Written Nov. 5, 2008
How To Speak in Part 2 (Page
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How Part 2 is Conducted
Summary: The examiners all give the same instructions
to all candidates. If you are still talking at the two minute point, the
examiner will say, "Thank you" and you must stop.
- You will know that Part 2 is starting when the examiner
says words that are very similar to these:
"Now I'm going to give you a topic and I'd like
you to talk about this topic for one to two minutes. Before you speak, you'll
have one minute to think about what you're going to say and you can make some
notes, if you wish on this piece of paper. (The examiner then gives
you a piece of paper and a pencil.) Do you understand?"
(You reply, "Yes.") "(Here's your topic). I'd like
you to describe ..." Here, the examiner reads the first line
that is written on the task card, at the same time as he/she gives you the
card. The examiner will not read any other words from the task card. As soon
as you receive the card, your one minute of thinking time begins.
- You cannot ask the examiner to change the card to a
different topic if you don't like the topic for some reason. The topics
are designed to be general enough to suit every candidate. (If the topic
does not seem to apply to your life or your experiences, just tell a lie! It's
only a story, after all. And it's just a speaking test, not a police
interview where you must tell the truth. Examiners know that candidates
have to exaggerate sometimes.)
[There is only one topic that I think you could
possibly ask the examiner to change, the "Website" topic, because
some young candidates (e.g., 16 or 17 years old) are not allowed to go onto
the internet by their parents. Obviously, if you are one of these candidates,
you cannot be expected to answer the question. (And you are obviously not
reading this web page, either!) If you have finished high school, I suggest
you don't try to tell the examiner you are one of these people who is
not allowed to use the internet, unless it is true.]
Some examiners believe it is a good idea to give a
"Sports" topic to girls or a "Clothes" topic to boys, in
order to really test the extent of the candidates' vocabulary. (I did not
think that way when I was an examiner.) So you should expect to get any topic.
- Some examiners think it is a good idea to show the
candidates a bunch of task cards, (face downwards so that the candidates
cannot read what's on the cards), and ask the candidate to choose a card.
- Don't write on the card! The piece of paper that the
examiner gives you is for making notes, if you want to. You will not be
allowed to take the piece of paper with you when you finish the test but the
examiner is not interested in what you write on it – he
or she just puts it to one side after you leave the room. It doesn't matter
what you write on the paper. You can write in Chinese if you like or draw
- If you have any questions about the topic, the best time to
ask is during your thinking time, not when the examiner asks you to speak.
If you do ask a question, most examiners will give you a few extra seconds
of thinking time, but not much more time.
- At the end of the one minute of thinking time, the examiner
will say, "Alright? Now remember, you have one to two minutes to
talk about this topic and don't worry if I stop you –
I'll tell you when the time's up. Could you start speaking now, (please)."
When you hear the word, "now", start speaking immediately.
- You will have the card with you, to look at, while you are
speaking but you should give it back to the examiner when you have finished
- The examiner will say nothing while you are talking. Even
if the examiner does not hear your clearly or does not understand the
meaning of what you say, he or she will not ask you to repeat or explain
what you just said.
Actually, most examiners make little noises to show that
they are listening while you are talking. For example, the examiner will
probably say things such as, "Mm" or, "Oh!"
or, "Ok". You should not ask the examiner questions –
he or she is supposed to listen to you speak continuously, not have a
discussion with you.
- The examiner will probably often look at his or her watch
or clock while you are talking. Don't worry about that.
It is very important for the examiner to strictly make sure you do
not speak for longer than two minutes.
- If you stop talking before one minute, most examiners will
sit there silently until the one minute point has passed, and then they will say,
"Thank you." But some
examiners will not sit there silently if you stop talking before the one
minute point. These examiners will indicate to you (using hand language) that you should try to
keep talking a little more, at least until one minute has passed. The
examiner might even tell you to try to say a little more, even though he or
she is not supposed to speak to you.
- If you stop speaking at, say, 1 minute 15 seconds, most
examiners will just say, "Thank you" but some examiners might try
to encourage you to speak a bit more, (using hand language or even by saying
something), especially if the examiner thinks that you have the ability to
speak more but you stopped talking because you thought it was nearly 2
- If you are still speaking at the two-minute point, the
examiner will stop you by saying, "Thank you!"
When you hear that, you must stop speaking immediately –
don't even try to finish your sentence. (Maybe
one word to finish your sentence is acceptable.)
- Sometimes this is the end of Part 2. But sometimes the
examiner asks one or two, "follow-up" questions. These
questions are written in the examiner's question book –
the examiner is
not allowed to make his or her own follow up-questions.
The purpose of these questions is not really to test your
English but rather, to make you feel that the examiner really was interested
in your 'little story'. If the examiner just moves on to Part 3 without making
any comment at all about your 'little story' it is possible that you might
think the examiner didn't like your story or was not interested in it, and
that might cause you to lose confidence.
These follow-up questions are usually, 'Yes/No' questions.
should give a very short answer but don't just give one-word answers such as,
"Yes" or "No". At least say, "Yes, I did" or, "No, I haven't" or similar
answers. However, such answers are still too short. It is best to begin your answer that way
and then follow with a few more suitable words. For example: "Have you
told this story to anyone else?" –
"Yes, I have. I told my father and he thought it was very funny."
the examiner will not ask you any follow-up question at all. There are three reasons why you might
not get one of these questions: a) the questions in the question
book don't suit what you just said, b) you have already answered the questions
in your little story or, c) there is not enough time left in Part 2 because it
is almost at the 4 minute mark, the time limit for Part 2.
- The examiner will then introduce Part 3 by saying something
like: "You've just been speaking about .....
of Part 2) and now I'd like to ask you a few, more general questions
on the topic of .... (the topic in
Part 2.)" The examiner means, 'Part 2 was specifically about you
but Part 3 will be more general" i.e., not very
much about you.