Welcome to the show! Thanks for listening! My name’s Peter Travis and this is the second in our series of podcasts about the Cambridge C1 Advanced, (CAE) Speaking paper. Today we’ll look at the format of the exam and what to expect on the big day. I like to keep these podcasts short around 5 minutes if possible, so let’s get going!
Yes, once again, thanks for listening in. This podcast supports our ebook, ‘Roadmap to CAE Speaking Success’. This free 33-page resource, is still available. Just pop over to the Splendid Speaking website and you’ll find a link to sign up from any of the CAE podcast posts.
We identify three goals in Roadmap to CAE Speaking Success, the first of which is:
Goal 1: Make sure you know exactly what to expect in the exam so you can prepare effectively and avoid any nasty surprises on the big day.
If you’ve done other Cambridge main suite exams you’ll recognise the format for Cambridge C1 Advanced, CAE immediately: two students (three if there are an odd number of candidates at the centre) and opportunities to work together as well as to take the stage yourself with a long turn. Let’s look quickly at each Part.
Part 1 will be nice and easy. The examiner will ask you some questions about yourself such as your hobbies, travel, daily routines, that kind of thing. Your partner will do the same, nothing too challenging here and hopefully you’ll both be a little more relaxed after having sailed through this ‘ice-breaking’ section of the exam.
Then comes Part 2, your chance to talk on your own for about 1 minute. You’ll be given a set of three photographs and asked to compare two of them before going on to answer a question about them. Let’s use an example from the Cambridge C1 Advanced handbook.
The three photographs in the handbook feature 3 different events, a music concert, a tennis tournament and a fashion show and the examiner asks:
I’d like you to compare two of the pictures, and say what the people might find interesting about these events, and how difficult the events might be to organise.
So, you start by comparing two of them, but note that key word ‘might’ as in ‘might find interesting’ and ‘how difficult the events might be to organise’. You also need to move beyond comparing the photos and include a speculative element to your talk.
When you’ve finished, your partner will be asked a question about the same photographs. Again., here’s an example from the handbook:
Candidate B, which of these events do you think would attract the largest audience?
The roles are then reversed and your partner will make a long turn and when he or she is finished you’ll be asked a question about their photos.
Phew! That’s Part 2 done, now on to Part 3. In this section you’ll have the chance to work with your partner. The examiner will give you some written prompts and ask you two separate questions. Let’s use the example from the Cambridge C1 Advanced handbook again. The candidates have been given a written prompt showing different ways of communicating, such as writing a letter, giving a lecture, having a face-to-face meeting and so on. The examiner gives you both 15 seconds to read the prompts and then says:
Now, talk to each other about the advantages and disadvantages of communicating in these different ways.
You’ll then start your discussion, which will last about 2 minutes. The examiner then says
Thank you. Now you have about a minute to decide which two ways of communicating are the least effective.
You’ll then have 1 minute to share your thoughts with your partner, before Part 3 comes to an end.
In Podcasts 3 and 4 we’ll look at what you need to do to score well in this section of the exam, particularly in terms of interactive communication. But for now, let’s turn to Part 4
In this final section, which lasts about 5 minutes, the examiner will ask you and your partner questions based on the topic in Part 3. As in Part 3 this is your chance to show how well you can exchange information, express and justify your opinion, and agree or disagree with one another. It also gives you the chance to show you can discuss topics and certain issues in more depth than in Part 3. Again, here are some sample questions from the Cambridge C1 Advanced handbook:
- Do you think it’s important to have good communication skills to do a job well? …… (Why? / Why not?)
- Some people say that because of modern technology we are losing our communication skills. What’s your opinion? …… (Why? / Why not?)
- Do you think people can be taught good communication skills or is it something we are born with? …… (Why? / Why not?)
And that will be that, all done! You will have spent 15 minutes answering questions, speaking on your own and taking part in discussions, proving that you have the ability to use English effectively in all these scenarios. With a clear understanding of what to expect on the day, you can now prepare yourself effectively.
In the next podcast we’ll look at how you’ll be assessed throughout this process. Understanding this is essential – how else will you know what to work on during your preparation? In the meantime, don’t forget to sign up for ‘Roadmap to CAE Speaking Success’ if you haven’t already. And if you’re looking for additional support, look into our popular ‘CAE Speaking Success’. This online, 12-unit course will guarantee you face the exam with the strategies you need to shine on the day. More information on the Splendid Speaking website at splendid-speaking.com
See you soon.