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The FCE speaking exam is split into 4 parts and will last 14 minutes. You will complete the exams in pairs and you can choose your partner if you would like toa! There will be 2 examiners in the room: one who asks you questions and the other who listens to what you say.

Golden Rules

  1. Don’t stop talking until the examiner ends your turn
  2. Misheard the question? Don’t panic, ask the examiner to repeat it – Would you mind repeating the question? Please could you repeat that? Could you say that again, please?
  3. Not sure how to answer? Fear not, buy time – I’ve never thought about that, but… / What a good question! / That’s an interesting question.
  4. Stuck for time? Give an example – like / such as / for example / for instance

PART 1: Interview (2 minutes)

The examiner will you ask you questions about yourself and on familiar topics, such as, daily life, family and friends, free time, travel and holidays, education and work, entertainment, the future, and where you live.

Here’s a useful list of past questions.

TOP TIP: Remember to explain why!

PART 2: Photographs (4 minutes)

The examiner will give you two, coloured photographs and you will have 1 minute to talk about the photos. Then, the examiner will ask your partner to comment on your pictures for just 30 seconds. Once your turn is over, you swap roles.

TOP TIP:

  • Describe the photos while talking about the differences and similarities and giving your personal opinion.
  • Remember not to interrupt your partner while they are speaking.

Useful language

Briefly describing a photo:

  • What’s in the picture? In the background/foreground I can see…
  • What’s happening? It looks/seems like + noun
  • What is the person’s mood? subject + look/seem + adjective

Comparing and Contrasting photos:

  • What do they have in common? Both pictures depict/show…
  • What is different? The main difference/contrast is… / In the first picture… whereas in the second picture…

Making Speculations:

  • I imagine (that)…
  • I bet…
  • My guess is that…
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if…
  • It’s (un)likely that…

Giving your personal opinion:

This language is useful in particular for the second part of part 2.

  • This reminds me of…
  • I think I’d prefer to/rather…
  • Personally, I…
  • If I had to choose, I would…
  • It’s very hard to say, but I would…

PART 3: Collaborative Task (3 minutes)

The examiner will give you a mind-map with 1 question and 5 discussion points. You will have about 15 seconds to read it and then 2 minutes to talk about it with your partner. After 2 minutes, the examiner will stop you and ask you a question related to your initial discussion. You will have 1 minute to try to agree on a decision.

TOP TIPS:

  • Make sure you answer the question and give explanations for your answers.
  • You don’t have to talk about all 5 discussion topics.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree with your partner!
  • Face your partner, it is a discussion after all.
  • You have a whole minute to make your decision, remember to give reasons for your choice.

Useful language

Getting Started:

  • Which one shall we start with?
  • What do you think about X?

Moving to the Next Item:

  • Shall we move onto X now?
  • What do you think about this?

Ending Your Turn:

  • What do you think? / Do you agree?
  • Do you have anything to add?

Interrupting:

  • Sorry to interrupt but…
  • Just a second…

Agreeing:

  • That’s a really good point. I fully agree.
  • That’s just what I was thinking.
  • I couldn’t agree more.

Disagreeing (with reasons):

  • Maybe, but what about…?
  • I think it would be better to…
  • I’m not so keen on that.
  • I don’t really agree with you there.

PART 4: Discussion (4 minutes)

The examiner will ask you further questions related to the topic in part 3. Like part 3, you should respond to your partner’s answers as well as ask for their opinions.

TOP TIP: Look at the examiner when you give you answer but face your partner when you talk to them.

Useful language

Extending your opinion, giving and adding reasons:

  • Just as importantly…
  • There’s also the fact that…
  • Another thing is that…
  • Therefore…
  • Although… / Even though…
  • Instead of…
  • As well as that…
  • Nevertheless…

Example question: Do you have to spend a lot to have a good holiday?

In my opinion, holidays are all about spending quality time with people you get on well with. Therefore, I don’t think that you have to spend a lot to have a good holiday. Although, sometimes it is easier to spend more and choose a really nice hotel that is all-inclusive instead of having to worry about cooking. Another thing is that if you want to go somewhere further away from home then you do generally have to spend more money. Nevertheless, I prefer to spend less on my holidays so that I can travel more often. What do you think?

If you need more information about FCE, click here.