- Read the instructions and study the example carefully.
- Do exactly what the instructions say, for example, only write ONE word for each space in Part 7.
- Answer all the questions, even if you are not sure.
- Check your answers and make sure you have put the right letter on the answer sheet.
- Write all your answers on the answer sheet.
- Take your time and don't hurry. There is plenty of time to answer all the questions.
- Don't worry if there are words you don't understand. Try to guess what they mean.
- Don't make a spelling mistake when you are copying the words in Part 8.
- Don't write fewer than 25 words in Part 9.
- Don't use a pen on the answer sheet. Use a pencil.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do I have to pass each paper in order to pass the whole examination?
No. Your grade is based on your overall score in all the papers.
If I make a mistake filling in my answer sheet, is this picked up by the computer?
If you miss out an answer, the computer accepts the answer sheet. If you fill in more than one box, the computer rejects it.
What is the recommended timing for each part?
There is no recommended timing as some tasks will take longer than others, depending how you approach them. Candidates have different strengths and weaknesses, and this will affect how long they need to spend on each part. Overall, 1 hour and 10 minutes allows you plenty of time to complete all the tasks.
- Practise listening to English as much as possible.
- Revise the letters of the alphabet and numbers.
- Revise vocabulary in topics, for example, jobs, sports, colours.
- Read the instructions carefully.
- Work through some past papers for practice.
- Make sure you understand how to complete the answer sheet.
- Check your answers at the second listening.
- Don't get nervous in the exam. Just relax and do your best!
- Don't leave any answers blank (make a guess if necessary).
- Don't worry if you don't know how to spell a word – this may not be a problem.
- Don't forget to transfer your answers to the answer sheet correctly.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How many times will I hear the recording for each part?
You hear each part twice. This means you can check your answers or fill in any gaps at the second listening.
Are different accents used in Cambridge English: Key recordings?
Yes, there are some regional British accents and occasionally Irish, American or Australian speakers.
How fast are the recordings?
All Cambridge English: Key recordings are delivered clearly at slightly slower than natural speed.
How long do I have to transfer my answers?
You have a total of 8 minutes to do this. You are warned after 7 minutes that you only have 1 minute left.
What do candidates find most challenging in the paper?
Parts 4 and 5, which involve listening and writing words or numbers, are often found to be challenging. Part 3, the multiple-choice task, is also quite challenging.
Which part of the paper do candidates find the easiest?
The short dialogues in Part 1 are an introduction to the paper. Part 2, the matching task, is also usually done well by candidates.
Does it matter if I make a spelling mistake?
No (as long as it is possible to recognise the word), unless it is a common, high-frequency word, e.g. Monday, or where the spelling of the word is dictated.
Can I wear headphones for the Listening paper?
Ask your centre whether you can use headphones or not – it depends how they choose to run the exam.
- Make sure you know what you have to do in both parts of the test.
- Practise speaking English as much as possible, both inside and outside the classroom.
- Listen carefully to the examiner's instructions and questions during the test.
- Speak clearly, so that both examiners can hear you.
- Talk to the examiner in Part 1.
- Talk to your partner in Part 2.
- Ask the examiner to repeat the instructions or a question if you haven’t understood.
- Listen to your partner's questions and answers in Part 2 and try to make it a natural conversation.
- Remember that the examiners want you to do your best.
- Try and relax and enjoy the test.
- Always try to answer the questions, even if you are worried about making mistakes. The examiners can't mark you if you don't say anything.
- Practise speaking English in many different situations so that you can speak clearly even if you are nervous.
- Don't worry too much about making grammatical mistakes.
- Don't worry if you don't understand. Just ask the examiner to repeat or explain the question.
- Don't prepare long answers in advance.
- Don't worry if you think your partner is not as good at speaking English as you, or is much better than you. The examiners mark you individually.
- Don’t be so nervous that you don’t speak. The examiners can’t mark you if you don’t say anything.
- Don't worry if the examiner stops you. It is important that the tests are not too long.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How many marks is the Speaking test worth?
The total marks awarded for Cambridge English: Key Speaking are weighted to represent 25% of the total for the whole examination.
Is it possible that I will do the test together with someone from my school/college?
In some centres, candidates from the same school or college do the test together. In others, where there are candidates from a number of different schools or colleges, candidates may take the test with students from another school or college. You should check with your centre to find out the situation.
Do both examiners speak during the test?
No. Only one examiner (the interlocutor) speaks. The other examiner (the assessor) stays silent except for greeting and saying goodbye to you.
Do my partner and I speak to each other as well as to the examiner?
Yes. In Part 1, you only speak to the examiner but in Part 2, you must talk to each other. In this part, it is important that you speak to each other and NOT to the examiner, unless something is not clear to you.
If you know your partner, is it easier to do well?
There is no evidence that candidates do better, or worse, in the Speaking test when they know their partner. Some people feel more relaxed and confident when they do the test with someone they know, while others may feel shy or that the situation is unnatural. In both cases, the examiners are trained to give all candidates equal opportunities to do their best. In addition, the use of different tasks in the Speaking test allows candidates to perform both with and without a partner, so any possible effects of knowing one's partner are minimised.
What if the two candidates have very different personalities, e.g. one is very shy and one is very outgoing?
Examiners are trained to deal with this situation and be fair to all candidates. Everyone has the chance to show what they can do. However, you should remember to make the best use of the time to show your language skills without dominating your partner.
What should I do if I don't understand the instructions?
Just ask the examiner to repeat the instructions.
What happens when there is an odd number of candidates left at the end of a Speaking test session?
In this case, the last candidates would be examined as a group of three, and the test would last 13–15 minutes.