Advanced English CAE Sample Answer: Speaking

You need to have a very high level of English to sit the CAE (Certificate of Advanced English) Exam. Here, I give a sample answer to a typical Speaking Test Part 2 question. In the video, before you hear my answer, I explain

  • Some of the requirements of the speaking test
  • What happens in Part 1 of the CAE speaking
  • What the Cambridge examiners are listening for
  • What you should say to get high marks
  • How to approach the speaking testli>


Advanced English Transcript

  (My Sample answer in the video begins at 6:37)   The first picture in the top left hand corner obviously represents education. We’ve got 3 children in school uniform and this is a completely different classroom than when I used to go to school. They are gathered round a computer. There’s no teacher there and they’re probably involved in some collaborative learning of some task based solving problem. The next picture in the top right hand corner: We’ve got banks and banks of computer screens. This is probably a stock exchange, so we’re talking here about finance, industry, international trade and commerce where people are buying and selling shares across continents instantaneously. In the next picture on the left, we can see some pensioners online, so this is about communication. We’ve got video messaging, possibly SKYPE going on. And they are perhaps speaking to their relatives on the other side of the world in real time. If we go across to the right hand side we can see a father and son. They’ve both got controllers in their hands and they’re playing on their console, perhaps X-box, Nintendo or Playstation. And this shows how they are using their leisure time. So, here this represents entertainment: how people use computers in their free time. Perhaps not only for video games, but for reading – reading a book or watching a film, perhaps. In the final picture at the bottom of the page, we’ve got a woman getting her shopping bags via the computer screen, so obviously this is online shopping depicted here. Popular websites like ebay and Amazon mean that you never have to leave your home to get what you need, or even to browse around. And computers have really changed our daily lives here because we’ve seen a decline of the high street, where traditional shops have closed down because online shopping is generally cheaper and you can find what you want almost immediately. So, I think actually, all the pictures show a massive reshaping of our daily lives and how we’ve adapted and incorporated computers so easily. And if I were to choose just one picture to best represent the most significant change, it would be an exceptionally difficult task. Finance and industry is of momentous importance, but not everyone is a banker. Perhaps it’s only a small percentage of the population involved in that industry… of the global population. And people perhaps, some people are still wary of online shopping, so perhaps those pictures are less important than things like entertainment or education. But if we consider the dramatic changes in computer technology advancement in the communication field, it’s nothing short of astounding. How I used to live when I was a child, we didn’t even have mobile phones, so…. Video conferencing is quite astounding. If I had told my grandmother that soon, instead of sending a letter to Australia and waiting months for a reply, or having to spend an incredible amount on a phone call in the middle of the night, that she could actually speak and almost touch her brother’s face as she spoke to him in Australia on a video call, she would have been absolutely amazed and possibly she wouldn’t have been able to have even believed that that was possible. So, I would plump for the communication picture with the pensioners as the biggest change to our lives. Even though the others are still incredibly important.  

How to make my answer better


Even as a native-speaker AND being an experienced English teacher, there is still room for improvement and the need to change some basic things. As you can hear, I keep repeating: daily lives, perhaps, call, astounding. Under the pressure of the time limit, I forgot to use synonyms for these words. This was on my Mental Checklist – 'Use different vocabulary' So, it just goes to show that when you are practising giving verbal answers to speaking exam questions, you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. Even mother-tongue speakers and supposed 'experts' make mistakes. We are all human!

Watch the video, remember the best points and practise, practise, practise!

Good luck in the CAE exam!  

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