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In previous posts we have already seen thatCambridge English: FCE's Speaking Test

comprises 4 dierent parts:

1 Interview
2 Comparing 2 pictures
3 Discussion
4 Further discussion

Given that in previous posts I covered an overview of FCE's speaking test and a
detailed description of FCESpeaking Part 1and FCE Speaking Part 2, I will now move
on to FCE Speaking Part 3, a part where both candidates will have to interact in order
tosucceed in this speaking task.
1. Description of FCE Speaking Test Part 3
This part of the test comprises 1 discussion divided into 2 parts. First, the examiner will
describe a situation to you and your partner, and he/she will oer you dierent
options to discuss. Second, after the brief discussion, you and your partner will have to
decide on the best optionfor the situation proposed in the rst part of the discussion.

2. Timing
This part of the test is supposed to last 4 minutes, or 5 minutes if the speaking task is
carried out by 3 candidates. The main elements of the task are the following:
1. Examiners instructions (total): 1 minute
2. Pair discussion of the options: 2 minutes (3 minutes for groups of 3
3. Reaching a conclusion:1 minute

3. Instructions andPossible Candidate's Response

When sitting any speaking exam, it is important to know what to expect in terms of
timing, tasks, instructions, content and so on. For this reason, it is absolutely essential to
know the instructions you will receive during FCE's speaking test. So let's see what they
are for FCE Speaking part 3 with an example:

1. Examiners initial instructions

Now, I'd like you to talk about something together for about two minutes.
I'd like you to imagine that a town wants more tourists to visit. Here are some ideas
they're thinking about and a question for you to discuss. First you have some time to
look at the task.

(The examiner places the following picture in front of you and allows you 15 seconds to
read the question and study the options.)
Now talk to each other about why these ideas would attract more tourists to the

2. Candidates discussion (2 minutes)

- Candidate A:Shall Igo rst?
- Candidate B:Sure, go ahead.
- Candidate A: I believe that this option (pointing), building a large nightclub, will
attract tourists, especially young ones who enjoy partying and going out with
friends, don't you think?
- Candidate B:Yes, I think so, too. However, it might not be the best type of tourism,
because it can disturb neighbours and residents. How about having more shops?
- Candidate A:Oh, that's a great idea. If the cityoers a good shopping experience,
many people will be attracted to it, which I guess is quite positive for everyone.
Wouldn't you agree?
- Candidate B: Yes, of course. Maybe that option could go hand in hand with
building holiday ats because. The way I see it, you want tourists to spend more
time in your city. So if you have plenty ofshops and accommodation, it's the perfect
combination, right?
- Candidate A:Yeah, you're absolutely right. But what do you think about the other
two options? (pointing)? Do you think they're a good idea?
- Candidate B:Well, if you ask me, putting up security cameras isn't very appealing
to anyone. But I suppose parks can be attractive, but I'm not sure how attractive
exactly. What's your take on those two options?
- Candidate A:As you said, security cameras are not appealing at all. As for parks,
maybe they are a good thingfor residents, but not particularly for tourists.

3. Examiners second set of instructions

The examiner will interrupt the conversation above and say:

Thank you. Now you have about a minute to decidewhich idea would be best for the

4. Candidates making a decision

- Candidate B: Well, given our previous comments, I would say that the two best
options would probably be theshops and theholiday ats, don't you think?
- Candidate A: Yeah, well, I do agree withyou on havingmore shops, but I think that
building a nightclub is more important than holiday ats.
- Candidate B: Okay, I see what you mean, but I don't see it the same way. Shall we
stick to having more shops then?
- Candidate A:Yes, sure, I also think it's the best one. So do we have an agreement?
- Candidate B: Yes, we do.

4. Examinersnal instructions
Thank you. Can I have the booklet, please?

4. Basic observations
If you read the task above carefully, you will notice the following features in FCE
Speaking part 3:
The candidates are asked to interact with each other rather than speak by
It is essential to express and ask for opinions,agree and disagree with the other
candidate, andchangethe subject.
The examiner's question is written in the middle of the booklet he/she places
in front of the candidates.
Candidates are encouraged to discuss the dierent options.
Candidates are expected to have a conversation, sharing opinions and asking
Candidate A is asked tocompare two pictures and toanswer a question about
The expressionsin bold are useful words or phrases to use in any discussion.
It is recommendable to reach an agreement with your partner, but it is not
absolutely necessary.

