40 Questions to Help You Prepare for the Speaking Test
Here's a list of questions from past First Certificate exams, Cambridge textbooks, and so on. I've also written sample answers, because I'm an amazing person. You, of course, should think up your own answers. [Don't memorise answers - it will give a bad impression. Use these questions to practice.]
- All these questions will be followed by 'why?' if you dont' give reasons - but you should say why without being asked.
- Many times, the examiner will ask the same question to the second student by saying 'What do you think?' or 'And you?' But YOU can ask your partner those questions - more talking time for you and more opportunity to show how you manage a conversation.
Do you think you have to spend a lot of money to have a good holiday?
I don't know.
(Only joking! Here's a proper reply:)
No I don't think you have to spend a lot of money, but it helps. Money makes things easier: like you can stay in the city centre instead of the outskirts. But many fun things are free, like walking beside a river, and there are always cheap restaurants if you have time to look.
What do you think, Jack?
Some people say we travel too much these days and shouldn't go on so many holidays. What do you think?
I think it's true we take too many flights - that's a big problem because of the pollution. But I don't have a problem with people traveling by train - we all work very hard and need a break. Travel broadens the mind and maybe if we meet more foreign people we won't have so many stupid discussions about immigration.
And you, Jack?
Why do you think people like to go away on holiday?
I heard there is a new word called a staycation - it's a vacation you have in your home. Maybe that's good because it's cheap, but probably you end up doing your taxes or something. So people need to go away on holiday to make sure all they can do is relax and enjoy their time.
Am I right, Jack?
(I'm going to stop adding the 'Jack' questions now. I hope you get the idea!)
What do you think is the biggest advantage of living in a place where there are a lot of tourists?
Oh, what a question! I never thought about it until now because I mostly think it's a bad thing to have so many tourists in your town... but I suppose it's good for the shops and hotels, and maybe some of the tourists are single and you can find true love.
Where You Live
What can people do to have a good holiday in your country?
Oh, they should definitely go to York. York is one of the most attractive cities in Britain and Yorkshire is just gorgeous. And the people there are much more friendly than in other cities. So you're very likely to have a nice time there.
What's good about living in cities in your country?
Personally I think one of the best things about living in Britain is the weather. No, seriously! I love rainy days and I feel like everyone is a little bit less noisy when it's raining. And everyone knows that British food is the best in the world. So we've got the best weather and amazing restaurants.
Which is the best city for people to visit in your country?
I would say York for a few days because it's so nice there, but if you have longer, like more than 4 days, then London is okay. It's got all those famous places to see and lots of things to do. Just don't expect everyone to be friendly and polite all the time.
If you could choose to visit a city you've never been to, which one would you choose?
I really want to go to Tokyo one day - it's so big and crazy and there's a lot of things happening all the time. Just seeing it on the TV makes it seem like a fantastic place to visit, but I don't think I'd want to live there.
Would you prefer to live in a modern city or a city with lots of history?
I love history and a lot of modern buildings have no charm. So that's an easy answer. On the other hand, I've lived in some beautiful buildings that had very thin windows and no insulation, so a mix of both is best.
Are there advantages to living in a small town rather than in a big city?
In a small town you have more contact with people - if you like that then that's an advantage. Personally I'm happy I don't have to talk to my neighbours. But having a sense of community can be very good for your health.
Do you think it is better for children to grow up in the city or in the countryside?
Probably I'd say it's better to grow up in the countryside and then live in the city, because when you're near a farm or a forest or something you learn about nature - the names of animals, trees, things like that. If you just live in the city you don't really learn where food comes from and so on.
What do you think makes a good museum?
Good question - I don't really know because I never found a museum I liked. But if there was one that wasn't boring, that'd be a good start. Maybe a good museum has more interactive things so people can understand the history better.
How do you think the teaching of history in schools could be improved?
The main problem with history lessons is that sometimes they're really boring. And ten years later you watch a movie about the thing you studied and it's actually fascinating. How do they take something interesting and make it so tedious? So the teachers have to show students why this thing is worth studying.
Do you agree that learning about our past is important for our future?
Of course, yes, because if we know what happened in the 1930s we can try to stop it happening again now. I mean, nobody today would vote for a right-wing extremist who wants to kick out all the foreign people and who is full of hate. Right? Oh.
What was the most important moment in the history of the twentieth century?
Definitely the start of the First World War, because that led to the Second World War and all the political and social changes. If the first war hadn't happened, I think everything would have gone differently.
What has been the most important moment in your life so far?
I think the most important day of my life was when I found a website called FCE Exam Tips. I was studying for the First exam but wasn't confident, and after reading the website I felt like a king. Invincible. It made me happy to learn English, and that meant I got a good job and I fell in love with a man from England and now I live in a castle and ride ponies every day.
What items from our lives today will be in the history museums of the future?
Mobile phones, smartphones. Maybe an iPhone because that's the most iconic phone. I think those will be interesting for people in the future because they will think 'what is this thing?' and in the museum there will be a note that says 'this is how people used to communicate' and it won't make any sense. They'll probably laugh at us.
Life and leisure
If you could change one thing about your life, what would you change?
Probably my body clock. I really envy those people who get up early and they've gone jogging and cleared their inbox before I've even got out of bed! I'm a night owl, which is okay, but sometimes I think I'd get more done if was more like the Swiss.
