Essential Strategies for Maximizing Your IELTS Speaking Test Score
1. Remain calm
The more anxious and uncomfortable you are, the more difficult it’ll be to keep up your fluency and maintain coherence. It may feel overwhelming to have to use a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures accurately
2. Just answer the question!
At the start of the test, just give the information that’s needed rather than expanding too much on your answers. Wait until you hear questions about your home, work, school life and so on before giving more extended answers. Even then, provide relevant answers and avoid rambling on about everything you can think of. Candidates often stray from the topic by going off on tangents – avoid this. Think of structuring your responses this way.
3.Remember that the examiner’s lips are sealed
It’s important to understand that the examiner reads from a script, and she can say very little beyond what’s written in her test booklet.
This can lead to some awkward moments if you try to ask the examiner a question.
4.Get in the habit of answering the question “why?”
If you’ve ever taken the IELTS exam before, you may have noticed that the examiner will respond to simple answers by asking, “why?”
This is because she needs you to say more so she can accurately evaluate your language. However, if the examiner feels like she has to coax information out of you continually by asking “why” all the time, you could be marked down for lack of fluency.
5.Use natural spoken English
The best form of English to use in the test is natural spoken English. This will help you to speak more fluently and improve your pronunciation. Here are some examples of what works.
6.Extend your answer
If there is one key piece of advice, it is to extend your answer appropriately. For example, this is inappropriate:
Question:” How many languages do you speak?”
Answer: “Two. Chinese and English.”
Better would be:
Answer: “I speak two languages. My first language is Chinese and I speak English too. I’ve been learning English since I was 10. I started learning it when I was in primary school.”
Be aware, however, that very long answers are not always a good idea. It is possible that you will go off topic and lose coherence.
short forms like it’s and not it is
words like quite that we use a lot in speaking
common spoken phrases like I guess and I suppose
7.Correct yourself – if you can do it immediately
If you make a mistake and you can correct it immediately, do so. This will show the examiner that you have control over the language. If, however, you are unsure how to correct yourself, move on: the examiner may not have noticed the mistake in the first place and if you try unsuccessfully to correct it, a small mistake may become a much bigger one.
8.Sometimes give short answers too!
Not all IELTS speaking questions are equal. For some you may have more to say about and some less. That is only natural. If you get a question that you don’t know very much about do NOT try and talk and talk about it. If you do you will probably become incoherent. Much much better is just to give a shortish answer saying that you don’t know very much about that and then wait for the next question – there’s always another question.
Naturally you can’t do this all the time and in part 2 you do need to keep speaking for at least one and a half minutes.
9.If you don’t understand the question – ask
This is a speaking test and not a listening test. If you don’t understand the question, ask the examiner to repeat or explain it – you should not be penalised for this. If you try to answer a question you do not understand, you will almost certainly become incoherent.
10. Learn to use a range of functional vocabulary such as opinion language
One thing that you will do a lot in the test is give opinions and talk about what you like and dislike. The examiner will be listening to see whether you can say I think and I like in different ways. This can be a tough skill to learn as you may need to learn new speaking habits.