5. Useful Expressions toEngage in a Discussion

In this section, we'll go over some useful expressions that you can use in any
discussion. Let's see:
Starting yourdiscussion
Shall I start? / Yeah,go on.
Shall I go rst? / Of course, go ahead.
Is it okay if I start? / Sure, no problem.
Would you like to go rst? / Yes, why not?

Expressing your opinion

I believe/think that...
In my opinion,...
The way I see it,...
If you ask me,...
I would say that...
It seems to me that...
In my view...
As far as I'm concerned,

Asking for your partner'syour opinion

statement,don't you think/agree?
statement,wouldn't you sayso?
statement,wouldn't you agree?
Do you think...?
Do you believe that...?
What do you think about...?
How about...?
What about...?
What's your take on?

Agreeing with your partner

I (totally) agree with you.
You're dead right.
That's (absolutely) true.
You're (absolutely / dead) right.
That's a great idea.
I couldn't agree more.
Yes, I see what you mean.
I see it that way, too.
Yes, of course.

Disagreeing with your partner

Im afraid I don't see it the same way.
Im sorry but I have to disagree.
You may be right, but I have a dierent view.
That might be true, but I'm not sure I agree with you.
I'm sorry, but I don't agree.

Changing the subject

As for +one of the options
As to+one of the options
In relation to + one of the options
As regards+ one of the options
Regarding the question of the task,
With regard to + paraphrased question
Concluding the discussion
I believe we have an agreement, don't we?
So, do we have an agreement?
Shall we stick to...?
Shall we agree on..?

8. Top 10 Things You Should Do in FCE Speaking Part 3

1. Have a discussion, don't do a monologue:it is common for candidatesto think that
the more they speak, the better. That's not correct. It's what you say that matters,
and in this part you're expected to discuss, not to speak by yourself.
2. Justify your opinions: expressing your opinions is not the only thing that matters;
justifying them is just as important. For one thing, you are showing the examiner that
you can justify your opinions in English and for another, you are giving your partner
material to work with throughout the conversation. Let's say that your justications
feed the conversation on hand.
3. Try to speak about all the options: while this is not compulsory, if you focus on
only one option, you will have less of a chance to show how well you can interact in
a conversation. That's why I always recommend jumping from one option to
another, so that you get more opportunities to agree, disagree and express your
4. Work with your partner: your partner is not your enemy. You will be assessed
separately, so you must see him/her as your ally.
5. Help your partner: if your partner is struggling to nd the appropriate words or
some ideas to express, you can give him/her a hand by stepping with some ideas
or the words you think he/she is looking for. Not only will this help the conversation
itself, it will also show the examiner that you have good communication skills.
6. Step up your interaction skills: most of the score in this part of the speaking is
based on your ability to interact, which means that you have to ask for opinions and
be able to agree or disagree with your partner. For this reason, you should know a
set of expressions to do so that will impress the examiner. So try to avoid the typical
"What do you think about?" or "I agree/disagree", and go for something a little more
advanced, such as "statement +Wouldn't you agree?", or "I'm afraid I don't hold the
same opinion."
7. Keep your turn short: remember, we are discussing dierent options with the other
candidate, not telling a monologue. If you spend 1 minute speaking non-stop, you
are not interacting, which shows poor communication skills on your part.
8. Stick to the topic: make sure that you stick to the topic and answer exactly what
the examiner asked.
9. Finish your statements with a question or a question tag: nishing your
statements with a questions is a very natural way of keeping the conversation
owing, which is the whole point of this part.
10. Address your partner: remember that you are having a conversation with someone.
That someone is your partner, not the examiner, so be sure to look at the other
candidate when you speak.

Bonus Tip
Be polite & smile: you'd be surprised by what human beings can achieve with
politeness and a smile. A positive, cheerful attitude will make you cause a better
impression on the examiners and your partner, plus it makes you, to some extent, a
better communicator.

9. Video of a Real FCE Speaking Part 2

It is always useful to see a real exam, so here's a video of the third part of the
FCE speaking test. But remember, these candidates are not perfect, so try to learn
from their mistakes rather than make them yours!

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihgaeFKkQo0

For more information about the First exam (previously known as FCE), visitCambridge
English: First/ What's in the exam?

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