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Top 10 IELTS speaking tips

Native English speaker interviewer, one-to-one interaction, interviewer taking down notes as you speak, two minutes continuous speaking for cue card round and cross-questioning, in the end, can easily leave the student overwhelmed. However, there are things that you can learn not to feel overwhelmed in your IELTS speaking interview and ace it.

1. Avoid answering in just one word or one line

Since the examiner needs some material to assess your English speaking skills, whenever you feel like your answer is just one word or one line long, add a few more details about the question.

For example: Are you a student or a working professional?

The answer to this question is: I am a student/working professional but one should add extra details to make it at least 2 sentences long.

Sample answer: I am a student, I study maths. I am in the third year of my graduate program.

2. Don’t give too lengthy answers

We already know that we cannot give one-liners as our response to the asked question, but making it too long is also not good since the examiners have a definite time assigned for each student (generally 15- 17 minutes)

3. Make the cue card notes neat and clean:

Since you will have to speak continuously for 2 minutes based on your cue card notes, it will be much easier if you make your notes in a way that is easy for you to understand by just glancing at it.

One way to do so is to make a circle, write the topic you will be speaking about in the centre and write the keywords to answer the sub-questions. It should look something like this:

4. Don’t try to memorise cue card topics

Many students think that if they get a cue card that they have already practiced with their trainer or while self-preparing for the interview, they will do better since they have done it once already. But in reality, it is actually the opposite, if you find the same or similar cue card in the actual speaking test, you will try to mimic what you spoke the last time you attempted the same or you might take a pause in between to recall what you said about some certain section of the question which reduces your fluency and you will lose a few scores.

5. For cue card section, speak until the examiner stops you

Cue card round is where most of the grading happens, they assess the student’s fluency, pronunciation, intonation, and relevance with the asked question. Speaking until you are told to stop shows that you are comfortable with the language and it also eliminates the possibility of not fulfilling the required duration of speaking about the cue card.

6. Be yourself: Try to talk in the way you generally do.

While giving the speaking test, it is obvious to think that using advanced vocabulary throughout the test and giving long answers to each question will lead to better scores; however, the reality is quite the opposite. To get better results in this test just being clear, comprehensive, and natural is enough.

Being clear and comprehensive; Use complex structures and advanced vocabulary only when required.

Being natural; Try to respond to the question in the way you talk to a stranger on the subway. Keep the sentences moderate length (2-4 sentences for each answer) and to the point.

7. Be honest.

When we are honest about what we are speaking, we are confident and at ease, since we believe in what we are saying. It helps us to be fluent and use the correct intonation (rising and lowering the pitch as we speak). Using the right intonation gives the impression of us being comfortable with the language.

8. Don’t be too honest( Pick funny and light incidents to talk about)

Unlike being honest, being too honest and spilling more details than needed can make you feel awkward and stressed out, thinking if you shouldn’t have spoken what you just said or that it was unnecessary. When this happens, the student being interviewed starts judging their answers and thinking too much before answering to avoid the prior situation which makes them use incorrect grammar and stutter

For illustration: if there is a question like “Talk about the last incident when you had an argument with one of your siblings” here instead of being honest and describing the actual last incident of you having a serious heated conversation with your brother or sister, pick up an incident where things were really light and funny. It will be much easier for you to speak about.

9. Practice narrating imaginary stories

In your actual test, you might be asked to describe some incident that you have never experienced

For example:

Describe the last time you went to a museum. How did you feel about it and why did you visit it?

What if you have never been to a museum? Since, content doesn’t matter in the IELTS speaking test (even if you say something like “India is on Mars”, it would not affect your score because the test is made to assess your English language proficiency only) you can narrate made up stories for the asked questions.

10. Dress formally

Actually, there isn’t a dress code but since this is an educational test, the dressing should be well mannered. It should be in accordance with the reason why you are giving the IELTS test. You should dress in a manner that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and an impressive English speaker. This is what we all want.

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