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CAE Speaking Exam – How to Do Parts 3 + 4 – Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 27 October, 2016 , No comments

In this lesson, you can learn how to improve your score in parts three and four of the CAE speaking exam. You can see what to do in parts three and four to perform better and improve your score.

Let’s first look at Part 3.

In part three, you’ll discuss a question based around six related points.

Let’s look at a sample question:

CAE Speaking Exam - How to Do Parts 3 + 4 - Sample question for the CAE speaking exam part three

You’ll have two minutes to do this, and you’ll talk to the other candidate or candidates. You won’t talk to the examiner during part three.

After two minutes, the examiner will ask you to make a decision with your partner about the topic you just talked about. For example, the examiner might ask:

  • Which of these activities do you think is the most beneficial for young people?

You’ll have a minute to discuss the question. Towards the end of the minute, you should try to come to a conclusion together.

If you can’t agree on a decision, then what? It’s okay – you won’t lose marks! Just finish by summarizing your two different opinions.

Let’s look at some tips you can use in part three of the CAE speaking test.

My first tip is to:

1. Learn Conversation Fillers

What do you do if you don’t know what to say?

It’s always better to say something rather than nothing, right?

Remember, the examiners can’t mark you if you’re silent. That’s why it’s a good idea to use conversation fillers.

These are phrases you can use to give yourself some extra thinking time.

Here are two examples:

  • Let me think about that for a moment…
  • That’s an interesting question…

Let’s do an exercise to practice this.

Here are six phrases. However, three of them are probably more likely to be used as fillers. Can you guess which ones they are?

  • Do you know what I mean?
  • I’d never really thought about that, but I suppose…
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • Let me consider this for a moment, it’s quite complicated…
  • Fantastic. Do you mind if I just add something…
  • To be honest that’s not a question I’ve ever thought about before…

Which ones did you guess? Did you guess these ones?

  • Do you know what I mean?
  • I’d never really thought about that, but I suppose…
  • That’s exactly how I feel.
  • Let me consider this for a moment, it’s quite complicated…
  • Fantastic. Do you mind if I just add something…
  • To be honest that’s not a question I’ve ever thought about before…

Don’t use these fillers too much. You’ll waste time and it won’t sound natural. However, knowing one or two filler phrases can really help you if you have nothing to say.

2. Focus on Depth and Detail

To score highly, it’s not necessary to talk about all the points in part three.

It’s better to talk about three or four points in depth.

Let’s look at the sample question again:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of these different activities for meeting people and getting fit?
    eGaming; Chess; Soccer; Swimming; Hip-hop dancing; Surfing.

Which activities would you choose to talk about?

I’d probably talk about chess, soccer and hip-hop dancing, because they seem like very different activities.

The main thing to remember is to avoid rushing through the points with your partner.

Remember, going into depth will let you demonstrate more advanced language.

Let’s look at two sample answers:

  • eGaming and chess aren’t very good for getting fit, but they might be good for meeting people with similar interests. Sports like swimming or soccer are better for people who want to get fit.

This isn’t bad, but the candidate is trying to cover too many things too quickly. This means the answer is simple and the candidate can’t use much advanced or interesting language.

Let’s look at a better answer:

  • Of course chess isn’t a good way to get fit, because it’s a sedentary activity. It’s exercise for the mind, not for the body! I’m not sure how social chess is but I guess you could connect with people by talking about tactics and exchanging tips on how to play.

CAE Speaking Exam - How to Do Parts 3 + 4 - chess image

By focusing on one point—chess—the candidate can go into more detail and use a wider range of language. Focusing on this will help your score; your scores depend on the language you use, not how many points you cover.

3. Use All the Time You Have

After two minutes, the examiner will ask you to reach a decision with your partner. The question might be something like this:

  • Which of these activities would be the most beneficial for young people?

When responding to this question, don’t try to reach a decision too early. Your goal is to discuss the question with your partner, not answer it.

You have one minute to discuss your ideas with your partner and try to reach a conclusion.

Once you feel that you are near the end of the minute, use a phrase to show your partner that you should finish your discussion.

Here are some phrases you could use:

  • So, are we in agreement that soccer is the most beneficial?
  • Alright, it’s safe to say that we agree that soccer is the most beneficial.
  • Are we on the same page?

But here’s one important point to remember.

In part three, it’s not necessary that you agree at the end.

In fact, disagreeing can give you the opportunity to demonstrate some advanced language and communication skills.

So my next tip for part 3 of the CAE speaking exam is:

4. Learn Ways to Agree and Disagree

Firstly, when you state an opinion, what do you usually say? Here are some examples:

  • I’m of the opinion that…
  • I tend to believe that…
  • I feel as if…

For example:

  • I’m of the opinion that sports like soccer are really beneficial for young people, because they teach them to work together as a team.
  • I tend to believe that physical activities like swimming or surfing are more beneficial than things like chess or eGaming.
  • I feel as if the best activity depends on the individual. They could all be beneficial, but different people will take different things from each activity.

Now if you agree with the other candidate, you could say:

  • I totally agree…
  • That’s a good point…
  • I tend to agree that…

But you may also disagree, and this really gives you the chance to show your good manners.

  • I see what you’re saying, but I suppose I would add that…
  • May I also suggest that…
  • I’m with you on that; however…

And if you can’t come to a conclusion together at the end of part three, can you think of what you could say?

Imagine that your partner believes that soccer is the most beneficial, but you believe that hip-hop dancing is more beneficial. What would you say?

Here’s one possibility.

  • So I guess we’re not in agreement as to which activity is the most beneficial. I’d say that soccer is the most beneficial, whereas he is leaning towards hip-hop dancing.

