Tips for FCE Speaking – part 2

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At progressive English, the language school in Zurich, Switzerland, we teach preparation courses for the Cambridge First Exam every week, along with CAE, CPE, BECS etc.

In this blog I want to talk a little about the best way to complete the Speaking Test – part 2.

There are two parts to the Speaking Test – part 2. For clarity, we will call them part A and part B.
In part A, you must talk for one minute about two photographs.
In part B, you must listen carefully as your partner talks about their photographs (which will be different to yours), because you will be asked to answer a question about your partners photos, or what they said about their photos.

How to do the speaking test – part A
The examiner gives you two photographs and you have to speak about them for one minute. In this time, you will be asked to do two things:

1) Compare the photographs.
2) Answer a question about the two photographs (the question will also be printed above the photographs).

So let’s start with ‘comparing the photos’. To compare, we must speak about the similarities and the differences of the photos.
We can do this by using the following formula, which I recommend to all of my students:

In the first photograph, we see a …………., whereas in the second picture, we see…..

Both photos show………………


This formula is excellent, because it compares differences in the first sentence, and then similarities in the second sentence. It normally takes around 20 seconds, which gives you plenty of time to answer the question which you must answer – written above your photographs.



Let’s see the formula in action.


In the first photograph, we see a bunch of young kids playing soccer, whereas in the second picture, we see four young women sitting outside at a café, watching something entertaining on a laptop. Both photos show people involved in a social activity”.

Easy hey!


If you find the word ‘whereas’ difficult, say ‘while’ instead.

In the first photograph, we see a …………., while in the second picture, we see…..

Both photos show………………


Then you will have roughly forty seconds to answer the question.

It is important that we accurately answer the question that is given, and we can do that by paraphrasing the question into a statement.

For example:

The key word in the example is benefit.

It is healthy for people to engage in these activities because social interaction is necessary for most people to enjoy a happy and balanced life. The children playing soccer are not only improving their social skills, they’re also getting fresh air and exercise, which can be rare for today’s generation!
Referring to the second picture, the young women appear to be having a great time, smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. I’m sure they will chat a lot about their lives, which will add to their happiness, and also helps to relieve stress, as they say, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’…”

And that’s it! Job done! One minute goes very quickly!

It is important to speak at a natural, relaxed pace, and to keep talking until the examiner tells you to stop – he/she has the watch! Support your answer to the question with reasons, as I have done in my example.


How to do the speaking test – part B:

Be quiet! Listen carefully to your partner’s answer but don’t say anything. At the end, the examiner will ask you a question about your partner’s photos or what they said, and you should answer it in 3 – 4 sentences.

I hope that you have found this short article informative, the formula really helps to start you off on the right foot in Speaking Test – part 2. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below, and one of our friendly teachers here at Progressive English in Zurich will be happy to reply to you. Be sure to watch ‘How to do the FCE Speaking Test – part 3’ by clicking here, and above all else, good luck with your English learning goals, and life goals.



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