If you are planning to take the IELTS test, you would be aware that the test comprises of four different modules: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. For many IELTS test takers, the speaking test is often the most difficult. This is not very surprising because it is akin to speaking in public. It is a known fact that ‘public speaking’ is one of the scariest tasks for people.
There are three sections in the speaking test in IELTS. The second section is an individual talk where the candidate is required to speak for about maximum 1.5-2 minutes ; however, even this short duration can seem to be like a very long time. The only way to get comfortable with this test is to practice regularly by speaking in front of someone - or yourself, in front of a mirror- on a range of topics. You will gradually find yourselves improving your spoken English abilities to the point that you can take the speaking test with confidence.
For this section of IELTS speaking test, you’ll be given a piece a paper with a topic and given about a minute to think of what you are going to talk about. The examiner then asks you to start and times your ‘speech’. You are expected to speak fluently during this duration in good English.
There are a few things that are good about the IELTS speaking test. For one, facts don’t matter. You could be making up the most atrociously unbelievable stories but as long as the language is good, it is fine.
Secondly, accents don’t matter. You may speak in a Malayalam or Gujarati accent; that won’t be held against you. However, the pronunciation of English words has to be proper. [Do read our blog post on why pronunciation matters, not accent. ]
There are a few factors that matter in the speaking test. Fluency in the English language is obviously one of the main ones. The examiner is evaluating how you can go on speaking without too many breaks or grammatical issues in your spoken English. Secondly, the ability to use good language makes a huge difference. This is dictated by the range and quality of your vocabulary and use of correct grammar. Using more powerful and attractive words will certainly help you score the higher band. Make sure you are also very coherent and speaking with a particular flow on the topic.
Practical tips to score well in the IELTS speaking test
Here are a few strategies you can adopt to score a high-band.
Rely on personal anecdotes:
It helps to speak with personal examples or anecdotes. By connecting personal stories, you will be able to more easily speak from the heart. This can certainly help with being able to speak more fluently.
Focus on one or two main points:
Try to put forth one or two important points in your talk which you are in a position to speak about confidently. You should note down these points during the ‘think time’ that is given to you before you start speaking.
Avoid taking too long pauses:
Natural pauses are acceptable. A pause to reflect is fine and is better than you appearing to be searching for words.
Control the pace of your talk:
Be strategic about the pace of your talk. Don’t try to speak too fast - which can happen due to nervousness- because that might mean that you may have to speak longer. Also, when you are in a hurry, there are chances that you ‘trip’ on your own words and begin to stammer, breaking the fluency.
After the examiner has heard you, he/she will ask a few questions related to the topic, but not exactly related to what you may have just spoken. The questions could be related to broader issues around the topic and are designed to understand whether you can understand questions asked in a conversation and respond appropriately.
Again, the emphasis here is less on the logic of your argument and more on how well you are able to express your opinion. What you must do is to ensure that you answer the question that is asked. For example, if the examiner asks whether you think that technology will eliminate the need and value of business travel, make sure that your response addresses the question. Don’t keep talking about business travel in general; explain why you think it will or will not be valuable in future.
Let us reiterate- the best tip to score a high band in the IELTS speaking test is regular and continuous practice. There is no substitute to this. In addition to regular practice, we hope you will follow some of the tips given above to improve your test score.
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-By Chander Madan