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Speaking first certificate examples & tips
This post is designed to help you with the First Certificate (FCE) speaking paper. If you want any other information about the FCE exam, our Prepare First Certificate online page is a great place to start.
Speaking first certificate paper
There are 4 parts in the Speaking section. The section takes approximately 15 minutes.
You do this section of the exam with either one or two other candidates. This section tests your range of vocabulary and your interaction abilities with the other candidate(s).
For this section of the exam, it is important to answer the questions as fully as possible. You should try to speak as much as you can in response to the examiner. The more you speak the wider variety of language you will use. To help with this, when you are thinking, it is always good to ask yourself the question 'why'. 'Why do I think this?' 'Why did I say that'. Then you can answer these questions out loud. 'I think this because...' 'I said that because...'
In part 1 of the Speaking section, the examiner asks questions about you. These questions may be on topics such as:
Your likes and dislikes.
Your family and friends.
What you have been doing recently.
Your English studies. How long you have been studying English etc.
There may be a question about the future or some other general questions.
Tips and Technique
Have a look at the topics above. Think of different questions related to these topics.
Prepare some answers to these questions when practising for the exam.
Get a friend, teacher or someone you know to ask you these questions and practise answering them in as much detail as possible.
In part 2 of the Speaking section you have 2 photographs. You have to talk about these photographs by yourself for 1 minute. You also have to answer a question about the another candidate's photographs for about 30 seconds.
Tips and Technique
Do not spend time describing what you see in the picture, but focus on answering the question.
It is important to compare the photographs as much as possible. Try to talk about the similarities and differences between the photographs.
To help with this, mention one thing about one photograph and then compare the same point with the other photograph. Keep mentioning one point about each photograph in turn. Do not talk about more than one point, or spend long discussing one photograph without mentioning the other.
Practise this with a friend, teacher or someone you know. Tell them to give you 2 photographs, a question and time how long you talk for.
The more you practise this beforehand the more confident you will be speaking continuously for one minute.
In part 3 of the Speaking section you have to discuss a topic with your partner. There is a question or topic written on a piece of paper with some ideas/prompts written next to it. You have to discuss these ideas with your partner in relation to the question. You have 2 minutes to discuss this topic if there are 2 of you. If there are 3 of you, you have 3 minutes.
Tips and Technique
2 minutes is not long to discuss every point. My advice is, state your opinion about one idea, say why you have this opinion and ask your partner their opinion.
Use questions like: 'do you agree?' 'what do you think?'
After your partner has finished speaking, move on to the next idea if they do not.
Use phrases like: 'shall we move on to …..' 'let's talk about....'
Repeat tip 1 above.
In part 4 of the Speaking section, the examiner asks questions about the discussion topic in part 3. You can respond to what your partner says.
Tips and Technique
As you do not know what the topic will be, you cannot prepare answers in advance. However, when preparing for the First Certificate, you should practise answering questions about varying topics with your friend/teacher.
Practise giving reasons for your opinions. 'I think this because....' To help with this, ask yourself 'why' you think/say something. For example:
Question: 'do you think it is necessary to spend a lot of money to have a good holiday?'
Answer: 'I don't think you need to spend a lot of money to have a good holiday.'
Reason for answer: 'because, for me it is not what you do, but the people you are with that create a fun and memorable experience.'
What you think and your opinions are not important. The language you use and how you structure your answers are important.
Ask the person you're practising with to say their opinion and then say whether you agree or disagree. Again, give a reason why. 'I disagree with you because....' or 'I agree with you to some extent, but not entirely, because....'
We want you to pass the FCE exam but you should be aware that this is very difficult to do without professional help. So, while all the information on this website is free and made to help you - you should think about spending a little money on useful resources and possibly lessons. Our Prepare First Certificate Online page shows you the best and most economical strategy for passing this exam....look under the section 'Before the Exam - Resources & Strategy'. This tells you the best way to prepare yourself without spending lots of money on lessons.
You can find detailed information on the 'Listening' and 'Reading & Use of English' sections of the exam on this website. You can also view FCE writing examples and even send your own free writing, which (if we have time) we will correct and give feedback. If you want to follow a simple step by step formula, these cheap FCE exam practice courses are a great starting point for any student! They give you tips, techniques and practice for every part of the first certificate exam.
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