B2 First (FCE)
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Test 1 / 25

Island of Hale

We live on the island of Hale. It’s about four kilometres long and two kilometres wide at its broadest point, and it’s joined to the mainland by a causeway called the Stand – a narrow road built across the mouth of the river which separates us from the rest of the country. Most of the time you wouldn’t know we’re on an island because the river mouth between us and the mainland is just a vast stretch of tall grasses and brown mud. But when there’s a high tide and the water rises a half a metre or so above the road and nothing can pass until the tide goes out again a few hours later, then you know it’s an island.

We were on our way back from the mainland. My older brother, Dominic, had just finished his first year at university in a town 150 km away. Dominic’s train was due in at five and he’d asked for a lift back from the station. Now, Dad normally hates being disturbed when he’s writing (which is just about all the time), and he also hates having to go anywhere, but despite the typical sighs and moans – why can’t he get a taxi? what’s wrong with the bus? – I could tell by the sparkle in his eyes that he was really looking forward to seeing Dominic.

So, anyway, Dad and I had driven to the mainland and picked up Dominic from the station. He had been talking non-stop from the moment he’d slung his rucksack in the boot and got in the car. University this, university that, writers, books, parties, people, money, gigs…. And when I say talking, I don’t mean talking as in having a conversation, I mean talking as in jabbering like a mad thing. I didn’t like it …. the way he spoke and waved his hands around as if he was some kind of intellectual or something. It was embarrassing. It made me feel uncomfortable – that kind of discomfort you feel when someone you like, someone close to you, suddenly starts acting like a complete idiot. And I didn’t like the way he was ignoring me, either. For all the attention I was getting I might as well not have been there. I felt a stranger in my own car.

As we approached the island on that Friday afternoon, the tide was low and the Stand welcomed us home, stretched out before us, clear and dry, beautifully hazy in the heat – a raised strip of grey concrete bound by white railings and a low footpath on either side, with rough cobbled banks leading down to the water. Beyond the railings, the water was glinting with that wonderful silver light we sometimes get here in the late afternoon which lazes through to the early evening.

We were about halfway across when I saw the boy. My first thought was how odd it was to see someone walking on the Stand. You don’t often see people walking around here. Between Hale and Moulton (the nearest town about thirty kilometres away on the mainland), there’s nothing but small cottages, farmland, heathland and a couple of hills. So islanders don’t walk because of that. If they’re going to Moulton they tend to take the bus. So the only pedestrians you’re likely to see around here are walkers or bird-watchers. But even from a distance I could tell that the figure ahead didn’t fit into either of these categories. I wasn’t sure how I knew, I just did.

As we drew closer, he became clearer. He was actually a young man rather than a boy. Although he was on the small side, he wasn’t as slight as I’d first thought. He wasn’t exactly muscular, but he wasn’t weedy-looking either. It’s hard to explain. There was a sense of strength about him, a graceful strength that showed in his balance, the way he held himself, the way he walked….

In the first paragraph, what is Caitlin's main point about the island?
What does Caitlin suggest about her father?
Caitlin emphasises her feelings of discomfort because she
In the fourth paragraph, what is Caitlin's purpose in describing the island?
In 'because of that' the word 'that' refers to
What do we learn about Caitlin's reactions to the boy?
Test 2 / 25

A lawsuit against McDonald’s

If Caesar Barber dreamed of winning fame, he probably didn’t think it would be due to his obesity. However, since the 120kg maintenance worker filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King last month – seeking damages for selling him food that made him obese – Barber’s 15 minutes of fame are proving as painful as the two heart attacks he has already had.

“Does anyone really believe that Mr Barber was too dumb to know that eating saturated fat was less healthy than having, say, a fruit dish or a chef salad?” said Steve Dasbach, who is the executive director of the Libertarian party. Barber says that he was in the dark about the nutritional content of the fast food he was eating up to five times a week from the 1950s onwards. Incredibly, he didn’t didn’t give up burgers and salty fries after he had his first heart attack in 1996. He is now a diabetic with high blood pressure.

