It’s time to stop dreading your speaking section of the IELTS test.
Instead, take a deep breath, relax, and check out these IELTS speaking tips to help you improve your score.
When it comes time for your exam, you have everything you need to ace it.
Tip 1. Familiarize Yourself With The IELTS Speaking Format
The first IELTS speaking tip is to familiarize yourself with the test format. It’s like when you play a game; you need to know the rules before getting into it.
The speaking test lasts for 11-14 minutes and contains three parts:
(Identity Check And Greeting)
- Introduction (4-5 Minutes)
- Individual Long Turn (3-4 Minutes)
- Two-Way Discussion (4-5 Minutes)
You also want to know how many questions will be asked in each part, how long you have to answer each question, and what questions are included.
Tip 2. Know Your Band Score Requirements
Are you aiming for a 7? Or an 8?
The best thing you can do as a student, or even as someone who has taken the test before, is to keep track of what score you need and understand the public band descriptors to achieve your desired result.
This way, you’ll know where you stand and how much more time/effort it will take to reach your goal.
Tip 3. Practice Time Management
Time management is a crucial skill for improving your IELTS test scores.
There is an overall time limit for each task, and you should be able to complete one task within that time.
For example, if you know what two minutes feel like and how many words or sentences you need to use, you can use the time more effectively in both directions: when there’s too much time left or when there isn’t enough. This will help ensure you don’t run out of time.
You can time yourself using a stopwatch whenever you practice speaking.
Tip 4. Avoid Basing Your Answers On Memorized Examples
You might think you are being smart by repeating sample answers verbatim, but in reality, you will sound unnatural or even robotic.
On top of that, it doesn’t allow you enough flexibility to think on the spot.
This is especially true if you can produce good-quality answers in the first two parts of the speaking test but cannot do so in the third part.
A good approach would be to prepare your own answers that suit your personality and style of speaking in advance so that they can be integrated into your speaking piece more naturally.
Tip 5. Avoid One-Word Answers
One-word answers are easy to spot, and they’re also easy for the examiner to mark down.
Use full sentences if you are asked a question in the IELTS speaking test.
For example, don’t just say yes or no if you get a generic question (e.g., Do you like traveling?).
Instead, use examples to support your answer, and try to use topic-related vocabulary.
It will sound more natural and give the examiner more information about where your ideas are coming from.
Tip 6. Be Natural
You don’t have to speak like a native, but you should sound like a person who’s comfortable using English and can express themselves in an educated way.
Talk about something you know well; don’t try to speak about something that would be too difficult or unfamiliar, as this may make it complicated for you to think of phrases and sentences to say and talk simultaneously.
Tip 7. Don’t Be Afraid Of Pauses
In real life, people don’t always say exactly what they mean when speaking aloud.
Instead, they usually pause between sentences or phrases as they think about what they want to say next or how best to express themselves.
These small pauses can often help make our speech more natural-sounding because it shows that we’re thinking about what we want to say next rather than just saying whatever comes into our heads.
Tip 8. Make Sure You Understand Each Question
It’s important that you fully understand each question before starting your answer.
Sometimes, questions that seem easy to answer can be trickier than they appear at first glance! If you’re unsure whether or not you fully understand a question, ask for clarification from your examiner before answering it.
Tip 9. Learn English Idioms
Idioms are expressions that are used in everyday language.
They are often confusing for learners of English as they do not always mean what they appear to mean.
However, these expressions can help make your sentences more exciting and colorful.
Here are two examples of common idioms:
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch: Don’t plan or expect something until it happens.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Don’t rely on only one source of income/investment/etc., because there may be problems with it (e.g., if you lose your job).
Tip 10. Practice Common IELTS Topics
When preparing for the IELTS Speaking Test, practice common topics.
If you are comfortable with the topics, you can help yourself get a higher score.
For example, here are some of the most common topics in Part 1 that you can practice:
Tip 11. Learn Synonyms
Synonyms are words that have the same or similar meanings as other words.
For example, here are some common synonyms from IELTS:
- fast – rapid – speedy
- happy – pleased – delighted
- tedious – boring – dull
- reply – answer – respond
- create – produce – manufacture
- adequate – enough – sufficient
They can help you avoid repetition in your writing and speaking and make your answers more interesting and fluent.
