CAMBRIDGE CAE Mission: Ace Your Speaking Test (Parts 3 and 4)

Hello again, I hope you had a wonderful holiday, but first and foremost, WELCOME BACK! As you may recall, we have already looked into the CAE Speaking component in terms of general outlines and in what the first two parts are concerned. The fun continues with the third and the fourth ones, so without any further ado, let’s dive into the subject matter!


  • You ought to know that this part of the test is also called The Collaborative Task, as you will have to talk to your partner and discuss together a set of 6-8 pictures. How much time have you got on your hands? Oh, about 4 minutes… You are also guided in your talk by two questions that the interviewer addresses you two with. Do not panic, you will be able to see the photographs and the questions at all times during Part 3, as they are all printed out for you on a visual prompt (also known as the sheet of paper the interlocutor places before your eyes).

  • Make sure you and your partner actually communicate, meaning that you speak to one another, not at one another, that you ask and answer questions back and forth and that you actually pay attention to your partner’s words. This way, you avoid having two monologues happening, rather than a dialogue.

  • Also, keep in mind, you are not supposed to describe the photos, but to express an opinion about each of them, in relation to the first question that the examiner kindly threw your way.

  • It is, therefore, only natural that one of the two (you or your partner) should initiate conversation: Would you mind if I started? (Ok, so you’re self-focused, but at least you asked politely) or Would you like to start? (and now watch your partner’s jaw slowly, but surely, drop)

  • Let’s say you are taking the floor and you begin to speak. First, you ought to choose a photograph, about which you express an opinion that is related to that first question printed on the visual prompt. Then, of course, you ask your partner to express their agreement or disagreement with regard to your viewpoint.

  • Your partner briefly discusses their standpoint and then he/ she moves on to another picture. This is the moment when the procedure is restored: he/ she chooses, expresses an opinion, asks you for your input on the matter and you take the wheel once more.

  • But, what about that second question?, I hear you ask. Well, save up to 30 seconds, after you have gone through all of the photographs to negotiate with your partner an answer to it, which, in other words means: reach a mutual decision, by selecting one or two pictures and motivating your choice.

  • Don’t forget, though, even if there is a very limited amount of time, don’t be selfish. Do not speak more than your partner and, if he/ she stumbles, can’t find the words or simply has no idea what to say next, help out! It is both of your time you are saving by performing this kind gesture.

  • In the end, the golden rule is: keep the conversation flowing! Leave no unnecessary pauses and gaps!


  • This final part is also called The Discussion. There are no more visual stimuli, as you had in Parts 2 and 3, and you no longer have to talk to your partner. So, there, that is probably one huge burden lifted off your shoulders. This is your final opportunity to shine, by answering the interlocutor’s questions about the same topic as you had discussed in Part 3. Now, however, you are expected to go in more depth with the subject and deliver a mini-speech. Think of yourself as a candidate to presidency. Get the examiners’ votes!

  • What is the trick to delivering a convincing speech? Think of it as a paragraph you are writing and unfolding in front of your audience. What ingredients do you need?

    1. The topic sentence – the one that announces your take on the subject matter, your view, your main idea.

    2. Arguments – your ideas don’t float into thin air, they are justified, prove that they truly are! Sustain your topic sentence with 1-2 arguments.

    3. Examples – in turn, arguments can be rather abstract at times, so tie them down with an example or two. This way, your speech will be grounded and will show the true value of your use of English in speaking.

… and about a quarter of an hour later from the moment you started, you dash out the door and tell the rest of the world: I did it!

This is all for now regarding the Speaking component of your CAE exam. Come again next Thursday for tips and updates on the Use of English Paper. ‘Till then, go speak some English! After all what other better way of developing your skills, other than practising them?

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