man holding luggage photo


Practice for Part 7 of the Reading and Use of English paper by doing this sample exam question. You are going to read part of an article by a man called John Osborne about his time living in Austria during his twenties.

For questions 1-10 below you need to choose the relevant section (A-D) where the information can be found. The sections may be chosen more than once.

You can check your answers by clicking on the “Answers” tab at the bottom of the page.

In which section does the writer mention
finding people who support you is difficult?
his realisation that he was always likely to have been homesick?
something that would always cheer him up?
how uncomfortable he felt the moment he arrived?
homesickness isn’t taken seriously enough?
a feeling that reminded him where he was?
his empathy for others in a situation like his?
his plan to leave Vienna?
his desire to contact people at home?
that he thought he would never stop feeling homesick?


John Osborne revisits his past experience of living in Austria in his early twenties

I’m standing outside a cottage in the Vienna woods. It’s where I used to live and this is the first time I’ve been back since I left ten years ago. The roads are steep here, and as I walked up the hill from the tram stop the slope felt reassuringly familiar. I recognised the ache in the back of my legs that told me I was nearly there. Looking back, I’m not too surprised I was homesick when I first arrived here. The younger version of me must have been completely out of his depth. I didn’t keep a diary back then, but if I did, for day one I’m sure I’d have just written something about a terrible mistake that I had made.


The first time I ever remember feeling homesick was going away camping with the cub scouts when I was a kid. Being away from home for the first time is a terrifying experience, even if there are grown-ups there to look after you. In that Austrian cottage, inside the front room, I felt the most overwhelming homesickness I have ever experienced: it was a physical pain, and it lasted for a couple of weeks. That seems like no time at all now, but at the time it felt like the pain I was feeling would never go away. Sometimes homesickness can linger, which is only made worse by society’s refusal to address it directly as an issue. For centuries, the way to deal with homesickness has been to pretend it does not exist.


What use, if any, is homesickness? “Its purpose is the same today as it has been for millions of years – to deter us from leaving supportive groups and environments,” writes Mark Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University in the USA. His is the best definition of homesickness I have found: a feeling of wanting to be back with our tribe. It was my parents that I was desperate to contact when I first arrived in Vienna. It wasn’t that I missed them; I just wanted them to know that I had arrived and started to settle in. I still think about that first night and the early days living completely alone in a country where I knew no one; I feel bad for all the people across the world who have gone through something similar. I just wanted to hear a familiar voice.


It took me a long time to recover from my depressing start to living in Vienna: I felt sadder than I had ever felt before, but I eventually unpacked my suitcase and even found a favourite place to go for a few drinks, a bar called 1516. There were three of us who used to go there together: me, Wolfie, who taught physics at the same school that I worked at and Liam, who was English. They were the first friends I made in Vienna and they were the people who made me feel like maybe I would be able to stay in town for a little longer. My exit strategy, detailing how to get out of the country with as little embarrassment or fuss as possible, could be postponed for a while. The staff at the bar all knew our names and we got along really well with them. It may seem shallow, but it’s hard to feel down when there’s someone who is smiling and friendly and calling you by your name. Whatever homesickness is, deep down, all we want is to be with our tribe. But, if we can’t, we need to try and create a new one by finding people who know our name in the place we are living, while still having a place we call home.

(1) C

(2) A

(3) D

(4) A

(5) B

(6) A

(7) C

(8) D

(9) C

(10) B