GCAS: Avoid the top 3 mistakes

Woman at computer with pencil between her teeth looking upset
Oh no!

At The English Farm, we have coached a great number of students through the business speaking test GCAS. We have found many students make the same mistakes.

Here are the three most common mistakes in the GCAS and practical tips to avoid them.

1. Time limit

Each part has a time limit. As you prepare, get used to speaking within the time limit.

It's not a race—the goal is not to say as much as you can. But rather, the goal is to use your most sophisticated English within the time limit. For instance, your presentation is only 2 minutes, so make sure you offer a clear analysis and propose a solution before the end of that time.

The solution is simple: time your answers when you practice. The GCAS Mock Tests have timed exercises.

Here's a breakdown of the time limits.

  • Part 1: Interview and discussion (total 4 minutes)
    • Small talk (~30 sec.)
    • Discussion (3 min.)
  • Part 2: Presentation (total 4 minutes)
    • Preparation (90 sec.)
    • Presentation (2 min.)
      • Explain the situation in detail.
      • Offer a solution to a problem.
  • Part 3: Role play (total 5 min.)
    • Comprehension and Preparation (90 sec.)
      • Think about a business issue.
      • Read a list of possible solutions. Use the solutions on the list or your own ideas.
    • Do role play (3 min.)
      • Discuss the situation and propose a solution to the examiner.
      • Your examiner will role-play a situation with you.

2. Pausing

If you pause for too long, examiners often cut in and ask another question.

So, if you have a main point, either say it right away or lead up to it smoothly. You should not start speaking and then pause to consider what you will say next.

In this sense, the GCAS prepares you well for business. You cannot leave long pauses in business meetings. If you pause too long, your colleague or client will start speaking.

Some students have trouble with pausing. If that's you, then learn good speaking habits.

3. Weak solutions

Parts 2 and 3 of the GCAS require you to propose solutions with confidence.

Again, in this sense, the GCAS prepares you well for business. When you propose solutions, you should be confident. If you are not, then it's hard to believe that your solution is right.

Confidence means your speaking style should be clear. Confidence also means your argument should be clear. If you can give clear evidence and you can explain why, then you will have an awesome answer. When you know you have an awesome answer, it's easy to be confident.

So, practice proposing solutions. The GCAS strategies course will show you exactly how to do it.

If you can stay within the time limit, speak smoothly without pausing, and propose solutions well, then you are well on your way to maximizing your test score.