Part 1 is a nice, easy start. The examiner will ask you and the other candidate some basic questions about you and your life. You shouldn't talk to the other candidate at this time. In this section you will learn how to avoid some common mistakes, and how to prepare.


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The examiner asks you questions. You answer. When the other candidate is talking, don't interrupt or ask your own questions.


Here at CAE Exam Tips we love the radio, and we know that the worst thing a Disc Jockey or radio presenter can do is leave 'dead air'. There should always, always be music or chat. If there is dead air, listeners will switch to another station.

Dead air is just as bad in the speaking exam. It's a total of 15 minutes long. Some of that time will be the examiner telling you what to do. Half of the time the other candidate will be talking. Did you watch the video with Raphael and Maude? I timed how long Raphael spoke. In part 1 he spoke for just 25 seconds. In parts 2, 3, and 4 he spoke for 84 seconds, 64 seconds, and 98 seconds. A total of 4 minutes 50 seconds. Not much time to show all the vocabulary and grammar he learned!

So the absolute number 1 most important lesson to learn about the speaking test is never leave dead air. If you forget a word, keep talking. If you realise you just made a big grammar mistake, keep talking. If no-one is smiling at you and you think you are doing badly - KEEP TALKING!


Typical questions about your hometown, your home, your job, your hobbies, and your personality. Plus one or two slightly more advanced ones. Here are a few you could prepare for:

Where are you from?

Do you have a job or are you still a student?

How long have you been studying English?

What do you enjoy most about learning English?

How do you like to spend your free time?

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What would your ideal job be?

Are you the kind of person who can do two things at once?

Are you planning to do any courses in the near future?

Do you use social networking sites a lot?

Would you enjoy preparing food for a large number of people?

Do you like to give yourself targets or goals?

If you won the lottery what would you do?


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Too short

Q - Do you like your job?

A - Yes.

Hey, come on! This is the CAE Speaking Test! A means advanced.

A bit better

Q - Do you like your job?

A - Yes, it is good. Having a job is good and my job is good.

Okayyyy... How about three sentences and use some C1 vocabulary?

The right length

Q - Do you like your job?

A - Yes and no! I mean, it's a challenge and the work is varied. But sometimes the workload is overwhelming and my work-life balance suffers.

(This is a good length and the vocabulary is spot-on. A longer answer might start to annoy everyone. Let the other candidate have time to answer questions. Being selfish is not a good strategy in the CAE speaking test.)


The examiners don't want to hear a rehearsed speech. You are not President Obama! [Someone please email me in November to change this to the name of the new President. Sanders, hopefully.] The point of the test is to see how well you would cope in a real-life situation.

So: learn some CAE level vocabulary that you can use for the questions you might be asked. The offices of 'CAE Exam Tips' have floor-to-ceiling windows and we get a lot of light. One Advanced (C1) level phrase to describe such a room is 'bright and airy'. If we took the exam, it would look like this:

Examiner: 'What do you like about your job?"

Reply: 'I like helping people and our offices are bright and airy.'


Examiner: 'How has your life changed in the last 5 years?'

Reply: 'A lot! My company changed their office - the old one was quite dark and in a bad location. The new one is bright and airy. It's nice to work there.'


Now that you have some idea about what will be in part 1 and you understand the importance of using advanced language, it's time to start adding high-level words to your active vocabulary.

That's something only you can do, but I've created a page with lots of book recommendations. You'll find the textbooks that I use in my classes, smartphone apps and so on.

Use this link - Courses, Products, Tools - or the link at the very top of the page.

But listen! YOU have to start using these new words. That means saying them in conversations, writing them in emails, and being prepared to make some mistakes. If you aren't making mistakes you aren't learning.


As the interaction chart (above) shows, in this part of the test you shouldn't talk to the other student. But most candidates 'switch off' when it's not their turn to speak. They stare at the desk or at their hands.

WRONG! You should turn your body slightly towards the other candidate. Look at them and listen to what they are saying. Nod, smile, be interested - the examiner will see this and feel more warmly towards you and more positively about your English.

Crazy? Not really. There's a lot of research into body language, but you can see for yourself. Look at this photo. Who looks stressed, struggling to understand? Who looks confident and in control?


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9. Practice Makes Perfect

I found a great website that matches teachers and students - for a low fee you can have online lessons with really good teachers. You can read all these tips and then practice with a qualified professional teacher - just like on my Youtube channel! I wrote a review about it - click the next link.