B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary)


12 Minutes. Three tasks.

25% of the exam.

A guide to help you understand each speaking task and what you need to say.


This can be the hardest part of the exam for some people. Students are not sure what they have to do, they worry about making mistakes and don’t think they can prepare. Speaking can be stressful but you do it a lot already don’t you?

There are two examiners during the speaking test, one will speak, the other will listen. There are usually two candidates (sometimes three). Two of the tasks are individual, in the final task, you will have to speak to the other candidate.


  • You don’t have to speak perfect English or speak with an English accent.

  • The test is 12 minutes long but you don’t speak all the time.

  • If you don’t understand a question that is okay. Ask the examiner to repeat the question.


Could you repeat that, please?

Please could you say that again?

B1 Business Preliminary (BEC Preliminary) Speaking Part One – The Interview.

The Task

This part is for about three minutes, you answer questions about yourself, and give your opinion about a general business topic. You can do that! The examiner asks you questions and you answer. The examiner will also ask your partner questions so, in fact, this part is only really 90 seconds long for you.

You can download an example of common questions for Speaking Part One here.

The diagram below shows how you will speak.

Diagram of how examiner interacts with student during the Cambridge Business English Exam Speaking Part One

General advice.

• Listen carefully to the question so that you can answer it correctly!

• Give a short answer to the question and add one extra detail.

For example.

Q: What is your profession?

A: I’m an English teacher. I teach the English language to adults.

Q: Where do you work?

A: In a language school. We teach English and French and most of the students are adults.

• Copy the grammar in the question

For example…

Q: Do you prefer working in a team or alone?

A: I prefer working…

You can prepare for questions about yourself! Read the article here which has 65 common Speaking Exam questions for Part One.

Check that you know how to answer them and the correct vocabulary to talk about your job, your daily tasks and your company.

You can also check that you know the correct grammar.

Which one is correct?

I am working in a bank

I work in a bank.

It is the second sentence. Use the present simple to describe facts or routines in your normal life.

You can learn more about the correct grammar to use in this part of the Speaking Exam, in the B1 Business Preliminary Preparation Guide, available here.

You can also make sure you know the correct prepositions for the correct situations. If you don’t know, check online.

To work for a company or organisation

To work in place

To be responsible for

To be in charge of

To work in a team.

You also have to give an opinion about a business topic. This topic is not usually too complicated or serious. Example topics are…

• your office environment

• foreign languages at work

• using the phone at work

• using email at work

Now that you understand how to maximise your score for the B1 Preliminary Speaking Part 1, you are now ready to start learning how to prepare to succeed in Part 2 & 3.

If you prefer to focus on improving your score in a different part of the B1 Preliminary exam, then go to Reading, Writing, or Listening.