The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Speaking Test measures your ability to understand and respond to spoken English in an academic and social context, as well as your capacity to be understood when speaking English.
That’s why you must get some practice under your belt before taking the test so that you know what to expect on the day and how to prepare. We’ll discuss the ten essential tips to help you prepare for your IELTS Speaking Test.
These tips will allow you to set up your comfortable speaking environment, stay focused on what you want to say, and provide you with some useful tricks to keep the examiner engaged while they listen to your responses. Keep reading below to find out more!
IELTS Speaking test format
In the ELTS speaking test, the examiner will assess your proficiency and fluency in the English language. This speaking test is divided into three parts, and each part has a specific function. Let us see each part elaborately.
Part one: Introduction and Overview
In the introductory part, the examiner introduces themselves and checks the test taker’s identity. After identifying the test taker, they ask familiar questions such as home, family, work, studies, and interests. The test taker gets 4-5 minutes in this part.
Part two: Long turn
In this part, the examiner provides a task card to the test taker in which they are asked to talk about a specific topic. The test takers get one minute to prepare themselves for their talk, and they also get a pencil and paper to make notes.
The examiner asks the test taker to talk for one or two minutes and stop them after completing two minutes. After stopping the test taker, the examiner asks one or two questions on behavior of the same topic.
Part three: Discussion
Lastly, the examiner and the test taker discuss issues related to part two in a more general and abstract way. Actually, in this part, the issues are discussed more elaborately to assess the fluency and thinking level of the test taker. This discussion part lasts 4-5 minutes.
10 Essential Tips for IELTS Speaking Test
Now it’s time to look after the 10 essential tips for the test takers to get a good band score in the IELTS speaking test:
1. Focus on your pronunciation
Before you show up at your test center, ensure you know how to pronounce each word you plan to use in your speech. Listening to yourself speak is much easier than it sounds and could be essential if you plan on discussing particular topics.
Also, make sure you can pronounce any words that might come up in conversation with your examiner. Sometimes when students are nervous, they will mispronounce certain things or fall back into their native language. Still, practicing beforehand may help prevent these instances from happening during your exam.
2. Improve your fluency
Remember that it’s essential to speak fluently and clearly during your test. If you can’t finish your sentences or your words are mumbled, you’re likely to lose points.
Make sure you aren’t shy about asking your tester to repeat themselves to help build rapport (and make them feel more comfortable with you), but only do so sparingly—the more you speak, the better.
That being said, don’t get too carried away; some test centers allow testers to take notes on their tablet as they listen, so even if what you say isn’t clear in one attempt, it might be by another try.
3. Know your topic
Ensure you have plenty of background knowledge on your topic. You needn’t be an expert in everything, but it’s important that you can speak intelligently about your subject.
If you don’t know much about it, do some research and familiarize yourself with different perspectives and opinions to share these insights with your examiner during your conversation.
Choose a good variety of vocabulary: You must be able to use various types of vocabulary when speaking English because they add variation and depth to what you say. Make sure there is at least one difficult word or phrase in each sentence and several ‘easy’ words.
This will ensure that everything you say sounds natural and not too repetitive to bore your examiner.
4. Start with simple words and sentences
In preparation for the test, start by constructing simple sentences and words. It would help if you practiced speaking using simple sentences covering all topics you may be asked about during your actual IELTS speaking test.
While practicing with short, easy sentences may seem tedious, it is essential because it allows you to focus on improving your fluency and pronunciation skills.
Just like how it is easier for you to run up a flight of stairs than to climb one straight away, practicing with shorter and easier sentences will help you become more fluent when faced with slightly more challenging questions in your IELTS speaking test.
5. Don’t be too formal, speak in your own voice
Being overly formal can make you sound like you’re reading from a book. Stay with your voice, and don’t use phrases like in my opinion or as far as I am concerned.
The examiner doesn’t care about your opinion; keep your responses simple. The best way to do that is by speaking in your own words rather than from an exam-booklet script.
6. Listen to your tone
If you’re not confident in your pronunciation and clarity, it can undermine everything else. Practice with a native speaker – or at least someone who can give you feedback on how your accent is coming across.
Even something as small as saying cheese when you take photos (and again when you see them) will help improve how clearly and quickly you speak.
You may not even realize that small tweaks make all the difference in clarity. Start by paying attention to yourself while practicing – if it doesn’t sound right, change it! Then practice aloud until it sounds natural, polished, and like how a native speaker would say those exact words.
7. Practice speaking confidently in English
One of the most important keys to success on an English proficiency test like IELTS is answering questions and speaking freely without coming across as shy or nervous.
Practicing with someone else can help you feel more confident while speaking, especially when you’re trying something new or out of your comfort zone.
Find some friends who are willing to let you try out a question in their presence – tell them they don’t have to comment until after you’ve finished but that they can ask questions afterward if they want.
Ask them how well you did (in areas other than pronunciation) and if anything about your body language or tone made them uncomfortable.
8. Use gestures to emphasize key points
An essential skill when speaking in English is talking with your hands rather than being still. Gestures show emotion and help you illustrate a point to an audience.
Please make sure not to overdo it; too many gestures can distract you and make you look more like you’re performing magic tricks than giving a speech.
Practice gesturing confidently in front of friends or family members before entering an exam setting. You’ll also want to practice how not every gesture has to come from your hands—the movement of your eyebrows or subtle head nods are enough as well.
It may seem awkward at first, but eventually, it will become second nature and feel natural!
9. Speak with speed but clarity
When taking an English test, many people make the most common mistake is speaking too slowly. It would help if you talked with speed and clarity, but not too fast or over-enunciate.
This will get you in trouble and make you look unintelligent. It’s best to practice speaking for at least 20 minutes daily to improve your pronunciation and fluency.
Use role-playing: Many students fail because they lack confidence, so practicing on somebody else is an excellent way to gain confidence and build up their vocabulary to speak more fluently on topics that aren’t familiar to them.
10. Answer all parts of the question
If you want to get high marks on your IELTS speaking test, you must ensure you’re answering all parts of each question. It’s all too easy to start talking about one thing, then drift into another before finishing up your answer.
Think about showing that you understand a topic rather than telling people what it is. Try asking yourself questions as if someone doesn’t know anything about the topic and using these answers as material in your answer. This ensures that all of your ideas are covered while keeping things concise and coherent!
To successfully navigate your way through an IELTS speaking test, you must take every preparation step possible. These include researching and practicing key talking points, writing down keywords and phrases, keeping your notes organized and informative, and ultimately remaining calm at all times.
This list of 10 tips serves as a comprehensive guide; however, it is important to remember that what works for one individual may not work well for another.
Azizul Hakim is the founder & CEO of englishfinders.com. He is a passionate writer, English instructor, and content creator. He has completed his graduation and post-graduation in English language and literature.