BEC Vantage Speaking Test (Marking) | Cambridge English Business Certificate Speaking Test

Marking the BEC Speaking Test

The BEC speaking test is marked by an assessor and an interlocutor. The assessor gives marks for each candidate’s performance during the test based on four speaking performance criteria:
  • Grammar and Vocabulary
  • Discourse Management
  • Pronunciation
  • Interactive Communication
The interlocutor gives marks based on the overall achievement scale, which evaluates the candidate’s general effectiveness in dealing with the speaking tasks. The BEC speaking test has a maximum of 30 marks which represents 25% of the candidate’s total score in the BEC exam.

Candidates are evaluated based on their individual performance in line with the established criteria. They are not evaluated in relation to their speaking test partner. There is no penalty if a candidate has difficulty understanding their speaking partner.

BEC Speaking Test Part 1

The first part of the BEC speaking test provides the examiners with the first impression of each candidate and so it is important for candidates to speak about themselves and their work or studies in sufficient detail. Relatively short answers are acceptable in this part because of the time restrictions.

BEC Speaking Test Part 2

In the second part of the BEC speaking test the candidates are asked to participate in an extended discourse in the format of a mini presentation. Each candidate is given some time to prepare a well structured and organised talk.

It is important that candidates follow the instructions to observe their speaking test partner’s topic card, to listen carefully while their partner is speaking and to respond appropriately to the examiner’s follow up questions.

BEC Speaking Test Part 3

In the third part of the BEC speaking test, the candidates have to discuss with each other a situation which is based on either visual or written prompts. To perform well in this section it is important that candidates do not just agree with, but also try to develop their partner’s contribution to the discussion, express their own opinions, and also invite their speaking partner to respond.

Candidates do not have to worry when the examiner asks them to stop, as this means that they have in fact sustained the discussion for the maximum period of time allowed in the test.

Following the discussion activity, the examiner will normally ask some follow up questions which will provide more opportunity for each candidate to interact and give their individual points of view.

It is very important that candidates give more than simple short responses at this time and make the most of the opportunity to develop discussion in addition to simply answering the examiner’s question.

Recommendations for candidate preparation
  • The examiners can only evaluate what they see and hear during the BEC speaking test. Candidates should make the most of each opportunity to show their English speaking ability at its best, and should be sure to speak clearly, and with confidence.

  • There is no need for a candidate to feel bad if they cannot remember certain vocabulary, as marks are given for the ability to paraphrase and substitute vocabulary in order to be effective in communication.

  • It is not a good idea for candidates to practise the interview with their speaking partner before entering the examination room. This can lead to a very unnatural interaction.

  • Candidates who allow long silences or pauses will not score well in the BEC speaking test, so they should try to be active and not passive during the test.

  • Candidates preparing for the BEC speaking test should practise a variety of BEC speaking activities with different speaking partners. This will help to develop an effective speaking performance.

  • Candidates should try not to dominate the speaking process, as they will lose marks. They need to be willing and able to take turns with their speaking partner, develop the discussion and allow their partner to respond naturally as in any normal conversation.

BEC speaking test - advice and tips.