Content: The Speaking test contains four parts.
Time Total: 15 minutes
Number of Parts: 4
A conversation between the interlocutor and each candidate (spoken questions). Time: 2 minutes
An individual ‘long turn’ by each candidate, with a response from the second candidate. In turn, the candidates are given a pair of photographs to talk about.
Time: A 1-minute ‘long turn’ for each candidate, plus 30-second response from the second candidate. The total time for Part 2 is 4 minutes.
A two-way conversation between the candidates. Time: A 2-minute discussion followed by a 1-minute decision-making task. The total time for Part 3 is 4 minutes.
A discussion on topics related to the collaborative task (spoken questions). Time: 5 minutes
Part I provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your skill at using general social and interactional language and talk about yourself and your interests, career plans etc. The interlocutor asks you and the other candidate for basic information about yourself and then expands the scope of the discussion by asking questions about leisure activities, travel, holiday experieces etc. You are not asked to actively speak with the other candidate at this section of the exam. This merely serves as a warm-up to the more involved parts of the speaking exam to follow in the latter sections.
Tips for Speaking Part I
- Respond promptly to the interlocutor with complete answers that are extemporaneous in nature. Avoid rehearsed speeches as they are easily spotted and may be inappropriate based on the context.
- Learn to ‘think on your feet’ and provide answers to questions quickly even if you have little practice with a particular subject matter.
- Make use of a range of tenses, structures and rich vocabulary during this part of the exam. This will foster a positive impression and provide you with the confidence to perform at a high level during the other parts of the exam.
See example test: Speaking Part I
Part 2 provides you with the opportunity to speak for one 1 minute without interruption. Each candidate is presented with a set of pictures and asked to comment on each and react to them. A prompt is given to you in the form of a direct question written above the pictures. You are asked to compare and contrast, speculate and express viewpoints about two of the three pictures shown. You will be asked to comment on your fellow candidate’s response for approximately 30 seconds.
Tips for Speaking Part 2
- Practise speaking for extended periods of time so that you become familiar with speaking for one minute uninterrupted. Sometimes candidates finish their long turn too soon, for they are unprepared for how long one minute takes.
- Collect pictures from various forms of media and group them into sets and speculate on what might you be asked to talk about in a Part 2 task in the exam.
- Avoid ‘closure’ cues such as ” That’s it.” or ” I’m done.” Speak until the interlocutor says, “Thank you.” With this approach, you will maximise the time available for each! -minute long turn.
- Spend time organising your ideas coherently. Become familiar with useful phrases that link ideas and compare images. Develop your own list of appropriate phrases during your preparation providing you with a broad range of language and structures to draw on when necessary
See example test: Speaking Part 2
You will be provided with oral instructions and written prompts to form the foundation for the two tasks. You are required to discuss some or even all of the prompts related to a question, expressing and justifying opinions as well as speculating. Then, you will be asked another question which you will be asked to engage your fellow candidate in working towards a decision through negotiation.
Tips for Speaking Part 3
- Employ conversation fillers like “Well” or ” Let me see” to give yourself some more time to gather your thoughts. Of course, refrain from overusing these expressions as it will limit your range of language. Adopt a strategy of engaging your fellow candidate in the talk, though avoid relying on him or her too much.
- Maintain a notebook of phrases that facilitate your ability to interject your thoughts politely or manners of soliciting a response from the other candidate. Develop a range of expressions to seem natural and to avoid repetition.
- Avoid the tendency to rush through the prompts in the discussion. it is more effective to deal with several of them in depth rather than trying to explore all of them superficially.
- Focus on formulating your own original thoughts on the visual stimuli provided. Merely agreeing or echoing what your fellow candidate says will not facilitate your ability to demonstrate your command of the language.
- Simulate the exam environment with a friend or colleague to practise expressing your opinion, interjecting your thoughts and soliciting a response from another person. This will enable you to become more comfortable with the exam format.
See example test: Speaking Part 3
This section of the exam evaluates your skill at engaging in a conversation based on the content raised in the collaborative task in Part 3. For Part 4, the interlocutor will moderate the discussion by asking questions that expand upon the topics explored in Part 3. The questions may well focus on more abstract issues as the discussion develops.
Tips for Speaking Part 4
- When practising Part 3, try to predict what types of questions you may encounter in Part 4. Try this with a friend or classmate and exchange feedback and ideas to enrich your depth of knowledge.
- Note you are not being evaluated on your ideas, rather simply on your ability to express them.
- Remember to not interrupt your fellow candidate or trying to monopolise the discussion.
- Train yourself to respond quickly to the questions you are asked by using expressions that enable you to play for time such as: “Well that’s something I’ve never considered, though, I’d have to say … “.
- Refine your skills over time under simulated test conditions, especially in terms of time requirements. In addition, the impression you make at the end of the exam is equally important as the one you make at the beginning.
See example test: Speaking Part 4
- lt is imperative that you practice with someone in group or pair activities, thereby helping you to interface convincingly by starting conversations and responding suitably.
- Listen closely to the interlocutor’s questions and instructions and make use of the written prompts on the visuals page to remind yourself what you have to accomplish in the task.
- React to the visuals you are given that accompany the tasks, while relating them to the test items rather than merely describing them.
- Familiarise yourself with the examination format and be conscious of what is expected from you in each part. You should be prepared with the right kind of language for each section of the test, whereby you are providing personal information, exchanging opinions speculating, agreeing or disagreeing politely and/or negotiating.
- Remember to speak clearly so that the interlocutor and examiner can hear you.
- Refrain from pausing too long before you speak. A short pause is acceptable to organise your thoughts, though anything longer will impede your ability to express a sound response. Paraphrase if you cannot remember a word or phrase and try to extend your answers rather than give merely one-word responses.
- Organise a “mock” test with someone who has a strong command of English to simulate the exam environment.
- Feel free to ask the interlocutor to repeat the answers or questions if you need clarification.