Examiner approved tips for the IELTS Speaking test

Speaking test format

  • Introduction & Interview (4-5 minutes) 

The examiner introduces him/herself. And, they ask you to introduce yourself. Then, the examiner asks you general questions on familiar topics, (e.g. family, work, studies and interests). 

  • Individual long turn (3-4 minutes) 

After the first part, you talk about a particular topic. The examiner gives you points you can cover in your talk. You can prepare your talk for a minute, and you are given a pencil and paper to make notes. You talk for one to two minutes on the topic. The examiner then asks you one or two questions on the same topic. 

  • Two-way discussion (4-5 minutes) 

The examiner asks further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. This gives you an opportunity to discuss more general issues and ideas. 

Talk to a human, not a computer. 

At IELTS we believe a face-to-face Speaking test is the most effective way of assessing your speaking skills and prompts a more lifelike performance. Don’t struggle to be heard over the noise and distraction of others. At IELTS, we hear you!

IELTS Speaking Tips – Examiner Approved

  • Tip 1 

In the lead up to the Speaking test, make sure you take the time to practise speaking English. For example, you can practise with friends, at work and on the phone. You could also consider recording yourself, so you can listen back to your responses to help you improve.

  • Tip 2 

There are no right or wrong answers in the Speaking test. The examiner will assess you on how well you can express your ideas and opinions. 

  • Tip 3 

It will help you to feel relaxed if you imagine you are talking to a friend. Remember that you are not being assessed on your opinions, rather on your use of English. At IELTS, we’ll tell you exactly how we assess you. We give you the marking criteria for the Speaking test. 

  • Tip 4 

Try to avoid repeating the words used in the examiner’s question. Use your own words, to show the examiner your full ability. So, when the examiner asks: “Tell me something about the city you live in,” it’s probably best that you don’t start your answer with “Ok, let me tell you something about the city that I live in.” That makes sense, right? 

  • Tip 5 

Speak clearly and at a natural pace. If you speak too quickly, you may make mistakes or pronounce words incorrectly. Remember, an IELTS examiner won’t penalise you for Speaking with an accent, as long as you pronounce you words clearly and correctly. 

The examiner interrupts you during the Speaking test? Don’t worry. 

Sometimes the examiner may have to stop you mid-sentence to ensure the test is fair for all candidates. It just means that you have spoken long enough! That doesn’t mean the examiner isn’t interested or isn’t listening to what you have to say. Remember, the Speaking examiner is there to support you to get the best demonstration of your language skills. 

Tip: Access your free support tools 

  • Tip 6 

Answer in as much detail as you can. Don’t just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Try to develop your response to each question. For example, draw on your own experience and give examples. The examiner wants to hear whether you can talk at length on a range of topics. This is also a key tip for native English speakers. 

  • Tip 7 

Use the correct verb tense when answering questions in the Speaking test. So, listen carefully to the question and notice which verb tense is used. For example, if the question is ‘What kind of music do you like?’ (in the present tense) your answer should also be in the present tense (e.g. ‘I like pop music best’). You can go on to use other tenses as you extend your response, e.g. ‘I haven’t always enjoyed that kind of music…’. 

  • Tip 8 

Practise the pronunciation of numbers to be sure that your meaning is clear. For example, many numbers can sound very similar when spoken, so be sure to say them clearly, e.g. ‘Thirty’ and ‘Thirteen’, ‘Forty’ and ‘Fourteen’, ‘Fifty’ and ‘Fifteen’ etc. There are lots of other words that sound the same, but mean something different. We call them homophones. Check what these words are. 

  • Tip 9 

It is better to use simple, commonly used vocabulary and to use it correctly than to use advanced vocabulary that you are unsure about. However, to get a high score, you must show you know how to use more advanced vocabulary. We have articles that help you expand your vocabulary. Have a look at the 100 New English Words And Phrases in 2020. 

  • Tip 10 

In Part 2, the examiner will give you a task card and some paper. You then have one minute to prepare your answer. First think about the topic and then decide which is the most appropriate tense to use in your response. You should use the same tense(s) as the questions on the card.

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