Well done. You’ve been moving along your English language journey for some time now. You remember the days of telling yourself, in no uncertain terms, that you mustn’t forget to use the present continuous correctly in speaking part 2 of your B1. What a long time ago that seems! Since then, you’ve successfully climbed the other rungs of the Cambridge exam ladder. So, what’s next? Cambridge C2 Proficiency, also known as CPE. But how? Read on to find out how you can prepare for the Speaking exam.


What are the different parts of the C2 Proficiency (CPE) speaking test?


CPE Speaking Part 1 Interview

Length: 2 minutes

Part 1 of the CPE Speaking exam consists of the interlocutor asking each candidate personal questions. The interlocutor addresses each candidate in turn, giving them ample opportunity to introduce themselves and provide some background information. Expect questions about your personal life, hometown, hobbies and what makes you, you!

As in any speaking exam, you should avoid giving short answers. Be ready to not only answer each question fully, but also to listen carefully in order to understand exactly what the examiner is asking you to do. Often the questions will prompt you to speculate as well as simply giving your opinion. Look out for structures like ‘How difficult…’, ‘How far do you agree that…’ and questions that refer to the future. These guide you into using speculative language.

Here are some examples of questions which can feature in Part 1:

Part 1 questions

CPE Speaking Part 2 Collaborative task

Length: 4 minutes

Part 2 of the CPE Speaking exam is, in a way, similar to Part 2 of the CAE, but unsurprisingly, one level up! In Part 2, you will work closely with your partner, exchanging ideas and working towards a decision. Part 2 tests your ability to maintain interaction, express and justify your opinions, respond to and evaluate your partner’s ideas, and eventually, come to an agreement.

Collaborative task

The interlocutor will give you a set of photos and introduce the theme. The interlocutor will then choose two or three of the photos for both of you and will ask you to discuss a question. This will last approximately one minute. After this, the interlocutor will introduce the situation for which you must arrive at a conclusion. These typically include selecting which one of the pictures would be most suitable for a media campaign, a magazine cover or something which must represent a topic in the best way. You should talk about the benefits and drawbacks of the photos and settle on one, explaining why you have reached this decision.

Here are some C2 phrases you can include when interacting with your partner:

I’d go along with that.

I couldn’t agree more.

I beg to differ.

To be honest, it’s not really my cup of tea.

I kind of see what you’re saying, but…

CPE Speaking Part 3 Long turn and discussion

Length: 10 minutes

Part 3 of the CPE Speaking exam is usually the part that most candidates dread. However, with preparation and practice, you can do it!

The interlocutor will give you a card with a question and three connected ideas. You must spend two minutes answering the question on the card, using the ideas as prompts as you see fit.You will have to answer a follow-up question about your partner’s topic, so make sure you are listening fully to their ideas.

Part 3 tests your ability to structure and organise a long speech. You should not only express your opinions, but also back them up.

Here is an example taken from the Cambridge website. The full paper can be found here.

Speaking task

Be careful not to drift off topic. Stay focused. Although it’s good to be able to bring in personal anecdotes, you should avoid making this the crux of your speech. Instead, make your answer more global, weighing up how people generally feel, as opposed to just you.

Part 3 concludes with a discussion, based on the themes you have discussed during the long turn. This part of the speaking exam is open, and you should be ready to answer every question the interlocutor asks, giving your opinions on what your partner has said. This part of the exam lasts approximately six minutes.


What might I have to speak about in the Cambridge C2 Proficiency Speaking test?


Here is a list of topics that typically appear:



Technology and trends


The environment


Family life



This list is not exhaustive but will provide you with a good base for your preparation.


How should I prepare for the Cambridge C2 Proficiency Speaking test?


Familiarise yourself with the structure here.

Like with any exam preparation, the best advice is to fully immerse yourself in English. Rather than assigning a set amount of time once or twice a week for studying, you should aim to do as much as you possibly can in English. Reading in English is a fantastic way to consolidate grammar structures and introduce new vocabulary in context. Try some of these websites to help you feel comfortable talking about a range of topics:






Although these websites will provide you with a wealth of new vocabulary, remember this is a speaking exam. You should listen to the news in English, watch TV in English and put yourself into situations in which you are speaking English. Surrounding yourself with as much proficiency level English as possible will expose you to the nuances that can get you those extra marks. For example, intonation, correct usage of idioms and linking phrases. You should also ask your teacher to set you activities that are specific to your weaknesses. There is lots of support around you. You can do it!


More helpful C2 Proficiency resources


Details of C2 Proficiency exam

C2 Proficiency Part 3 reading and use of English (word formation)

C2 Proficiency Part 5 reading and use of English (multiple choice)

C2 Proficiency Part 6 reading and use of English (gapped text)


Looking for further support?


If you’re interested in preparing for the C2 Proficiency exam but don’t know where to start, get in touch with us here at Oxford House today! We offer specific courses that are designed especially to help you get ready for the exam. Let our fully qualified teachers use their exam experience to guide you through your learning journey. Sign up now and receive your free mock test!

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

in no uncertain terms (id): very clearly.

ample (adj): enough.

benefits and drawbacks (n): advantages and disadvantages.

settle on (pv): choose after careful consideration.

dread (v): to feel extremely worried.

see fit (id): think it is a good idea to do.

drift (v): move, usually without control.

the crux (n): the most important part.

wealth (n): large amount of.

nuance (n): a very slight difference in meaning, appearance or sound.


adj = adjective

id = idiom

n = noun

pv = phrasal verb

v = verb

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