Oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com is a very helpful website because it gives you both British and American pronunciations of words, and the design is arguably better than some other dictionaries online. The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary’s website has also a page called “Usage Notes,” and below, you can find information about each section there. They are immensely helpful and you should definitely have a look at them.
Here’s the link for the “Usage Notes” part.
If you have a limited time for the exam, probably the most useful sections for you are those titled Collocations, Grammar Point, Language Bank, More About, Vocabulary Building, and Which Word. There is also a Synonyms section, but you need to be very careful about the use of the words given there. If you have enough time, reading all the sections on the page above will improve your English tremendously.
Note: First, you need to click a section on the left. Then, you need to select a word on the right, and after that, you need to click on the section that you want to go on the definition page of that word that you chose.
Below, you can find how the sections on this page can help you.
In the British/American section, you can find the difference in usage between words in British and American English.
In the Collocations section, you can find words that commonly go together. Using collocations (apart from informal ones) in your writing is very helpful for you to be more natural and show your command of English.
In the Culture section, you can generally find a lengthy discussion of a topic in U.S. or British culture. You can learn a lot of vocabulary items if you read this section. For instance, if you click the abortion part and go to the culture section, you can learn adjectives such as pro-life and pro-choice.
In the Express Yourself section, you can learn how to advise, apologize, etc. Please keep in mind that many of the sentences in this section are more suitable for conversational English, so you may need to double-check to see whether an expression that you want to use can be used in the Proficiency exam.
In the Extra Examples section, you can find words that have a few or many additional examples so that you can understand the use of those words better.
In the Grammar Point section, there are explanations of some grammar rules, and I would suggest that you read this section for all the words on the right (which are not that many).
The Language Bank section is perhaps one of the most important sections on The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary’s website. It gives information about how to give your personal opinion, report someone’s opinion, talk about what causes another, etc. You can use almost all of the words in this section as long as you know how to use them properly; they are appropriate for the writing section of a language exam.
In the More About section, there is additional information about some words in terms of their use in modern English. For instance, when you click on the word “their,” and go to this section, it helps you to make your language gender-free.
In the More Like This section, Oxford offers you additional words based on a common characteristic they all share with the word on the right. For example, when you click on “afford,” you can see “Verbs usually followed by infinitives” if you go to the More Like This section.
The Synonyms section is probably the one which you should be the most careful about. It’s far less common than you would think to be able to find an exact synonym of a word. Generally, synonyms have a slight difference in meaning, and they can be used instead of each other in specific contexts. Please read this section and the explanations for the synonyms carefully and be very cautious when you use the given synonyms in your writing.
In the Vocabulary Building section, you can find other words to express a meaning. For example, for the word “bad,” it suggests other words to use in different contexts.
In the Which Word? section, you can see the difference between the uses of certain words. For instance, for the word “besides,” Oxford tells you how it differs from beside and except.
In the Word Family section, there are noun, verb, adjective, and adverb forms of some words. If you know the category of the words given there, you don’t even need to click on them.
The Word Origin section is probably the least useful section to you. You can learn where words came from, but it will not be of much use to you apart from satisfying your curiosity.
The Wordfinder section helps you find words that are used in the same context with the word that you click on.
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