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: 5 tips to help you with speaking exams

Practice makes perfect!

Speaking exams can fill some students with dread. But don't feel stressed; we have some top tips to help you. Watch this video to see our five top tips to help you with your speaking exam - then afterwards test your understanding in our quiz. [Images: Getty Images]

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Speaking exams can fill some students with dread. But don't feel stressed; we have some top tips to help you. Firstly, you need to be prepared so make sure you practise speaking as much as possible a long time before the exam day. Check how to pronounce words, learn some phrases and find out what the examiner is looking for. When the real exam arrives, examiner, Mark Shea, has some good words of advice…

Mark Shea, Examiner
You need to remember that the examiner is not your enemy. It’s the examiner’s responsibility, in an oral exam, to provide opportunities for the examinees to display their language proficiency, how good they are at speaking. So the examiner will help you.

So our second top tip to help you with your speaking exam is to remind you that the examiner is there to help you! They know you're nervous. But it's also good to give yourself the best possible chance as well. Don't speak too fast – slow down – take a deep breath and speak clearly. And don't forget to listen to the questions and if you're unclear, ask the examiner for clarification.

But to do this effectively, and to show the examiner how good your speaking skills are, make sure that you comfortably and accurately use clarification phrases such as “can repeat/rephrase that please?” or “I didn’t quite catch that, could you repeat or say that a different way please?”

Sometimes speaking exams are done in pairs or groups – but don't let that worry you – be friendly to the other candidate and maybe even help them with their speaking. Language expert, Karen Adams can explain why…

Karen Adams, Language expert
This is because it’s important to interact and show the examiner that you can’t just speak, but you can actually converse with someone else. Part of your marks will be devoted to the interaction between you and your partner, so remember to react to what your partner says and to ask questions if it’s appropriate.

So remember in speaking exams, the emphasis is often on co-operation rather than competition. If you're confident and friendly you'll do well. Good luck!



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

1: Practice, practice, practice!

2: The examiner is not your enemy!

3: Speak clearly and not too fast

4: Ask for clarification

5: Co-operate with other candidates

To do

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

How can you be prepared for your speaking exams?

4 Questions

Answer these 4 questions

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Our BBC Learning English series Better Speaking can help you become a fluent, confident speaker of English.

This BBC Skillswise website can help you formal and informal speaking.

This BBC News story talks about how to overcome a terror of public speaking.

Have you got any tips about learning strategies and exam preparation that you can share with us? Please email them to us at 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

Join us in Session 2 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

  • oral
    spoken not written

    more details to make something easier to understand

    talk to someone

    Work together to get a result that will benefit everyone