Aptis Reading Tips: Part 1

How to ace the Aptis Reading Test: Part One


The Aptis reading exam has 4 parts: Informal Email, Sequencing, Gap-fill and Paragraph Heading.

Each requires different skills but rely on your use of the English language. For general advice on reading without studying click here, but for now, let’s focus on the first task.


The first part is a reply to an informal email. Though we use chat and messaging nowadays, emailing is still an important skill. If you look at the overall structure of an email you’ll see that there are four main parts:

Addressee: Person you are writing to
Main body: The information
Thanks: Ending message
Name: Your name

Each part has its own rules and etiquette. For example, The emails usually start with the Addressee; the person who you are contacting. It can begin with, Dear/My love/My dear followed by the other person’s name. The main body consists of what happened in the past, a request, questions, plans for the future or all of the above. This is followed by ‘thanks’,’regards’, ‘love’ or other words in this passage. Finally, the writer puts their name at the bottom.

When completing the gaps take note of the advice below:


First, English usually follows the pattern: Subject, Verb then Object. Look out for any of these missing parts. For example, if you see ‘____ got the high score!’ There is a verb and object, but there is no subject. Therefore we are looking for names, objects, or places. Scan the email and identify the missing parts to help you choose the answer.


Second, emails usually begin using the past tense, therefore look out for the signal words such as: ago, yesterday, last night. You will then know to complete the sentence using past verbs. For example, if you see: ‘I __ a great time yesterday’, we are looking for the verb ‘had’.’


Third, the main body of the email sometimes mentions what the person is doing. Therefore look out for verb-ing and signal words such as ‘at the moment’ or ‘right now’. If these signal words are at the beginning or end of the sentence, then you’ll likely need to add ‘ing’ to your verbs. For example, ‘I am ____ at the moment.’ Here we know that the answer is on the pattern of ‘studying’. Note that the verb ‘be’ comes before verb-ing. This can also help you find the answer.


Fourth, look out for other signal words at the beginning of sentences to help you find the answers, for example:

Why, What, Where, Are, Is, Am, etc = question
Don’t = a command (followed by a verb)
I was wondering = usually future ( are going to)
I hope to = future
I am planning – verb + ing


Fifth, adjectives usually come in two forms, as below:
ADJ + noun nice house
Verb be + ADJ is nice

Pay attention to the gaps to see if an adjective or describing word is needed.



Six, consistency of verbs. In English, verbs usually have the same pattern when they are in a sentence. For example, “I was washing and cleaning all day”. The verbs are separated by ‘and’ but it doesn’t change their form. Therefore, if you see ‘___ and watching TV’, it is likely that the answer is verb+ing.


Finally, the beauty of context. Context means the what is happening, ie. The time and place. Read over each sentence and see what is happening. Where is the person writing? What are they writing about? What is the purpose of the email? Are they thanking someone? Are they inviting someone? Are they requesting something? Think about these things to help you understand which words are needed to complete the email.