In this post we will cover essential IELTS speaking tips to help you get Band 7 or higher in the IELTS Speaking Test. First, we will look at IELTS speaking tips for the whole test, then some specific tips for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the test.
IELTS Speaking Tips: General
- Warm up before the test. Don’t go into the test having not spoken in English for 24 hours or more. Try to use English as much as possible the day before the test and practice asking and answering questions with a friend before you go into the speaking exam.
- Relax – in a way the result is already decided by your language ability before you enter the examination room. Just relax and answer the questions as well as you can.
- Imagine the examiner is a friend and you are chatting in a coffee shop.
There are no right or wrong answers. You are not marked on your opinions – only your language.
- Don’t worry about lots of eye contact. The examiner has to look at you AND the questions AND the clock AND the marking criteria! They won’t be looking at you as much as in a normal conversation.
- Finally, remember that in Parts 1 and 2 the examiner is reading a script and cannot change the questions or enter into conversation with you. Only in Part 3 can the examiner make the questions easier or more difficult depending on your level of English and ask follow-up questions based on your answers.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Part 1
- Candidates at Band 6 or below need to answer these questions in detail in order to show off their language ability – this is because they won’t be able to answer as fully in Parts 2 and 3.
- Candidates aiming for Band 7 or above should keep their answers fairly short (2-4 sentences) but with high level accuracy (frequent error free sentences) as this is the most natural way to answer part 1 questions. For example; ‘What are your favourite colours?’ Answer: ‘I don’t really have any generally. But I like being in nature so I’d say greens and blues.’ However, this strategy will only work if you are able to show off excellent language abilities in Parts 2 and 3. Do NOT try it if you find Parts 2 and 3 challenging.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Part 2
- Just. Keep. Talking.
- Part 2 is a test of fluency. You want to show the examiner that you can keep going easily. The impression you are aiming to give is of effortless speech. Keep going until you hear the examiner say, ‘Thank you.’
- How to keep talking? Use your 1 minute preparation time to make a long list of short bullet points related to the topic. For example, if the topic is, ‘Describe a time when you were close to water’, then I will think of a memory and write:
Where – When – Who with – Got there by
Swam – Played – Ate – Drank – Watched – Saw – Felt – Slept
- And anything else I can think of in a minute. Notice that the list above are mostly past tense verbs. This will help me both fully describe the experience and stop me making mistakes.
- Also, if I do run out of things to say before 2 minutes are up, I will think of a second memory and start describing that. ‘You know, that reminds me of another time when ………’ You will not lose any marks for doing this. Just. Keep. Talking.
- You do not have to talk about every point on the cue card and you will not lose marks if you miss something out. The cue card is just there to help to think of ideas. Use it for preparation but you do not have to follow it.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Part 3
- Now is the time to show off. Sometimes good students fail to do well at this part because they treat it the same as part 1, giving short answers. Do not do this.
- Answer each question fully, giving reasons / examples / details to support your ideas. Treat it like a job interview and really try and show just how good you are.
- It’s ok if you don’t hear or understand a question. Just say, ‘Sorry I didn’t quite catch that. Can you say it again? / Can you rephrase that?’
- Do not try to simplify by talking about yourself – you need to be able to talk more generally.
- Always answer the question directly, then give supporting detail. Do not just talk ‘around’ the topic.
- Study the common question types and useful language to improve your score in this part.
- The examiner will try to give you as high a score as possible. This means the test will get very hard in Part 3 (no matter how good you are). For example, if I am thinking by the end of Part 2 that this candidate is 6.5 maybe 7, in Part 3 in will make the questions difficult so I can see if I can give the candidate a 7 or not. The same is true of any band score – Part 3 is used to see how high you can go.
IELTS Speaking Tips: Most Important!
On this page, I’ve given you lots of speaking ‘tips’. They are all useful (I hope) but really, no tips are going to give you a high score in IELTS. You just need to be able to answer all the questions naturally, as if you were speaking your first language. So, do try and use the speaking tips in this lesson, but remember – there is no substitute for practice. You need to practice consistently until speaking in English is almost effortless for you. There is no other way to get beyond band 6 in IELTS speaking. Hint: at this level you will find yourself naturally thinking in English without realising it. Also, if you don’t have many opportunities to practice speaking in English, then you should definitely practice thinking in English – this really will help you improve your speaking as well. You do need to practice consistently though – I mean every day! Finally, best of luck for the speaking exam, I hope you get the score you need!