7 Erfolgsgeheimnisse für den CAE Advanced Speaking Part 1
7 Secrets to Success in Advanced Speaking Part 1
┃Read in less than 6 minutes
Sign up here to receive the CAE - Advanced Speaking handout by email:
1. Upgrade your vocabulary
(v.) to upgrade: to improve the quality of something, or change it for something newer or better.
Part 1 of the Speaking test is an interview in which the examiner asks you questions about personal and general topics. Some of the questions might seem pretty simple like ‘Where are you from?’, Are you working or studying?’ or ‘What do you do in your free time?’. These are A2 questions, but don’t be fooled! This is an Advanced exam, so you need to pay attention to your word choice and give C1 answers. If you want to ace the exam, it’s essential you avoid basic words (‚nice‚, ‚good‚, ‚like‚ etc.), and instead upgrade your vocabulary so that is right for the level.
Examiner: What do you do in your free time?
Basic response: I like travelling and reading too.
Better response: I’m keen on travelling and I’m an avid reader as well.
2. Showcase your grammar
(v.) to showcase: to show or emphasise the best qualities of something
At some point, you’ve probably studied a range of tenses, modals, verb patterns, relative clauses, conditionals, the passive, and so on. While you’re preparing for the Advanced exam, it’s important that you revise these and get ready to use them! You won’t do well in the Speaking test if you only use simple tenses and structures. In order to pass the test, you need to demonstrate that your command of English grammar and general use of English is at C1 level. You only have two minutes to make the right impression, so use your time – and words – wisely!
Examiner: Do you enjoy watching sport? Why/Why not?
Basic response: Yes, I do. I’d like to watch football matches more often, but I don’t have time for it.
Better response: Yes, I do. If I had more time, I’d (= would) watch football matches more often.
3. Don’t go off at a tangent
(idm.) go off at/on a tangent: to suddenly start talking about a completely new subject
In a conversation, it can be hard to follow someone who goes off topic. They tend to jump around and their thoughts can be chaotic. In a Speaking test, this tendency could be disastrous! If you start talking about a completely new topic or something that is not relevant to the interview, the examiner might think you haven’t understood their questions, or you haven’t listened to them. In either case, the examiner won’t be impressed. Remember, it’s possible to talk a lot but not say anything worthwhile. If you choose your words carefully and stick to the topic, you’ll be more likely to avoid this trap and succeed in this part of the test.
4. Avoid awkward silences
(adj.) awkward: making someone feel worried, embarrassed or uncomfortable
When you don’t quite understand someone’s question or you don’t know what to say, it’s a common reaction to stay silent. However, saying nothing is just about the worst thing you can do in the Speaking test. It’s better to say something, even if you make a mistake, than to sit in awkward silence and stare blankly at the examiner. Fortunately, there’s a solution and that’s to learn some filler expressions such as ‚That’s an interesting question …‘, ‚Let me think about that …‘ or ‚I’ve never really thought about that before, but …‘. Fillers like these can help you to buy a little time while you think about what to say next.
Examiner: What would your ideal job be?
Basic response: Um, … Er, … I’m not sure.
Better response: That’s a good question! Just a minute … I think that …
5. Memorise fixed expressions, not answers
(v.) to memorise: to learn something so that you will remember it exactly
In the Speaking test, the examiners are looking at your ability to respond to their questions naturally, just like you would in real life. It is usually very easy to tell when a candidate has memorised their answers. One of the big red flags is a candidate trying to ‘rephrase’ the question to the one they want to answer. Honestly, any Q&A you try to memorise is very unlikely to come up. It’s a much better idea to learn fixed expressions (collocations, idioms and phrasal verbs) that can be used to talk about a wide range of topics.
Examiner: What is your favourite way to relax?
Candidate: Well, I’ve recently taken up yoga. It really helps me to unwind.
Examiner: Do you think it’d be a good idea to work in another country?
Candidate: I’m actually taking the Advanced exam as I plan to take up a position at our offices in the UK.
6. Ditch yes/no or one-word responses
(v.) to ditch: to get rid of something or someone that is no longer wanted
One of the main objectives of the Advanced Speaking test is to assess your English language fluency. To come across as confident and competent in speaking, you need to ditch monosyllabic or yes/no answers. If you give a short answer like ‚No‘ or ‚Sometimes‘, then you are not giving the examiner much to assess you on. If you say too little, you miss the opportunity to show off your general speaking ability. On the other hand, if you say too much, you risk overcomplicating your answer and making more mistakes. In Part 1, aim to give 2-4 sentence answers. It’s not an exact rule, but rather a general guide.
Examiner: Where are you from?
Basic response: Geneva.
Better response: I’m from Geneva, which is an amazing multicultural city in the french-speaking part of Switzerland.
7. Don’t parrot the examiner’s questions
(v.) to parrot: to repeat exactly what someone else says, without understanding it, or thinking about its meaning
In the context of the Advanced Speaking test, a parrot is a candidate who repeats the question back in statement form, like this:
Examiner: How long have you been learning English?
Basic response: I’ve been learning English for eight years.
Better response: Actually, I’ve been studying it for ages – since I was about 8 years old.
Candidates who can vary their speech, paraphrase the words or structure of the question, use synonyms etc. are sure to get a better mark.
Why not do some practice before you go?
Answer these exam-style questions. Try to ‚upgrade‘ your language as best you can.
Write your answers in the comment section below! First commenters will get feedback on their writing 🙂