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Study Guide to This Website (Page 1)
(You should have read the "Introduction to this Website" page before you read what is written below.)
How you use this website depends on how much time you have before your test. On this page, I have written suggestions for using this website for the following situations:
a) If You Have Three Days or Less Before your Test,
b) If You Have 4 to 14 days Before Your Test,
c) If You have 2 to 5 weeks Before Your Test,
d) If You have 5 to 12 weeks Before Your Test and,
e) If you have more than 3 months before your test.
Everybody, no matter which of the above groups they belong to, should be aware of when new topics are introduced into the test. If, between now and your test, you pass through one of the following three dates, then between 25% and 30% of the test questions will change: January 1, May 1, September 1. If you are in the situation where the test will change between now and your test, read this page, What Topics Should I Prepare For? and this page, If the Current Part 1 Questions are not for You.
a) If You Have Three Days or Less Before your Test
Firstly, if you are new to this website and if you know very little about the Speaking test, you should read Speaking Test Summary, The Grading Criteria, How to Speak in Part 1, How to Study for Part 2, How to Speak in Part 2 and How to Speak in Part 3. For many people, the information in those pages is more valuable for you than actually reading about the real questions that are in use now. But you still should not spend a lot of time on those pages; just read them quickly to get some ideas or, even just quickly read the Google translation of those pages. Maybe just spend a total of 1 or 2 hours reading those pages or even less time if your test is tomorrow! If your test is tomorrow, you should just quickly skim the Google translation of those pages.
Most of your time should be spent just reading the questions that are listed in "Current Part 1 Questions" and "Current Part 2/3 Topics". Probably you should spend about 40% of your preparation time on Part 1 and 60% on Parts 2/3. There are so many possible questions that you only have time to prepare answers for a few questions. (And you should not 100% memorize any long answers that you prepare. Memorize just the key words and phrases and any short sentences.)
You should definitely have a quick look at The Introduction Phase because, even though this is not considered to be a formal part of the test, you have a 100% chance of getting those introductory questions and examiners get their initial impression of a candidate's speaking level from the way the candidate speaks in the introduction.
When you read the Part 1 questions, just imagine what you would say if you get each question you read. Sometimes speak an answer but you don't even have time to do that for every question; just quickly imagine.
However you should pay more attention to the Work/Study topic because you have a 50% chance of getting that topic. For those questions, you should speak out your imaginary answers. And you should at least have a quick read of the following pages: Your Work or Your Studies, and either Your Work or Your Studies (whichever one applies to you).
Similar to the Work/Studies topic, you have a 50% chance of getting either "Your Hometown" or "Your Home (Your Accommodation)". So spend as much total time on those two topics together as you do on the Work/Studies topic.
In addition to those three topics, you will get one of the other topics that are listed on the Part 1 questions page.
When you read the Part 2 topics, I strongly suggest that you speak answers to 3 or 4 of those topics as if you had just been given the topic in the real test. In other words, the very first time you see these 3 or 4 topics, you should spend 1 minute (and no more), thinking about what you will say, then speak your answer for between 1 and 2 minutes, preferably speaking into a tape recorder. This experience is very valuable because it will show you what it feels like to do Part 2 in the real test.
However, you don't have time to do that for many of the Part 2 topics. For most topics, just read the wording, read my notes if I have written notes for that topic, and imagine your answers. You don't have time to form vocabulary lists for many topics but if you do look up a word in your dictionary, be careful if it is a word that is completely new to you. You need to be correct on both the pronunciation and usage of words. (It is better communication to use a simple word correctly than to use a more "impressive" word incorrectly.)
For each Part 2 topic, you should then move on to the Part 3 that is connected to that topic. (Of course, these Part 3 questions are not the ones that are connected to Part 2 topics labeled, Probably no longer used. If a Part 2 topic is no longer being used, the Part 3 that is connected to that Part 2 is also no longer being used.)
You will see that there are many, many questions for each Part 3! How can you manage so much information? My suggestion is this: When you first go to a Part 3 section that is connected to a Part 2 topic, first simply read (as fast as you can) all the questions to the end of that Part 3, without even trying to imagine your answers. Concentrate on just understanding the meaning of the questions, on finding the meaning of any new words in the questions and just trying to get a feeling for the different topics and different "pieces of discussion" that are possible for that particular Part 3. Even if you don't think about any answers to the questions, this activity will help you a lot. In fact, your brain will subconsciously (下意识地) think of some answers, simply by reading the questions.
Then, after you have read all the Part 3 questions in that group, go back and think more about an answer for all FQx2 questions. Do the same for the FQ questions but if there is a large number of FQ questions, then just choose a few of them. These FQ and especially the FQx2 questions are the most frequent questions for that topic but, for some topics, I have labeled many questions as FQ. You don't have time to think of an answer for all of them if there are many FQ questions for that topic, so just choose some of them.
You should also read any and all notes that I have written for some Part 3 questions. These notes can sometimes help you avoid serious English mistakes and they can sometimes give you ideas for answering those questions.
Overall: You don't have time to prepare detailed answers that you can learn before the test. Nor do you have time to increase your knowledge of English in any large way. There are 45 (or 46) Part 2 topics and you might get any one of them. With 3 days or less before your test, you will be working quite hard just to do what I have suggested.
b) If You Have 4 to 14 days Before Your Test
If you are in this situation, you are similar to the people who have less than 4 days before their tests but you can do things a bit more thoroughly than those people. However, your situation is still similar to doing "a crash course" (速成课程) because of the large number of possible topics and questions.
You should do what I suggest for the people who have less than 4 days left but, in addition and depending on how much time you have, also:
When you read the Part 1 questions, you can spend a bit more time than the "3 day" people on speaking out your answers to the questions and preparing some answers. (But, I repeat, be careful about 100% memorizing an answer.)
When you read the Part 2 topics, you should try to do more than 3 or 4 of the topics as if you had just been given the topic in the real test. You probably should aim to do about 10 Part 2 topics this way.
When you read the Part 3 topics, you should do the same as for the "3 day" people but try to think about all the FQ questions and any other questions that you think are very important or very likely in the test if you get that topic. Pay particular attention to any questions that ask you to talk about the importance of something and any questions that are connected to problems associated with that topic.
As with the "3 day" people, you don't have a lot of time to make great improvements to your English or to prepare any answers in great detail. The most important thing for you to do is simply to familiarize yourself with all the current, possible questions.
c) If You have 2 to 5 weeks Before Your Test
If you are in this situation, you should be able to:
I suggest you read what I wrote for the two groups above and read all the pages on this website that I recommend for them. But, (depending on how close you are to 5 weeks away from your test, rather than 2 weeks), you should do more than "at least quickly reading" those pages. Instead of just reading them quickly, you should more thoroughly study those pages and you should try to really make some improvements to your English-speaking ability by studying those pages.
As well as those pages on this website, I suggest you:
In addition to all that, I strongly suggest you spend at least a few hours using 'Side by Side', especially the last 3 chapters of Book 1, which deal with the past tense, and certain chapters in Books 2, 3 and 4 that you feel give you good practice in areas of English grammar that are a bit difficult for you. Even if you just spend a total of 5 or 10 hours using 'Side by Side' (with the recordings), you will be amazed at the improvements to your speaking ability, that is, your ability to speak grammatically correct sentences.
If you can find a language partner, I suggest you meet at least twice for about 2 hours each time, and practice asking each other some of the known Speaking test questions.
Depending on how good your 'real' or overall, general English-speaking ability is, you should plan to spend between 10% and 25% of your Speaking test preparation time on improving your overall speaking skills and 75% to 90% of your time on studying and preparing for the known questions in the test. (The weaker your overall English, the more you should spend time on that rather than studying and preparing for the known questions. This is because, if your English is very weak, knowing the questions and preparing answers won't help you so much.)
When you read the Part 1 questions, you will have more time that the "3 day" and the "14 day" people to speak out your imagined answers and to prepare your answers in more detail. Just be careful of "over-preparing" some answers. Some candidates in the test actually speak better when they have no previous knowledge of what questions are in the test. That is, they speak better than if they had prepared an answer beforehand for a known question.
For Part 2, you should aim to do at least 20 of the Part 2 topics as if you had just been given them in the real test. The first time you see those Part 2 topics, speak an answer to them. After you have spoken your first attempted answer, then you can spend more time preparing a better answer. (See How to Study for Part 2 for more on this.)
For the Part 3 questions, your strategy should be the same as for the the "3 day" and the "14 day" people but you have time to prepare more detailed answers than those people and to prepare answers to more of the questions than those people. Depending on how close you are to 5 weeks from the test (instead of 2 weeks from the test), you also might have enough time to read articles on the internet that are related to some Part 3 topics. A few suggested websites on topics related to Part 3 topics can be found on this page.
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