Written Apr. 9, 2012

How To Speak in Part 2 (Page 8)

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How to Answer the One or Two Follow-up Questions

Summary: a) Not every candidate as asked a follow-up question. b) Most follow-up questions are 'Yes/No' questions. c) Give a somewhat short answer but not just a simple, "Yes" or "No".


The examiner does not always ask a follow-up question after the candidate has finished his or her 'little story', usually because there is not enough time left in the four minutes of Part 2.

You should understand that these follow-up questions are not really trying to test your English, although if you make an English mistake, the examiner will notice. The main purpose of the one or two follow-up questions is to make you feel good! Imagine a situation where you spoke from your heart in Part 2 but the examiner only said, "Thank you" after you finished, and said nothing more before moving on to Part 3. Some candidates might lose confidence because they might think that the examiner was not interested in their story or didn't like it. So the examiner sometimes asks a short question to 'follow up' your story and this question (or two) seems to show that the examiner was interested in your story.

Follow-up questions are also used when the candidate gives a very short Part 2 answer. Since Part 2 must be between 3 and 4 minutes, the examiner cannot finish Part 2 at, say, 2 minutes 45 seconds so the follow-up question or questions are used to fill in the time.

Most follow-up questions are 'Yes/No' questions. If you watch the video of the Portuguese girl, Zara, doing her Part 2, you'll see that the examiner asked her, "Do your friends also have i-pods?" Zara just answered, "Yeah", which is too short. The best answer for the follow-up question is short, but not that short. It is better to say, "Yes, they do" and then follow with another very short statement but it's also ok to say, "Yeah" followed by a very short statement. 

The short statement can be an extra piece of information such as, "Yeah. Some of friends even have two i-pods" or, "Yes, they do. If you don't have an i-pod, people will think you're not cool." or you can just repeat or confirm your, "Yes" or "No" answer using different words such as, "Yes, they do. Everyone's got one." or, "Yes, everyone's got one." or, "Yeah, they've all got one.

Just keep your answers quite short and don't think too long before answering or speak too slowly. Part 2 is probably around the 3 minutes 50 seconds point at this time and the examiner is anxious not to go longer than 4 minutes for Part 2.


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