In his lawsuit – the first of its kind in the United States – he contends that deceptive advertising misled him about the nutritional value of the food, until a doctor pointed it out. “Those people in the advertisements don’t tell you what’s in the food,” he says. “Now I’m obese. The fast-food industry has ruined my life. They said 100% beef. I thought that meant it was good for you.”

Attacks on Barber’s character and perceived IQ became a sport in the US media. Barber wasn’t stupid, columnists and radio hosts joked, just out to make money by failing to take responsibility for his diet. More than 75 million Americans eat fast food every day. But who, the journalists asked, doesn’t know that too much will make you overweight?

“Mr Barber honestly didn’t know what the dangers were when he started eating fast food in the 50s,” says his lawyer, Samuel Hirsch. “The fast-food chains made no effort then, and little today, to inform consumers about the dangerously high fat, cholesterol or salt content of their food.” Hirsch says that his client, who has now gone into hiding, is not trying to make money but to get the chains to inform customers that their food is guilty of expanding their waistlines.

Barber and his lawyer are following hard on the heels of a series of lawsuit wins over some tobacco companies for the addictive nature of nicotine and subsequent diagnosis of cancer. It actually seems that Hirsh believes that there might be similarities between tobacco and fast food products as he claims that both nicotine and fast food products create a craving.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine applauded the lawsuit. The committee’s research coordinator, Brie Turner-McGrivey, says that whether Barber wins or loses, the hype surrounding the case has been good for doctors, spotlighting America’s obesity epidemic and the role that fast food plays in it.

One might consider Mr. Barber’s case an act of stupidity or an attempt to make some quick money but Ceasar Barber definitely takes credit for initiating the discussion about whether obesity is a matter of personal responsibility or if fast food chains are also to blame for failure to inform consumers and fighting obesity has become a one of the priorities of American health organizations.

Why is Caesar Barber famous?
What does Caesar Barber say about fast food?
After the first heart attack, Caesar Barber
How did the American media react to this lawsuit?
Caesar Barber’s lawyer argues that
is meant by the expression “hard on the heels”?
Test 3 / 25

Berrak: A pianist

I started playing the piano when I was four years old. My mother thought it would be a good outlet for positive childish energy and I was really into it; it was exciting. It was something different and I had much more time to practise then. The first time I performed in front of an audience was when I was five years old and I loved it. I went on a summer camp run by my piano teachers at the time and at the end of the week we all got up and played a piece. At that age I was unaware of any of the pressure associated with performing live so it just felt nice to have people concentrating on my playing and I liked the applause and attention. Now I perform regularly, often in front of large audiences, and I still really enjoy it.

I always knew I wanted to be a pianist and never thought I would do anything else. In that respect I felt different from my friends when I went to school; they all thought they wanted to become teachers or doctors and things like that and I just knew I would be a pianist but it didn’t feel strange. Finding time to play and practise wasn’t a problem at school until my last few years when the pressure of exams and things was hard, but generally I would choose to practise instead of doing homework. It always felt like schoolwork got in the way of playing the piano rather than the other way around. Unfortunately I was never given any special allowances or extended deadlines though. After I finished school I went on to study a degree in music and now I’m studying a Masters degree in accompaniment.

A typical day now involves a couple of hours practice in the morning before going into college and attending classes. I spend a lot of time in the library listening to music, trying to learn and become familiar with new pieces of music. One downside to choosing to study and pursue a career in music
is that you end up spending hours and hours by yourself. However. I also try to spend time at college meeting other people and networking. The more musicians I know the more likely I am to be asked to play for others. ^The more I play the better known I become and in the music business (line 22) it’s all about recognition and getting your name out there. It’s important to get involved in as many performances as possible and take part in competitions so that as many people as possible see you perform and know who you are. It’s a very competitive industry. Ultimately, if I am asked to play and get given a job it means that someone else loses work and sometimes it feels like a constant battle. You can’t help being drawn into an artificial world where you are constantly comparing yourself to others and are always worried about what others think of your performances. In the real world outside of college your audience is much wider.

