C1 Advanced Speaking Exam (CAE) Tips

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Tips and Tricks

The Cambridge C1 Advanced Speaking Exam has 4 parts. In this post, you’ll learn about each part of the speaking exam and some tips and tricks to improve your mark.

General Information about the C1 Advanced Speaking Exam

  • You will take the exam with one or two other candidates.
  • There will be one examiner asking you questions and another examiner in the room marking your exam. The “interviewing” examiner will give you an overall score whereas the “marking” examiner will focus more on the details of the speaking exam.
  • The speaking exam takes about 15 minutes per pair (and a bit longer for a group of 3.)
  • If you don’t understand a question, politely ask the examiner to repeat the question. (Could you please repeat the question?0

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Part 1: Interview

To begin, the examiner will introduce themselves and ask you and your partner(s) for your names. 

Then, you and your partner(s) will take turns answering the examiner’s questions. Only speak to the examiner for this part of the test and only when it’s your turn.

The questions in this part of the exam are usually about your studies, career, and personal interests, future plans, travel, etc.

This part of the C1 Advanced speaking exam takes about 2 minutes or 3 minutes for a group of 3.

Tips and Tricks for CAE Speaking Part 1

  • Don’t repeat the same words as the question – If the question is, “How long have you been studying English?” don’t reply with “I’ve been studying English…” Try to use a different structure to answer the question. (For example: “When I was a child, we learned English at school. Now, I study three times a week at a language school.”)
  • Stay on the topic of the question – Only talk about information related to the question. You will lose points if you talk about other things.
  • Use a variety of grammar and vocabulary – show off your C1 level vocabulary words and different grammar structures. Prepare a list before the exam of higher-level words you can use which are connected to the topics like family, studies, career, travel, and future plans.
  • Don’t interact with your partner – You won’t interact with your partner until part 3 of the C1 Advanced speaking exam.

Sample Questions for Part 1

C1 Advanced Speaking Part 1 Sample Questions

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Part 2: Long Turn

Next, the examiner will give you three pictures to look at. You must choose two of the three pictures to describe, compare, and contrast. In addition, you have to answer two questions.

The examiner will read the two questions to you before your turn starts. Likewise, the questions are written at the top of the pictures so you can look back at them if you forget.

Each person will talk for 1 minute about their pictures. Then, their partner (or one of their partners) will answer a question related to the pictures. They have 30 seconds to speak.

Do not interrupt or speak when your partner is speaking during this part of the exam.

This part of the C1 Advanced speaking exam takes approximately 4 minutes or 6 minutes for a group of 3.

Tips and Tricks for CAE Speaking Part 2

  • Timing – You only have 1 minute to describe, compare, and contrast two questions as well as answer two questions. Try this strategy: 

1 – Say 1-2 sentences to describe the sentences in general and speculate using modal verbs.

2 – Say 1 sentence to compare/contrast the photos using linking words and then 1-2 sentences to answer the first question.

3 – Say another sentence to compare/contrast the photos using linking words and then 1-2 sentences to answer the second question

  • Pay attention to your partner(s) – You might need to answer a question related to your partner’s pictures, so pay attention while they speak and start to think of vocabulary connected to their topic.
  • Keep talking until the examiner tells you to stop – No one likes awkward silence! Keep talking about the pictures or answering the question about your partner’s pictures until the examiner asks you to stop.

Sample Questions for Part 2

C1 Advanced Speaking Part 2 pictures

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Part 3: Collaborative Task

In this part of the speaking test, you will finally get the chance to interact with your partner(s). This part of the exam has two tasks.

First task – Spidergram discussion

The examiner will explain the task and give you some time (15 seconds) to look at a spidergram.  The spidergram has a question in the middle and several speaking points.

You and your partner have 2 minutes (or 3 minutes for a group of 3) to discuss the question using the speaking points. You are expected to invite your partner(s) to speak and react naturally to their opinions.

Second task – Decision

The examiner will stop your conversation and then ask you a question related to your discussion. You only have 1 minute (even with a group of 3) to come to a decision together.

Listen carefully to the examiner’s question and work quickly to come to a decision. This part requires a lot of practice to feel comfortable.

Tips and Tricks for CAE Speaking Part 3

  • Use expressions to invite your partner to speak – “Shall we talk about….?” “What do you think about …?” “Do you agree with me?” etc. Think of this part of the test as a tennis match. Talk and then “pass the ball” to your partner to speak.
  • React naturally to your partner(s) – Again, use expressions to react, but they should sound natural. You can use expressions like: “I completely agree with you.” “I’m not sure we see eye to eye on this point.” “That’s a great point.” 
  • Give your opinion and use phrases to introduce it – “As I see it,” “From my point of view,” “I believe…” are a few expressions that you can use. Practice with them so they sound natural.
  • If your partner is speaking too much, politely interrupt them – Don’t let one person do all the talking. Interrupt politely (“Could I please say something?” “Do you mind if I say something?”)
  • Give examples to support your opinion – always give a few details to support your opinion. If you think that writing letters is an important way to communicate, then tell the examiner and your partner WHY using examples.
  • You don’t have to talk about all the speaking points – Try to talk in some detail about 3 or 4 points. You don’t have to talk about all 5.
  • If you don’t understand one of the speaking points, don’t talk about it – Don’t get stuck talking about something that doesn’t make sense. Instead, try to focus on what you know.
  • Make sure your decision is clear – Speak quickly about the decision question and come to a decision before your minute is finished! Practice this part with different partners so you feel comfortable.

Sample Questions for Part 3

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Part 3

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Part 4: Discussion

Finally, you’ve come to the last part of the C1 Advanced speaking exam! Now, you’ll have a discussion about questions related to the topic presented in part 3. So, if your spidergram was about travel, you can expect questions related to travel.

This part of the test looks at how you express your opinion and agree or disagree.

Part 4 of the speaking exam takes about 5 minutes or 8 minutes for a group of 3.

The examiner may use your name to ask you a question or may ask a question without saying someone’s name. This means that anyone can answer the question.

Tips and Tricks for CAE Speaking Part 4

  • This is your last chance to show off your vocabulary and grammar – Just like in part 1, don’t repeat the exact words from the question. Try to use a variety of different words and structures. Even if your higher-level structures are incorrect, you’ll still get points for trying.
  • You can interact with your partner – This is a discussion so you can agree or disagree with what your partner says. 
  • Always support your opinion with examples – Think of your answer like a paragraph. Say the main idea first, then support it with examples. Finally, say a brief conclusion about what you think.

Sample Questions for Part 4

C1 Advanced Speaking Exam Part 4 questions

Final Thoughts

The CAE speaking exam takes a lot of practice. If you would like some feedback or extra help, schedule a private lesson with me via Zoom!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Happy studying!

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