"IELTS Speaking Tips"

The IELTS Speaking test is a three-section test, namely:

  • Part one: Introduction and general questions
  • Part two: Long turn
  • Part three: Analytical discussion

The IELTS speaking section is different from others: Irrespective of whether you are taking the Paper-based or the computer-delivered test. Unlike all the other tests in the IELTS, the Speaking test is held by an IELTS examiner in his physical presence.

So, instead of interacting with a computer screen, you will be interviewed by the Examiner in person. In addition, the face-to-face nature of the IELTS speaking test encourages you to develop and enhance some common skills required to interact successfully with English speakers.

How long is the IELTS Speaking test?

The test is about 11-14 minutes long, which is much shorter than other speaking exams that can last up to 40 minutes.

Before we dive deep into knowing about the sections of the IELTS speaking test, it's essential to understand the criteria on which your speaking ability will be tested in the IELTS exam.

What are the criteria for IELTS speaking?

There are four assessment criteria for the IELTS speaking exam.

  • Fluency and coherence: If you listen to a model answer, these are the first things you will appreciate about the speaker—the smoothness and clarity of their speech. Fluency refers to your ability to speak at length with negligible hesitation. Coherence means that your ideas are connected and related, including and organizing ideas logically and appropriately. Use signposting to convey your ideas.

    *Signposting refers to your ability to express, justify opinions and discuss and speculate about issues without long pauses or repetition of the exact words. Instead, Signposting is the use of words or phrases that indicate the direction of your thoughts.
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Your performance in this criterion will be determined by your ability to form sentences, sentence structures, and proper grammar usage. Your structure needs to be set up in such a way that it sounds natural and appropriate while you are speaking. Make sure you use accurate grammar and avoid errors. Practice correct grammatical structures.
  • Pronunciation: This criterion focuses on the accuracy and variety of pronunciation features, including individual sounds, the spelling of a word, and sentence/word stress. A common error done is stressing the wrong syllable in a word. In addition, word stress patterns can be confusing when it changes with different parts of a word family.
    For instance, photograph, photography, photographic: All these words belong to different word families; notice how different syllables are stressed while saying each of them aloud/out loud.

    Sentence stress means that some words in a sentence are emphasized slightly more than others. For example, 'If I were her, I'd go by car'-- How the pitch of your voice changes.

    Monotone intonation is typical of someone who memorizes long responses. This could result in lower test scores. On the other hand, chunking your talking in a rhythm that delivers chunks of words with short silences in between is likely to get you a better IELTS speaking score. Good public speakers often use this skill.

    We recommend these steps for improving your pronunciation. Finding how English intonation, sentences, stress, and rhythm differs from your native language is the starting point.

    You should be aware of how intonation and sentence stress affect the meaning of your sentence. Practice using these tools in different ways. To confirm the correct word stress, you can always refer to a dictionary. If you are unsure, listen to a native speaker say it.

    You can familiarize yourself with a range of pronunciation features by listening to diverse, authentic English sources. For example, listen to BBC Radio or the Voice of America or whatever interests you; it is helpful to listen to the radio or television in the background even if you are not paying attention.
  • Lexical Resource: This criterion is common in all the parts of the IELTS speaking exam. It means how wide your range of vocabulary is and your ability to choose appropriate words to use in sentences.
    If there is any particular subject you're interested in or if you've got a hobby, you could learn new words by doing some research online and reading about it.

    If you don't like reading, try listening to songs and looking up the lyrics or watching a movie you like, with the subtitles. You could also try word game apps to help you with new words. To enjoy doing it is the most important thing here; only then you'll be able to learn without much effort.

On what scale will the IELTS Speaking Examiner grade me?

Your performance is evaluated on a scale of 1-9 in each of these IELTS assessment criteria. The basis on which you will be tested is mentioned in the official assessment booklet

How can I impress the IELTS Speaking Examiner?

The assessment will not be based on your appearance, body language, or creative ideas while speaking in the exam. IELTS examiners are very consistent in the application of the four assessment criteria mentioned above. The same assessment is given everywhere in the world.

What is the IELTS speaking exam format?

Let's look at what are the three parts like, their sequence, and how to attempt them:

Part 1 - Introduction and Interview: In this part, you will be asked some very basic questions about familiar topics. It lasts 4-5 mins.

Since it is an introduction, you could be asked about your hobbies, your hometown, family, or your likes and dislikes. But, of course, while answering this type of question, you need to be aware of things like elaborate your ideas, paraphrase, and be creative. But we need to figure out a way to do it organically, naturally.

Let's look at an example, supposing the Examiner asks you: What is your favorite Hobby?

How can you answer this question? Let's learn three different ways to answer Dancing.

a) Dancing

This answer is too short and precise. There is nothing for the Examiner to assess here.

b) My favourite Hobby is dancing.

