Taking the IELTS exam is agonising, especially the listening, reading, and writing components. By the time many test-takers get to the last portion - the speaking component - they either relax if they are confident speakers or get even tenser if they aren’t. In theory, one should be more relaxed. By the time they sit the exam, most students are fairly good speakers and can complete it easily.
However the IELTS speaking test isn’t all easy. There are some considerations to make if you’re keen to be successful. Like the reading and writing portions, there are some helpful things to know and some challenges to pay attention to. Once students learn these, their chances for success are that much higher.
Here are some key tips:
Speak and Speak More
Billionaire Warren Buffet has said that his career would not be what it’s become if he’d never taken a speaking course when he finished his master’s thesis. He was nervous about speaking in front of people, but through this programme he gained confidence for his later work interactions. This is a good example for IELTS speaking test-takers. Get into any scenario where you can speak with English speakers—clubs, courses, meetings, nights out—whilst also noting what issues you have with your speaking, such as diction, proper oral grammar or articulating one’s thoughts comprehensively. In short, practice as much as possible to make your speaking perfect.
Pay Attention to Sections
IELTS test givers, or ‘invigilators’, often advise those that take the IELTS speaking test to compartmentalise the test into three parts. Most students get through part one easily, but the second part with a topic card can be tough. Then the third part, where students have to answer general questions with detailed reasons and specific vocabulary, can be even tougher. Students need to be ready for all of these portions and work on specific skills for these crucial segments.
Avoid Prepared Answers
IELTS speaking questions change like the direction of the wind. It’s very good to practice and be ready to take any question that comes your way. However, please note that you should not come to the IELTS speaking exam with prepared answers. Invigilators know when test-takers do this and can penalise them for it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Maybe the speaking invigilator mumbled a question and you didn’t hear them. Perhaps they used diction that is unfamiliar to you. If these or other communication problems happen during your IELTS speaking test, don’t panic. Just ask for clarification. You’re allowed to do this, and your invigilator will give you additional information to assist you on how to answer questions correctly. You can also ask them to repeat or rephrase questions as need-be.
Practice with Difficult Topic Questions
The IELTS speaking test requires the test-taker to be ready to challenge themselves to get successful results. It’s absolutely necessary that students practice topic questions. They have to be ready to give detailed answers so the invigilator knows that the student is completely able to process and communicate information. For students looking to get ready for the IELTS speaking portion, getting some old IELTS tests or using sample questions online will help them to become adept at answering properly in the short timeframe they are given on test day.
It goes without saying that students wishing to take the IELTS speaking exam will benefit from an IELTS preparation class or elective where they can work with an instructor to hone their speaking skills. The Language Gallery’s IELTS Preparation Course and IELTS Exam Preparation Elective will put you into an intensive programme where you can get ready for the IELTS speaking exam.
We thank TLG Toronto IELTS instructor Melinda for her input on this blog post!