Exam English Speaking Tips – CAE/CPE/IELTS

by Lea Hook / 05 June 2015 / No Comments

If you are taking an English speaking exam, such as IELTS, CPE, CAE, you have to do  more than speak good English. Examiners are looking to see if you can use English for the  task they have given you.

So,  here are 5 quick tips to help you refine your English and improve your score:

1. Think out loud in English

This works especially well when ‘working out’ what a picture is saying. Use phrases like:

It seems like…Speak English fluently
I’m not sure but it looks like…
Could it be..?
It’s hard to say but maybe it’s…

Or if asked a difficult question:

That’s a good question…let me see…


2.  Start finding and using synonyms for useful words

In English speaking exams you will often get a question about how ‘important’ you think something is. You won’t impress if you overuse the word ‘important’ in the exam so start finding more sophisticated synonyms and use them in your English so they become words you can use comfortably. Synonyms for  important might be  ‘crucial’ or ‘vital,’ for example.

Try to avoid ‘good’ or ‘nice’ which are low-level words and do not ‘show off’ your ability. Start finding and using more descriptive words.

3. Ensure you can compare accurately

In these English speaking exams you will often be asked to compare and contrast so make sure you can do this accurately.

Use phrases like:

as … as. E.g. I think England is as much fun as Sweden to grow up in.
not as …. as  E.g. People are  not as kind as they were


‘whereas’ E.g. People were kind in the past whereas now, people are too busy.


4. In the collaborative task (CAE and CPE)  ensure you invite the other’s opinion and interact

Use phrases like:

What do you think? Do you agree?
Yes, I think you’re right….
I see what you mean…but I think ….
Am I right, do you think?


5.  Practise speaking out loud and timing yourself

It might sound weird but it is much better for you to hear your voice out loud. You can use these speaking prompts. Just choose a question or prompt and start speaking. Afterwards, ask yourself:

Did I run out of things to say? If yes, write out bullet point prompts and try again (don’t write a script)
Did I use enough, varied vocabulary? If not, investigate and then start using the new vocabulary so you become comfortable with it
Was I accurate? I realise this is hard to know!

If you can, record yourself speaking. Most modern computers will facilitate this. For example, Windows has a ‘sound recorder installed.’

We hope you find these tips useful. One of the best things you can do is practise and refine your English with a native English speaking teacher. It is hard to ‘go it alone’ and improve. A native English speaking teacher can help improve your accuracy and fluency.

Comment or ask a question below or find out more about our 1-1 English exam classes by Skype or phone here.




About the author:

My name is Lea Hook.
I’m am the proud owner of Phone English Online Language School.
Phone English was created in 2004 by Louisa and William when Skype had just been invented, it moved with the times and since then other platforms have been used such as Zoom, Meet etc. I have been working with Phone English since 2013.
In the new year, Phone English will launch a new platform with Learncube.
With qualified and experienced native British teachers already on board living in the UK, I am hoping to expand in the next few years with native English teachers from all over the world with different accents.
In the next few years, I hope that Phone English will be a multi-subject platform with qualified teachers teaching all languages, maths, nutrition and diet, music, writing services, business, and any subject that can be taught online.
January will see a completely new website design and things will be added as we go.
Coming soon, Phone English Juniors, Phone English Spanish, Phone English writing and proofreading services.
It always seems impossible until it’s done-Phone English

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.