A good portion of apprehension accompanies the Speaking Test and the partnering option. Here is some information and advice to hand on to your students:
Let us start with the administrative end of things. In general, we try to accommodate speaking test pairing for all candidates, provided they comply with some rules. First, it is essential that candidates who request a speaking test partner register within a few days of each other and pay the exam fee at about the same time as well. This will activate the candidates in our system and will allow us to start planning and timetabling. Sometimes, if one of the two candidates is late in registering or we receive payment after we have started planning and timetabling, it is impossible to pair them. Obviously, in order to be paired, candidates must choose the same exam and date as well!
In rare circumstances, there are situations where we have to re-schedule candidates and exam dates due to unforeseen circumstances. In these cases, we are not able to pair candidates. Unfortunately, this was the case during the last year when Swiss Exams was confronted with last minute changes due to government regulations, which had an effect on distance, which in turn forced us to find new venues and this was difficult as many closed at short notice. But, generally, we try to avoid these kinds of situations.
Moving on to the Speaking Test itself. We sometimes hear that candidates claim, their chosen or assigned partner, influenced their performance in a negative way. This is a myth, as Cambridge Assessment Exams are strictly designed and scripted, in order to make sure each candidate can be assessed fairly in his or her own right. Were this not so, the exams would be arbitrary and unfair. Furthermore, candidates sometimes claim and perceive that examiners went off script. The fact that there is an interlocutor as well as an observing assessor in the room, makes it unlikely, yes, even impossible that this could happen.
Sometimes, a desired Speaking Test partner is absent on the day and then candidates are assigned to another one present. This results in another myth. There is no statistical evidence that candidates who are assigned to someone they don’t know, do better or worse in an exam. Of course, it can’t be denied that candidates may feel more confident when they go to the exams with a friend they know. However, it is even more important, chosen or assigned partner, that candidates punctually arrive at the speaking test 15 minutes before the exam, so they can calm down and acquaint themselves with the environment. If they are expecting an assigned partner, they can always ask at check-in to be introduced to their partner in the waiting room which then gives them a few minutes to exchange some words and familiarise themselves with their partner.
So, these are important things to know about the speaking test.
For more questions about the exam day, visit this website.
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