Well, the time has come when we’re approaching the exam dates and anxiety is starting to show. But don’t panic! Remember that having a relaxed attitude is very important when it comes to taking any type of exam. And also having strategies to get over almost any type of problematic situation. That’s why I bring you back (because I already gave this material to you) some tips and helpful phrases and expressions that will work perfectly in the test. Here we go!
- Breathe and relax. You have now the chance to shine! Speak as naturally as possible, as at any other day in class.
- Always try to give full, relevant answers. Do not restrict yourself to short statements.
- Try to use vocabulary related to the topic, if possible using synonyms and antonyms.
- Remember the instructions and focus on the task set.
- Speculate on the content of the visual material. You don’t have to describe the pictures, but they might help you to conduct your speech.
- Use techniques to make your contributions powerful, for example by using short, personal anecdotes to help you.
- Don’t panic if you cannot remember, or do not know, a particular word. Just keep going and paraphrase instead.
- Don’t merely describe the pictures.
- Don’t waste your opportunities to show the examiners what you can do.
- Don’t speak too quietly. Remember, the examiners need to hear what you are saying.
When you don’t know an exact word
If you don’t know or can’t remember an exact word – don’t worry! There are lots of things you can do to communicate without saying the exact word. These are very useful strategies that even native speakers use.
If you can’t remember the word ‘surgeon’, you could say a more general word like ‘doctor’.
If you don’t know the word ‘cutlery’, you could give examples such as ‘knife, fork and spoon’.
Relative clauses to give a description
(It’s a person who … / thing that … / place where …)
If you don’t know the word ‘briefcase’, you could say ‘It’s a thing that people use to carry papers to work’.
Describe the purpose or function (It’s used to + infinitive / for + -ing)
If you don’t know the word ‘scissors’, you could say ‘They are used to cut paper’ or ‘They are used for cutting paper’.
This strategy works well with objects that have a clear use or function.
Synonyms (words that mean the same)
If you don’t know the word ‘tiny’, you could say ‘very small’.
This strategy works well with nouns and adjectives.
Antonyms (opposite words)
If you don’t know the word ‘weak’, you could say ‘not strong’.
This strategy works well with adjectives.
Approximations (It’s a kind of … / It’s a sort of …)
If you don’t know the word ‘bungalow’, you could say ‘It’s a kind of house’ or ‘It’s a sort of house’
Stating an opinion
I think… / I don’t think …
I believe… / I don’t believe …
In my opinion,
Personally, I think …
Asking for someone’s opinion
Do you agree?
What do you think?
What do you think about … (this)?
Do you think that’s right?
What’s your view?
Are you OK with that?
Yes, I agree!
I totally agree!
I couldn’t agree more!
I see exactly what you mean!
You’re right. That’s a good point.
I don’t agree!
I totally disagree!
That’s not right!
I’m not sure about that.
I agree up to a point, but …
I see your point, but …
That’s partly true, but …
I’m not so sure about that.
It is always a good idea to justify your opinions. Don’t just say ‘I agree’, but say ‘I agree because I think that … (explain your reason).’
It is very important to show that you are interested in what your partner is saying. Use these expressions to show you are interested. Remember! When we are very interested or surprised our voice is higher and louder.
Oh, I see.
Wow! That’s amazing!
Do you understand?
When you are speaking to someone it is important that you understand each other. If you don’t understand something, ask your partner to explain what they mean. If they don’t understand you, explain what you mean. Use these expressions to help you.
When you don’t understand
I don’t understand.
Could you repeat that?
Could you say that again?
What do you mean, exactly?
I’m not sure what you mean.
Can you explain that?
Explain what you mean
What I mean is …
In other words ...
In some speaking activities you have to make suggestions and/or respond to suggestions. Use these expressions to help you.
Why don’t we … (+ verb without ‘to’)? Why don’t we go to the cinema tonight?
Shall we … (+ verb without ‘to’)? Shall we prepare a party for our mum’s birthday?
Would you like to … (+ verb)? Would you like to go out tonight?
Let’s … (+ verb without ‘to’) Let’s buy him a nice present!
What about … (+ -ing)? What about eating pizza?
How about … (+ -ing)? How about going on an excursion?
Responding to suggestions
That’s a good idea.
That sounds great!
No, I don’t think so.
I’m not sure about that.
I’d prefer to … (+ verb).
If you want to print this list of recommendations I’m attaching it together with other useful resources: