Saturday, November 04, 2006

FCE Interview tips

The exam season is once again fast approaching so I though I'd post this again.

Cambridge interviews do's and don'ts


1 Be friendly, be polite. This is a chance to show the
examiners how well you can speak English, not a fight to
the death.

2 Learn some words that may come up, e.g. the name of
the subject you are studying or the job you want to do
in the future.

3 DO NOT learn a little speech by heart. It sounds
unnatural and you'll get even more nervous than you
need to be trying to remember it.

4 Keep eye contact with the examiner. That means looking
him or her in the eye rather than staring at your shoes
or some point on the wall behind them.

5 Remember there are no wrong answers here, only well-
expressed and badly expressed ones.

6 DO NOT give short, monosyllabic answers, nor tell them
the story of your life.


1 Remember that the question you'll be asked about the
photos will have three parts, answer all of them.

2 If you don't understand the question ask the examiner to
repeat it. You'll not lose marks for this. However, you will
lose marks for answering the wrong question.

3 DO NOT stop speaking till the examiner tells you your
time is up.

4 Pay attention to what the other person says as you will
be asked a similar question to theirs when they finish.


1 Make sure you understand the question before you start
speaking. If necessary, ask the examiner to repeat it.

2 Move your chair so that you are facing the other person.
Remember what we said about eye-contact.

3 Start with a question, not a monologue.

4 Listen to what the other person says, comment on it, ask
them questions.

5 Disagree with the other person whatever they say. It's
always easier to have something to say if we disagree.

6 Give the other person chance to speak. You'll lose
marks if you monopolise the conversation.

7 DO NOT stop speaking until the examiner tells you that
your time is up.


1 Remember the questions asked in this part are always
connected with the topic in part three.

2 Give full answers, not just short, monosyllabic ones

3 Comment on what the other person says, use their

4 There are no wrong answers, only badly-expressed

Lesson plan

1 Ask students to write down three things they should or shouldn't do in the interview.

2 Students swap answers in groups of four.

3 Elicit answers from the class, write them on the board.

4 Give out the handout above and ask them to underline any words or phrases they don't understand.

5 Go through the handout, section by section, giving examples of things.

6 Chose two students, preferably ones who aren't shy about talking in front of the others, and tell them that you are going to interview them.

7 Explain to the rest of the class that they are going to listen to the interview and make note of the ways in which the two interviewees do or do not follow the advice given in the handout. Also they should think of ways in which the people could improve their performance.

8 Do the interview. It would be a good idea to record this. Usually, I use my digital camera to do this and then transfer the recording to my laptop in order to burn a cd which I give to the students who've been interviewed.

9 Divide the class into two groups and assign an interviewee to each group. The groups then discuss the interviewees performance and make suggestions as to how they can improve.

10 If you have enough time, get students into groups of three and ask them to do the same interview (one person being the examiner, the other two candidates). Just make sure that those who were interviewed are now examiners.

11 Give the students who were interviewed the cd and as them to watch it and see how they did or did not follow the advice in the handout.

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