How to Improve Your Global Mark (G) on Your Speaking Test

How to improve your Global score in FCE, PET and KET.

When most people are doing a speaking test, they naturally feel nervous. However, remember the speaking part of the tests above is actually the shortest and perhaps the easiest to pass. Remember you don’t need to have perfect English to pass, you only need to get 3 out of 5 for each part of the paper. So what can you do to improve your score?

  1. Be understood! Try to speak as clearly as you can. However, don’t worry too much about making mistakes. If you make a mistake, try to correct it yourself and then move on. Don’t let it interfere with your fluency. You get lower marks if you hesitate and have long pauses.
  2. Be relevant! Concentrate on answering the questions, listening to the instructions and your partner. For example, if you are asked about your free time, talk about your hobbies and not your job.
  3. Expand on your answers! Don’t just respond with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Give extended answers and show you understand what is being asked.

Remember the speaking paper is over very quickly so do your best.


Improving Your Discourse Management (DM) Mark on Your Speaking Test

Discourse Management

What is it and how can you improve your score?

Discourse management refers to the ability to produce extended written and spoken texts, for example conversations.  Discourse management is one of the key components used in the assessment of spoken language in the PET, FCE and CAE tests at Inforum.

Sometimes simply referred to as ‘Fluency’, your Discourse Management score is assessed on your ability to produce good conversations which are relevant (on topic) and express your ideas in easy to follow but descriptive manner. Hesitation, repetition and using only short phrases and sentences are your enemy here.

So what can you do to improve?

  1. Understand your subject of conversation. Try to speak only about the given subject and do not digress or drift away onto another subject.
  2. Take your time. Gather your thoughts before you speak and don’t speak too quickly. Speaking at a comfortable pace will allow your mind to keep up with your speaking. Speaking too fast will just lead to hesitation and stress.
  3. Don’t repeat yourself. This refers to more than just repeating words, it also refers to repetitive structure. Using a variety of tenses, pronouns and synonyms as well other tools such as a mix active and passive sentences can add variety and impact to your speaking.
  4. Use cohesive devices to link your ideas and build interesting sentences rather than a series of short ideas. These might include;

Adding information:                 and / as well as / furthermore / in addition to

Sequencing information:         firstly / first of all / secondly / next / meanwhile / subsequently

Illustrating information:            for example / such as / for instance / in the case of

Comparing information:          as with / similarly / the same as / equally / likewise

Qualifying information:           but / however / although / unless / except / apart from / if

Contrasting information:         whereas / alternatively / unlike / on the other hand / however

Cause and effect:                   because / as a result of / consequently / therefore / due to

Summarise information:         in short / on the whole / overall / in brief / in other words

Emphasising information:       above all / especially / significantly / notably / indeed


So as you can see, just by using a few simple tools and doing a little practice, you can easily turn a less than impressive passage of speech and turn it into something special and more importantly, possibly achieve that higher score you desire.

Good luck.


Improving Your Interactive Communication (IC) Mark on Speaking Tests

What is interactive communication?

Interactive communication is one of the components that you will be assessed on during your Cambridge speaking test (KET, PET, FCE, CAE). Your examiner is assessing how well you interact with your partner.


How to get the best score:

If you want to be successful in this part of the test, you need to use as many complex grammar structures as you can as well as using a good range of vocabulary. When speaking, try not to hesitate and make sure your responses are relevant and coherent. Intonation is also important, so really focus on articulating what you mean by varying your pitch and tone when necessary. Develop the conversation with your partner as much as possible.

Not everyone can get top marks for grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation, but there’s no reason not to get a 5 for ‘interactive communication’. This mark is for initiating conversation, responding to what your partner has said, and trying to move the discussion towards an outcome.
Acknowledge something the other candidate has said and develop it – just like a conversation in the real world. Try to avoid just giving stock phrases like “I agree with you” and then moving onto a different topic. Say why you agree (or disagree) and discuss the point. For example ‘That’s what I think too because…’. You can ask the other candidate why they have that opinion too



What IELTS did this week

This week in the IELTS class our themes revolved around ‘science and space’.  We started off discussing different science disciplines and then moved on to a reading and summarising task about incredible scientific developments.

This lead us into our next IELTS reading task about the KT Event (a meteorite strike that hit the Earth 65 million years ago) and whether it was the reason for the extinction of the dinosaurs or not.  This was a great way to practice some of the skills needed to answer ‘summary completion’ tasks in the IELTS.  It was also an excellent reason to practice some ‘cause & result’ functions, which are extremely useful for IELTS Speaking and Writing tasks.  For example: “As a result of the combination of the KT Event, volcanic activity and climate change, it is possible the dinosaurs became extinct over a number of years, not from one cataclysmic event.”

We then moved on to explore some vocabulary related to ‘space & the planets’, which helped us with some listening practice also.

As for grammar, one of our listening tasks was full of future forms, which we then did a lot of practice with.  “What goals will you have achieved in 20 years’ time?

To finish us off for the week we all did a full day of IELTS test practice to check on our progress after 8 weeks of hard work and to build some more ‘test fitness’ for those in the class planning to take their test soon.

What FCE did last week

The FCE class had a pretty busy week, but every week is pretty busy when you’re taking a hard look at grammar and vocab in each lesson! This time, we’ve been talking about reporting speech. Maybe you know some of the verbs we use, like say, ask and tell. Did you know that there are over 50 other reporting verbs? The FCE knows now, and they can use them too. So ask them about their studies, and they might insist on telling you about it. They’ve promised to use them in everyday conversation, with some students boasting that they’ll remember them all.