Besides, it’s a fun way to improve your vocabulary.
Tip 12. Use A Variety Of Sentence Structures
Although the IELTS exam doesn’t require using a specific sentence structure, it is good to vary your sentence types.
Try to use simple, compound, and complex sentences in your answers in the most appropriate way possible. It will make you sound more confident and show you can control the flow of conversation.
Tip 13. Use Linking Words Effectively
Linking words are used to connect ideas, sentences, and paragraphs.
You can use them to show cause and effect, compare or contrast ideas, give examples, draw conclusions, and make your speech more fluid.
They bridge one idea with another so that each point flows into the other logically.
Here are some of the most common linking words:
- for example
- on the contrary
Tip 14. Get Used To Using Paraphrasing
One of the best ways to make your IELTS speaking task more interesting is to use paraphrasing.
Paraphrasing is repeating what someone else has said in a new way. It shows that you understand what the question means and helps you organize your ideas, making it easier for the examiner to follow along with your speech.
Here are some examples:
- “The hotel was nice” can be paraphrased as “I enjoyed my stay at this hotel.”
- “That film was pretty boring” can be paraphrased as “The plot wasn’t exciting, and it didn’t have much of a twist.”
Tip 15. Avoid Using Fillers
Fillers are words that have no real meaning but help fill a gap in speech, such as ‘um,’ ‘er,’ and ‘you know.’ They can make you sound unsure of yourself and less confident.
These words may be acceptable in everyday conversation, but they can be distracting when you are giving an IELTS speaking test.
Instead of using fillers, use pauses to indicate that you’re thinking about what to say next.
Tip 16. Don’t Use Words You Are Not Sure
Don’t use words you are unsure about their meaning, form, or pronunciation because this may make your answer unclear for the examiner and might lose marks for your speaking ability.
Use only those words which are familiar to you so that you can speak fluently without hesitation.
Bottom line: It is better to use a simple word than an incorrect one.
Tip 17. Mind Your Grammar
Grammar is an essential part of spoken English. It can help you to sound more natural and make your speech easier to understand. It includes how words are formed, used, and changed.
The most common mistakes made by candidates are:
Misuse of tense, e.g., saying ‘I have done’ when you mean ‘I did.’
Incorrect use of articles, e.g., saying ‘a book’ when you mean ‘the book.’
Incorrect use of prepositions, e.g., saying ‘he goes for school’ instead of ‘he goes to school.’
Tip 18. Speak At The Right Speed
Many people think that speaking fast will make them sound more confident and fluent. But this isn’t always true. It could also be a sign of nervousness.
For example, in the IELTS Speaking Part 2, you have 2 minutes to talk about a topic. You may be tempted to speak as fast as possible to cover all the points in the given time, but this might negatively affect your score in IELTS speaking.
Try to speak at a moderate pace because it will give you more time to think about what you will say and allow your listener to understand what you are saying.
Tip 19. Practice With A Partner
It is better to practice with a friend who is familiar with the test format and content.
You can practice with your partner, taking turns playing the role of examiner and candidate.
They will be able to give constructive feedback on your performance, making it easier for you to improve your speaking skills.
Tip 20. Stay Calm And Be Confident
IELTS is a stress-inducing exam, and it’s easy to get nervous, especially if you’re not used to speaking in public.
However, staying calm and confident during the test is important. If you’re feeling nervous, take some deep breaths and try to relax by thinking about something that makes you happy. Stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong (they won’t). Focus on all of the things that will go right (they will).
It’s also crucial that you don’t let your nerves affect your body language. If you’re fidgeting or looking around the room, the examiner might think you’re uncomfortable with what you’re saying.
Just remember that speaking is about conveying information and ideas clearly and confidently. It’s not about having the perfect accent or vocabulary; it’s about being able to communicate well in English.
Tip 21. Smile
Showing a genuine smile will go a long way toward making you feel comfortable and confident.
If you’re nervous or under pressure, smiling can also be a simple way of releasing tension.
It’s no secret that the IELTS test is not a piece of cake.
Luckily, there are many tips to help you improve your score and make it more manageable.
I hope you learned some valuable IELTS speaking tips and tricks.
If you’d like more English resources and articles, check out my other posts at Hi English Hub.