Preparing for your IELTS Speaking test? Here are some simple but useful tips on how to impress your examiner and score a high band.
But first, you need to understand what the IELTS Speaking Test is all about.
IELTS Speaking is one of the 4 categories of English Language proficiency test administered by IELTS. It is used to determine how well one can share, receive and process information orally using the English Language.
The test itself has three aspects. The first aspect is usually about you (the test taker). You will be answering questions on your daily activities and life as you know it. It usually takes 5 minutes.
In the second aspect, your examiner will hand you a card containing a task or an instruction. This card is also known as a cue card. Your examiner then lets you go through the questions on the card and gives you about a minute to think about your response. Thereafter, you will discuss your thoughts for two minutes.
Questions in the third and final aspect of the IELTS Speaking Test are usually abstract. Your examiner will be raising some issues that you need to react to. It equally takes about 5 minutes.
In all, you will spend 15 minutes interacting with your examiner during the Speaking component of the IELTS test.
Now that you have an idea of the three aspects of the Speaking Test, your next need-to-know is understanding what your examiner wants from you.
What does an IELTS Examiner consider during a Speaking Test?
During your speaking session, your examiner considers your ability to communicate properly using the English Language. While grammatical errors may get you low scores, you should understand that using simple words to express your thoughts is key. The Examiner will not be pleased when they discover that you have memorized your responses. Using fancy words or complex vocabulary deliberately may complicate your responses. And when your examiner struggles to understand the ideas you share, scoring a high band is hardly possible. Your responses should be in your own words.
Equally, your examiner expects that you speak using your natural accent. You may lose clarity in the process of switching to a British or American accent. Simple grammar, natural accent, and correct responses will earn you a high score. Keep these in mind.
You should also learn how to score a high band in your IELTS reading Test
Important Tips on the First Aspect of your IELTS Speaking Test
As mentioned above the first aspect takes around five minutes. You will be talking mostly about your family, lifestyle, and your state of origin. Your examiner may ask questions on the nature of your job, how you like to have fun, your background among other regular ones that everyone asks when they have just met you.
Since the questions are about life as you know it, the first aspect comes off as the easiest. But without a proper approach, you may lose marks. Below is a guide on how to impress your examiner during your first five minutes with them.
- Your first interaction will be an exchange of pleasantries. The examiner will most likely initiate the conversation by introducing themselves. As a response, you should also introduce yourself by stating your full name. Other questions such as the name you prefer to be called, your place of origin, and the means of identification you have with you. During this time, your responses should be precise and directly relevant to the questions your examiner asks. Get familiar with these introductory questions before your test day, so you can answer them confidently.
- Demonstrate confidence when interacting with your examiner. It is quite normal to be anxious as you step into the test room, take some deep breaths and stay calm as you approach them. While your grades are not tied to how well you smile nor the times you have an eye-contact with your examiner, they are gestures that help you flow and respond as calmly as you can. Consider your examiner as a participant in a conversation.
- React like you are genuinely interested in the conversation. This will help your pitch during the entire process. Your examiner will be looking to score your intonation and it is only when you are interested in a conversation that you can achieve a rising and falling tune. Imagine how you express yourself when you talk about things that interest you among your friends. That period, your pitch is high, there is a tone of excitement in your speech. That attitude should also translate to your IELTS Speaking test session. You can play recorded tapes or watch videos to understand how native speakers express themselves using different pitches. Nonetheless, do not talk too loud that it becomes annoying. Keep the volume of your voice moderate even as you demonstrate your interest in the conversation.
- In the first aspect of your IELTS Speaking Test, there is no restriction on the number of sentences you can use as a response. This gives you the room to use as many sentences as those that will capture what you have to say. However, do not drag your responses for too long. Repeating statements over and over again may earn you low scores. So, once again, being moderate is key. Two to three sentences for every question asked is ideal. One simple sentence response may not be convincing.
- Avoid cramming, adopt rehearsing. Since you already have an idea of the questions to expect in the first aspect of your IELTS Speaking Test, memorizing or scripting your responses will affect your flow. Your responses should seem spontaneous. When rehearsing, you can record your voice, play it back to check whether you have made some errors, used the appropriate words, and expressed yourself using proper intonation. You will also be able to know how loud and clear you speak. Make more recordings if you can but do not attempt to memorize answers for this aspect.
- Avoid responding with Yes/No only. Whether your responses are positive or negative, provide explanations that can help the examiner determine how well you can speak the English Language. Many questions in the first aspect of your Speaking Test will usually require a Yes or No response, nonetheless, give reasons for your responses.
- Give relevant answers only. As you try to demonstrate confidence and express yourself in the best way possible, you must not digress into another field of discourse. For instance, questions on where you come from should not lead you into talking about your spouse or the number of children you have. Your responses should only cover areas that are related to the questions your examiner has asked.
- You cannot be perfect. Your examiner will not score you low for using a few words inappropriately. Among other factors, being a non-native English Language user implies that there are some of its features you will not have complete mastery of. A candidate who has scored 9 or 8 must have made some mistakes too. You will end up stuttering when you attempt to be perfect in your pronunciation and word usage. Besides, only 50% of your score is derived from pronunciation and fluency. It is not advisable to place attention only on those aspects.
Remember, just flow, be you!