IELTS Speaking Tips


IELTS Speaking test is not a test of speaking English; it is a test of communicating in English so your message is properly and validly clear to the listener.

1. Develop your answer

The first part of the Speaking test is the Interview. You enter the room, see the examiner, say “Good morning!” and smile. He or she asks to see your passport and to sit down. If he/she offers to shake your hand – do it, otherwise – don’t. Your body language is important here, it must show that you are relaxed and confident. During the interview the examiner asks you questions about yourself, your work, studies, parents, brothers/sisters, pets, etc.

Don’t answer just with “Yes” or “No”. Say something more than that. When you answer, give more than just one-word or very short answers. You have to show that you can communicate in English. Remember that a good communicator is one that speaks more than the answer.
I am afraid I am not very keen on playing football because I don’t have much free time.’
is better than
I don’t like football’.
So always give some extra information but don’t stay away from the subject. If you give very short answers in speaking, you will lose marks, aim to use three to four sentences in speaking at least.

2. Use a variety of expressions

When you are asked to explain something, pay careful attention to the word that comes next. For example: Explain Why? It means you should give a reason. Explain How/What/ Which? It means you should give more information about something. But remember that giving information also often involves giving a reason.

a. He’s keen on playing video games because they provide a lot of fun.
b. I enjoy watching TV much because it keeps me updated about different events in my country.
c. I am very busy; I don’t have much free time for my friends because I am preparing for my test these days. 

Stay focused. Don’t stay away from the topic, or demand another topic or start a made-up answer, you will lose marks for all these.
In order to give opinions in IELTS, use the following discourse markers:
a. In my opinion, people are much more knowledgeable than in the past.
b. From my point of view, things are getting more and more expensive these days.
c. As far as I am concerned, it was the best festival that I have ever attended.
d. It seems to me that the next government will focus more on tourism.
e. My personal opinion is that there should be equal number of admissions both for male and female students.

3. Compare and contrast your answer

In Part 1 of the Speaking Test, you sometimes have to express a preference . Remember that in spoken English we often use contractions; I’d prefer, I’d rather than , would prefer, would rather. For example . ‘I prefer chocolate to vanilla ice cream’ and ‘I live in an old house but I’d prefer to live in a newer one’. Use comparative forms (e.g. more interesting, less common, faster) and superlative forms (e.g. the most interesting, the least common, the fastest) to make comparisons.

For example:

Surfing the internet is much more interesting than watching films’ and ‘NEO is definitely the most popular educational organization in my country’.

Here are a few more examples:

a. I prefer cold weather to hot weather because I cannot stand heat.
b. I generally prefer not to study in groups because individual study can be more personalized.
c. On the one hand, the internet is a great source of information. On the other hand, the same information can be morally devastating.
d. I love watching movies whereas most old people prefer to spend their free time reading books or the newspapers.
e. I always enjoy speaking English although I am not very good at it.

4. Use idiomatic language

In both speaking and writing, you must use Similes and Metaphors to reach for band 7 and 8. Simile is a figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with ‘like’ or ‘as’).
For example,
Traffic in my country is as slow as a snail
I am as busy as bee nowadays’.

Metaphor is a figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.
For example,
You are a lion of Pakistan
Pakistan is jewel of the world’.

5. Speak Fluently in your Cue card presentation
You need to speak English fluently in IELTS speaking test. After you have finished the Interview, the examiner will hand you a card with 4 or 5 questions on it. Usually the card asks you to describe a place, an event or a situation from your experience. You have 1 minute to prepare a little speech that answers all of the questions on the card. You also receive a paper sheet and a pen to write your notes. The speech should take from one to two minutes.You must speak fluently to speak on the topic and answer all the questions.

During your presentation, maintain your eye contact and show confidence. Don’t use Uhms and Ahs. Speak fluently and confidently. If you cannot speak, don’t focus grammar or vocabulary, just focus information and speak out. In the end the examiner might ask you a couple of additional questions. My suggestion is to practice at home with a clock, recording yourself while you are speaking on a particular topic. You can use MP3 players that can record. This way you can evaluate your own speech.

Try to carry on talking until the examiner stops you. If you forget something, try to rephrase what you have just said. This will give you some time. Don’t say, ‘Uah’, ‘Hmm’ rather you can maintain two or three-second silence. Keep speaking fluently.

You can also tell a story about the person, place, event or thing you are discussing. So in your one minute, think of and note down a quick and preferably interesting story to tell about the topic. You can tell the story anywhere in your IELTS speaking part 2, as long as it fits in. Use sequencers such as ‘To start with’, ‘Next’, ‘afterwards’, ‘as a result’ and ‘finally’ or ‘in the end’ to narrate different events and story parts. Create a story in your mind and link it to one of the main points in the topic to explain it.

6. Speculate effectively

In the Speaking module, you should show that you are able to speculate effectively. We often need to talk about things we’re not 100 per cent sure of. This is called speculating. Use ‘Would’, ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’, ‘It’s highly likely’ ‘I am not sure’, ‘It’s unlikely that’, ‘There seems to be no possibility’ to speculate and express possibility. Particularly for some of the longer periods, you may not be sure of exactly how things have changed and it is all right to speculate. Look at the following examples:

a. It would have been harder for my grand father to find out about international news, because there was no radio or T.V at that time.
b. In the past, people would have traveled less often. I’m not sure but, perhaps, they might have studied less science thirty years ago.
c. It’s highly likely that the new scheme will create better results.
d. It’s impossible to know for sure what will happen in the next ten years.
e. May be there’ll be a good change after the elections.

7. Give your opinions properly

In Part 3, you have a discussion with the examiner for five to six minutes. You have to give your opinions and point of view on certain issues. The discussion is related to the theme of Part 2. Don’t be afraid to give your opinions in the Discussion Stage of Speaking but always give the reason why you think like that.
If you agree say,
I agree that newspapers are a great source of information
but if you don’t agree, say,
I am afraid/unfortunately, I don’t think that movies are a great source of information for people’.

Let’s see an example:

a. Examiner: Why do most of the people learn English?

b. Student: People learn English because they either want to excel in their career or improve their academic performance. For example, employees learn English to get a good pay rise and the students learn English to get better scores in their studies.

You can use the following expressions for opinions:
a. I believe that environment is getting polluted day by day.
b. I think/ I feel that prices are rising nowadays.
c. My view is that only rich people should be taxed.
d. My opinion is that most people should walk early in the morning.
e. My preference is to use the Internet for study reasons.

When you are explaining something – its process or meaning, you must use Signposting because signposting helps your examiner follow your talk easily.
For example, you can use,
Afterwards and
You can also use,
In this way, Similarly and That’s why’ to express yourself completely.
For example,
If you want to learn English, first improve your vocabulary and then start practicing it with your friends, next you should also learn grammar. In this way, you will be able to speak English fluently”.

When you need to summarize a situation briefly, phrases such as
In conclusion, To sum up and In summary are not usually appropriate for the Speaking module, as they are too formal.
So you can use,
In short or you can rephrase the question asked.’
For example:
In short, the best way to deal with an angry customer is to listen first.”

Use the following expressions for summarizing:

a. So basically, what I am trying to say is that I am good at football but I am not expert at computer.
b. To cut a long story short, I made a phone call and then told him that he should immediately return home.
c. Any way, the main point is that education is the key to national development.

It’s perfectly normal for people to correct factual mistakes as they speak. When you realize that you made a factual mistake, correct yourself immediately. If you think you have made a grammatical mistake, just ignore it. Continue, and don’t worry about correcting yourself.

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