What did I do wrong?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? What made you lose this one point necessary to pass your exam in speaking?

There are a few things that may go wrong during the exam. Read on to check out what you can do to prevent it!

Here we go.


1. Stick to the topic – follow closely the topic from the instruction, don’t change it to suit your interests or knowledge.

2. Don’t read from your notes – try to maintain eye contact with your interlocutor at all times.

3. Stick to the time limit provided – you can use your wrist watch. If you speak shorter, it may mean you haven’t provided enough information. If you exceed the time limit, you may be stopped and your task won’t be achieved – as you may not be able to sum up, for example.

4. Structure your statements well. Don’t make lengthy introductions with little content – the parts that have been memorised and recited are not evaluated well in the exam. Make sure to have time to mention all necessary elements, develop all ideas and sum up.

5. Work on your fluency. You can do it by practising how to structure your arguments on any topic – for example, start with a topic sentence, give an example, justify your point of view and conclude. You can read more here on HOW TO COME UP WITH ARGUMENTS and HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR STATEMENTS .

6. Ensure high quality of your argumentation. Develop each idea, justify and exemplify.  Avoid adding unnecessary information or isolated statements not connected with the topic. Speak precisely, logically and to the point.

7. Ensure the grammatical correctness and natural use of more advanced language. Make sure to present a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. 

Avoid the following:

– frequent grammatical mistakes,

– loan translation from your native language (calque),

– copying word order from your native language,

– the inappropriate use of words and phrases,

– using too many “sophisticated” words and phrases unnaturally,

– using parts of speech wrongly (e.g. using a verb instead of a noun).

 8. Avoid simplistic language and vocabulary by:

– using a variety of tenses and grammatical forms, if necessary,

– exchanging common nouns, verbs or adjectives with their “more advanced” synonyms, e.g. big > large, enormous; bad > negative; buy > purchase; people > individuals.

9. Be natural. The discussion is supposed to resemble a natural dialogue and a briefing a formal presentation. In any case, avoid artificial introductions and lofty language.

10. Avoid lengthy monologues in the discussion. Make sure both of you (candidates) have enough opportunity to speak. The discussion should be based on the exchange of opinions supported with arguments and justification, which happens in turns. Apart from giving your opinion, you should ask about the second candidate’s opinion, agree or disagree with his or her arguments. It’s necessary to refer to the arguments brought up by the interlocutor and react directly to what he or she says.


It’s always a good idea to read and listen to authentic English content on multiple topics, such as  practical, social, professional and abstract topics, particular interests, special fields of competence, and complex topics which may include economics, culture, science, and technology (after: www.natobilc.org) to pool vocabulary, ideas and arguments for your speaking.

I hope you find these tips useful.

It’d be great to hear from you and know if this answers your questions about what may cause a failure in an exam.

It’s not always something specific. It may be a general impression that decides – and that may depend on the things listed above.

It would also be great to read your opinion and your tips as well.

It’ll help me a lot if you leave a comment under this post. I’ve prepared a thank you gift for you if you decide to do it!

It’s a PDF, printable checklist with the above 10 tips for the successful STANAG 6001 exam in speaking. 

Thanks in advance.

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