Tips for Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Exam Part 3

The CISL Blog has featured articles on the top tips for Part 1 and Part 2 of the Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Tests. Today we are taking a look at the final section of the test, Part 3. Before we begin, lets take a look back at Parts 1 and 2.

Overview of Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 1

Considered the “warm up” part of the test, Part 1 of the exam is a question and answer section lasting several minutes. Questions are very general (typically about the student and his or her interests) so this section gives the students an opportunity to introduce themselves and speak a little about their life, why they are studying English, and their future plans.

Click here for a detailed explanation of this section of the test.

Overview of Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 2

In the second part of the speaking test, students take turns looking at three photos and speaking about them for one minute. After the one-minute speaking period, the other student is asked a follow-up question, to which they have 30 seconds to respond.

Click here for a detailed explanation of this section of the test (and sample questions).


Elements of Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 3

Part 3 consists of a conversation between the two (or sometimes, three) test takers. The interlocutor will again show the test takers some photos. As with Part 2 of the exam, the photographs will share a common theme. Unlike Part 2, the students will not take turns. Instead, the students will be asked to talk about the photographs together for three minutes.

The interlocutor will ask for the students to do two things. First, he or she will ask the students to discuss the photographs. Then, they will be asked a question regarding the theme of the photographs. Students will have to choose one photo to answer the question.


Top Tips for Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 3

  • This part of the test scores your ability to interact with your partner. In this section, the interlocutor is looking for the language people use when interacting: asking yes/no questions, open-ended questions, tag questions, etc. Make sure that you know each of these formats well!
  • Students typically agree that this is the most awkward section of the test. One person must begin the conversation, and typically, one person seems to “control” the conversation throughout the three minutes. It is important that you find a balance and do not speak too much or too little: do your best to keep the conversation going and make it an active dialogue, and hope that your partner does the same.
  • Remember that you are given your partner’s name before the test, so you can always get together and practice beforehand. This is highly recommended!
  • When responding, avoid one word answers. A “yes” or “no” is never good enough: expand and impress the test givers with your awesome English skills! A good trick is to first acknowledge what your partner said, and then move on to another point or question. For example, “I agree that the people in the first two photos do not look like they are having a very good time. What do you think about the third and fourth photos though? They both seem incredibly happy. Do you agree?”
  • As with each section of this test, it is incredibly important that you use every second of the time you are given. Students sometimes become nervous and do not use the full time. If you have discussed all of the questions, then go back and do a “review” of each of the photos before you make your choice. Or, spend a lot more time explaining to the interlocutor why you have chosen the particular photo. If you still have time, then explain why the other photos were NOT chosen.


Cambridge CAE and FCE Speaking Test Part 3 Example

Interlocutor: I would like you talk about something together for three minutes. The following are photos from different forms of exercise. Discuss the importance of exercise in our lives. Then, decide which of these types of exercise require the most discipline.





weight lifting


Good luck to our CISL San Diego  students who are taking the CAE or FCE tests!