The exact vocabulary used in the question is being repeated in this answer. There is no independent language produced.

So basically, you would need to expand your answer. And to your rescue, there is a technique that you can use. It's called 5 Ws and 1 H, and you need to remember these 5 Ws and 1 H to make the most out of your answer.

Keep in mind this simple framework and think about these six elements that will help you expand your answer, and then you can choose what you want to say. You don't need to use all the elements; just incorporate whatever you think fits best. It is a simple technique but is very effective.

c) I like doing Ballet. I've got an at-home studio, and I love dancing there with my sister on weekends.

It's an expanded answer like we wanted, and it is natural. And even if it's not true, the Examiner gets an idea of your lexical range, your ability to form sentences.

Part 2 - Long Turn: Here, you are given a 1-minute preparation time, this might not seem very long, but it's 12 times more than the time you're given to speak on the spot. You also have the facility of taking notes (which are not assessed) followed by a 1-2 minute talk on a topic chosen by the Examiner.

You will not be asked any general knowledge questions. Instead, it will be about your personal experience with something. This part is 3-4 minutes.

The biggest challenge in this part is running out of things to talk about! When you're not thinking too hard, 2 minutes can go by in a snap, but when you're trying to talk about a particular topic for two whole minutes, it can drag. More so if you're not used to speaking that much, like me.

A simple solution to improve your score in speaking part two is to put the preparation time that comes before use; that is the ultimate secret. So you'll need to improve your note-taking ability because your notes are a direct reflection of your thought process. The more organized and clear your notes are, the more organized and precise your talk will be.

Also, avoid thinking of ideas and speaking simultaneously; if you take incomplete notes, you will have to think about what you want to say while you are in the middle.

You will have to take care of two completely different things simultaneously, which can quickly become very complicated.

So, the more you have written down, the less you have to think.

The notes serve as a safety net for you, so if you forget something you initially thought of, you can just look down at your notes and check.

So, let's look at some note-taking strategies:

  • Do not write complete sentences in your notes; just write the key information/points.
  • Make sure you cover all the points you've thought of and written in your notes.
  • Follow the same sequence while speaking as you have while writing down your notes.
  • Write at least two points for each piece of information.
  • If you have time left, include a key vocabulary section, words related to the question, or the topic that you want to make sure to use while speaking about it.

Practicing note-taking is just as important as practicing speaking for this part of the test. If you practice it thoroughly, you will find that 1 minute is more than enough time for taking notes.

Use details to help the listener (Examiner) to visualize what you are saying. Use detailed information. The information doesn't have to be true, but you should stay relevant.

Part 3 – Analytical Discussion: This part is a discussion remotely related to part two.

You will be asked some abstract/general questions related to the topic you were given in Part two. This part usually lasts 4-5 minutes.

The challenge associated with this part is that you don't get any preparation time to think of something to say. To combat this, I suggest you use delaying phrases.

They are phrases you can insert in your speech cleverly yet naturally to buy yourself some extra time. Here are some examples of delaying phrases:

  • That's an interesting question.
  • I've never really thought about that before.
  • There's no simple answer to that question.
What to avoid during an IELTS Speaking exam?

No fixed model indicates what ought and ought not to be said during the test, but there are some important rules to swear by if you want to maximize your chances of scoring your best.

Do not use slang language with your Examiner. Instead, try to use a Formal or Semi-formal approach. Maintain a courteous attitude. Adhere to a confident yet humble demeanor.

IELTS Speaking tips from our Experts:

IELTS speaking preparation can get tricky; there are certain challenges associated with the speaking test. However, the following are some excellent IELTS preparation tips that can help you improve your performance significantly.

  • The key to increasing your fluency is practice, and there are no shortcuts. Use English in everyday conversation as much as possible.
  • Record yourself, then play the recording and listen for any hesitation, recurring words, linking expressions, and times when your speech is slow. As a result, your pronunciation and fluency will improve.
  • Don't rush when you're speaking on exam day. This is a common mistake. You might skip sounds or words. It's better to say clearly, with appropriate pauses.
  • Try to apply what you know about the different features of pronunciation in English.
  • You can figure out pitching your speech into smaller parts by recording yourself.
  • Practice your best way of taking notes. Is it Bullet points? Mind mapping? Flow charts? You decide and practice!
  • Do not try to memorize large portions of speech or hope for common IELTS topics to come your way. It may seem like a clever thing to do, but it is an additional stress factor and can make you sound unnatural. Therefore, marvel does not recommend this approach.
  • Do not be scared and trust your brain. Know that if you practice, you are very well capable of saying things affirmatively as they come to your mind, and that's what the test is all about.
  • Think of your IELTS Speaking test preparation as an opportunity to get better at what you already know: Speaking your mind, in the proper decent manner, of course. If you're only thinking about the IELTS score, you may get stuck in a rut that won't be pleasant.