Studying for FCE exam

FCE Speaking Exam Tips

The Cambridge First Certificate (FCE) exam is a popular English language test for students interested in studying or working in English-speaking countries. 

Post Contents:

  • What’s on the exam
  • What you’re marked on
  • Tips to improve your score
  • Practice activities

What’s on the FCE Speaking Test?

To begin, the FCE speaking test has 4 parts and takes about 14 minutes. You take the exam in a pair or group of 3. The times below are for a pair. Groups of three will have slightly different timing.

First Part – 2 minutes total “interview” questions

Second Part – 1 minute “long turn” and 30-second “response” per person

Third Part – 2 minutes “collaborative task” and 1-minute “decision”

Fourth Part – 4 minutes “discussion” task

To find exact details and an official example of the speaking test, visit the official Cambridge website.

What am I marked on?

In the speaking exam, the examiner is looking for many things.

  • A variety of grammar structures, correct grammar
  • Fluency, not a lot of hesitation
  • Pronunciation (but it’s ok to have an accent)
  • Being able to speak for a long time
  • Using linking words to connect ideas
  • Ability to have a conversation with your partner or the examiner
  • A range of vocabulary words
  • Answering the questions in a logical way

This can be very overwhelming! Take a look at the tips below to help you with your FCE speaking test.

10 Tips for the B2 First Speaking Exam

1 – The most important thing is to get comfortable with the exam. Know what each part is and what you have to do. 

2 – Listen carefully to the instructions. Every examiner is different, so it’s important to listen. You can always ask them to repeat by asking: “Could you please repeat the question?”

3 – Use a wide range of grammar and vocabulary. This means that you shouldn’t always use past simple or basic vocabulary. You will get points for trying to use a conditional or a phrasal verb, even if it isn’t perfect.

4 – Record yourself using your phone so you can see what grammar and vocabulary you are using and catch any common mistakes. This is also good for tracking progress.

5 – Don’t repeat yourself. Use another structure or a synonym instead of the same word. This shows that you have a better range of vocabulary and grammar.

6 – Speak clearly. You don’t get more points for speaking really quickly. Take your time and speak with confidence!

7 – If you need time to think, use expressions like: “Hmm, let me think about that” or “I haven’t thought about that before.” Just don’t use them TOO MUCH.

8 – If you cannot think of a specific word, describe it. For example, if you don’t remember the word “broom,” you could say “the thing you use to clean/sweep the floor.”

9 – When speaking with a partner, try to speak naturally and for the same amount of time. Encourage your partner to speak by asking them for their opinion or asking them a question.

10 – If you don’t know much about a topic, just invent! You can always create information as long as it is logical.

FCE Speaking Test Practice

PART 1

Answer these questions. If you can, ask a friend to read you each question.

Try to answer the question in 3-4 complete sentences.

Record your answer using your phone. You can track your progress and see where you need to improve.

1 – How do you like to spend your afternoons? (What do you do? Why?)

2 – Tell us about a TV series you really like.

3 – What special occasions do you celebrate in your country?

4 – Are you doing anything this weekend? (What? Where?)

5 – How often do you use the internet? (Why?)

6 – Do you like cooking? (What do you like to make?)

PART 2

Look at the two pictures. Compare and contrast the pictures and answer the question. 

Record your answer using your phone. When first practicing, try to say as many things as you can. Later, see if you can compare, contrast, and answer the question in only 1 minute.

QUESTION: What might the people like about traveling to these places?

PART 3 

Find a friend to practice with. Look at the diagram. (15 seconds)

Then, discuss the question using the topics on the diagram. Like part 2, when first practicing, don’t worry about the time. Say as many things as you can. Try to talk equally with your partner.

When you feel more confident, give yourselves 2 minutes to do the collaborative task.

FCE speaking exam part 3
Source: FCE Speaking Exam Part 3 from cambridgeenglish.org

To practice the decision, discuss the question with your partner.

QUESTION: Decide which idea would be the worst for the town.

PART 4

Record yourself answering the questions. Try to say 4-5 sentences. Don’t repeat words or phrases. Use a variety of grammar and vocabulary. 

Another tip is to say your answer like a paragraph: one “topic sentence” with the main idea and 3-4 “supporting sentences” that give examples to support your idea.

1 – Do people have enough time for holidays in your country? (Why/why not?)

2 – Is it better to book a package holiday or to plan a trip by yourself?

3 – Where is the best place for a holiday in your country?

4 – Are holidays necessary? (Why/why not?)

5 – What was your best holiday like? (Where did you go?)

6 – Some people say that traveling is too expensive. What do you think?

Final Thoughts

To sum up, if you want to improve your score on the FCE speaking exam, you need to practice! Try to practice a little bit each day.

I help students prepare for the FCE speaking exam with private lessons. To schedule a one hour private lesson for $50USD, please email me at Jamie@ESLTeacher365.com.

For more FCE practice:

Check out these FCE Writing exam tips!

Download a free FCE Writing Checklist.

Learn how to write an FCE essay.


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