CAE Speaking

CAE Speaking consists of 4 parts and lasts for 15 minutes. The exam is usually administered in pairs, meaning that you will have a speaking partner, a test-taker just like you. You are assessed by two CAE representatives — one interviewer and one observer. There are four speaking assessment criteria, each making up to 25% of your total score.

As the exam has been revised, CAE 2015 has slightly different structure. Make sure to get acquainted with the new format below.

Part 1. Examiner to student conversation (2 minutes)
Part 2. Individual long turn and second candidate’s response (2 minutes)
Part 3. Discussion between candidates and reaching an agreement (3 minutes)
Part 4. Continuation of Part 3 topic discussion (up to 5 minutes)

Part 1. Examiner to Student Conversation

The first part consists of general questions such as “Why did you decide to take this exam?”, “How long have you been studying English?”, “What do you think is the best about your country?” and so forth. The questions then take a widened scope, the candidates are asked about their life, hobbies, plans and so on. The examiner asks both test-takers in turns. Test-takers do not get to answer the same questions. This task lasts for 2 minutes.

Part 2. Individual Long Turn

You get a set of three pictures from the examiner. The examiner then asks you to look at the pictures and answer a question he provides. The question can be something like “What could this people be thinking about?” with three pictures of persons in different situations.You should choose two of the three pictures and state that you will be using them for your answer. You will have 1 minute to answer the question.

Next your partner is going to answer a different question using the same pictures. This time he or she has to choose only one picture and spend 30 seconds for the answer. After that you swap roles and your partner gets three new pictures with a different question.

Remember that you should use Present Continuous when describing pictures (i.e. “This picture shows people hurrying to their work in the early morning hours”). More on tenses in English.

Another tricky bit is the preposition. You should use “in” when talking about something shown by the picture (i.e. “In this picture we see a man strolling down the alley”). See this short note on prepositions for more examples.

Part 3. Candidates Discussion

This part involves another set of three pictures, but this time both candidates participate at the same time. They give you a question similar to the previous part and then you and your partner have to decide who starts the discussion.

You and the other test-taker are supposed to have different opinion on the matter. You try to maintain a discussion, asking for other participant’s opinion and giving one of your own. Neither of you should dominate the talk. At the end you either agree or disagree on the discussion topic.

You will spend about 2 minutes discussion the pictures and you have 1 minute to reach a conclusion, either agreeing or disagreeing on the given topic.

Part 4. Topic discussion

In this final part of CAE speaking you have an individual conversation with the examiner. This task is similar to the first one, but the topic of discussion is the one from Part 3. You should express and justify your opinion on the subject as the examiner guides you, asking you related questions. You take turns answering examiner’s question, you get different a question each time. This part of the exam lasts for up to 5 minutes.

CAE Speaking Tips

  • There is a number of typical speaking mistakes. Know them to avoid embarrassment and guarantee a higher score.
  • Do not attempt to answer other student’s question even if you see them struggling
  • Keep practising. The only way to improve your speaking is using the language — by either having live conversations or writing.
  • To know how to improve each of four assessment aspects refer to this page.
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