The examiners really like to see candidates who interact politely, so practising a few of these phrases will help you demonstrate this.

5. Ask for Your Partner’s Opinion

As you’ve seen, you need to focus on interacting with your partner in the CAE speaking exam.

This is especially important in part three, because you talk only to your partner during part three. The examiner doesn’t take part in the discussion.

How can you interact with your partner and make the conversation feel more natural? A good way is to ask your partner for his/her opinion whenever you can.

Can you think of some useful phrases to do this?

Some examples are:

  • What do you think?
  • Do you know what I mean?
  • How do you feel about that?

You could also use a more colloquial phrase, like:

  • Do you get what I’m saying?
  • What do you reckon?
  • Where do you stand on this?

Just make sure that you also spend time giving your opinions too!

To get the best scores, you and your partner need to balance your talking time. Don’t talk for long—bring your partner into the conversation often.

Next, let’s look at part four of the CAE speaking test.

In part four, the examiner asks candidates questions about their opinions about topics related to part three.

If you’ve been talking about sports and activities in part three, part four would continue on this topic.

For example, one question might be:

  • Do you think that sport should be compulsory at school?

This part lasts for five minutes. The examiner will ask you several questions. The examiner asks you the questions, but then you need to interact with your partner.

A lot of the advice and language you’ve seen in this video is also useful for part four. Using filler phrases, agreeing and disagreeing and interacting with your partner are still important in part four, so you can use a lot of the advice you’ve already seen in this video.

However, let’s look at some advice that can help you with part four specifically.

First:

6. Always Develop Your Ideas

This is important throughout your CAE speaking test, but it’s especially important in part four.

With everything you say, always add reasons, examples or counterarguments.

Let’s look at a sample question:

  • Do you think that sport should be compulsory at school?

Here’s a sample answer:

  • Yes, I think so. It’s really important for personal development.

This answer’s okay – the candidate provided a reason. That’s a great start. But can you think of how to improve it? Let’s develop the answer by adding some examples. Can you think of any?

  • For instance, playing sport can help a person to develop leadership skills, as well as self-discipline. Many sports also involve teamwork, so you can learn how to get along with others and make friends.

You can see that adding a detailed example like this allows the candidate to use more advanced vocabulary, like leadership skills or self-discipline.

Let’s look at another question and see how we can improve it.

  • Do you think that some sports are more suitable at school than others?

Here’s a possible answer:

  • I think that sports that involve a lot of physical activity are better because they are good for your health.

Again, this answer is not bad, but we can improve it by adding more details:

  • Adolescence is a time when the body is changing rapidly. By getting exercise when you’re young, you set yourself up for better health later in life. What do you think?

Again, adding details makes the answer more interesting and also allows you to use a wider range of language.

Also, notice how the candidate invites the opinion of his partner, by asking, what do you think? This makes the answer even stronger.

Let’s look at one more sample question, but this time we’ll try to add a counterargument.

  • Some people say that “to be healthy on the inside, you need to start from the outside”. What’s your opinion on this?

Here’s a sample answer:

  • For sure, I think that it’s important to be physically healthy as it affects the way you feel.

This answer is too short. Can you think of a counterargument to add?

  • Of course, it works the other way too. In my opinion, being happy and satisfied with your life can affect your physical health too. Being stressed for a long time can make a person sick.

Adding counterarguments allows you to use linking words and discourse markers like of course or in my opinion.

Finally, remember that you are also interacting with your partner. Don’t just develop your own answers; build on what your partner says, too!

You can do this in the same way. Comment on your partner’s answers and add your own details, suggestions and counterarguments, just like we did here.

Let’s look at one more general tip which can help you, especially during part four:

7. Get Informed

Some people are already good at expressing their opinions. But some of us don’t feel confident with this, especially in a second language.

When you take a speaking exam like CAE, it’s not just about English. It’s about your ideas and opinions, and how well you can communicate them to others.

This is a more general tip, but reading widely, keeping up with the news and thinking about current affairs can help you in your CAE speaking exam.

Read news and opinion articles on news sites such as Reuters, the BBC, Al Jazeera and so on. Of course, it’s better to read in English, but you could also read in your own language. The goal is to expose yourself to as many different opinions as possible.

The good news is, even if you don’t have a lot of time until your exam, you can give yourself an advantage by reading current affairs, and starting to think about what your opinions are.

When you read, think about what you’re reading and try to form your own opinions. This way, you’ll be able to talk about a wide range of topics, and you’ll have more interesting ideas and opinions you can use in your CAE speaking test.

8. Final Review

Let’s review what we’ve covered today. To improve your score on Parts 3 and 4 of the CAE speaking exam, these are my top tips:

  • Learn conversation fillers
  • Focus on depth and detail
  • Make sure you use all the time
  • Learn how to agree and disagree
  • Bring your partner into the conversation by asking for his/her opinions
  • Always develop your ideas
  • Read widely to expose yourself to different opinions and ideas

But I have one more very important tip for you: practise!

Practise with a friend, with your teacher, or in class. Use these opportunities to practise agreeing, disagreeing or using fillers like the ones we learned today.

If you have a friend who is also preparing for the CAE speaking exam, try to think of your own part three/four questions, or find some online. Practise them together.

In this lesson, we’ve talked about a lot of different language structures that you can use. However, practising with a friend, your teacher, or in class, is essential. You can even try to think of your own part 4 type questions, and share them together.

That’s the end of the lesson. Thanks very much for watching, and good luck for your CAE speaking test!

Oli RedmanCAE Speaking Exam – How to Do Parts 3 + 4 – Video Lesson