Speaking exams

Speaking exams


Speaking exams can be stressful! What if you don't understand the examiner? What if you don't know the exact word you need? Don't panic! This section has loads of tips and advice on how to survive your next speaking exam.

Woman speaking

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.

  • 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!

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

You voted 3. Total votes: 2618


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


annisapn12's picture

I did pass my exam today, almost perfect. Maybe in scale 1-10, i have got 9. And i just know this website from my lil friend. This is an amazing website and so helpful. Thank you

6 users have voted.
Dreamer7's picture

I am studying at School, and my English exam will be soon! I am so nervous for my oral exam, It is one of the most difficult to me! I would like pass this level, and have good scores

3 users have voted.
Tina - Coordinator's picture

Hi Dreamer7,
We hope this article about speaking exams has given you some tips on improving your spoken English!
And we also wanted to wish you loads and loads of luck for your next English exam :)
Best wishes from all of us ... the LearnEnglish Teen Team 

3 users have voted.
Mary04's picture

I want to speak well in english :) but in home or when I'm alone or when I'm writting it's easy for me to write sth or talk to myself. Unfortunatelly when I'm standing in front of person who want to talk with me in english I can say something and i understand everything but I'm stressed and sudenly I don't know how to say sth or i don't remember some word. I think it's a 'language barrier' :( So I'd like to talk with people in english more ;)

49 users have voted.
farahsyazanaaa's picture

i love this page! i'm not really good in english but it is my fav subject. i'm trying my best to speak in english more often with my friends in school. hopefully i can pass my oral test that includes speaking test -_-

113 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture

Hi farahsyazanaaa,
Thanks for your lovely comment! We're really happy that you think this page is useful. I'm sure you'll make really fast progress by practising with your friends, especially if you listen to lots of English as well. Good luck in your oral test!
Best wishes,
(LearnEnglsih Teens team)


102 users have voted.
Highlander's picture

Hi everyone, I stared to learn english 4 month ago and I have speaking exam next week .What I must do in exam Do you have any good advice for me :)

115 users have voted.
Beatles's picture

At the begining You will feel a little nervous but as you face other exams you will gain confidence and feel more sure of yourself. You need to breath deeply and concentrate as much as you can in the questions the examiner has for you.

115 users have voted.
MathsGuy1001's picture

Hello everyone :)
I am writing about in order to get a piece of advice about interviews. I am a very well English speaker, but there is this very important interview coming and I am trying to prepare myself the best way. This huge interview is the final round of scholarship competition in my country and the 12 chosen ones are going to be given an opportunity to study in UK's best schools. I have done quite well in my speaking exam (18/20), but my pronunciation got worse because I have got braces and my British accent has completely changed that makes me very unhappy. Since my dentist has got my braces off, my question is: how to work on my accent and pronunciation? Any links and/or exercises would be very helpful :) I look forward to your answers, cheers!

118 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture

Hi MathsGuy1001. Here is a video that might help you on the British Council IELTS YouTube channel. The video has some tips on how to prepare for the IELTS exam. It introduces stress, rhythm and intonation, which are three important aspects of pronunciation, and it gives some suggestions about how to practise and improve your pronunciation and accent as well as public speaking skills. I know that you are preparing for an interview and not IELTS, but I think some of these tips could also be valid for your interview. Have a look and let us know if it helps. And good luck getting ready for the interview! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. :)
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

115 users have voted.
Taylor13's picture

Hi Jonathan,

I'm joining an English speaking contest at school in 3 weeks. I found the tips for speaking exam very useful. Thank you so much!!!!

82 users have voted.
KsenZag's picture

Speaking exams are my favourite exams, because it is good opportunity to make your level of communication better. But in spite of this, I always feel nervous while communicating with someone in English or in exams. But what to do if I want to be a successful translator?

119 users have voted.
Monisa's picture

I can speak normally with people of similar ages or younger, but I feel a little nervous while speaking with elders. :(
(Please, correct any mistakes in this sentence.)

163 users have voted.