Speaking | Frequently asked questions

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Is the speaking test the same for the academic and general tests?

Yes, it’s exactly the same.

What happens on test day?

You’ll be given a specific time to arrive for your test. When you arrive, someone will take your details. Then you will wait for a short period before the examiner calls you into a separate room. The test will be with just you and the examiner and will be recorded.

How is it graded?

The examiner will calculate your score based on four assessment criteria: 1) fluency and coherence, 2) vocabulary, 3) grammar and 4) pronunciation. The total score is out of 9.

Do I need to use formal language?

No. Imagine you're having a normal conversation with someone you just met at work or school.

What do I need to bring into the examination room?

You need to bring your ID and nothing else.

Can I ask the examiner questions?

In part 1 of the test, you can ask the examiner to repeat a question. Just say, “I’m sorry. Could you repeat that, please?”

You can also ask the examiner for the meaning of a specific word, but not the whole question. Just say, “I’m sorry, what does _______ mean?”

The examiner cannot respond to any other questions.

What topics should I prepare for?

There is a huge variety of topics that you can be asked about in the speaking test, so don't waste time trying to prepare answers for specific topics. Instead, learn a functional language. For example, how to talk about likes and dislikes, how to give your opinion, language for comparing and contrasting, and discourse markers.

How long should my answers be?

Never respond with just one or two words. You should always try to develop or explain your answer (say why).

How do I know when to stop talking in task 2?

The examiner will stop you. You should try to speak until the examiner tells you to stop. If you stop too soon, you may lose marks for fluency.

What happens if I run out of things to say in part 2?

Try to think of something else to say about the topic. The examiner will encourage you to keep talking by signalling with his hand or asking if you can say any more on the topic. The only way he or she can end this section before 2 minutes is if you say something like, “I’m finished.”

Can I talk about anything in part 2?

No, the examiner will give you a topic card like this.