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Students' questions: deviating from the topic (speaking)

 A student asked me the following question:

In speaking part 2, do we have to answer the question exactly as it is, or can we change the topic a little? For example, the task is "describe a gift that you made for someone", but I have never made a gift. Can I talk about the time I made a birthday cake with my roommate to celebrate her birthday?

Here's my answer:

I think your birthday cake answer would be fine, because you made it and it's almost like a gift. Just make sure that you explain the situation at the beginning of your answer. For example, you could introduce your answer like this: "I can't remember ever making a gift myself, but I did recently make a birthday cake for my roommate, so I'll describe this."

Try to stay as close to the question as possible, and introduce your answer very clearly if it deviates a little bit from the stated task. You must show the examiner that you understand the task, and that you are not simply making a mistake.

Of course, the other alternative is to invent something. It's ok to make something up - the examiner won't know!

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