Tips* for the Speaking Part of the FCE

(*Tip…propina or consell/consejo)

The Speaking section of the FCE is really one of the easiest parts of the exam, but it is usually one that makes students the most nervous. This is silly. First of all, the test is only fifteen minutes long.

The first tip is Relax!

The second tip is Know The Enemy

The best way to prepare for the text is to go to YouTube and watch three or four of the videos that show students taking the exam. You can find these videos by searching for “FCE Speaking”. This is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with how this part of the test will go.

The third tip is Prepare

The first part of the Speaking test will consist of simple questions about you and your life.  The best way to prepare for this is to think about these kinds of questions before you take the exam, but remember that most of the people taking the exam will be students and like the same TV series and sports that you do, so try to think about how you are different from other people your age.  This will make your answer more interesting as well as making you more prepared.

The fourth tip is Don’t Panic if you make a mistake.

If you make a mistake, just correct it and go on.  Remember that this test evaluates how well you can operated in an English-speaking situation.  Mistakes are normal…even native speakers make them, but if you keep calm it shows that you have the ability and the confidence to use English to communicate with others.

If you don’t understand a question just tell the examiner that you didn’t understand him or her and ask them to repeat it.

The fifth tip is Read Between the Lines

The questions are designed to test you on vocabulary and also on grammar.  If the examiner asks you if you like a certain activity, remember that “like” can be followed by either the infinitive or the gerund.

For example:

I like to ski

I like skiing

But if the examiner uses the verb “enjoy,” you must remember that “enjoy” can only be followed by the gerund.

For example:

I enjoy skiing

NOT…I enjoy to ski

The sixth tip is Learn the Vocabulary

Make sure you know the correct English name for your major…what you are studying or going to study in the university. The word “career” means profession. This is what you will do after you graduate. For example:

My major is Psychology or I am majoring in Psychology

After I graduate, I hope to work as a psychologist.

Remember her that to work as a doctor means to be a doctor

To work like a doctor means that job is similar to a doctor’s job

Learn the names of what your parents do as well.

The seventh tip is Use the Expression “keen on”

If they ask you what your hobby is and you say I like to go to the cinema it is OK but if you really want to impress the examiner say “Well, I am really keen on watching films.  I guess going to the cinema would be my hobby.”

Remember that all the Cambridge tests are basically vocabulary based. They push a standard for of English used by the middle class…especially in London and the south-east of England.

The final tip is This is Not Hip Hop or Rap

Use Complete Sentences

If the examiner asks you where you are from, say I’m from a large city or small town called _____, which is in ______.

Remember this is a formal exam, not a club.  Say Yes, I am or No, I don’t not Yeah or Nope.  In general, this is a mistake that Northern Europeans make.  English is very similar to their languages especially the colloquial forms. The Cambridge exams are formal. You may be able to understand the lyrics of a rap song, but that kind of English is not appropriate for the exam.

Of all these tips, the first two are the most important. Most students do well on the Speaking part, but if you follow these tips you will do better!


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