We’ve also been talking about the media: The news, books, television, and more.  There are some big differences between how news is reported in Brazil, Spain and Japan, a topic about which everyone had something to say. The media is a part of our everyday lives, so it’s important to be able to understand the specific vocabulary it uses. Hopefully, our FCE students are feeling a bit more informed and can understand a little bit more of the English that surrounds them in their Australian life!

What Upper A Did This Week

What a busy week we have had in Upper Intermediate this week. All the students did a great job on their social media presentations. They had to prepare a presentation to promote a charitable organisation with the winner receiving $150 for their chosen charity. The students received a lot of helpful feedback from Simon and Jun who judged the competition. We also had our final exam where students had the chance to show off what they have been learning over the last few weeks. Congratulations on all your hard work and we wish you all the best for the next half of upper.


Exam Tips

Have you ever seen a stress-free student just before an exam? I haven’t – but after sitting through three years of university exams, (most of which are three to four hours long) I have personally developed some tips to help students reduce their exam stress levels and ensure maximum efficiency before, during and straight after an examination.

Before the exam

Here are some basic pre-exam tips to help you minimise stress and maximise effective study.

  1. Don’t cram

Studying the night before an exam causes the level of stress in the body to increase. Unfortunately, this stress doesn’t decrease when you go to sleep. The best way to reduce anxiety is by taking the night before an exam off to relax: watch TV, talk to a friend, read a novel.

If you’re one of those people who become anxious because of not studying the night before an exam, then simply review the main points of your subject earlier in the day and leave the night free for other things.

Note that it is assumed that you have already done some study leading up to the night before your exam.

  1. Avoid stressful people

Stress is contagious, so resist the urge to have a study session with your apprehensive friends before an exam, especially if they’re complaining about all the work they have left to do and pulling their hair out.

Their stress will only add to your stress and make you doubt yourself, even if you know that you will be fine.

  1. Eat well

Good nutrition is a leading factor in a student’s academic achievement. A well-balanced diet can help transform a nutritionally imbalanced student into a healthy and dynamic one.

And of course, having breakfast before an exam is a must for a student who wants to focus and be most efficient during their exam.

  1. Watch your caffeine intake

Nothing drives up your stress level faster than not being able to fall asleep the night before an exam, so avoid beverages like coffee, or high energy drinks like V or Mother unless they are decaffeinated.

  1. Avoid hangovers

Do your best to avoid alcohol the night before your exam because a bad hangover is the very worst thing to be suffering from in an exam room.

  1. Prepare to be prepared

Before going to bed the night before an exam, make sure to collect together everything that you will need for the exam – this could include:

  • Pens
  • Sharpened pencils
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Calculator
  • Your lucky shirt
  • Water bottle
  • Tissues
  • A watch

Double (and even triple) check the time of your exam, location and seat number. Allow plenty of time for problems like lack of fuel and traffic on the way, making sure to arrive with time to spare so that you go into your exam calmly rather than in a frantic rush sweating.

  1. Zzzz

Staying up all night before an exam is the worst thing one can do. You reach a point where your productivity eventually declines, so sleeping is a must to have a refreshed mind the next morning.

Regular sleep is the best ways to control exam stress. Students who follow a regular sleeping pattern have been shown to perform much better than students who stay up late.

Also, don’t forget to set your alarm clock the night before!

Best of luck,


What Advanced Did Last Week

In Advanced last week, we talked about whether we preferred going out or staying in. We used a lot of different ways to express how we might feel after a night out such as, exhausted, mortified or disappointed, which are also possible after a night in. A bit depressing but, on a more positive note, we also discussed how you can go out into a new city and discover something amazing off the beaten track and you can do the same in a book, in some fantastical fictional city, curled up in bed in your socks and pajamas. We described all of these weird and wonderful possibilities with long, descriptive noun phrases and specific vocabulary to talk about novels.


What about you? Have you ever felt this way after a big night out? Do you like discovering things more in books or out in the world? Are you a social butterfly or a homebody?

What Pre-Intermediate Did Last Week

If you ever want a good chat and something nice to eat you should just ask a Pre – Intermediate student. This week they learnt all about suggesting where to go for a “feed”, whether it be breakfast or dinner.

They also learnt how to start conversations with people using the Present Perfect Simple.

If you are ever late for a meeting they will be able to ask for directions and follow the instructions, as well as apologise for being late.

The students talked about different jobs and how to best manage their time and why people would volunteer for things.

Everyone got involved when the discussion turned to shopping. The students can show you where to go for a bargain, including how to shop at a second-hand store or even online.

So don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to others around you. It might just be a Pre – Int student!

Surviving Summer on the Gold Coast

It’s the middle of summer 2017. We are slowly but surely getting back into our English studies! This week in the Elementary class was assessment week, so all the students have to recover from their holidays. Most of you were able to revise your fundamental grammar as well as polishing up and expanding your English. This time of year is the hottest time of the year in Australia. The average temperature during the summer days is 30 degrees Celsius, it is the perfect time to go to the beach or pool and have a swim and relax in the summer sun. Please take care when you’re out in the Australian sun. It is hot and full of ultra violet rays that can damage your skin and could lead to skin cancer.

Please be wise. Before you go out in the sun, remember to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide’. Wow! What does that all mean? Slip on a shirt, Slop on 30+ sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek shade or shelter when it is hot and Slide on some sunglasses, be wise and you will enjoy the Aussie sun and the great outdoors.

Oh and one more thing. When you go to the beach, please remember to swim between the red and yellow striped flags. This is a safe area where the lifeguards can see you and help you if needed.slip_slop_slap_600