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  • FCE Speaking Exam – 5 Tips for Success in Group Oral Exams

     FCE (First Certificate of English) exams can be a challenge for students of English. How can you shine without appearing as though you are trying to dominate your partner?

    Here are 5 tips to help you out with the FCE speaking exam.

    1. Include Both Views

    When you are expressing a joint opinion don’t just talk about what you think, disregarding the views of your partner.  If you are representing both of your views make sure his/her opinion is included also.

    E.g. While we were discussing this issue, David made a very interesting point.

    David wants to add that….

    2. Use Correct Pronouns

    If you are expressing an idea shared by for both of you, use the pronoun we. Don’t take credit for his/her views by starting with I think.

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    3. Refer To Your Partner’s Ideas

    Even when you are asked an individual question on the group topic, it’s a good idea to make reference to the other person’s ideas.

    David made me consider this topic in a new way when he said…..

    I like David’s idea that…. 

    4. Take Interest in what your FCE Speaking Exam Partner Says

    When your partner is talking in the FCE speaking exam it’s important to take interest in what he/she is saying. When he/she has finished talking you can comment:

    I agree/disagree with David when he says….

    5. Don’t Interrupt

    If there is a golden rule about oral exams it is not interrupting your partner while he/she is speaking. The examiner could penalize you for this.

    However, if you do have a partner who you feel is interrupting you during the FCE speaking exam, there are polite ways of getting your voice heard.

    These include:

    If I could cut across you there….

    I’d like to comment on what you just said, if that’s alright….

    Here is an example of a First Certificate group discussion topic. Practice it with a friend.

    FCE Speaking Exam Practice:

    Canadian:

    You are a Canadian man. You are having your first date with a Korean exchange student. You took her to a diner. Your hamburger and coke come to about 10 dollars so you take out 13 dollars. Your date ordered spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, and a coke. That comes to 14.00 so you ask your date for 17.00. She should actually put in 17.50, but you want to seem like a nice guy, not a cheap guy. This should improve your chances of getting to kiss your date good night.

    When you ask her for the money, it seems to upset her. Use the 4 steps to solve this problem.

    1. Both people explain what they find unusual about the other’s behavior.
    2. Each person realizes the other’s cultural perceptions.
    3. Each person learns how the problem would be handled in the other’s culture.
    4. Together, the two people develop conflict solutions.

    Korean:

    You are a Korean exchange student. You are on your first date in Canada. You’ve just enjoyed a great dinner, but the meals in Canadian diners are too big and you couldn’t finish. Your date helped you by eating one of your two large meatballs and one of your 3 pieces of garlic bread.

    Now he’s asking you for 17.00 but you don’t understand why he asked you out on a date and is unwilling to pay for your meal, especially on the first date. He should pay for the meal and you should buy coffee afterwards. Plus he wants you to pay for everything you ordered, even though he had one of your meatballs and one piece of garlic bread. Is he cheap or is there some cultural conflict at work here? Use the 4 steps to solve the problem.

    1. Both people explain what they find unusual about the other’s behavior.
    2. Each person realizes the other’s cultural perceptions.
    3. Each person learns how the problem would be handled in the other’s culture.
    4. Together, the two people develop conflict solutions.

    Have any questions about speaking in the FCE exam? You can ask them in comments and we’ll help.