Part Three of the Speaking Test is used to measure your vocabulary level. If you look at the Public Band Descriptors they talk about “familiar” and “unfamiliar” topics. Part I and Part 2 contain “familiar” topics. You know this because they ask questions about “you”. In Part Three, where the questions are more general, the questions involve unfamiliar” topics and you know this because instead of asking “… where do you like to go for a holiday” they will ask you “where do people in YOUR COUNTRY like to have a holiday”.
Your vocabulary score is determined by your use of lexis (words) in this part of the test. For example, according to the Public Band Descriptors a candidate at:
Look carefully at the first two bullet points in these descriptions.
From Band 3 to Band 6 there is a transition of increasing ability to talk about BOTH familiar and unfamiliar topic areas but it is only at Band 6 where the candidate is able to talk about all topics AT LENGTH.
- Band 3: The candidate cannot talk about unfamiliar topics
- Band 4: The candidate can give only basic information about unfamiliar topics
- Band 5: The candidate can talk in a limited way about unfamiliar topics
- Band 6: The candidate can talk AT LENGTH about unfamiliar topics
These words AT LENGTH are very significant. Candidates who deliberately don’t speak very much because they are worried that the more they speak the more errors they will make, will never have the opportunity of getting higher than Band 5 for their Lexical Resource (vocabulary) score.