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FCE Speaking Exam Part Four Advice – Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 21 April, 2016 , No comments

In this lesson, you can learn about how to do the Cambridge FCE speaking exam, part 4. We’ll look at what to expect in this part of the test, what the examiners want to see, sample questions and answers and how to improve your score.

If you haven’t watched FCE Speaking Exam Part Three Advice yet, make sure you do!

1. What to Expect in Part 4 of the FCE Speaking Exam

So what happens in part 4 of the speaking test? The examiner will ask you open questions related to the topics you discussed in part 3 of the exam. For example, if in part 3 you talked about clothes, a typical part 4 question could be:

  • Do you think it matters how people dress? Why/why not?
  • Some people think that spending a lot of money on clothes is a waste. What’s your opinion?

You and your partner discuss these questions together and express your opinions. The conversation will be between you and your partner, although the examiner might take part in the discussion if you are going off topic or running out of ideas.

This is the final part of the speaking exam and will last for about 4-5 minutes.

2. How to Answer Open Questions

What are open questions?

FCE Speaking Exam Part Four Advice - open sign

Open questions are very general questions that don’t need a specific answer. They’re great because you can answer them in many different ways, and they also give you a great opportunity to express your opinions!

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Would you prefer to go on holiday abroad or in your own country?
  • What TV programmes do you never watch?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of wearing casual clothes?

So how do you answer this type of question?

It’s a good idea to begin with a phrase or expression that tells the examiner what you’re about to say is your opinion.

For example:

  • In my opinion…
  • Personally…
  • For me, I prefer…

Next, state your opinion! What do you believe? Which do you prefer? Remember to give reasons for your opinions so that you give more interesting, complex answers.

Look at the following example:

  • For me, I prefer not to watch horror TV programmes. I just don’t like them.

This sentence states an opinion but it’s very basic.

Have a look again:

  • For me, I prefer not to watch horror TV programmes because I’m easily frightened and hate seeing blood.

Much more interesting! Not only does the reason make the answer more complex and entertaining, it also adds a wider range of vocabulary and grammar with the adjective frightened and the conjunctions because and and. This will give you a higher score in your speaking exam.

Next, involve your partner! The examiners want to see communication between you and your partner. Remember that part of your score depends on how you communicate with your partner; asking your partner questions can help you to improve this part of your score.

You can ask your partner simple questions like:

  • What do you think?
  • Do you agree?

But it’s a good idea to ask your partner specific questions if you can think of them. For example:

  • For me, I prefer not to watch horror TV programmes because I’m easily frightened and hate seeing blood. Does this affect you or do you like watching horror?

It’s a good idea to build a short conversation with your partner that relates to the question. Take short turns and discuss your ideas. Balance giving your own opinions and asking your partner questions so that he or she can speak and take part in the conversation.

Your goal is to develop your ideas and build on your original answer. However, make sure you don’t go off topic; your answer needs to stay relevant.

What do you do if you really can’t think of anything to say? One useful strategy is to use your own experiences or your friends’ experiences for ideas.

If you haven’t got an interesting answer to use, imagine what your friends might say and use that in your answer. You can also invent answers to make them more interesting!

Remember that the exam is for your English, not your ideas, so it doesn’t matter if your opinions are true or correct.

3. Sample Questions and Answers

Now that you know what to expect in this part of the exam, let’s have a look at some sample questions and see what makes a good answer.

Have a look at this question:

  • How important do you think it is to take regular holidays?

Now look at this sample answer:

  • In my opinion, regular holidays are very important because you need to relax.

This answer isn’t that good. Remember you need to build longer answers with more information.

Have a look again:

  • In my opinion, regular holidays are important because they give you the opportunity to relax and maybe to experience different cultures if you go abroad.

This is much better. It’s a longer answer which gives the examiner more information and shows that you can build better sentences.

However, there’s still a problem. Can you see what the problem is? There’s no interaction with your partner! So what can you do to change this?

Have another look:

  • In my opinion, regular holidays are important because they give you the opportunity to relax and maybe to experience different cultures if you go abroad. What about you? Do you think seeing different countries and cultures is important?

FCE Speaking Exam Part Four Advice - map image

This is a very good answer. You can see here how you can ask your partner questions which relate to your own answer, making longer, better sentences. This would give you a high score in your interactive communication mark.

Okay, let’s have a look at another sample question:

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of wearing casual clothes?

Have a look at this sample answer:

  • Personally, I like wearing a T-shirt and jeans when I’m relaxing. If I want to do something special, casual clothes don’t look good. I might wear a dress, instead.

This answer is okay. It gives information and supporting reasons. However, it doesn’t really flow and the level of grammar and vocabulary is more basic. Also, there’s no interaction with the other candidate.

So how can we make it better?

Have another look:

  • Personally, it depends on what I’m doing. Casual clothes have the advantage of being more comfortable if I’m relaxing, but if I’m doing something more special, like going out with my friends, they don’t look as stylish so I’d wear a pretty dress or something like that instead. What about you?

FCE Speaking Exam Part Four Advice - girl in a dress

This is a good answer! You can see here how adding conjunctions like so and but and examples like going out with my friends make your answer more fluid and natural. This would give you a higher score in both your discourse management and grammar/vocabulary marks.

4. Final Review

Okay, now that we’ve looked at what you can expect in part 4 of your FCE speaking exam, let’s quickly review the FCE speaking exam and key points to remember.

The FCE speaking exam has four parts and lasts for about 14 minutes. In parts 1 and 2 you speak on your own, answering questions about yourself and then comparing two photos. You will complete parts 3 and 4 with a partner, where the examiners want to see you having a natural conversation.

You will be marked on your vocabulary and grammar so try to use more advanced sentence structures, such as conditionals or relative clauses, and learn some complex adjectives, phrasal verbs or idioms you can easily remember and use.

You will also be marked on your discourse management. Remember that this means building longer, better sentences, so it’s a good idea to use conjunctions to connect your ideas, and add reasons for your beliefs – explain why you believe in your opinions!

Interactive communication means the examiners will look at how well you can have a natural conversation with your partner. Remember to listen to what your partner says, respond to what they say and ask questions.

The examiners will also give you marks on your pronunciation and a general mark for global achievement, which is based on their general impression of your exam.

Remember to speak clearly and loudly, give your own opinions, be friendly and smile!

Above all, try to relax and enjoy yourself as much as possible.

Of course, exams can be stressful, but if you can relax, you’ll speak more naturally and have a better chance to show the examiners how good your English really is!

I hope you now have a good idea of what to expect in your Cambridge FCE speaking exam and how to impress your examiners. Good luck!

FCE Speaking Part Four Quiz

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Oli RedmanFCE Speaking Exam Part Four Advice – Video Lesson