Eurospeak Language School

10 Tips and Hints for IELTS Speaking Module

You’ve decided to take the IELTS speaking exam. This can be a nerve-wracking experience for many candidates as it involves face-to-face conversation, but it’s also the easiest part of IELTS to boost your overall score if you prepare in the right way! At Eurospeak, we have helped many candidates get through the exam successfully, and would like to share ten of our top tips for getting the band score you’re aiming for!  

First and foremost, practise speaking English  

This might sound obvious, but it is worth repeating. Try to speak a little English everyday leading up to the test; get your brain used to thinking in English.  

In Part 2 of the test, you will be asked to speak on a given subject for a couple of minutes, so practise talking about common IELTS topics with family and friends and try out new vocabulary associated with them. These common test subjects include: Crime and punishment; sport and recreation; family life; the Internet; education; travel and tourism and the environment. 

Your language skills matter, not your opinions 

There are no right or wrong answers in this exam; remember, the key thing is how you express yourself in the English language. The examiner will not assess you on your opinions, but on your competence and flexibility when talking in English. 

Don’t memorize prepared answers 

This is another big one! The examiners will mark you down if they feel you are reading a prepared script; it means that they cannot accurately grade your free-speaking language skills, so avoid this at all costs. Instead, make yourself familiar with vocabulary and collocations associated with common topics, and be ready to use them naturally. Spontaneity is the name of the game! 

Use a variety of grammatical tenses and forms 

One of the criteria IELTS examiners are grading you on is your ‘grammatical range and accuracy’, so try to speak with a mix of complex and simple sentences and grammatical tenses when talking about the past, present or future. Make sure your answer is coherent and makes use of linking words (eg ‘nevertheless’/ ‘although’) to enrich your language. 

Speak clearly with varied intonation 

Try to answer the examiner’s questions at a natural pace with clear, varied intonation. Don’t reply to questions in a monotone voice. Instead, use different stress and tone to emphasis points and sound like you are interested in the question and questioner. Use gestures and body language to help communicate your points, and smile – this act alone can help improve your enunciation and help the conversation flow. 

Give full, detailed answers 

The examiner wants to hear you speak at length on any given topic, so try to answer each question in full, and develop it while you are speaking. Feel free to extend your answers, before the examiner prompts you with a short follow up question. Remember that a long answer is what the examiner wants, as it shows that you are capable of discussing a topic in detail. Give plenty of examples from your own personal experience. Above all else, don’t simply answer the questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’! 

Stick to what you know 

It is always better to use commonly-used vocabulary that you are familiar and comfortable with, rather than advanced vocabulary that you are not. Speaking fluently is more important than using long words if your sentences are not coherent. However, to achieve the highest scores, you will need to show you are comfortable using more advanced vocabulary fluently.  

Give yourself time to think 

Don’t be afraid to pause if you are unsure how to respond to a question; after all, native speakers do this too – it’s natural in any conversation. You can give yourself a few seconds to think, with phrases such as ‘well, let me see’ or ‘that’s certainly an interesting point’. Avoid ‘fillers’ like ‘you know’, ‘er’ and ‘um’. Don’t just repeat the examiner’s question, word for word: remember, this is supposed to be a natural conversation. Use synonyms and paraphrase the question if you need to. 

Correct your mistakes when you make them 

Mistakes are fine. We all make them from time to time when we are speaking; but you can impress the examiner by correcting your own mistakes as you make them in real time – it shows that you have a good grasp of the vocabulary and grammar you are using. 

Ask the examiner questions 

People ask each other questions in normal conversation, and the IELTS speaking exam is no different: if you don’t understand a word, you can always ask the examiner to explain its meaning, or simply to repeat the question to you. 

And finally: Relax, be yourself and go into the exam room with confidence. You will find that little actions like sitting upright, smiling and making good eye contact with the examiner will help make your answers, and the whole conversation – be more natural. Which, of course, is the whole point of the test!  

That’s a lot to take on board, but don’t stress. Take your time to fully prepare yourself for the exam and only take it when you feel fully confident you are ready.  

‘OK, I feel ready – but where can I take the IELTS Speaking exam?’ 

At Eurospeak language school, we have two well-established IELTS test centres for you to sit the exam: one in Reading and the other in Southampton.