Speaking exams

Speaking exams

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This section is going to help you to prepare for speaking exams, which for many learners are the exam that is most feared! This section will give you lots of tips and advice so you can do as well as possible in any speaking test. Remember that everyone gets nervous in exams, especially oral exams. So, don’t worry, our tips will help you feel more confident in a speaking exam.

Use the 'Book navigation'  box on the right-hand side of the page to work through this section.

Woman speaking
  • Listening to as much English as possible will help to improve your speaking. Listening to songs, podcasts, films, TV series or video clips will help you to feel more confident about speaking.
  • Speak as much English in class as possible. If you speak English regularly in class, you will find it easier to speak in an exam.
  • Slow down! It’s not a race. Before you speak, think carefully about what to say and speak a little slower than normal.
  • Use language you know is correct. Use words and expressions you have used before.
  • If you don’t know a word, think of another way to say it. For example, if you know the word ‘expensive’, but can’t remember the word ‘cheap’, you could say:
    It’s not expensive.
    It’s a good price.
    It’s not a lot of money.
  • Listen to yourself while you speak and if you hear a mistake, correct it. Native speakers make mistakes and correct them all the time.
  • Look at the examiner’s or other student’s face and eyes when you speak. Do they understand you? If not, say it again with different words.
  • If you don’t understand the question or the activity, ask the examiner. Say: ‘Could you repeat that, please?’
  • Always say something. Don’t just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Explain your answer with a reason. Say ‘Yes, I agree because....’
  • If you can choose the question or topic, choose one you know something about. It’s easier to talk about something you know.
  • Speak clearly so that the examiner can hear you. If you find this difficult, practise with a friend at home. Stand at opposite ends of a room and speak to each other in English. Or speak to each other in English on your computers.
  • What can you prepare before the exam? Ask your teacher. For example, questions about personal information. Prepare what to say at home and practise with a friend, in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone or computer. 
  • In some exams, there are two examiners. One who talks to you and one who listens. Say hello and goodbye to both examiners, but during the exam, focus on the examiner who talks to you.
  • This is your opportunity to show the examiner what you know. Use your best language and pronunciation.
  • Remember that everyone feels nervous in exams. So, take some deep breaths before the exam and try to relax.
  • Finally, remember that the examiners are normal human beings, not aliens!
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Discussion

How well did you do in the exercise?  Do you have any more top tips for doing well in speaking exams?

Comments

Ashfaq Munir's picture
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Hey yesterday was my speaking exam.it was too bad i forget all the things which was i'm going to speak i don't know what happens with me i get confused and lose my temperament please suggest me what i do ?

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99 users have voted.
ann_gemini's picture
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I'm going to a speaking test in which I will be asked to record my speech. But I have problem with my intonation. I don't know where should my voice go up or down :(. When I speak ( discuss a topic), I don't know what I will speak next, so I always " um....ah...ah....". Can you give me some advice?

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103 users have voted.
Simon's picture
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Hi ann_gemini, you have two good questions here.

1. It is very difficult to teach intonation becaused there is no correct answer! I'm sure you use intonation when speaking your first language. English intonation will be almost the same as the intonation in your own language, so relax and the intonation will come naturally. To relax, look at the examiner. Use your hands and gestures to show the meaning, move or nod your head and remember to smile. You can also say the key words (important words) a bit louder than other words, then I'm sure the intonation will come naturally. Look at this page for more tips! 

2. Don't worry about saying um... ah... er... when you're thinking. British people do this all the time. It is much better than silence! You could use other phrases too (such as let me see... / let me think... / that's a good question). 

Come back after your exam and tell us how well you did! GOOD LUCK.

Simon (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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112 users have voted.
ann_gemini's picture
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Hi Simon,
It's been almost a year since I posted my comment on this topic :) ( Time flies!) I took IELTS exam and got 6.5 for speaking section. On that day (speaking test), I always tried to smile and kept my feelings positive. Thank you so much for your advice! Now I want to get a higher score and still try to enhance my speaking English every day.^^

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19 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
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Hi ann_gemini,
Congratulations! That's brilliant news about your IELTS exam result. Well done! Simon doesn't work with us on LearnEnglish Teens any more, but he still works in the British Council so I have just sent him an email to show him your message. Thanks for coming back to the site to tell us your great news! 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team.) 

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17 users have voted.
ann_gemini's picture
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Hi Jo, thank you for sending my message:) ah, I have a question. I realize that there are quite a lot of differences between American English and British English pronunciation/ accent. I think my speaking now is mixed both of them. I dont know whether I should speak American or British English. Which one is better??

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18 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
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Hi ann-gemini,
That's a good question! There are loads of different accents that native speakers of English have. Apart from American and British English - people from Australia, Wales, Scotland, Ireland etc. all have different accents and that's not to mention the regions within the UK that all have very different accents. I love accents! All of them have their own characteristics and there isn't one accent that is better than the others in my view. I also love the fact that learners of English all have their unique accents. I don't believe that learners should ever aim to sound British or American when they speak English. They should sound like themselves! As long as you can speak clearly, and people can understand you - that's great! :)
So, enjoy the accent that you have; a mix of British and American must be interesting and nice to listen to. If you want to find out more about the differences between American and British English, check out this video: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/how/how-understand-differences-between-british-and-american-english  
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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16 users have voted.
LiliyaM's picture
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I like speaking exams very much))))I don`t know why))))
I have very much LEnglish podcasts in my phone))))I have `History`,`big city small world`,elementary podcasts)It`s real helpful)))Podcasts make my speaking better))))

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236 users have voted.
KatnissMockingjay's picture
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I speak english so good but when I speak with my teacher, he is from the United States and I'm from Spain, he is speaks so fast but this is not the problem, I don't know how to say many words and I feel so nervous and so scared. I'm trying to learn more words but I don't know how. In the English Class we are doing a work of the States of the United States and he ask to me some questions and I don't know how to answer it.

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242 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
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Hi Katniss Mockingjay,

It sounds to me like you're doing really well with your English. You'll learn lots of new words by spending time on LearnEnglish Teens. Reading and listening to English will help you learn words in context and if you need to learn simple words connected to a topic have a look at our Vocabulary exercises. I'm pretty sure they'll be very easy for you though. Have you watched any of the videos in Video Zone? Find a video you're interested in and use the transcript if you need to.

Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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232 users have voted.
raghda's picture
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when i pass a peaking test i look like someone who is going to die loool , i always think about the grammar roles and say emmmmmmmm

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375 users have voted.
1Dgirl's picture
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My problem with speaking english is that, with the teacher, i can't talk english that well. But when talking with my friends or people that i know, i can express myself very well.

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386 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
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Hi 1Dgirl,
That's interesting. Do you feel more nervous talking to your teacher than to your friends? Maybe you should do some deep breathing and relaxing before an exam, or try to imagine that the teacher is a member of your family or a family friend! Do you think that might help?
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)
 

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393 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
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Hi Georgia8,
Have a look at this section. It explains what to do when you don't know the exact word you need in a speaking exam. I hope it helps. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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390 users have voted.
Ilda G's picture
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Hi Jo
I really like this website,but I'd like to know something...
Is that possible to get notifications when someone replies my coment???
Because I make a question for example and I don't know if someone has answered that question??
PLEASE HELP ME....

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291 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
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Hi ilda,
We are improving the way comments work on the site and soon it will be much better. We don't have plans to have notifications at the moment but we will think about it.
Thanks a lot for your suggestion. Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)
 

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299 users have voted.

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