Last month we provided some top tips for mastering the first part of the Cambridge CAE and FCE exams. Today, we are looking at Part 2 of the exam and providing some tips on preparing for this section.
Preparing for Part 2 of the Cambridge CAE and FCE Exams
Overview of Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 1
Part 1 of the exam is a question and answer section lasting several minutes. It is the “warm up” for the test, and it gives the students an opportunity to introduce themselves and speak a little about their life, why they are studying English, and their future plans.
Elements of Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 2
Part 2 consists of four parts:
1. Student A speaks for one minute about two photos (in FCE, the student is given two photos; in CAE, the student is given three photos and chooses two)
2. Student B speaks for 30 seconds about the same photos
3. Student B speaks for one minute about two NEW photos
4. Student A speaks for 30 seconds about the same new photos from #3
Let’s look at each of these sections in detail:
Section 1: Student A speaks for one minute about three photos
Students are shown three photos. Each of the photos have something in common; for example, all three photos will show people holding a possession that is important to them.
Student A will be asked to do two things: 1. describe the photos, and 2. answer another question about the photos; for example, in the case of three photos with people holding important possessions, the interlocutor may ask the student to say why they think the people in the photos value their possessions so much.
Describing some photos may not seem too difficult, but the real challenge with this part of the test is that the student only has one minute to speak. The student must adequately describe the photos in detail and give the answer to the question in the minute provided and must also make sure he/she uses the full minute to showcase his/her English skills.
After the minute is up, Student A is finished and it is Student B’s turn to speak.
Section 2: Student B speaks for 30 seconds about the same photos
The interlocutor will ask Student B a follow-up question about the set of photos; in the example of the photos of people with possessions, the question may be “Which of the people in the photos seems to value their possession the most?”. The question will almost always be one where the student must choose one photo as the “best” and explain why. The student has 30 seconds to answer.
Now, the first round is over.
Sections 3 and 4: Student B speaks for one minute about three NEW photos; Student A speaks for 30 seconds about the same new photos
The interlocutor will produce a new set of photos and Steps 1 and 2 will be repeated; this time, Student B speaks for one minute and Student A responds for 30 seconds.
Top Tips for Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 2:
– The most important thing in this section of the test is to speak for the entire time you are given. Students sometimes become nervous and do not use the full minute or 30 seconds. Remember: this is your time to show off your English skills! Practice timing yourself by giving yourself impromptu one minute speeches. In time, you will gain a “feel” for how long one minute is and how long 30 seconds is.
– Remember to fully answer the questions. In the one minute section you will have to describe ALL of the photos AND answer an additional question.
– During the 30 second answer, students are asked to choose one of the photos. It is a question of personal preference, so be prepared to say why you think that this photo is the one that best answers the question you were asked. Often students answer this question and are left with some time: use it! If you have said all that you can about this particular picture, then move on and say why you DIDN’T choose the other ones. Never let there be silence during your speaking test!
Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 2 Example:
Interlocutor: Candidate A, here are your photos. They show vacations. I would like you to say how the people in these photos might be feeling, and which of the three vacations looks the most enjoyable.
(Candidate A speaks for one minute.)
Interlocutor: Candidate B, which of these vacations do you think required the most preparation?
(Candidate B speaks for 30 seconds.)