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10 tips for your IELTS Speaking Test

Published on February 10, 2020

You might be nervous about your IELTS Speaking Test, but with these 10 tips from our IELTS experts, and plenty of practice, you will be well on your way to getting the IELTS band score you need.

For both paper-based and computer-delivered IELTS, the face-to-face Speaking Test is made up of three parts.

Part 1

In part 1, you will have a 4 - 5 minute conversation with an IELTS Examiner about yourself. Topics might include:

  • Work
  • Family
  • Home life
  • Personal interests

Part 2

In part 2 of the Speaking Test, you will have a conversation around a specific topic for 2 minutes with the IELTS Examiner. You will have 1 minute to prepare for this section.

Part 3

In part 3, you will have a conversation with the IELTS Examiner around the topic given in part 2. The examiner will ask questions based on your answers in part 2. And, part 3 should take approximately 4-5 minutes to complete.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect, so combine these 10 tips along with plenty of practice and you will be well on your way to getting the band score you need in your IELTS Speaking Test .

Tip 1 - Don't memorise answers

Don't memorise answers, especially in part 1. Memorised language doesn't give the examiner an accurate measure of your English language skills. The examiner will be able to tell if you have memorised your answers and this may influence your final band score.

Tip 2 - Don't use big and unfamiliar words

You may want to impress the examiner with big and complex words in your Speaking Test. But to be safe, avoid using words you are not familiar with. There is a higher chance of making mistakes, either mispronouncing words or using them in the wrong context. Mistakes can affect your final band score.

Tip 3 - Use a range of grammatical structures and vocabulary

When IELTS examiners asses your speaking abilities, they mark you against the following assessment criteria:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

Try and use a range of grammatical structures and vocabulary and, show that you can do this flexibly.

Tip 4 - Don't worry about your accent

The IELTS examiner does not mark you against your accent. If you can communicate well, then there is nothing to worry about. With a face-to-face Speaking Test, the examiner can understand your accent, unlike an AI machine.

Tip 5 - Pause to think

There is no harm in taking a brief pause to think. We all do it to process questions. You can use phrases to give you time to think during the Speaking Test - phrases such as:

  • That's an interesting question
  • I have never thought about that, but...
  • Let me see
  • That's a good point
  • That's a difficult question, but I'll try and answer it

Tip 6 - Avoid using fillers

Speak confidently and avoid using filler words such as:

  • Like
  • You know
  • Umm
  • Ahh
  • Ehh
  • You know
  • Well

By using these words in your IELTS Speaking Test, you are showing the examiner that you can't access the appropriate language or ideas.

Tip 7 - Extend your answers

Try and answer the examiner's questions in full. Extend your answers and don't wait for the examiner to prompt you with a question. When your answers are short and blunt, this shows the examiner that you cannot talk in detail about a topic.

Tip 8 - Smiling helps pronunciation

Smiling can help calm your nerves which in turn helps your pronunciation. Make sure to enunciate clearly, answering to the point to achieve success in the Speaking Test.

Tip 9 - Don't speak in a monotone

Putting emphasis on certain words and pausing at sections in your speech can make your conversation with the IELTS examiner more engaging. It also increases the flow of conversation, so remember:

  • Don't speak in a monotone
  • Vary the stress and intonation to add emphasis
  • Use your hands to gesture and help the rhythm of the conversation

Tip 10 - Practice common IELTS topics

Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test requires you to speak on a given topic for about 2 minutes. Practice common IELTS topics with friends, family or colleagues to improve and to learn vocabulary associated with each topic.

Common topics you can practice for the Speaking Test include:

  • Tourism and travel
  • Education
  • Transport
  • Environment
  • Family life
  • Sport and recreation
  • Crime and punishment
  • The internet
  • Advertising and retail

Combine these 10 tips with some real-world practice to build up your confidence, and our IELTS practice materials to get you on your way to getting the IELTS band score you need.