Many people say life's too busy these days. Why do you think they say this?
They are right, but it's our choice to live that like. You don't have to be on Facebook and Whatsapp, and you don't have to work five days a week and have four hobbies. Life is busy because we make it busy, but it's possible to have a lot of things going on while being in control of your time.
Many people want to become famous nowadays. Why do you think this is?
Those famous people, we only see the good parts of their life. The movie premieres, their perfect wedding, all that stuff. Of course people want to have the same life - the reality is that those famous people are no happier than any of us. It's all a fantasy.
is it important to enjoy a job or do you think it's enough to be paid well?
A wise man said that if you enjoy your job you'll never work a day in your life. That's because if you like your job it doesn't feel like work. It's almost like doing your hobby. I know some people like that and they are happy. I also know some people who have a lot of money but hate their job. They are always depressed. For me, it's clear.
How important is it to go on holiday every year?
It's not important to go on holiday like a big trip for three weeks. But it's important to take breaks and to do different things. If you do the same thing every day, every week, you'll go crazy. So if a holiday is the thing that makes you do something different, then holidays are important.
Some people say we don't spend enough time talking to each other these days. What do you think?
I think it's not true. You see people on the train all staring at their phones and you think 'oh my god!' But actually people are as social as ever. They meet friends, they travel together, they eat together. It's just on the surface that things look different.
Some people say there will be no need for shops in the future because we'll buy everything online. What do you think?
Online shopping is getting more popular but there's a limit to what people will buy online. Books, DVDs, electronics - those are things you can read about online and buy. But clothes and things you have to touch and feel - people will always want to see them in a shop first, maybe try them on.
Do you think it's true that we buy a lot of things we don't really need these days?
I'm someone who tries to think about things before I buy, maybe take a couple of weeks to see if I really need it. But most people aren't like that - they just spend the money without thinking. So, sadly, yes it's true. We're just shoppers now.
Do you think that out of town shopping centres are a good idea?
Yes and no. Of course it's very convenient and they are really big so they have everything. But it's a shame to lose the local shops and the variety of shops is much less than it used to be because the out of town shopping malls have killed so many smaller shops. I'd like to see more local shops, but I often go to the out of town shops so I'm not really helping.
Is it better to go shopping with friends or alone?
For me, alone, because shopping is stressful and I just want to get in and out of the shop. But going with friends is good when you buy clothes because you need an honest opinion.
Some people say that shopping ins a leisure activity nowadays. What do you think?
Yes, it's true in many ways. Shops are designed to be a fun event, not just for buying things. You can have a drink, sit down on comfy sofas, browse for a long time. I know a lot of young people go to the mall the way I used to go to the park. They stay there the whole day. So yes, for some people it's a hobby.
Do you think that advertising encourages people to spend too much money?
Yes of course! They really know how to get into people's heads and they are experts in making us spend more money. But I think we have to take responsibility, too. Just because we see something shiny doesn't mean we should buy it!
TV and FILMs
Is watching TV the best way for people to spend their free time?
People know what they want and if they want to watch TV that's okay with me. I think there are better things to do, but sometimes you need some easy, relaxing time and that's where TV is great.
What kind of TV programmes do you like best?
I really like BBC documentaries about animals. How do they get so close to the animals? It's always fascinating and the quality of the show is so high. It looks great on my big TV.
Some people have more than one television in their home. Do you think this is a good idea?
I don't like telling people what to do. Maybe they have one television in the living room and one in the bedroom. If they like falling asleep with the TV on, what's the problem? Maybe it's a problem to have two TVs if it stops people from hanging out in the same room. Maybe in that situation you talk with your family less.
Do you think children generally watch too much television in your country?
It's hard to say how much is good and how much is bad. If the parents are happy with how much TV the children watch then it's okay. The problem is when parents are too tired or busy to talk to their children and they turn the TV on. Television is not a parent!
Is television the best way of following the news in the world?
Definitely not! TV stations are owned by rich men who want you to think a certain way. They choose the news we see. The internet is better, but you have to look at a few different sites to get a balanced view of events.
Do you think watching TV is a good way to learn a language?
It's better than nothing but the problem is people think they can turn the TV on and start learning. I don't think that's how it works. You have to notice the words and the grammar they are using in the TV show. You think 'oh, that's the present perfect, I wonder why they used it in this situation?' If you do that then the TV can be helpful.
What sort of films do you never watch?
I never watch horror movies and I don't understand why other people like them! Why do you want to be scared? Plus I have nightmares and feel weird the next day. It's not something I like at all.
Are there any films that you’d like to see again?
The other day I watched Frozen and cried like a little baby. I'll watch that one again. But the film I watch whenever it is on is Die Hard - it's the perfect Christmas movie.
Would you prefer to be in a film or behind the camera?
What a question! I'm not good at acting and I like bossing people around, so I would rather be a director than a movie star. I'm sure it's harder than it looks though. Most movies are terrible so being a director must be hard work.
How important do you think it is to watch films in English?
It's not important at all, but I like movies and I like watching them in the original language. I find American movies easier to understand than British ones, but I prefer British English.
What can you learn about a country’s culture by watching films from that country?
You can learn some things, basic things, but if you really want to learn about a country the best way is to talk to people from that country. Or you could combine the two, and talk to people from a country about films from that country!
THANK YOU. THAT IS THE END OF THE TEST.