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Ielts Speaking Tips

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When helping students prepare for the IELTS test, one of the biggest fears is how to do well in IELTS Speaking.

IELTS Speaking is a face-to-face, informal discussion with an IELTS examiner, and is the same for both Academic and General Training. The test is divided into 3 parts and is designed to test your pronunciation, fluency, grammar and vocabulary.

IELTS Speaking Test: Band 8

In this IELTS Speaking sample, you’ll learn exactly what the examiner needs to see to award you a Band 8 in the IELTS Speaking test.

Top 5 IELTS Speaking Tips

  1. Speak some English every day. This is something that all my Band 7+ students have in common. It is better to practice a little bit every day and improve your skills gradually than to speak your native language all week until you have an IELTS class. You’ll find more advice for IELTS Speaking practice here.
  2. Ask the examiner questions if you don’t understand.Your IELTS Speaking test is meant to be like a normal conversation between 2 people. Therefore, if you don’t understand a word, you can ask the examiner to explain what it means. Just say, ‘I’m sorry, could you explain what X means?’You can also ask them to repeat the question. However, you can’t ask the examiner to explain the whole sentence. Here’s what to do if you get an unfamiliar topic in your IELTS Speaking test.
  3. Do a 24-hour English warm-up.It takes most IELTS students 10-15 minutes to ‘warm-up’ and perform to the best of their ability on test day. Just like an athlete needs to warm up before a sporting event, you also need to warm up before your IELTS exam. Therefore, you should speak, write, read and listen to English for 24 hours before your IELTS Speaking test. Your family and friends might think you are crazy, but it will greatly affect your score!
  4. Give full answers.‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are NOT satisfactory answers in your IELTS Speaking test – you need to show the examiner how good your English is. If you give very short answers, there is no way the examiner can know how good you are. Therefore, you should try to extend your answers with explanations and examples.
  5. Correct your mistakes. People make small mistakes when they speak all the time, especially when they are nervous about an exam. Correcting your mistakes as you make them can show the examiner that you really do know your grammar and vocabulary. When you make a small mistake, say sorry and repeat the sentence correctly.
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IELTS Speaking Part 1

Part 1 is about YOU.

The examiner will ask you familiar, everyday questions about your life. This will last around 4-5 minutes. See the links below for tips, sample questions and answers for Part 1.

  • IELTS Speaking Part 1 – Band 8 Mock Test

This video will show you exactly what is required to score a Band 8 in IELTS Speaking.

  • Part 1 Common Topics and Sample Answers

This article will give you a strong idea of what to expect on test day.

  • Easy Ways to Extend Your Answers

Simple yet effective ways to extend your answers in Part 1 of the Speaking test.

  • Part 1 Dos and Don’ts

10 quick tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in Part 1.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Part 2 is sometimes called the ‘long turn’.

You will be given a cue card, and you will have 1 minute to prepare your answer. You will then be asked to speak for 1 to 2 minutes.

Below you’ll find advice that I give to all of my speaking classes and a strong sample answer for Part 2.

  • IELTS Speaking Part 2 – Band 8 Sample Answer

Learn how to score a Band 8 in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

  • Speaking Part 2 Tips

Advice for getting the score you need in IELTS Speaking Part 2.

  • Speaking Part 2 Strategy

Click above for a strategy you can use every time.

  • IELTS Cue Cards and Band 9 Samples

Click above to view the top 10 IELTS cue cards and sample answers.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Part 3 is more abstract.

This is your opportunity to really develop your answers and discuss the issues brought up by the examiner. The topic will be linked to the topic you discussed in Part 2, which will last 4-5 minutes.

  • IELTS Speaking Part 3 – Band 8 Sample Answer

This video will show you exactly how to score a Band 8 in the final part of IELTS Speaking.

  • Part 3 The Ultimate Guide

Our detailed guide for getting your required score in IELTS Speaking Part 3.

  • Part 3 Common Questions

This post contains the most common questions that examiners ask in Part 3.

  • Part 3 Tips

This article will show you some tips about the psychology of Part 3 and how to mentally prepare for that part of the test.

  • The Most Common IELTS Speaking Part 3 Mistakes

How can you avoid the most common mistakes students make in IELTS Speaking?

