IELTS Speaking Guide – Tips, Tools and FAQ Materials

Jul 26,2023

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IELTS Speaking Guide:

IELTS Speaking is one of the most challenging modules for candidates from a Non-English speaking country.  Speaking is conducted face to face with the interviewer online or offline where masks are yet mandatory. The IELTS Speaking Test consumes 11-14 minutes depending on whether the interviewer is a trained certified examiner.

This test comprises of three sections:

1. General question:

This is also called an introduction round where the examiner asks you questions related to you, your likes and dislikes followed by ‘whys’. The examiner starts the test by his/her brief introduction which is followed by the candidate’s introduction and verification. All the questions asked in this section are familiar.

2. Cue-card:

A topic is given with the prompts or key points and the candidate is expected to speak about it for two-minutes after a minute is given for preparation. This is the turning point of the IELTS Speaking Test where the examiner gets the chance to ascertain your level of English. This is a one-way conversation.

3. Discussion or counter questions:

In this section, the examiner asks the question pertaining to the cue card. This part of the speaking test gives a fair chance to the candidate to expand their answers and speak at length with supporting examples and reasons.

Remember: As the test proceeds, the difficulty level increases.

What is Examiner Looking for?

Examiner measures the English proficiency of the candidate based on four rubric categories:

1. Fluency and Coherence:

Fluency and coherence are two different things, yet related. It measures how well you are able to convey your answers with logic and flow. It is important to adhere to the topic asked. The best way to stick to the topic is by using a range of transition words or signposting words or discourse markers.

These words give a direction to your thoughts without hampering your fluency. Fluency doesn’t mean talking too fast but talking effortlessly. The topic must be developed coherently and appropriately.

2. Lexical Resource:

The capability of the candidate to use the vocabulary with flexibility, without repetition of words. In order to get a higher band score, the candidate must use the idiomatic expressions skilfully and with negligible inaccuracy.

Vocabulary does not here mean the usage of new words, but it also includes the collocations, meaning, and juxtaposition of a particular word with another word. Your range of words must convey the topic precisely, and paraphrasing must be done successfully.

3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy:

Grammatical Range and accuracy account for 25% of Weight-age in the IELTS Speaking test. Band score increases depending on the range of complex and compound sentence structures used with flexibility and with the least errors. Punctuation and sentence construction must be accurate.

4. Pronunciation:

Pronunciation plays a vital role in any language. In IELTS too, the examiner measures your skills in using pronunciation features accurately which are individual sounds of words, stress, and intonation. The speech must be effortless to understand. Mispronunciation of individual words may lead to confusion and reduces clarity.

Must Read: Tips to Achieve CLB 9 In IELTS

Practice IELTS Speaking:

IELTS Speaking Lessons and Tips:

Master five skills in IELTS Speaking Practice, and you are likely to achieve band 9!

1. Smile and be Confident:

Since you are going to face the examiner for an interview, you must be confident in your skin. If you smile, you create an illusion that you are confident. That creates a great First Impression.

2. Maintain an Eye-contact:

You must stay focused and pay attention to the examiner’s question which would help you to build a positive rapport with the examiner and will release your nervousness.

3. Show Willingness to Speak:

Try to speak all the answers at length as the examiner controls the length of your answer. Keep speaking till the examiner stops you. You can make the examiner imagine by using the best story based on some incidences from your life or someone else’ in cue-card topic, or just cook it up.  After all, who doesn’t love stories?

4. Get into the Habit of Answering Why:

Most of the questions will be followed by ‘Why?’, so you must develop the habit of critical thinking. That would help you to develop the content.

5. Avoid Repetition:

In order to achieve a better band score than 6, you must develop the skill of paraphrasing. This will help you prevent the repetition of words and sentence structures. Try to use idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs which would decrease the chances of repeating the words and sentences.

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IELTS Speaking Topics:

IELTS Speaking Topics
Work Museums
 Study Flowers
 Home/Hometown Sea/rivers/lakes
 Art Water sport
 Birthdays Transport
 Dreams Fashion/clothes/bags/watch
 Money Pets
 Technology/Computers/Internet/Mobile phones/ Media Seasons
 Television Trees
 Age Wedding
 Daily routine Smoking
 Friends Shopping
 Family Festival
 Travel/Tourism  Your country
 Sport Games
 Food Neighbors/Neighbourhood
 Restaurants Leisure time
 Lifestyle/Health/ Healthy Lifestyle Communication
 Colour Transportation
 Sky Happiness
 Weather Hobbies
 Books/Library/Reading Newspapers
 Movies Cooking
 Environmental problems Childhood
 Humour Value

6. Vocabulary tips:

As mentioned earlier, in order to Improve Vocabulary, you must use the exact word that fits perfectly with the other words in the sentence. Here are ways to improve the vocabulary apart from watching English movies/ BBC documentaries/ listening to podcasts. Since you already know the topics which are going to be covered in the speaking test, you may use the WORDCLOUD related to these topics. Set the timer for a minute or so, and keep looking at the word cloud. Once the alarm goes off, start writing the words you looked at. You will be amazed to find that your brain could retain 12-15 words in a minute. This is one of the best techniques that I use in my classroom at Aspire Square.

