The IGCSE countdown has started. In Larnaca, the speaking test will be taking place from March 17 to March 31. I know that most of you dread it. You shouldn't worry, however, as examiners are really nice and friendly and will do their best to make you feel comfortable. So relax and enjoy the conversation with a native speaker of English.
The IGCSE Speaking Test consists of three phases and takes about 10 minutes.
The examiner will welcome you to the test and will ask you to briefly talk about yourself, your family, your school, your intersts. Remember that this part of the exam is not being marked. It's an informal chat just to get you settled down and make you feel comfortable. This should be your aim in the warm-Up- to calm yourself down and get ready. It might be a good idea to mention your particular interests such as hobbies, things you like doing, current issues that are on your mind, things you feel strong about. One of the examiner's topic cards might be a good choice for you. But remember, it's not you but the examiner who chooses the topic card.
2. The Topic Card
The examiner will then give you the topic card and will go through all the points of the topic. If there is anything you don't understand, don't hesitate to ask the examiner but don't overdo it !! You will be allowed to look at the topic card for about 2-3 minutes and think about what you want to say but you won't be allowed to make any written notes. Remember that you don't have to stick to the five or six points listed on the card. You can include some points of your own. This will help to make the conversation more interesting and might lead to a higher mark for you. But you should remain broadly within the main topic.
3. The conversation with the examiner
The test is certainly not about delivering a speech! Examiners are trained to avoid and stop speeches taking place. You should, therefore, try to involve the examiner in a genuine conversation. You should think of the three assessment criteria in this way:
(a) Structure - am I using spoken language, sentences and phrases accurately?
(b) Vocabulary - am I using a wide range of words?
(c) Fluency - can I take part in a two-way conversation by extending the prompts / ideas that the examiner has brought up?
The key to success is to be relaxed. Forget all about the test and just try to have a good chat on an interesting topic. Then it's likely that you have performed well.
Adapted from : Examiner Tips for IGCSE English as a Second Language (0510) - Papers 5 and 6 by Dean Roberts - examiner for IGCSE E2L and principal moderator for oral tests
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of the most common questions my students usually ask me about the test:
1. What if my mind goes blank and I can't say a word?
Don't be negative! Negativity will only lead to failure. But should this happen, be sure that the examiner will help out. It is important to speak!
2. What if I know nothing about the topic?
You don't need to have any prior knowledge of any of the topics. The test is not about how much you know about a topic but about how well you can engage in a two-way conversation without digressing from the topic.
3. How can I prepare for the test?
- Use the topics from past exam papers to practise speaking with a friend or your teacher.
- Revise your vocabulary and spoken forms of English.
- Take the good habit to listen to a British Radio Station daily. Listen to talks, interviews, the news. The more you understand spoken English the better you will speak it.
- DO NOT prepare any topics and learn them by heart!!
4. If I forget a word, can I say it in my language?
No, you can't! This is an exam testing your ability to express yourself in English. Besides, don't forget that the examiner may not speak or understand your native language. However, if you forget a word, don't panic. Use other words you are familiar with to explain.
You want to say: I believe that wild animals should live in their natural habitat.
Say: I believe that wild animals should live in the jungle or in forests - I mean their natural home.
5. Am I likely to get a lower mark if I make mistakes?
Worrying too much about making mistakes will hinder conversation. However, you will be penalised if you make too many mistakes or use limited vocabulary.
6. Am I supposed to have a good accent?
No, not at all! But you are expected to have a good pronunciation and a good intonation.