When you’re taking your STANAG 6001 level 3 speaking exam in Poland, you’ll be speaking with another candidate.
If you’re taking your exam after the course organised by the MoD, you may have an opportunity to choose and practise with your exam partner. If not, you’ll be assigned a random speaking partner from among other candidates.
Why is it important? There are different types of speakers and your success in the exam partly depends on your cooperation. No matter which type of speaker you meet on the other side of the exam table, you can still pass it.
WHAT TYPES OF EXAM SPEAKERS ARE THERE?
1. YOUR IDEAL SPEAKING PARTNER – knows the rules of the exam and their level of English is similar to yours, willing to cooperate in order to pass the exam.
2. HIGHER LEVEL OF LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY PARTNER – speaks English at a higher level than you do, is more fluent, more correct and more self-confident.
3. LOWER LEVEL OF LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY PARTNER – speaks English at a lower level than you do, is less fluent, less correct and less self-confident.
4. NOT WILLING TO COOPERATE PARTNER – doesn’t care if you have a chance to speak, they say what they have to say and don’t care about cooperating with you to pass the exam.
5. STRESSED OUT PARTNER – knows the rules and tries to cooperate but the stress, lower level of language proficiency and/or lack of self-confidence make it difficult for them to focus on the task.
WHAT TO DO?
First of all, you need to be ready and aware that you may be taking your exam with any of these people. The very awareness that this may happen should help a lot.
Secondly, it’s important to remember that in both speaking tasks (briefing and dialogue), it’s part of the job to interact with another person. If it’s a briefing, you need to listen to your partner’s presentation and ask questions about it. In the case of a dialogue, you need to negotiate and hammer out a common conclusion.
HOW TO DEAL WITH DIFFERENT SPEAKERS?
If you’re talking to an ideal partner, your job is quite simple. You just do your job by following the rules of the exam, following the instruction closely and making sure you’re on the same page (understanding the topic in the same way).
It’s always a good idea to help each other out. If you notice your interlocutor is having trouble finding the word or understanding the topic, give them a hand in a natural way by suggesting a word or phrase or paraphrasing the question for them.
HIGHER LEVEL SPEAKER
If you have an interlocutor who speaks better, faster and with more confidence than you, it’s your job not to let them dominate you, if they try to. However, it may happen that this person will become aware of the situation and will try to help you out by using their strengths.
If they don’t, you need to manage the situation for yourself by controlling the time limit and the amount of time you speak. Don’t hesitate to stop them politely, by saying, for example:
✅ Excuse me, may I interrupt you?
✅ Could I just say something?
✅ Sorry for interrupting, but I’d like to add something
✅ Before you move on, I’d like to say something.
✅ Can I just add something here?
✅ Sorry to interrupt, but I’d like to add something here.
If they say something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask for explanation or clarification by saying:
✅ Excuse me, what do you mean exactly by …
✅ Sorry, what have you just said? I didn’t quite catch that.
✅ I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you mean.
✅ I’m afraid I didn’t quite catch that. Can you repeat that, please?
✅ I’m sorry, could you repeat your question, please?
✅ So, if I understood you correctly, you would like to know if …
LOWER LEVEL SPEAKER
If you have an interlocutor whose level of English is lower, make sure not to intimidate them by dominating the discussion. Give them time to think, ask questions and encourage them to take their turn. It’s not your responsibility, obviously, to do the job for them, but make sure you don’t make it harder for your exam partner. If you notice they have trouble understanding something you’ve said, you may try paraphrasing it.
The burden of arranging the conversation may be on you in such a case, so don’t forget to stick to the time limit and the rules of the exam. Be sure to share the time between the two of you evenly. To encourage your exam partner to take part, you may ask about their opinion, for example:
✅ How do you feel about that?
✅ What is your point of view?
✅ Would you like to add something?
✅ I would really appreciate your view.
✅ Have you got any thoughts on this?
✅ Do you have any views on this?
✅ How about you? What is your opinion on this?
STRESSED OUT SPEAKER
If your interlocutor is stressed out and can’t focus on the job, the thing you can do is try not to stress them more. Try to do your job as normal. Basically, you may use the strategies suggested above with relation to the lower level speaker. Try to be understanding and helpful. That’s all you can do. Stay calm yourself and control the situation, so that your exam partner’s stress doesn’t influence your performance.
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WHAT IF YOU ARE STRESSED OUT?
What can reduce exam stress?
✅ Be prepared – I mean, if you know what to expect, are familiar with the exam format and procedure, you won’t be too surprised by anything that happens. And that should allow you to remain calm.
✅ Try not to memorise any lengthy statements – reciting pieces of briefings or discussions, which have been learned by heart, is both poorly evaluated and stressful. If you forget a word or phrase from your memorised text, you may get stuck. Plus, it will be clear which part has been memorised if there’s a big difference in fluency.
✅ Don’t freak out – just before the exam is not the right time to learn new things suggested by people waiting for their turn with you. Just ignore it. It’s not the time!
✅ Warm up – warming up, in turn, is a good idea. You may want to tune in to English by listening to something in that language on your way to the exam venue. You may also want to warm up your vocal cords by having a conversation about anything in English with a friend or by just talking to yourself in English.
PRO TIP 🙂
Remember that cooperation is not only well evaluated in the exam, because it’s part of your job in negotiations, debates or briefings, but it is also just friendly and fair!
You’ll feel better about yourself knowing you’ve done all you can to help your colleague out in trouble and that you’ve cooperated with a common goal in mind.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Can you share any tips on not stressing out during the exam?
Or maybe you’ve had interesting exam experience with different types of candidates? Have you met any?