Nailing IELTS Speaking Test: Important Tips

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IELTS is often required by many universities and HR managers to prove the applicant’s English skills. Many of those who take it are not exposed to the English-speaking environment and find it hard to communicate naturally and fluently. These tips will help put those people at ease and develop eloquence even without a direct exposure to the language.

Any exam preparation can be stressful and grueling, especially if it’s in the language other than your own. It is crucial to start in advance and move on step by step to avoid a burnout and ensure an in-depth acquisition of knowledge.

IELTS speaking test is only 10-15 minutes long, but those 10-15 minutes can be the most excruciating in your life. It is frequently more difficult than other tasks as it requires you not only to show your language proficiency, but also interpersonal skills while communicating with a real person. I believe the tips listed in the article will help you pull this challenge off with flying colors.

Follow the Structure

It is typical of every human to lose their train of thought when under intense stress or insurmountable pressure. Even though it may be overlooked and forgiven in a real-life conversation, it is bound to affect your IELTS speaking score in a very negative way.

Therefore, to make it easy on yourself, you need to memorize the IELTS structure and follow it to a T. If you simply familiarize yourself with it right before the exam, you are very likely to forget it after entering the auditorium. You need to always account for a strain factor even when you feel confident about your language ability.

What Is IELTS Structure?

So, a typical IELTS test consists of three parts. The first one is meant to make you relaxed and comfortable around the examiner. You will simply need to introduce yourself and answer a few basic questions from your biography.

The second part is intended to show your fluency in speaking on general topics such as education, lifestyle, culture, technology etc. Here I would recommend you reading a lot to get a firm grip on vocabulary in different spheres and, maybe, pick up some interesting ideas you can use to underpin your opinion. You will be given a card with the topic and some cues, but remember, you are not obliged to touch upon each of the cues. Of course, adhering to the topic is a must, but you have a right not to follow the prompt and take a personal approach to the issue.

In the final discussion section, you will need to extrapolate in more detail upon the standpoint taken in the previous segment. It is the most abstract and, thus, the most feared part of the speaking IELTS. However, remember, there is no need to produce a Nobel winning speech. Your opinion does not have to be accurate or conventional. This is a language, not a cognitive test, so, the key here is to sound confident, natural and unbiased when answering the examiner’s questions.

Know the Criteria

It sounds ridiculous, but many students do not take pains to look up the exact evaluation criteria of the IELTS speaking part. Many might have spent extensive time in an English-speaking country and feel that they are fluent to the point of not requiring additional preparation. However, there are those who simply did not think about it from a purely technical perspective.

You may have a remarkable fluency and a rich vocabulary, but if you blabber away and jump from one argument to another you cannot expect to earn a high score on the speaking part. So, please acquaint yourself with its four principal criteria such as pronunciation, vocabulary, cohesiveness and naturalness of speech and grammar usage.

I recommend you always sticking to a particular structure in your answers: start with the introduction followed up by three arguments and a conclusion. Avoid uncomfortable pauses. Do not frantically search for smart words, but ensure that your language is idiomatic and appropriate. Finally, brush up on your grammar as on IELTS speaking part you will definitely have to utilize all the existing tenses.

Many students do not even suspect how important their pronunciation may be. Of course, it may seem unfair, especially for those who did not have money or technology to connect with the native speakers. However, at least working on your speech clarity can go along in boosting your pronunciation score.

Train Yourself

Many IELTS aspirants take a wrong approach to preparation for the speaking task. They would learn a great deal of vocabulary without ever applying it in the context. They would engage in soliloquies without ever asking for an outside opinion or at least recording themselves with a set time limit.

As you might suspect, this approach often leads to a painful disillusionment once the exam day arrives. Therefore, I suggest you train for the speaking section by emulating the actual test as close as possible. Because the third part involves discussion, ideally you would need to find a native speaker to communicate on a regular basis.

However, if this is not an option for you, at least record yourself and listen to it to determine your weak points based on the abovementioned criteria. Try to pose questions to yourself and answer them, imitating a real-life discussion. Do not just learn vocabulary or practice monologues. On the actual test those are very likely to prove useless.

Talk at Length

As Shakespeare once quipped, brevity is the soul of wit, but not on IELTS. During a speaking section, examiners want to hear you speak at length to evaluate your language level accurately.

Therefore, do not just state your viewpoint, but bolster it with arguments and explanations. The ideal answer would begin with a paraphrase of the question, followed by a couple reasons with pertinent examples and a conclusion at the end. If you cannot think of examples, just think something up. Nobody is going to ask you for references, just trust me on this one.

There definitely should be a measure in your speech length. The ideal answer is to have 3-5 sentences, because you only have a couple minutes for each reply. If you talk too much, you will miss out on cohesiveness, which will reduce your overall score.

The Aura of Serenity

It is by far the hardest tip to follow, but also the most important. If you are going to be nervous around the examiners, you may come off as insecure and, therefore, incompetent. You may sound confusing and unintelligible, which will detract from your pronunciation and coherency points.

Months or even years of preparation can be obliterated by the inability to maintain psychological stamina. Of course, the best way to build up confidence is to prepare a lot, but for some people it may not be enough. In this case, I would recommend you trying some tricks to distract yourself from this stressful exam.

First of all, do not drink coffee before the exam. It is proven to make people jittery and inattentive. Second of all, imagine you are talking not to a stranger, but your best friend or a partner. Just think of somebody who makes you feel the most comfortable. Third of all, block the negative thoughts. People tend to overthink their problems, thus crushing their confidence. Become a Buddhist for one day. Try to clear your head and focus on the task at hand. Meditate if you have to. Remember, there is no mountain too big for you to climb. 

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