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3 Schlüsselmerkmale in der Keyword Transformation: Advanced Use of English Part 4

3 Key Features of Keyword Transformation: Advanced Use of English Part 4


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Part 4 of the Advanced Reading and Use of English exam is the key word transformation. There are six questions in part 4 and for each question you’re given a sentence and a keyword. You’re also given the beginning and end of a second sentence. Your job is to complete the second sentence so that it has a similar meaning to the first one. You must use the keyword you’ve been given, which can’t be changed in any way, and you can only write between three and six words.

What did I just read?!

Don’t worry, the task sounds more complicated than it is. Let’s take a look at an example to help clear things up.

Whatever happens, he will never trust her again.


Under _________________________ trust her again.


Have a think about how we can complete the sentence so that it has a very similar, if not identical, meaning to the original. Any ideas? Well, for the first part of the sentence we can use the expression ‘under no circumstances’. Then, in the second part of the sentence we need to use inversion (that means switching the word order of the subject and verb) and change ‘never’ to ‘ever’. So, the answer is:

Under no circumstances will he ever trust her again.

Lots of people get very stressed about part 4 and there’s no doubt it is tricky, but I want to help you by drawing your attention to some of the different type of things they are testing in this part of the exam to hopefully reduce your anxiety and improve your performance!


Maybe you remember our blog on Advanced Reading and Use of English part 2, where we talked about dependent prepositions. Don’t recall? No worries. A dependent preposition is a preposition that we always use with a particular verb, noun or adjective. For example:

We reached the top of the mountain and marvelled at the amazing views in every direction (verb + dependent preposition)

Having a good knowledge of dependent prepositions is so important in part 4. Many of the sentences that you’ll need to complete require the use of nouns, verbs and adjectives that have dependent prepositions. Even if you get the rest of the sentence right, using the wrong preposition will mean that you only get one mark out of the two marks available for each question. So, review those dependent prepositions in order not to throw marks away in part 4!

Now it’s time to test yourself. Look at these three sentences. Can you fill in the gaps with the right preposition? (Answers at the end of the post)

1. The man, aged 49, has been accused _____ fraud, and faces up to 10 years in prison.

2. Gareth must be prone _____ catching colds. He always seems to have a runny nose and a cough.

3. In the first few months of her pregnancy she had an insatiable craving _____ peanut butter!

Take away: My students often ask me: ‘how do I know which preposition goes with this word?’. The answer is there is no shortcut! You just have to learn them. Bear in mind that even different parts of speech from the same word family don’t always use the same preposition. For example, we ‘take pride in something’, but we are ‘proud of something’.


Often the word that you must use in your sentence forms part of an idiom or A fixed expression. The challenge here is that you must work out which expression it is you need to use.

Have a look at this example:

Amanda has been thinking about it all day, but she hasn’t made a decision yet.


It’s __________________________ all day, but she hasn’t made a decision yet.

So, we need to use the word ‘mind’. Can you think of any idioms or expressions using ‘mind’? There are lots. Here are just a few:

  • Make up your mind (= to decide on something)
  • Have something in mind (= to already have a plan)
  • Bear something in mind (= to remember something)

None of these fit the example sentence though. We need the idiom ‘be on your mind’:

It’s been on her mind all day, but she hasn’t made a decision yet.

Now, it’s your turn. Take a look at these three part 4-style questions and see if you can complete them with the appropriate expression or idiom. (Answers at the end of the post)


1. If I’m being honest, I have to say that the play wasn’t as good as I’d expected.


The play __________________________, to be honest with you.


2. Tom didn’t feel like dancing that night.


Tom __________________________ dancing that night.


3. He’s still planning on attending as far as I know.


To __________________________, he is still planning on attending.

Take away: Whereas you might be able to guess a preposition correctly, when it comes to idioms you either know the one that’s being referred to in the question or you don’t. That’s why it’s really important to read widely when you’re preparing for the exam. Look up new idioms you come across, note them down and review them.


We’ve talked about prepositions and idioms. One of the other main things they are testing you on in part 4 is your knowledge of and ability to use grammatical structures. Things like the passive voice, conditionals, comparative structures, reported speech, modals and linking words and expressions.

Take a look at the example:

I’m not surprised he looks tired if he only had three hours’ sleep last night.


It’s not surprising that he looks so tired __________________ slept for three hours last night.


Do you know the answer? This question is testing your knowledge of linking words/expressions. We need to replace the linking word ‘if’, with the expression ‘given that’:

It’s not surprising that he looks so tired given that he only slept for three hours last night.


Try the three questions below. The type of grammatical structure needed is given in brackets to help you. (Answers at the end of the post)


1. You should never leave the baby alone under any circumstances.


Under ____________________ be left alone.

(Inversion and passive voice)


2. Alan is a much better pianist than Jenny.


Jenny is ____________________ the piano as Alan is.

(Comparative structures)


3. Only the timely arrival of the police prevented the fight from escalating.


Had it ___________________ of the police, the fight would have escalated.

(Third conditional)

Takeaway: People preparing for the Advanced often overestimate their abilities when it comes to grammar and make mistakes with intermediate level constructions. Buy a good grammar book and check you know your stuff!

And now, it’s over to you.

Which kind of part 4 answers do you struggle with the most? Is it prepositions, fixed expressions or grammatical structures? Or maybe something else? What tips and advice do you have for your fellow test-takers?

Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below 🙂

Preposition answers: 1.of, 2.to, 3.for

Idioms answers: 1. fell short of my expectations; 2. wasn’t in the mood for; 3. the best of my knowledge

Grammatical structures answers: 1. no circumstances is the baby to; 2. nowhere near as good at playing; 3. not been for the arrival

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