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The BIGGEST Mistakes You Can Make in Your C1 Advanced Speaking Exam

AND How to Correct Them!

So, you’re planning on taking the Cambridge C1 Advanced (previously called the CAE) exam. Nerve-wracking, right? And, there’s nothing scarier than getting up in front of an examiner and talking in another language. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 77% of people worldwide have a fear of public speaking – which means you’re not alone!

So, what can you do to stop avoidable mistakes from ruining your grade? Easy! Be prepared. Know what could go wrong and, most importantly, how to put it right. That’s why at Brighter English, we’ve come up with this handy guide to make sure you stay cool under pressure and achieve your CAE goals.


Of course, nothing really beats face-to-face tuition with an expert teacher! Our Cambridge-qualified tutors offer personalised, private lessons to help you prepare for exam success – see link below.

Now, keep reading to find out the BIGGEST mistakes you could be making in your CAE Speaking Exam, and what you can do to pass with flying colours.


Part 1 (Interview)

2 Minutes

What do I have to do?

Part 1 of the Cambridge C1 Advanced English Exam is a short conversation between you and the interlocutor. You’ll be talking about personal topics like your hobbies and interests, studies or career. This is so the examiner can get to know a little bit more about you, and to help put you at ease for the more difficult parts of the test.

You won’t talk to your partner during this part of the exam.

What mistakes could lower my grade?

❌ Making your answers too short OR too long

Part 1 might be the easiest of the four, but that doesn’t mean your examiner wants easy answers! Responding with a simple yes or no, or just one short sentence is unlikely to get you the grade you deserve. Similarly, talking for too long isn’t a good idea either. You’ll have more chance to wow the examiner with your English if you have time to talk about more than one question.

✅ Tip: Aim to give an answer that’s around three sentences long. That way, you can include more information, but you’ll know you aren’t rambling on for too long. You can use your phone to time your answers, too. Around 20-30 seconds is all you’ll need to craft a succinct but impressive answer.

❌ Using vocabulary and grammar that’s too simple

The examiner is looking for a wide range of vocabulary and grammar. And, the more you can show off your range, the higher you’ll score in these areas. This isn’t the time to stick to basic adjectives or simple grammar constructions!

✅ Tip: Get your thesaurus out. Make it a habit to learn the synonyms and antonyms of any new vocabulary item, as well as how they can be used in a sentence. That way, you’ll have lots of impressive words at your fingertips when the time comes to take your exam.

✅ Tip: Use your phone to record yourself giving practice answers, and then analyse them. What grammar structures and vocabulary did you use – and how could you improve them? Note down your ideas and record your answer a second time using your suggested improvements.


Not sure if your English is at the right level for the C1 Advanced exam? Take our FREE online level test:


What should I practise for Part 1?

  • Phrases for making introductions

  • Phrases for giving an opinion

  • Grammar and vocabulary for talking about your personal life, interests and plans for the future

Want to know what kind of questions might come up in Part 1? Click here for a range of sample questions and answers.


Want to get the full Speaking Exam Guide? Download it for FREE now! 👇🏼

How to Pass the C1 Advanced Speaking Exam
Download PDF • 458KB

To give yourself the best chance of success, check out our Private 1-to-1 Classes or contact us if you have any questions.

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