CAE: SPEAKING – TIPS (3)

After an informal chat about yourself comes the dreaded Part 2 of the Speaking exam. I don’t know about you but I think it tests how well people understand instructions under stress rather than your level of English. As a result, the most important strategy for this part is to know the procedure BY HEART.  Be able to explain it when they wake you up at night. Be able to explain it in English as well as in your mother tongue. Be able to explain it to your 7-year-old nephew. Can you? Great, now you can actually practise it.

It looks like this:

You and your Speaking exam partner are shown three pictures and two questions.

Person 1 has to talk for 1 minute about just TWO of the pictures answering the two questions.

Person 2 is asked another question about the pictures and has 30 seconds to answer.

You are shown three different pictures and two different questions.

Person 2 has to talk for 1 minute about just TWO of the pictures answering the two questions.

Person 2 is asked another question about the pictures and has 30 seconds to answer.

The end. You move on to Part 3 of the Speaking exam. 

Ha, I wish that was everything! However, this is just the sequence and the time limits. You still need to know how to answer the questions because 1) you can’t just answer them like a normal (English) person, 2) you CAN’T DESCRIBE THE PICTURES. Well. you can a little, but only if it answers the questions. Which it usually doesn’t, so it’s a waste of time.

Here’s the sequence again with some extra comments:

You and your Speaking exam partner are shown three pictures and two questions.

  • If you can, don’t use the words from the questions in your answer, use synonyms.
  • Don’t identify the pictures by describing them! (“The girl playing tennis…”) It usually means using very easy vocabulary, which is a waste of the exam time. Say things like “in the top right picture” or “in the bottom left picture“. 

Person 1 has to talk for 1 minute about just TWO of the pictures answering the two questions.

  • As you have to compare and contrast the pictures, choose the two that are very different.
  • You are obliged to SPECULATE. You must use expressions such as “might well be”, “may have arrived” or “can’t have done”.
  • You are obliged to compare and contrast the pictures using expressions such as “much bigger”, “not quite as good as” or “considerably less efficient”.
  • To jump between the pictures use “whereas“, “while” or “on the other hand”.
  • 1 minute gives you time to answer the first question about the first picture in one sentence, jump to the other one, say one sentence, move to the other question and repeat the procedure. You absolutely MUST practice it at home with a watch.

Person 2 is asked another question about the pictures and has 30 seconds to answer.

  • They always ask you to choose one picture, so revise superlative structures and advanced expressions for giving opinion (“Well, clearly,…”, “From my perspective”, “If it was up to me” etc. “In my opinion” is good for First Certificate.)
  • 30 seconds is basically saying one sentence,

You are shown three different pictures and two different questions. (…)

 

All in all:

  • learn the procedure well (you can cut up this page for example)
  • prepare at least 3 expressions for: speculation, comparison, jumping, superlatives, introducing your opinion, moving to another questio
  • you don’t need to say anything intelligent in between using the above language
  • train with a watch

Uff…

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