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Structure of the CAE Speaking Section

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Speaking section of the CAE is broken down into four parts, each of which features a unique format. Read on for a detailed explanation of each portion and pick up some helpful study materials.

CAE Speaking Section

The Speaking paper of the Cambridge English: Advanced test is one of four papers found on the exam. During this 15-minute portion of the test, candidates demonstrate their verbal skills through four speaking tasks, each of which focuses on a different skill: interview, long turn, collaborative task, and discussion.

Structure

Unlike the rest of the CAE assessment, the Speaking section is not taken alone. Instead, candidates complete this section with another candidate and two examiners. One examiner is tasked with guiding candidates through the test (asking questions, engaging in dialogue, etc.), while the other observes their performances and takes notes.

Part 1: Interview

The first part of the Speaking paper takes the form of a conversation. The examiner begins by asking questions about interests, career goals, studies, and other personal matters, and candidates will be expected to respond appropriately. This task lasts about two minutes.

Part 2: Long Turn

This portion tests a candidate's ability to speak at length without assistance. Candidates are shown three pictures and a list of questions related to the images. Each candidate is then asked to spend a minute talking about two of the pictures. Once a candidate has finished providing his or her answers, the other candidate is required to offer a 30-second commentary about the responses provided.

After the commentary, the candidates exchange roles. The second candidate is then shown a different set of images and asked to answer questions about them, and the first candidate must then provide a commentary.

Part 3: Collaborative Task

In part 3, candidates hold a conversation with each other. The section begins with the examiner offering verbal instructions and written prompts that contain discussion topics. Candidates then speak to each other for two minutes, sharing ideas and offering opinions. In the event that there is a group of three candidates, the group will have three minutes for the discussion.

After this discussion, the interlocutor presents candidates with a question that necessitates a decision. Candidates must speak to each other for a minute and consider their options, and then inform the examiner of their decision. Groups of three will have two minutes to make their choice.

Part 4: Discussion

This final part is essentially a continuation of the major themes and ideas expressed in Part 3. The examiner takes on a more active role by asking candidates to explain or support the ideas they mentioned in the previous section. This prompting usually takes the form of additional questions, which can be answered by either candidate. This section usually takes about five minutes.

Scoring

Candidates' performances are awarded marks based on several criteria, including their use of lexical and grammatical resources as well as their pronunciation, discourse management and interactive communication skills. Candidates can earn a maximum of 75 marks, and these results are converted into a scaled score ranging between 142 and 210 points.

The final score is the average of these numbers from all four test sections. Candidates who choose the computer-based testing method will receive their scores about two or three weeks after the test, while paper-based test-takers need to wait four to six weeks.

Studying for the CAE Exam

In order to pass both the Speaking section and the overall exam, you'll need to prepare diligently. Study.com has a number of resources that can guide you along and get you ready for test day.

This CAE Test Prep & Study Guide contains a comprehensive review of each section of the test and is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the format and content of the exam.

Proper grammar is an essential part of language, and this English Grammar Rules course is a good way to brush up on your skills and improve your scores. If the idea of speaking at length has you nervous, there's also this Public Speaking Study Guide that offers some helpful tips on expressing yourself verbally.

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