Duolingo C-Test Questions
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One of the types of question that you get on the Duolingo English test is the C-test.
This is a computer adaptive item, which means your performance on one c-test question will determine whether you get shown an easier or more difficult c-test next. In total, you will do between 4 and 7 of these questions.
Look at the example C-test question below.
It was going to rain. The wea forecast di' say th, but t steel pl in h hip d. He h learned ov the ye to tr his h over t weatherman. It was going to rain, so he better get outside and prepare.
As you can see, you are presented with a paragraph of text. The first and last sentences are intact, but the middle sentences have letters missing. Your task is to put the missing letters in to restore the meaning.
Have a go, then look at the answer below.
This type of question can be quite hard, but there are some things that you can do to make your life easier.
Step 1 - Don't Go Word by Word
If you just look at the first word in the example, you have “wea” and 4 spaces. Without looking at any other words, what could it be?
Weapons? Weakest? Weather? Wealthy?
Using a crossword solver, I found 23 possible solutions that could fit this gap.
How does a native or competent speaker know which of these is correct? We only know because we look at the words around the gap.
Here you have “the” and “forecast” on either side of the word. Suddenly, it is obvious. The only forecast people regularly talk about is the weather forecast.
Step 2 - Go for Content Words First
Weather is one of the easier words to get in this example. This is because weather is what we can call a content word. Content words carry the main meaning of the message. Plate, years, trust and hip are all content words too.
However, there are a lot of function words in this example. These include didn’t, that, the, his, did, had and over.
Function words are often shorter than content words. It is isn’t always true, but you will probably find it easier to solve the content and longer words first (especially if your grammar isn’t so strong).
Step 3 - Learn the Obvious Function Words
C-tests may seem random, but they actually follow certain rules. In the words that have letters missing, the number of missing letters will be either:
- half, if the word has an even number of letters;
- half plus one, if the word has an odd number of letters.
This means that the most common function words will always appear the same way:
t__ = the
b_ = be
t_ = to
o_ = of/on/or
a__ = and
i_ = in/it/is
th__ = that/this/they
ha__ = have
f__ = for
n__ = not
Of course, it is possible that they could be something else. However, if you learn these combinations, you’ll be much quicker at trying them out and deciding whether they fit or not.
Step 4 - Be Careful with Had/Has
One pair of function words that could trip you up is has or had. Both would appear as a “h” with two spaces.
You need to check what the tense should be – present or past. Read the rest of the sentence to be sure.
Step 5 - Learn Chunks
Most of the English that competent and native speakers use can be broken down into lexical chunks. In other words, although we have billions of possible ways of combining words, we actually tend to combine them in the same ways, again and again.
For example, we often say that a weather forecast “says” something. We don’t use the words “report” or “predict” even though they are more informative.
“He had learned over the years to” is another chunk. Of course we can also change the pronoun, and what follows this chunk.
To “trust his hip” is not really a common chunk. However, to “trust something over something else” is.
By learning more English chunks, you will be much faster at completing exercises like this. However, this is not a quick solution. Linguists estimate that competent speakers know more than 100,000 chunks, and maybe as many as 250,000. That may sound impossible, but if you are reading this, you probably already know a good number.
Here are some practice questions. When you have finished, check your answers below.