Also Read: IELTS Speaking Introductory Part 1 & IELTS Speaking Introductory Part 2 Topics & Questions

Adding information:



In addition

Stating Multiple Reasons/ExamplesContradiction/ContrastTime Sequence
For instanceHoweverNow
Such asOn the contraryThen
FirstlyOn the flip sideAfter
SecondlyOn the other handBefore
Even thoughSince
These days
I thinkThus
I believeTherefore
I reckonHence
I opine

Note: Harness the power of pauses (punctuation)! That’s how your intonation can be taken care of.

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What is IELTS?

IELTS Exam is an International English Language Testing System which assesses your English proficiency with four different modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. This test is taken by candidates who aspire to go abroad to settle or for study purposes and this test is widely accepted across the globe.

There are two types of IELTS Exam:

Pen and paper-based and Computer-based. The latter has gained grounds since the pandemic hit, in 2020.

Based on the type of Visa applied, the test is divided into two categories: General Training (for immigration) and Academic (for study purposes). The validity period of the IELTS Certificate is two years. This test is paper-based as well as computer-based. The score IELTS ranges from Band 1 (lowest) to band 9 (highest), and the bar is set as per the profile of the candidate.

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1. Should I offer a handshake to the examiner?

No. You cannot offer the handshake as this is the test and not a business deal.

2. For how long should I speak in part 1 and part 3?

As part 1 is about general questions, you must answer in three -four sentences. In part 3, you must speak till the examiner stops you.

3. Is it mandatory to speak for two minutes?

Yes and no. You must show the willingness to speak at length for two-minutes and prepare the content accordingly, however, the examiner will stop you once the time is finished. The examiner might stop you somewhere between 1-2 minutes.

4. Can I ask the examiner to explain or repeat the question?

You cannot ask the examiner to explain or paraphrase the question, but you can ask the examiner to repeat the question if you have not understood. That would not hamper your band score.

5. Should I say, ‘I don’t know’, if I do not know how to answer the question?

Well, I would suggest you give it a try at least by saying, “that’s an interesting question.” Or “let me think about it.” Such sentences will give you time to think and construct an answer. If you still fail to do so then say confidently, “I am sorry. I don’t know.” Don’t worry! You will get many opportunities to answer the other questions.

6. Is body language important in speaking test?

Of course, Yes! It is a one-on-one standardized test and you must feel confident. So, smile and maintain an eye-contact and stay confident.

7. Is it compulsory to wear formals?

A decent formal dress would look apt for the speaking test as it is formal. However, if you wear casuals, then it would not affect your score. Whatever you wear needs to be comfortable.

8. How should I utilize one-minute preparation time?

You must do mind mapping. You can write a cue-card topic in the centre of the paper and write four keywords on every four sides of the topic. That would help you stay coherent. In total 12-16 keywords must be written in the paper which would help to produce many different sentences.

9. How many sentences would consume two-minutes?

Around 25 complex and compound sentences would consume two-minutes.

10. How many self-corrections are allowed?

Self-corrections (if occasionally) do not affect your band score, hence if you make any mistake, you can correct it rather than letting them go. Too many self-corrections can hurt your band score.

11. How should I solve my accent problem?

It is quite important to neutralize mother-tongue influence and avoid the usage of Indianism. You can follow this blog.

12. Can I choose a day for my speaking test?

Yes, it is possible to choose a day and time slot as it is generally scheduled on a different day than test day. This can be done by contacting the IELTS Test Centre before the test.

13. Can I change my speaking test time or day?

You can try by contacting the customer care of IDP or British council. You shall get your desired time slot if it is available.

14. How can I score higher bands in speaking?

Follow our Tips and Strategies to score higher bands in the speaking test. (Also Read : Tips To Achieve CLB 9 In IELTS)

15. How many questions will be asked in part 1 and part 3?

In part 1, 6-7 questions, and in part 3, 10-12 questions are asked.

16. What should I carry at the speaking test venue?

You should carry only the passport for verification purpose.

17. Should I ask the examiner to change the cue-card if I find it difficult?

No. You cannot ask the examiner to change the cue-card topic. You must try to construct a monologue using the prompts given with the cue-card topic.

18. Should I wear a wristwatch?

No. It is not allowed. The examiner controls the time of the test.

19. Is this test recorded?

Yes. This test is recorded for the back-up.

20. Can I go for re-checking if I am not satisfied by my score?

Yes. In case you are not satisfied by your score then you can go for remarking and the recording of your test would be sent to the senior examiner for evaluation.

21. How much should I practice for speaking?

Practice, practice, practice as much as you can! It is alright to not to have any partner to talk to in English, but you may be your best company. So simply turn on the sound recorder, record your speech, hear it, then play it and critique it. Trust me, there is nothing more painful in this world to find your own self making the silliest of mistakes.

Also Read: IELTS Speaking Introductory Part 1 & IELTS Speaking Introductory Part 2 Topics & Questions

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    Written By

    Kirati Shah

    Kirati Shah is a certified IELTS/TOEFL/PTE Trainer with 10 years of experience. She is on a mission to provide good quality lessons about IELTS and PTE through blogs and videos that can help students get their desired score and achieve their dream to migrate/study abroad.


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