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How to Excel in DSE English Speaking

Paper 4 is the ten percent of their overall DSE English grade that people tend to underestimate. Very often, even schools do not provide sufficient training to their students, leaving them to think: Hey, it’s just talking, right? I talk all the time. However, acing this paper requires a few more techniques than you may have anticipated.

Elaborate on your ideas

It’s easy to begin your responses with ‘Yes, I agree with you.’ It’s so easy that everyone does it. The hard part comes next, when you have to elaborate on what you agree with. People lose a lot of marks by not being able to add anything here. The easiest way to get marks here is to paraphrase what the other candidate just said. For higher marks, add to their idea before delivering your own.

Ask for specific responses

In order to gain credits in the Communication Strategies domain, many candidates end their responses by saying ‘Do you agree with me?’ This is actually rather confusing because the other candidates don’t know which part of your argument you’re talking about, and they don’t even know who you’re talking to.

Instead of saying ‘Do you agree with me?’, try ‘Candidate B, would you like to comment on my suggestion to increase the number of PE lessons?’

Do not be afraid to change stance

Of course, you shouldn’t change your mind whenever someone disagrees with you. This isn’t what communication is really like. However, it’s equally pointless to keep on defending an argument when, deep down, you know you’re not being very convincing. A lot of candidates are worried about being seen as gullible; however, with sufficient reasons to back up a change of stance, it can demonstrate how flexible and confident you are. In addition, it keeps the discussion moving at a good pace rather than getting stuck on a single point.


The speaking paper is nothing to be scared of. Once you’re familiar with the techniques above, it can actually be the easiest way to add to your overall grade. At i-Learner, we run speaking mocks to prepare students for the paper 4 exams, and we cover plenty of speaking skills in our DSE English courses.