the more prepared you’ll be to take the test. As well as the exercises and books previously recommended, reading some other books, even for just 15 minutes a day, will really help you. In this way you can reinforce your comprehension skills, learn to read more quickly, and generally improve in all the areas of the exam. Here are some suggestions:

Online resources 

You can also take advantage of a variety of free online resources made available specifically to practice B2 English, all of which are valid and reliable. Here below are some links to speed up your research.

To improve your reading, the most useful resources you can find online are newspapers and magazines, obviously in English. Your choice should include technical topics and not exclusively linked to daily topics.

  • As well as offering a considerable amount of general news, The Herald newspaper contains sections on Politics and Business (each of which offer subcategories) sufficiently appropriate to B2, as does the Wall Street Journal.
  • Cosmos is a magazine dedicated to science, which can help widen your knowledge of vocabulary.

To improve your listening in B2 it’s advisable to find films, TV series and podcasts which offer a considerable amount of dialogue and reasonable level of grammatical structures, and not just simple phrases (such as those in some action films). From a linguistic point of view, Game of Thrones  is probably the most complete. In this series there are characters from seven different kingdoms which correspond to as many variants of British English.

Start studying immediately, don’t wait, and reach a B2 level of English as soon as possible!

Why not test your English level now with our Advanced English Test:

This post has been adapted from the WSE Italy blog: Esercizi per Livello Inglese B2