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Tips for the IELTS Speaking Test

Tips for the IELTS Speaking Test

  1. Practise functional language

To perform well in the IELTS speaking test, you will need to able to:

  • give opinions
  • give examples
  • present contrasting views
  • evaluate someone else’s opinion
  • talk about cause and effect
  • talk about hypothetical situations.

You will need to be able to talk about past, present and future situations, so make sure you can use the appropriate grammar form to do this.

  1. Work on your fluency and grammatical accuracy.

To get a good score in the IELTS speaking test you will need to show fluency and grammatical accuracy.

It can be hard to retain fluency while also thinking about your grammatical accuracy, but you can build your ability and confidence with practice.

When practising for the speaking test a good approach is to record yourself. Listen back to the recording each time you practise and see if you can identify grammar errors.

You might find that your speech sounds unnatural because you are talking very slowly because you are focusing too much on the grammar.

Keep practising, keep recording, try to remember and avoid any consistent grammar errors that you make and try to speed up your speech to a natural pace.

  1. Do not rote learn answers

Some students try to memorise answers to IELTS speaking questions like they are learning a script. Avoid doing this as your speech will sound unnatural and it will be easy for an experienced IELTS examiner to realise that this is what you are doing!

By all means use past tests to practise but avoid ‘parrot learning’.

  1. Try to sound interested and interesting

Think about intonation and the enthusiasm that comes through when you speak. The sound of your speech should rise and fall; you need to avoid speaking in a monotone.

Again, you can practise this when you record yourself.

  1. Extend your answers

You should aim to carry on talking until the IELTS examiner signals for you to stop. Short answers will damage your chances of getting a good score.

It feels unnatural to keep talking, especially if the question could, in theory, be answered quickly in a few words, but in the IELTS exam you must aim to say as much as you can! It’s a good thing if the IELTS examiner needs to indicate that you should stop talking!

If you are asked a question 1) answer it, then extend your answer by 2) explaining why and/or 3) by giving examples and/or 4) by giving concessions (talking about the opposite point of view).

For example: What can people do to maintain their physical wellbeing?

‘The best ways to stay fit and healthy are through good diet and getting enough exercise. This means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and restricting unhealthy foods such as those high in sugar and fat. Exercising at least three times a week is also recommended. Cardio exercise such as swimming, running or cycling is especially beneficial. However, in our busy lives it can be difficult to find time for exercise and eating unhealthy snacks is often very tempting. Making a  few lifestyle changes like taking a salad to work and going for a walk during lunchbreak can make healthy living more achievable though!’ 

  1. You can take time to think!

If you are asked a question you are not sure about, don’t panic; take a moment to think about what you want to say.

Avoid complete silence while you are doing this though!

You can use phrases such as:

That’s a very interesting question. Let me think for a second…

I don’t really know for sure, but I perhaps…

Let me think for a moment, well maybe…

Don’t overuse this technique though! This is something you can do if you genuinely need some thinking time, if you start every answer like this, the IELTS examiner may mark you down because it seems like you are repeating a pre-prepared script.

  1. You can and should correct yourself if you make a mistake!

This shows the IELTS examiner that you know you have made a mistake and have the ability to correct it.

For example, ‘I have been to Japan in 2023… oh excuse me, I meant I went to Japan in 2023.’

8. On the day of the test make sure you are thinking in English!

Make sure you are ready to speak well in English by using your English in the 24-hour lead up to entering the exam room. Listen to English music, listen to an English radio broadcast or TV programme, read an English language magazine or online articles. When you arrive at your test centre avoid speaking to others in your native language, use English only!

Membership includes FOUR discussion sessions, one to one with your support tutor (30 minutes per session). Discuss your reading or listening skills, work through your writing line by line discussing how to improve, take a mock speaking test – whatever you want to help you reach your IELTS goals!