If you’re taking the CAE soon then you probably know that one of the parts to the oral exam is comparing and contrasting two out of three pictures and answering questions about them.
The best way to practise this skill is to get some photos and start comparing them. We know it can be difficult to find resources online so we’ve found some for you and created some practise exercises. We hope these help you with your CAE oral preparation.
Before we get started on the practise exercises let’s have a look at some useful tips about the oral part of the CAE first.
You don’t have a lot of time to answer the question and if you take too long, the examiner will stop you. So the important thing is to remember to start answering the questions as soon as possible. You can’t spend the first 30 seconds describing each picture individually because at this level the examiner knows you can describe things and they want to see your other skills.
Instead of describing the pictures separately, your description should be comparing them immediately.
There is a couple in both pictures, in the first one the couple seem happy together, whereas in the second picture it looks like they might be arguing.
By using both and whereas, I have managed to describe the two pictures and compare them at the same time.
Remember that you’ll also have to answer some questions about the pictures. Potential questions for these pictures could be:
- What do you think is happening in these photos?
- How do you think the people might be feeling?
It’s important that you answer these questions and don’t spend too much time simply describing the pictures. And remember, you’re trying to guess what is happening in the photos, you don’t know. So remember to use speculative language:
- It’s possible
- It looks like
- It seems like
- There could be
- They might have
Here are some examples of photos that you might get and questions that you might be asked.
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. – What have these people been doing? How do you think they are feeling?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. How do you think the people are feeling? Why do you think they’re feeling that way?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. – How are these people relaxing? Why do you think relaxing is important in modern life?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. – Talk about the different tools being used. How might this influence farming techniques?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. How are the people studying in each photos? What benefits do you think each type of studying may have?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. How are these different people performing? What do you think they get from performing?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. How are these people exercising differently? What are some of the advantages of exercising with different amounts of people?
Choose two of the three photos to compare and contrast. How are these people using different studying techniques? What benefits do you think each technique would have?
How to practise on your own
The best thing to do would be to find a native speaker who you could practise with or do mock exams with your teacher. That way the native speaker can give you feedback that can help you.
Unfortunately that isn’t always the case, and even though they are many platforms for finding language partners now, it can still be difficult to find them.
So if you have the exam coming up and you need to practise on your own, I would do the following:
- Find practise papers, or if you can’t find anymore, then just look for images around a simple theme and practise comparing them and noting the differences
- Time yourself! It’s very important to make sure you’re not spending too much time describing the photos as you won’t have that much time to speak in the actual exam
- Make sure to add in words of comparison and words to show that you’re talking about possible situations and not concrete facts
- Think! Have I answered the question? If you haven’t answered both questions in the given time then you need to try again.
But of course, if possible, try and find a language partner you can practise with.
If you’ve been doing these exercises then I can only assume it’s because you’re about to take the CAE or you’re thinking about taking the CAE. Whichever is the case, we wish you the best of luck and hope that you do well in your exams!
Remember practising is the best thing that you can do to help you improve your skills. So find as many pictures as you can and start comparing and contrasting them. If you can find a native speaker to help you practise, the better!
If you want to practise your English reading skills then check out our English books here.