I chose to get involved in accompaniment because as much as I love playing the piano I also enjoy working with others. And working as an accompanist is a good way of doing that. There are also more job opportunities as although there is still a lot of competition other performers will always need good accompanists, so there is more demand. I really enjoy performing with other people because there’s an even greater sense of achievement when you are both on form and a piece comes out amazingly.

To follow a career in music you have to have a real passion for it as unfortunately it’s not a very secure path and it’s not usually very well paid. Having said that, the real positive side is that I am doing something I love; it’s not just a subject to study. I love everything associated with music and performing and it’s what I do every day

How did Berrak feel about playing the piano when she was very young?
How did she feel the first time she performed in front of an audience?
Why did Berrak feel different from her friends when she was at school?
Why does she say it is important to meet and talk to other musicians at her college?
When she says in line 22 that ‘in the music business it’s all about recognition and getting your name out there’ what does she mean?
Why does the college environment often feel like a constant battle?
Test 4 / 25

Inline Skating

Tracy Winters is on a mission to change the image of inline skating in this country. In her skates, there is no stopping Tracy Winters. She spends most of her time teaching, consulting, examining ar campaigning on behalf of this country’s ever-growing number of inline skaters.

Busy as she is, Tracy did manage to spare an hour early one Saturday morning to give me a lesson in the local park. The slight unease I felt at never having used inline skates before was not helped, however, by her emphatic disapproval as I pulled a pair of brand-new skates from my bag. ‘Oh dear,’ she said with frown. ‘You’ve been sold what we call ‘aggressive’ skates, which are no good for the sort of skating that you want to do. They’re too heavy for twists and tums and the wheels are too small. And you’ve no brake.”But I was told that all I need to do to stop was drag my leg behind me,’ I protested. ‘No, no, no,’ said Tracy. She explained how she was currently helping a girl who has been off work for a year with a damaged leg after following similar’ advice. Tracy is drawing up a list of guidelines for selling inline skates based on ability, budget and type of use, which she wants to see all retailers use. She has seen the purchase of inappropriate skates all too often before. ‘What you should have been sold is recreational skates,’ she told me.

Ordinarily, those who turn up with the wrong skates suffer the added annoyance of missing out on a lesson because Tracy will not teach them. I was more fortunate and, after a small ticking off for not having knee pads, my lesson began. Away from the critical eyes of more experienced skaters, she started me off gently, simple skating up and down a track on the edge of the park. ‘Hands out,’ Tracy told me repeatedly. This was not just to help break a fall, but to prevent my tumbling altogether Ice skaters, Tracy pointed out, keep their arms in front not only to look elegant: it actually keeps them balanced. To help get rid of my fear,’ Tracy insisted that a fall would be good for me, but that I would need to relax for this to reduce the chances of injury. I was not so keen but obeyed each time she reminded me to keep my back straight and chin up. ‘You don’t look at the ground when you’re riding a bike,’ she said.

Apart from ice-skating and bicycle riding, inline skating has similarities with ballet and skiing, which makes it attractive to a wide range of people. An estimated sixty percent of inline skate owners use them every week and more than half are recreational skaters. In this country, the sport is regarded as something for the young and as potentially dangerous. Tracy, together with the National Inline Skating Association, is trying to change this impression, in the first instance by emphasising the importance of insurance and the wearing of protective clothing in case of accidents. She would also like to see the sport more widely catered for in sports centres and health clubs, possibly through the building of indoor skating arenas.

Having been on wheels almost every day of her life since the age of five, Tracy is well-versed in the virtues of skating and, she claims, she never tires of the sport. ‘It is the feeling of moving, of gliding, I can’t quite pin it down, but it makes me feel good,’ she says. Like the hundreds who start skating every week, I now know what she means.

How did the writer lee I before her inline skating lesson?
What was wrong with the skates which the writer bought?
Why is Tracy writing a set of guidelines?
Tracy compares skating and cycling in terms of
How would Tracy like to change the idea people have of inline skating?
Alter the lesson, the writer agrees with Tracy that inline skating