Stay Calm in the B2 First Speaking Exam

What happens if I don’t understand the examiner’s question?
What happens if I forget the word I need?
What happens if my partner talks too much, or not enough?


Students have a lot of worries about the B2 First Speaking exam. It’s natural to think about these things, but try not to lose sleep over them. Yes, it’s a test, but the examiner won’t try to trick you with difficult questions. He or she wants you to do well. And remember that your partner is probably just as nervous as you!

This blog post will give you some tips about how to stay calm in the Speaking exam. So take a deep breath, and find out more…

First things first

Try to arrive early at the test centre, so you don’t feel stressed about the time!

While you wait

Some people say that waiting is the worst part, but you can use the time well. If other students are there, why not start a conversation? You’ll probably feel better after practising some English. If you’re alone, remind yourself of some key phrases for the exam.

If you’re very nervous

Think about your body. Let your shoulders fall. Count to ten while slowly breathing in and out. Use a thumb and finger to softly press your other hand. Imagine yourself smiling as you speak clearly and confidently to the examiner. You’re ready!

Part 1 (Interview)

In the first part of the B2 First Speaking test, the examiner will ask you personal questions about your life. Remember, you have this kind of conversation all the time – it’s going to be easy! Pretend you’re chatting to a classmate. If you don’t understand something, it’s fine to ask the examiner to repeat their question.

Part 2 (Long turn)

The best way to feel less nervous about Part 2 is to practise many times before the real test. You’ll have one minute to prepare, so think again about keywords and phrases, and then you get one minute to speak. It will go faster than you think! If you forget a word, that’s OK; just explain your idea another way.

Part 3 (Collaborative task)

This part is called the collaborative task, which means you and your partner have to work as a team. However, if your partner is too quiet or too loud, don’t worry! The examiner marks what you say and do. Try to encourage someone who’s quiet, or politely interrupt someone who’s loud.

Part 4 (Discussion)

You’re almost at the end! Part 4 is more natural than Parts 2 and 3, so you can relax and even enjoy it. Give your opinions clearly and support them with reasons. Remember how, before the exam, you imagined yourself smiling and talking with the examiner? Now is the time to do just that.

When it’s all over

Congratulate yourself on a job well done. It’s not easy to take a test in a second language, but you did it. And if you made some mistakes, it’s not the end of the world – you probably said lots of good things, too, without even noticing!

Laura Phelps

Laura Phelps is a teacher, trainer and writer with 15 years’ experience in English language education. After graduating in Linguistics with first class honours she joined the British Council Sri Lanka as a teacher, and went on to work in six more countries with employers including International House, Bell, Oxford University Press and McGraw-Hill. Laura has published a number of student textbooks at primary, secondary and university level, as well as subject-specific resources for people working in the arts. She has also designed and delivered courses for in-service teachers and for BBC journalists in the Caucasus.