In this post you will learn everything there is to know about the CAE Speaking paper, also called Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE-C1), I promise. As an English academy (Granada), we specialise in Cambridge English exam preparation, and today we’re going to tell you about the Cambridge’s oral C1-level exam. The Speaking paper is one of the four parts in regular Cambridge English exams. In this article, I will outline the four different parts of the Speaking Paper for Cambridge English: Advanced (C1-CAE) and you will find a video and sample materials for each of these four parts.
- There are 4 parts in this paper.
- It takes place in pairs.
- There are two examiners and two candidates.
- During the exam you have to interact with one of the oral examiners (the interlocutor), and with your partner.
- The other examiner does not speak. He/she only takes notes.
You now have a video of a full real Speaking test, and a description of each of the parts, with examples of the types of questions and the material used in the exam. I hope you find it useful.
Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) – Speaking Paper (Video)
Read the examiner’s comments here.
Speaking Part 1 – Interview (2 minutes)
During this part, the examiner asks you different questions about your personal and professional background (interests careers, jobs, etc.) You will also have to express your opinion about various topics. This is an individual task, so you only interact with the examiner. However, you must pay attention to the questions that the interlocutor asks your partner, as he/she may ask you the same. Here’s a set of typical topic-based questions you might be asked:
Speaking Part 2 – Comparing Two Pictures (3 minutes)
In part 2, you are given 3 pictures and are asked to talk about and compare two pictures in 1 minute. You have to do this individually. You are given three pictures and two questions written above them. You have to answer the questions in relation to the pictures. When you have done this, after 1 minute, the examiner asks your partner a question about the topic of your pictures, which he/she should answer in 20-30 seconds. Then, the same process happens vice versa.
Here’s an example of the interlocutor’s instructions and the pictures you may be asked to talk about:
Although these pictures are black & white, in the exam they are coloured.
In this part you are assessed on how well you can compare, describe, express opinions, speculate, etc.
Speaking Part 3 – Discussion (3 minutes)
During this third part, you must interact with your partner. The examiner describes a situation to you both, and gives you a task/question and a set of written cues/ideas to help you. You have to discuss the different ideas with your partner and, if possible, reach an agreement. The aim of this part is to assess how well you can exchange ideas, express and justify opinions, agree and/or disagree, suggest, speculate, evaluate, and work towards reaching a decision through negotiation.
You have 2 minutes to discuss the different cues. After this, the examiner will interrupt you and ask you to reach an agreement. You are given 1 minute to conclude.
Here’s an example of what the examiner would say, and the written cues:
Speaking Part 4 – Further Discussion (4 minutes)
In this part, you have to carry out a discussion which stems from the topic featured in part 3. You are asked different questions that you have to talk about with your partner or on your own. It is really important that you pay attention to your partner, in case you need to interact with him/her during this part. The task that comes after part 3 is the following:
Expressing and justifying opinions, agreeing and/or disagreeing are the key points relevant to this task.
Although each part is different, there are several things that you should bear in mind during the whole test. Let’s see:
- You are assessed individually, so you needn’t worry about being better or worse than your partner. As former oral examiner, Stephen Hasler, recently said, “neither the partner nor the examiners are the enemy. Your only enemy in the room can be yourself.“
- In this test you must show that your level of English is within the C1 scope or above. For this reason, it is not enough to be communicative, as it was at lower levels. In this case you must use a wide range of grammatical structures and vocabulary that are typical of a C1 level of English. Therefore, you should really try to slip a couple of advanced idioms and or phrasal verbs .
- There is no problem if the examiner stops you, so don’t worry if you talk until he/she cuts you off.
- Be as spontaneous as possible. Don’t memorise a “speech” for the exam. The examiners will notice right away and will penalise you.
- Always answer exactly what you are being asked. If you start talking about something irrelevant, the examiners will cut you off and move on to another question.
- Pay attention to your partner‘s opinions and questions throughout the whole exam. You’re supposed to express agreement/disagreement, to hold a conversation and to discuss different ideas (parts 2, 3 & 4), so don’t ignore him!
- Be polite. Even if you disagree with your partner’s opinions, you must always be polite! There are many structures to disagree politely, so make sure you know them and know how to use them before you take the exam.
- Smile and be happy! You’d be surprised by what a smile can do! If you smile, everyone in the room will be more open and receptive to what you have to say for yourself. This may positively affect your overall score!
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