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CAE Speaking Test Tips And Technique

CAE Speaking Test Tips And Technique

This post will hopefully give you some really useful advice for the CAE speaking test. Our aim is to help you to pass the CAE. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to achieve this without having some professional help. Therefore, while all the information here is free, we do recommend that you book some lessons with us. Click here or on one of the buttons around this website to book a free trial lesson.

The 'Speaking' section has 4 parts. The length of this section depends on how many candidates there are. Normally 2 candidates take the test together and this lasts approximately 15 minutes. Occasionally 3 candidates take the test together and then each part is slightly longer.

The speaking section assesses not only your knowledge and use of language, but also your ability to interact and have a conversation with the other candidate(s). You should try to give long responses to questions, justifying what you say. This way you will show a wider range of language ability. The more you speak the more language you can show. I often tell my students to think 'why am I saying this' or 'Why did I make that comment'. You should then try to answer these questions while you are speaking. 'I'm saying this because...' 'I made that comment because...'

CAE speaking test


Part 1

In the 'Speaking' section part 1, you have to answer some general questions about your personality, what you do etc. Here are some example questions:

  • How long have you been studying English?

  • What do you think you'll be doing in five years time?

  • Do you enjoy travelling?

Tips and Technique
  1. Look at the questions above. Think of your own questions you would ask someone you've just met for example. Think about what general questions you might be asked in an interview type situation.

  2. Write down some lengthy answers to these questions. You may need to use one in the exam!

  3. Practise answering these questions with somebody you know. If they're English – even better! Get them to give you feedback and think how you can make the answers longer or better.

Part 2

In the 'Speaking' section part 2, the examiner gives you 3 pictures. The examiner will ask you to compare the pictures and will normally give you two questions to answer. Individually, you talk about two of the three pictures for 1 minute. After the other candidate speaks, you also have 30 seconds to answer a question about their pictures.

Tips and Technique
  1. Don't describe what you see in the picture. This is not what the examiner wants. Also, 1 minute is not long, so you cannot waste any time.

  2. Try to compare the photographs as much as you can while answering the questions. Look at the first question, answer this about the first picture you choose, then answer the same question for the second picture. Look at the second question and do the same thing. Then go back to the first question and try to think of another point to say about the first picture and then the second picture etc.

    You need to be careful not to spend too much time talking about one picture, so this method should help.

  3. Think about some general topics beforehand which can apply to lots of photographs in different situations. Some ideas are the advantages and disadvantages surrounding: expense, social life, indoor/outdoor activities.

  4. You should practise this before the exam. This will help you with the technique and give you more confidence. Practising will also give you a better idea how long you need to talk for. You can do this in your free time with a friend/colleague etc. Get 3 random photographs and think of two questions to answer about them. Then try to answer both questions while comparing 2 of the pictures. Time yourself so you don't speak more for one minute.

Part 3

In the 'Speaking' section part 3, you have a question to discuss with the other candidate(s). The exercise takes the form of a spider diagram. The question is in the middle of a sheet of paper and it has some ideas connected to it. You should try to discuss as many of these ideas as you can, while answering the question. If there are 2 candidates you have 2 minutes, if there are 3 candidates you have 3 minutes. The examiner then asks you another question related to the topic. The question will require you to come to some sort of decision. You do not have to agree with your partner.

Tips and Technique
  1. You have a lot of points to discuss and not much time. I advise you to state what you think about an idea and then give a reason for this. Then ask your partner for his/her opinion. This is simple and by the time you have done this for each point, you will probably have run out of time. Some useful questions to ask your partner are: 'do you agree with me?' 'what's your opinion?'

  2. When your partner stops speaking, you should move on to the next idea. Some useful phrases for this are: 'let's look at …..' 'why don't we talk about....'

Part 4

In the 'Speaking' section part 4, you have to answer questions from the examiner based on the topic from part 3. You should respond to the examiner and to what your partner says.

Tips and Technique
  1. For this section it is again important to develop full and coherent answers. It is also important to practise agreeing or disagreeing with other people in a conversation. Think of a global or important everyday issue and write down some questions related to this topic. Practise answering these questions with someone you know.

  2. Remember to say why you think something. 'I think laptops and tablets are bad because....'

    Question: 'do you think the working week should be made longer or shorter?'

    Answer: 'I don't think the working week should be made longer....'


    Reason for answer: '...because, in my opinion people don't have enough free time to enjoy fun activities with their families and friends.'

  3. Your opinions are not really important. How you express yourself through language and the structure of your answers are important.

  4. When practising, ask your partner to give some different opinions about the same idea. Then you can practise both agreeing and disagreeing with what they say. Always state why you agree/disagree. 'I completely agree with you because....' or 'I'm sorry, I don't agree with that at all, because....'


I am a native and experienced online English teacher from Cambridge. I have been training students to pass this and other exams for a number of years. I also have a very good pass rate. So, if you would like to practise this or any other section of the CAE exam with me, click here and book a lesson.


For tips and technique on the 'Listening' section of the exam, click here.

CAE Preparation Online - tips and technique for the 'Reading and Use of English' section of the exam.

For information about our lessons or the CAE exam format, click here.

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