The CPE Part 3 is probably the most demanding section of the Proficiency speaking exam for many candidates. Here we’ll examine it in detail and offer some tips on how to perform well.
Part three is where candidates present an extended talk on a predetermined theme. This comes via a card, which lists a question and some suggested options to comment on. As you can see from the instructions they are just options although it probably makes sense to use them to shape your presentation.
Instructions & Sample Card
Now in this part of the test you are each going to talk on your own for about two minutes. You need to listen while your partner is speaking as you will be expected to comment afterwards. I’m going to give you a card with a question on it and I’d like you to tell us what you think. There are also some ideas on the card for you to use if you like. Please let B see the card. Remember you have about two minutes before we join in.
When the two minutes is up there is a separate question for the second candidate and the first candidate responds.
Candidate 2, what other initiatives in the workplace can encourage greater effectiveness?
Candidate 1, do you agree?
Then the task is repeated with the second candidate on a different theme, along with a separate question and response.
The last segment of Part 3 is based around one of the themes which have just been discussed.
Now to finish the test we’re going to talk about “efficiency” in general.
These remaining four minutes or so then involve candidates responding both to questions and to what their partner has said.
In what ways do you believe technology helps our world to function efficiently?
Do you agree?
Once the 16 minutes have elapsed the test comes to an end with the usual
“Thank you. That’s the end of the test!”
While tasks in speaking exams can sometimes feel artificial and staged, the extended talk in CPE part 3 is actually quite similar to how you would give a presentation in real life. It typically uses the same general concept of structure.
Like a presentation it requires good organisation of ideas. In this case that means delivering a clearly logical structure with appropriate language and linking devices. This applies equally to both parts of Part 3, notwithstanding the much more interactive nature of the final section of the exam.
This is the concept of what is known as active listening. While its purpose is more about interactions and paying attention to the speaker you can also use this type of technique for practice. With a partner or friend choose a Proficiency Part 3 Speaking question. One person answers the question, the second person just listens until they have finished. They can make notes if they wish. The second person then uses one or more of the points from the first speaker to give their own opinion. The idea is to practise responding to ideas and building on the topic, a key measurement in the speaking exam.
Where else can you see people in action, delivering some extremely good presentations? The huge selection of topics and videos on Ted Talks caters for all tastes, with transcripts readily accessible. From the perspective of the Proficiency Part 3 Speaking watch how they organise and deliver their talks. Some are masters of the art!