The IELTS Speaking Test is the final part of the exam. Your test will usually be at some time between 1.30pm and 5.00pm. You can take only your ID document into the exam room.
The test lasts between 11 and 14 minutes. You will be interviewed by an examiner who will record your conversation. Timing is strictly controlled by the examiner, so do not be surprised if he or she interrupts you during an answer. There are 3 parts to the Speaking Test:
- Introduction/ interview: around 10 questions in 4 to 5 minutes.
- Short presentation: talk for 2 minutes with 1 minute to prepare.
- Discussion: around 5 questions in 4 to 5 minutes.
Preparation is the key to a good score in IELTS Speaking. Different skills are tested in each part, so you need to know exactly what to do.
We can predict the kinds of questions that the examiner will ask. We will prepare ideas, possible answers and good vocabulary for each part of the test.
Which part is the most important?
Do the 3 parts of the speaking test carry equal weighting when your score is calculated, or is one part more important?
The simple answer is that the 3 parts are not scored separately; the examiner rates the student’s performance as a whole. In this sense, neither part is more important. However, it’s useful to think about the 3 parts like this:
- Part 1 is supposed to be quite easy (like a warm-up), so you won’t get a high score if you only do well in this part.
- Part 2 is when the examiner really gets a chance to assess how good you are. He/she will now have an idea of what scores to give you.
- During part 3, the examiner is making his/her final decision. A good performance here can boost your score.
If you don’t understand, …
What should you do if you don’t understand a question in the speaking test? Here are my tips:
In part 1, the examiner is not allowed to help you, but he/she can repeat the question. Just say: “Sorry, can you repeat the question please?” If you still don’t understand the second time, try to say something related to the topic or any of the words that you heard. Try your best, then focus on the next question.
You are given a task card with the question written on it, so you shouldn’t have any problems in this part. If there is a word that you don’t understand on the task card, don’t ask the examiner – he/she is not allowed to help.
In this part of the test, the examiner is allowed to rephrase the question. If you don’t understand, just say something like: “Sorry, can you explain that question in a different way please?”
Tips for the Speaking Test
Many people agree that the secret of success in the Speaking test is being confident and creative person. Does it mean that others will fail? Not at all! This test is PREDICTABLE. Use the following tips to prepare yourself to what’s coming and the confidence will come.
What are they looking for?
If you know what is important to IELTS examiners, it improves your chances of success. These guidelines refer to every part of the Speaking test. Stick to them and you will satisfy your examiner.
- Speak without long pauses (when you are trying to think of something to say)
- Understand what the examiner asks you and confirm that by answering accordingly.
- Demonstrate how many “smart” words you know
Use all the tenses when you speak – past, present, future – and use them correctly.
- Pronounce the words correctly. For example the word “culture” should sound like “kolcher”, not “kultur”.
- Important! Accent has nothing to do with pronunciation, so it will not affect your score.
Keep it simple!
This tip refers to the whole Speaking test. Don’t start long and complicated sentences if you don’t know how to finish them! Keep your sentences simple, and words – understandable. If you make grammatical error – it’s ok to correct yourself, but don’t overdo it, you must sound fluent.
When you hear a question, your mind automatically draws an image with the answer. You can describe this image in your own language, but when you start to describe it in English, suddenly you don’t have enough words in your vocabulary. So try to think of what part of that image you can describe, do it and stop there. Don’t let yourself show what words you don’t know by saying incomplete sentences.
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