How to do Speaking part 3 in the Cambridge CAE

by Mark February 12, 2021
CAE Exam: Speaking Part 3

In this CAE Exam class, we’ll look at part 3 of the speaking test in the Cambridge Advanced Exam…


So, you’re thinking of taking an Advanced exam? Welcome to this series of posts about the Cambridge C1 Advanced exam, sometimes known as the CAE exam – the Certificate of Advanced English. The whole exam is divided into four different ‘papers’ – Reading & Use of English, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. This page offers a guide to the third part of the Speaking exam in the Cambridge C1 Advanced Exam, what it tests, how to approach it and how to revise for it. Don’t be afraid, Speaking part 3 – let’s go!

What speaking part 3 involves

Part 3 of the Speaking Exam is the first collaborative task of the exam – both students have to work together as a team to have a conversation about a set topic, and then to try to come to an agreement together.

This Part contains two tasks. Firstly, you will be given a diagram (see below) which will contain a question in the middle, and five topics to discuss. You will have two minutes to have a conversation which answers the main question for as many of the topics as possible.  In the second task you will have one minute to make decision about one (or two) of the topics. The specific details will be spoken by the examiner, there are no additional written materials.


About 2 minutes for the first task, and about one minute for the second task, making 3-4 minutes in total. This time is for both students, you don’t personally have to talk for the full 3-4 minutes.

What's being tested

Your ability to hold a conversation and give explanations for your opinions. Your ability to react and respond appropriately to what your partner says to you.

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How to do Speaking part 3 - Task 1

Read the question carefully and look at the 5 topics

During the two-minute conversation you have to answer the question with reference to the five topics. You don’t both have to say something about each topic, you just have to cover them as a team.

Listen to what your partner says

It’s important that you pay attention to what your partner says because you don’t want to waste precious time in the exam by repeating the same ideas. If your partner has made a point that you agree with, then just say something like “I agree with you” and move on to something else.

Don’t make too many points for each topic

You only have two minutes for this conversation, so you don’t want to spend too long talking about each topic. Just make one or two points regarding each one, asks for your partner’s opinion, and move on. Two minutes isn’t a long time, so just keep moving on.

Keep the conversation moving

A good way to keep the conversation going is to invite your partner to talk about a topic. For example:

Student A: [gives an opinion about one of the topics] Do you agree?
Student B: Yes, I agree with you…
Student A: …OK, what do you think about new topic?  

How to do Speaking part 3 - Task 2

Listen to the examiner’s question

After two minutes of task one, the examiner will then ask you and your partner to decide something in about one minute. The decision will involve you choosing one (or sometimes two) of the topics in some sort of superlative – which topic is the best/the most difficult to achieve/the most effective method? Etc…

You don’t need to discuss all of the topics

However, you will need to talk about more than one of the topics. If you choose one of the options as the ‘best’ and your partner immediately agrees with you, then the task will end, and you will only have spoken for about 10 seconds. Choose two or three to begin with, and then you can eliminate them as you go.

Test Yourself


Examiner: Here are some factors that affect the quality of life around the world. First you have some time to look at the task. Now, talk to each other about what governments could do to improve life around the world.

Two minutes


Examiner: Now you have about one minute to decide which factor governments should focus on most urgently.

About 1 minute

Thank you for reading our post. For more information about the Cambridge C1 Advanced Exam (CAE) you can check out the official site here.

You’ll find more English grammar tips elsewhere on our site and if you’d like information on our English courses in Dublin, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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CAE Exam: Speaking Part 1
CAE Exam Class - Reading and Use of English Part 2
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