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!
Total votes: 1530

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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

Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Hi susucck! Don't worry, we have a few tips for you. One thing you can do is have a look at the six videos of speaking exams. Watch the students answering the questions, and then try answering them yourself. It might help you to make notes and prepare your answers, or record yourself giving your answer with your computer or mobile. Practise several times so that you remember more and can give your answer more easily. Are you taking a speaking exam soon?
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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12 users have voted.
Camilla_13's picture
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When I first came to speaking exams I was so nervous that I forgot all English words...But it helps me to understand what I need, so nowdays I speak with immigrants at my town.

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16 users have voted.
dzeni's picture
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I do very well this exercise. I think these tips are very useful and I hope that they will help me in speaking exams.

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20 users have voted.
Quelin5's picture
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I don't know how to improve my speaking skills and I start feeling very nervous when I have to talk with someone in english. Could anyone help me?

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21 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Hi Quelin5! Let me try to answer your question. Nerves are very normal when you are speaking in a foreign language. Do you always feel nervous? Does anybody make you feel more relaxed, or do you feel nervous speaking to eveybody? Have you tried recording your own voice on a voice recorder (for example, on your mobile phone) so nobody except you can hear? Do you feel nervous in class or at home? Try different things until you find some way of speaking that is more relaxed for you. It's not easy but I'm sure you can do it and with practice your nerves can be controlled. Try to be brave too and speak up. Good luck! :) It's great that you asked this question here and I hope some of these tips were useful for you.
Best wishes,
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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18 users have voted.
readingskills's picture
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hlo JoEditor , i've problem in speaking English as well as in pronunciation and i m reading your site B2 and C1 sections for my english but i also want to fluent in speaking english, tell me about my fluency improvement.............................

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29 users have voted.
Jo - Coordinator's picture
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Hi readingskills,
I'm happy to hear you're doing lots of reading and listening. For fluency, the best way to improve is to practise. If you can't find anyone to practise speaking with, have you tried recording yourself? Give yourself one minute to talk about a random topic like spiders, pizza, the internet, what you enjoy doing .. (whatever you like!) and press record. Don't worry too much about making mistakes, just focus on fluency and finding ways to express your ideas. Have fun!

Joanna (LearnEnglish Teens team)

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27 users have voted.
Dia's picture
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I find difficult to speak English like native speakers.....I like very much this language but it is hard to learn....

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45 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
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Hi Sevlana. Thanks so much for your comment. We appreciate it :) Good luck with your English in 2014 and hope to read more of your comments on the site!
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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44 users have voted.
Redgreen's picture
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I'm always nervous when speaking... Because I don't have practice, probably.
My listening and reading skills are great, and writing is good enough, I think (not the punctuation though - I just use Belarusian rules or put commas when I fell like that :D). Thanks to metal music ('cause lyrics are very hard to understand, especially for a foreigner) + pen-friendship.
But what to do about speaking? I'm not very sociable person, that's the reason I can't just go and find someone from the UK to chat with, nor I have an opportunity to visit a foreign country to practice (visas are so expensive...).
So, maybe someone can share some tips to improve my speaking?

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45 users have voted.
Lemon's picture
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Strange, but speaking exams are the easiest for me. I am lucky because while speaking I feel really confident although before the exam I am worried and nervous.

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44 users have voted.

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