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IELTS Speaking Guide – Tips, Tools and FAQ Materials

What is IELTS?

IELTS 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 the candidates who aspire to go abroad to settle or for study purpose and this test is widely accepted across the globe.

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

Get Quick Tips to Achieve CLB 9 In IELTS

IELTS Speaking Guide:

IELTS Speaking is one of the most challenging modules for the candidates from a non-English speaking country. IELTS Speaking test consumes 11-14 minutes depending on the interviewer who is a trained certified examiner. This test comprises of three sections:

  • General question:

This is also called an introduction round where the examiner asks you the 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.

  • Cue-card:

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

  • 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:

  • 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 using the 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.

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

  • 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 least errors. Punctuations and sentence construction must be accurate.

  • Pronunciation:

Pronunciation plays a vital role in any language. In IELTS too, the examiner measures your skills of 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.

Practice IELTS Speaking:

IELTS Speaking Lessons and Tips:

Master four skills in IELTS Speaking and you are likely to achieve band 9!

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the words and sentence structures.

IELTS Speaking Topics:

  1. Work
  2. Study
  3. Home/Hometown
  4. Art
  5. Birthdays
  6. Dreams
  7. Money
  8. Technology/Computers/Internet/Mobile phones/ Media
  9. Television
  10. Age
  11. Daily routine
  12. Friends
  13. Family
  14. Travel/Tourism
  15. Sport
  16. Food
  17. Restaurants
  18. Lifestyle/Health/ Healthy Lifestyle
  19. Colour
  20. Sky
  21. Weather
  22. Books/Library/Reading
  23. Movies
  24. Environmental problems
  25. Humour
  26. Museums
  27. Flowers
  28. Sea/rivers/lakes
  29. Water sport
  30. Transport
  31. Fashion/clothes/bags/watch
  32. Pets
  33. Seasons
  34. Trees
  35. Wedding
  36. Smoking
  37. Shopping
  38. Festival
  39. Your country
  40. Games
  41. Neighbours/Neighbourhood
  42. Leisure time
  43. Communication
  44. Transportation
  45. Happiness
  46. Hobbies
  47. Newspapers
  48. Cooking
  49. Childhood
  50. Value

Vocabulary tips:

As mentioned earlier, in order to improve the 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 podcasts.

Adding information:

  • Moreover,
  • Furthermore
  • In addition

Stating Multiple Reasons/Examples:

  • For instance
  • Such as
  • Firstly
  • Secondly
  • Lastly

Contradiction/Contrast

  • However
  • On the contrary
  • On the flip side
  • On the other hand
  • But
  • Although
  • Even though

Time Sequence:

  • Now
  • Then
  • After
  • Before
  • While
  • Nowadays
  • Since
  • Previously
  • These days

Fillers:

  • I think
  • I believe
  • I reckon
  • I opine

Conclusion:

  • Thus
  • Therefore
  • Hence

FAQs:

Should I offer a handshake to the examiner?

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. IELTS Speaking Guide

How many sentences would consume two-minutes?

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

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.

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:

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.

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.

How can I score higher bands in speaking?

Follow our tips and strategies to score higher bands in the speaking test. Provide link

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.

What should I carry at the speaking test venue?

You should carry only the passport for verification purpose.

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.

Should I wear a wristwatch?

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

Is this test recorded?

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

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.


Kirati Shah

Kirati Shah is a certified IELTS/TOEFL/PTE Trainer with seven 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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