You’ve spent countless hours studying, worrying, stressing and studying some more. But the day has finally arrived, and you have around 11–14 minutes to put everything into practice. First, we’ll take a look at speaking task part 1. In the following tips you’ll learn what to expect and all the small things you can do to make sure you have a great start to the speaking test.


This part of the task lasts approximately four to five minutes. There are three sets of four questions (12 questions in total). In the first set, you will be asked familiar topics concerning your home, work or studies. The second and third set of questions will be random and may include topics like the weather, clothes, hobbies, green spaces, food and drink, sports, flowers, daily routines, colours, etc.


For the most part, speaking task part 1 doesn’t require a very wide range of tenses. However, you should be prepared to use the present simple, past simple, present perfect and future will / going to in order to answer the questions. 


You will be using every day vocabulary here. You won’t be using a lot of academic words. The key is to use vocabulary appropriate to the questions. In this case, the questions are somewhat informal, so your vocabulary should match.

I sometimes see candidates try and use words that are too big or academic just so they can show off their vocabulary ability. You don’t need to do this. It isn’t a vocabulary test. It’s a test of your natural speaking ability. Would you use those big, academic words with a friend? Probably not.

A note on idioms: If you have been using them in your regular speaking practice, then by all means, try and use idioms in your speaking. However, don’t force them. The examiner will be able to tell if you’re using the idioms naturally, or if they are being forced.

#1 Know what to expect when you walk into the room

Once you come in and sit down in the room, all you have to worry about is speaking. The examiner will tell you everything you need to do the rest of the way. So don’t worry about anything extra at this point.

#2 Not to short, not too long

Typically, your answers should be between one to two sentences. Yes / No answers are not acceptable. As a basic rule, answer the question directly and then add a little bit more information. For example:

Question: Do you prefer to study alone or with others?
Answer: I prefer to study alone (direct answer), because I’m able to concentrate better and I can get more accomplished. (extension)

#3 Don’t memorize your answers

The examiner can always tell if you have memorized your answers. And in the end, it will only hurt you. The examiner wants to test your ability to speak naturally. Memorized answers do not come across as natural speaking and this will be reflected in your score.

#4 Take several deep breaths before you begin

Chances are when you first walk into the room, your heart will be racing. As we talked about previously, controlling your emotional and physical response is sometimes half the battle. So, before you begin, take two to three deep breaths to get your heart rate back to normal and calm yourself before you begin.

And finally, it should go without saying, practice, practice, practice. Find a friend and practice with them. Practice in front of a mirror. Record yourself and listen after. But whatever, you do, give yourself lots of speaking practice.

#5: Answer the question

Sometimes candidates get so nervous that they simply forget to answer the question. They are able to speak but it has nothing to do with the topic.

Don’t let this be you. Listen carefully and answer the questions as they come.

#6 Don’t worry if the examiner stops you

The examiner is on a very tight time schedule and at times during the speaking task, he or she may interrupt you in order to keep the test on pace.

For many students, being stopped by the examiner may be seen as a sign that they’re doing something wrong. But don’t worry, if the examiner stops you, it isn’t a comment on your speaking ability, it’s just part of the exam.

#7 Don’t try and study for every possible topic

You have no idea what questions you’re going to get, but that shouldn’t matter. All the topics can be related to your life in some way. So, all you have to do is talk about your personal experiences.

#8 It’s OK to give negative answers

Sometimes students feel that they need to give a positive or affirmative answer to everything. But that isn’t the case with real life and it’s the same with the exam. 

Honesty is the best policy here. If your answer to an examiners question is no, then feel free to say so, and then as always, add a little bit more reasoning or some examples.

#9 Stay present

When you’re taking the exam it’s easy to worry about what you’ve just said or what is coming up next. But it’s important that you live in the moment.

What you’ve said has already passed and what you’re going to say hasn’t come yet. Just worry about doing your best in the here and now.

See also

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