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Session 1

Are you working towards an important exam? We're here to help with a series of videos that pick out some top tips for studying and taking exams.

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Exam skills: 6 more tips to help with your speaking exams

Be prepared and know what to expect

We know that speaking English in an exam situation can be scary but if you've done your preparation you'll know what to expect. But once the test begins what more can you do? 

Watch this video to find out six more top tips to help you in your speaking exams. Then test your understanding in our quiz.

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We know that speaking English in an exam situation can be scary, but if you've done your preparation you'll know what to expect. But once the test begins what more can you do? Maybe our top tips will help…

Firstly, it might sound obvious, but listen to the examiner. Some candidates talk too much. Others don't say enough. If the examiner wants to start a different stage of the test they may use words like: fine, good, right, ok, now - so listen carefully!

If you don’t understand the examiner's questions or instructions, ask them to repeat or clarify. Make sure you revise the language to do this before the speaking test.

Remember to do exactly what is asked. One task in the test might be to compare and contrast two pictures, make sure you do that. Don't simply describe them.

As with all exams, timing is important. Before the test, make sure you know the structure of the exam and how long you have for each part.  You need to check your timing throughout the exam and pace yourself so that you don't run out of steam too early!

When speaking, remember to use language that is appropriate for your level – but don't try to oversimplify it. Speak naturally with a variety of intonation. 

Finally, during the exam, you must be ready to talk and to take the initiative whenever the opportunity arises. Think about your pronunciation, intonation, the accuracy of your grammar, the range of vocabulary and maintaining the flow of the discussion.

Focus on these things – be confident – and all will go well. Good luck!


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Here's a summary of our tips to help you in your speaking exams:

  1. Listen carefully to the examiner
  2. Ask to clarify or repeat instructions
  3. Make sure you do what is asked
  4. Check your timing: pace yourself
  5. Use appropriate language
  6. Take the initiative, be confident

To do

So what did you discover? Find out by taking our test…

How can you help yourself in your speaking exam?

4 Questions

Answer these 4 questions

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This BBC Bitesize webpage has some general advice about speaking exams. 

Why not check out the rest of our Exam Skills series on our You Tube channel.

Have you got any tips about learning strategies and exam preparation that you can share with us? Please email them to us at learningenglish@bbc.co.uk with 'Exam Skills' in the subject line. We will post our favourites here and on our Facebook page. Please note that we can’t reply to individual emails, but we do read all of them.

End of Session 1

Next, join us for News Review, where we'll bring you key words and phrases from the latest stories and show you how to use it in your everyday English.

Session Vocabulary

  • clarify
    make something clearer by explaining it again

    run out of steam
    lose energy or enthusiasm

    suitable for the situation

    ability to make decisions by yourself