So the day has finally arrived – it’s test day! Depending on the test centre you are taking your test in, you might have the speaking on a different day to the other parts of the test or at the beginning or end of the same day. Whenever your speaking assessment is, here are some useful tips for the day of your IELTS speaking test.
Tip 1: Know the procedure on test day
You can make the whole test a lot less stressful by knowing in advance what you will be required to do. As the format will be slightly different depending on your test centre, you should always ask first, but here is a common breakdown of the speaking test section.
- You will arrive at the test centre and be registered using your ID (passport, ID card etc).
- The test administrator will check your identification, take a photo and scan your fingerprint.
- You will be given a piece of paper with your candidate number on. Keep this safe as you will need it a few times throughout the day.
- You will be escorted to a waiting area.
- In SOME test centres, you will be given an approximate time for your speaking assessment. In other test centres, you simply need to wait until your name or candidate number is called.
- The examiner will call you out of the waiting room. Your fingerprint will be checked again, as well as your ID.
- Your personal belongings (bags, mobile phones – even watches!) will be locked in a separate room. You will keep only your ID and the piece of paper you were given when you first registered.
- The examiner will take you to the testing room and conduct the test.
After the test, you will be escorted back to collect your belongings, and then escorted away from the other candidates (you will not be allowed to talk to other candidates until they have also finished their test)
As mentioned, there will be slight differences depending on your test centre – if you have anything to add, please post it in the comments section below!
Tip 2: Get your brain thinking in English before you start!
As soon as the day begins when you have you have your speaking test, you need to get your brain thinking and responding in English. That means avoiding conversations with people in your native language if possible – take some English music or a podcast in English with you and put headphones in when you’re waiting, unless there is an opportunity to speak English to other people.
Tip 3: Don’t study IELTS textbooks while you wait
Trying to cram as much as you can in the last few minutes before the test very rarely helps, and often leaves you more panicked and nervous. Ideally, take your own note book with some vocabulary, or even just an English novel or non-IELTS related book.
Tip 4: Talk to the examiner when you are first called for your test
Don’t wait until you are in the exam room to break the ice with the examiner (break the ice means to get the conversation started between two people when they first meet). The examiner might not say much to – they have to think of the administration steps to get you ready for the test – but saying a quick hello and asking the examiner how they’re day is going is a great way to help you start building a relationship with the examiner, and helping you when it comes to starting the test.
Tip 5: Dress comfortably
You will get no extra points for wearing a suit or formal dress and you certainly don’t lose points for wearing your favourite old jeans, so dress in clothes that you feel comfortable in. Keep in mind that test day can be quite long, and you don’t know the temperature of each of the rooms you will be in (the waiting room, the test room, the queue to register) so make sure you have something to keep you warm that’s easy to hold or put in a bag if it’s too warm.
Tip 6: Take a snack
From the time you queue up to register to the time you have finished the speaking test, you could have been on the go for up to 5 hours, so although you might not be hungry as you head to the test centre, it’s important to take a snack with you keep you going. Ideally this should be something healthy (some fruit, for example) and plenty of water to keep your brain hydrated. Although there may be a vending machine of something similar at the test centre, you can’t rely on it!
Tip 7: Remember why you are there
It is common to get nervous and stressed on test day, but just remember why you are taking the test. You are NOT there to make the examiner like you or to pass a job interview. You are just there to demonstrate your level of English, so be prepared to talk and be realistic about making mistakes (even in your native language, you are likely to hesitate or express yourself a little poorly at times during a 14 minute conversation with a stranger in a formal situation!).
Tip 8: Remember why the examiner is there
Let’s be honest – if the examiner wasn’t being paid, they wouldn’t be in the exam room asking you questions. For examiners, it is a paid job and absolutely nothing personal. And where does the examiner get paid from? Your test fees, which makes you the employer! Also keep in mind that within 10 minutes of your test, once you have left the room and the examiner has decided on your level, he or she will likely never think about you again. So don’t worry about ‘making a fool of yourself’ or making ’embarrassing mistakes’ – the examiner will talk to at least half a dozen candidates that day.