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IELTS Speaking Practice

There are many ways that you can practice your speaking. The most important things to remember are:

  • It is better to practice on your own than not practice at all. Don’t let the lack of a partner stop you from practising.
  • There are thousands of ways to practice with a partner online. You’ll find some in the articles below.
  • Focus on the 4 marking criteria. Everything else is irrelevant.
  • Be a reflective learner. Record your practice sessions and honestly appraise your performance.
  • Practising for the sake of it will not help. You need to identify your weaknesses and take action to improve those shortcomings.

This article will show you how to practice on your own, find other people to practice with and find an IELTS expert to help you with your speaking.

  • IELTS Speaking Practice

There are lots of real practice questions out there. You must use these before your test to give you an idea of what to expect on test day. This article will show you how to use these effectively.

  • 7 Ways to Use Real Practice Questions to Improve Your Speaking Score

The following links are from the British Council and will give you real questions to practice from home:

  • Practice Part 1
  • Practice Part 2
  • Practice Part 3

Marking Criteria

There are four parts to the IELTS Speaking marking criteria:

  1. Pronunciation
  2. Lexical Resource
  3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  4. Fluency and Coherence

You’ll find help with each part of the IELTS Speaking marking scheme below.

Pronunciation

I believe that pronunciation is the most important skill to master in the IELTS Speaking test.

Quite simply, without clear pronunciation, it doesn’t matter how good your fluency, grammar or vocabulary are. If the examiner can’t understand what you’re actually saying, you will struggle in all areas.

The articles below will help you work on your pronunciation skills.

  • IELTS Pronunciation Guide
  • Practice Pronunciation at Home for Free
  • Is Accent Important?

Vocabulary (a.k.a. Lexical Resource)

Vocabulary is probably the most misunderstood area of the whole test.

Most students think that learning lists of ‘high-level’ words or idioms will get them the necessary score. In fact, it’s probably the best way to LOWER your score.

You should use vocabulary as a tool to help you communicate clearly, NOT to show off.

  • IELTS Vocabulary
  • IELTS Idioms
  • 7 Ways Idioms Can LOWER Your Score

Fluency

Fluency is a tricky area because it is connected to grammar, vocabulary, and confidence. Luckily, I believe that it is the area that can be ‘fixed’ quite easily.

  • 7 IELTS Fluency Problems and How to Fix Them
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Grammar

You can learn how to improve your IELTS Speaking grammar skills in the following video:

Click here to watch it now.

IELTS Speaking Topics

In Part 1 of the test, you’ll likely be asked about familiar topics, such as:

  • Your job or studies;
  • Your hometown;
  • Your family;
  • Your home;
  • Your likes and dislikes.

That does not mean that you should prepare memorised answers for these topics. The examiner will know exactly what you’re doing and could lower your score.

In Parts 2 and 3, it is impossible to predict which topics will come up. I conducted extensive research on this, and you can see the results here.

IELTS Speaking Topics: The Ultimate Guide

IELTS Speaking Help

  • 5 Ways to Improve Your IELTS Speaking Preparation

Find out how you can improve your IELTS speaking preparation by following the advice from students who scored a Band 7+ in their IELTS speaking test.

  • Is Accent Important?

This article will explain the reasons why your accent won’t affect your IELTS speaking score (and what you should focus your time on instead).

  • How to Talk About an Unfamiliar Topic

It’s common for people to worry about getting an unfamiliar topic on the IELTS speaking exam. However, this article will outline why this shouldn’t be your priority and what to do if you receive a topic you know little about.

  • Asking the Examiner Questions

Is it OK to ask the examiner questions? There are only two that you can ask him or her. The above article shows you how.

  • Examiner-Approved IELTS Speaking Tips

I don’t believe in quick fixes, and tips are just that. These tips are useful if you need a quick guide but do realise that you need more than just tips.

  • How to Prepare for IELTS Speaking

The above article will help you take a strategic approach to your preparation for your speaking test.

  • Formal or Informal?

Many students think that they should speak in a very formal way. You don’t want to speak informally, but you don’t want to sound like a robot.

IELTS Speaking Questions

What is the Examiner Looking for?

Your examiner does NOT want to see:

How many answers you have memorised.How many ‘big’/’fancy’/’high-level’ words you know.How many different grammar structures and tenses you know.How ‘British’ or ‘American’ your accent is.

The examiner DOES want to see:

How well you can communicate through spoken English.

As you will see below, there is a little more to it than that. However, you should always remember that the examiners in the exam are simply testing if you can open your mouth and communicate in English.

Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Keep it simple!

See the interactive tool below for the most commonly asked questions we receive about IELTS Speaking:

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