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Approaching the IELTS Speaking Test

Watch the video on how to adopt a positive approach to the IELTS Speaking Test.











What examiners are looking for

  • There are some sources that advise candidates that they should try to “impress examiners” by dressing in a certain way and adopting a very friendly demeanor.  From experience, the only thing that impresses examiners is a high scoring candidate.

  • Your score is based ONLY on the band descriptors and nothing else. It’s not a personality or fashion test.

  • Even though it does not impact on your band score, it’s advisable to have a positive attitude and body language. Be polite and try not to give the impression that you don’t want to be there or can’t wait until it’s over.

  • Examiners are looking for candidates who answer the questions fluently using appropriate discourse markers and with very little hesitation... candidates who demonstrate a wide range of vocabulary and grammar with few mistakes... candidates whose pronunciation is easy to understand. It’s that simple.

Dealing with Problems

  • A most common problem is when the candidate doesn’t understand the question. Listen carefully to the question and if you don’t understand it, ask the examiner, to repeat it or ask questions to clarify what the question was. Try to avoid phrases like “Come again”, “Eh?”, “Huh?” etc.

  • There is an IELTS myth that says “candidates who ask the examiner to repeat questions get penalized” This is 100% false. The examiner will repeat or rephrase the questions.

  • Watch our video on the speaking main page, “7 common speaking myths”

  • In Parts 1 and 2 the examiner must read the questions from a script and they are not allowed to rephrase them. So, don’t be surprised or discouraged if the examiner just keeps repeating the same question.

  • The examiner will repeat the question once or twice and if the candidate still doesn’t understand it, they will move on to the next question.

  • In Part 3, the examiner doesn’t have scripted questions and can rephrase the question and/or give example prompts.

Approaching the Test

The IELTS Speaking test can be the most stressful of the 4 tests for many candidates. It is, after all, quite an artificial situation.

When you think about it, it’s only natural to feel nervous. You have to speak in a foreign language with a complete stranger, in a small room, for up to 14 minutes, on topics that you might have no interest in.

However, over thinking the Speaking test is self-defeating. Having a positive mindset is essential.

  • Stop listening to Speaking test myths, for example: secret band descriptors, unfriendly examiners etc. This only increases anxiety levels.

  • Remember that the examiner is there to help you and wants you to do well.

  • Be realistic and don’t think of the speaking test as a social occasion and expect the examiner to be your new best friend. It’s a professional English test.

  • Don’t think of the test as an interrogation and you can’t wait for it to finish.

  • Remember that the test is informal. That means you should think of it as a two-way conversation not something that you need to survive.

  • Think of it as an opportunity, and after many years of study and practice, it’s your chance to show your ability.

  • Be yourself and don’t be afraid to express your opinions. Be natural and you will always have more to say.

IELTS Speaking Test: 7 Common Myths

Of all the IELTS tests, the Speaking test is the one with the most myths and misconceptions. Watch the video on the 7 common Speaking test myths.

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