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Speaking Part 1: Overview and Tips

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

In this lesson we will do the following:

  1. 📑 Look at the format of the Speaking Exam

  2. 🎯 Look at the type of topics that come up in the exam

  3. 🤔 Compare Speaking Part 1 to a 'Real Life' activity

  4. 💡 Review some general Speading Part 1 Tips

1. 📑 Speaking Part 1 Format


Speaking Part 1 lasts 4 - 5 minutes.


First, the examiner introduces themself and confirms the candidate's identity.

The first question you will be asked is your full name.

Examiner: ... Could you tell me your full name, please?
Candidate: Valentina Restrepo Pérez.

E: And what can I call you?
C: Valen.

E: Ok, Valen, and where are you from?
C: I’m from Cali, Colombia.

E: Can I see your identification, please?
C: Yeah, here you go.

In this part you won't be evaluated, but it's good to give a few simple, solid answers like those above to help you warm up and relax.

The examiner then asks the candidate questions about everyday ‘familiar’ topics. (see common topics below)

The examiner will start to evaluate your English from this point on.

Examiner: What kind of music do you listen to?
Candidate: I'm a really big fan of classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, but from time to time if I need to relax, I also listen to jazz or lo-fi hip hop.

E: Do you like going to music concerts?
C: Well, as I said, I really like rock music, so I try to go to gigs at least once a month. In my city there's a really vibrant music scene with loads of underground and up-and-coming bands. At my university they also put on a lot of classical music concerts, and I enjoy going to those too.

E: What kind of music is popular where you live?
C: People here listen to all kinds of things, but I'd say the most popular genres are salsa, vallenato and reggaeton. You can here those genres in all the bars, clubs and shops around my neighbourhood, and for some of my friends, that's all they listen to!

E: And can you play any musical instruments?
C: Unfortunately not, but I'd love to! I used to play the piano when I was at school, but I haven't practised for years. When I finish my master's, I might take it up again.

2. 📑 Types of Topics that Come up in the Exam

Below is a list of the kinds of 'everyday', 'familiar' topics that might come up in the exam.

  • ​your job

  • clothes

  • food

  • neighbours

  • your studies

  • computers

  • going out

  • newspapers

  • your hometown

  • daily routine

  • emotions

  • pets

  • your home

  • social media

  • hobbies

  • reading

  • art

  • your evenings

  • the internet

  • shopping

  • birthdays

  • your family

  • leisure time

  • sport

  • childhood

  • your friends

  • music

  • TV / movies

  • future plans

  • travelling

  • learning English

  • celebrations


You will often (but not always) be asked about your work/studies, hometown, or where you live, so it's a good idea to feel comfortable talking about these topics so that you can make the best possible start to the exam.

3. ☕ What 'Real Life' Activity is this like?

Imagine you go for a coffee with a friend, and your friend has brought along another friend whom you don’t know. Imagine making small talk with that person and getting to know each other.

You might give your opinion about the things you like/dislike, how often do you do things, or give examples of things that you regularly experience in your everyday life.

4. 💡 Pro-Tips

⭐ Show the examiner that you can engage in a casual conversation with a decent level of fluency and spontaneity.

⭐ Use this part to make the best impression possible.

⭐ Assume that the examiner doesn’t know anything about the information that they ask for and that they are genuinely interested in understanding what they are asking.

⭐ Extend your answers with reasons and examples (but not too much!)

⭐Try to use this part to settle down and feel at ease. Try your best to shake off any nervousness you may be feeling.

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