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Top 6 tips to score high on your IELTS speaking exam

Ekta
Last Updated: 23 August 2021 • 5 min read

Many students find themselves worrying about their IELTS speaking exam more than any other, especially as it involves face-to-face communication.

Thankfully, your IELTS speaking test is an enjoyable one to practice for!

What you need to know about your IELTS speaking exam

Your speaking test will last for just over 10 minutes, although it will probably feel like much longer than that! 

The exam is in three parts. The first will be about personal subjects such as hobbies, family or work. The second will be a short speech on a subject that will be provided in the exam, and the third will be to answer some more detailed questions about that subject.

The critical thing to remember is that the examiner is there to help you. They won't be expecting you to deliver perfect speeches: the main things they'll be looking for are:

  • That you can speak fluently with little or no hesitation
  • You can use a variety of vocabulary
  • Your grammar is good, with no mistakes
  • Your pronunciation is good
  • There isn't any need to panic!

10 Top tips to score well in your IELTS Speaking exam

Read on to discover our top tips for scoring highly in your IELTS speaking exam.

Tip 1: Make yourself look confident 

It might sound strange, but looking and acting confident is a great way to improve your score. 

Using body language that makes you look confident will make you feel confident – and your examiner will pick up on that too. Remember that you can talk expressively and passionately, but don’t wave your arms around too much when you talk either.

Tip 2: Don’t be shy

This kind of goes without saying (pardon the pun), but you'll need to talk a lot in your speaking exam to get the best marks possible. Aim to speak at least more than the examiner does, and ensure that you don't give short one-sentence answers. Even if you answer a question negatively, try and expand on your reason for that response.

Also, if you want clarification on something or you want the examiner to repeat something, don’t be shy! You won’t be marked down for asking the examiner to repeat themselves.

Tip 3: Check the mirror

Ok, maybe not in the exam itself, but checking the mirror as part of your practice can help with your confidence.

Speaking to others when you don't feel your language skills are up to scratch can be scary. Practising at home in the mirror is a great way to get more speaking practise without having to worry about what the audience thinks!

Looking at yourself whilst you’re speaking will also give you great feedback about your body language – try to be relaxed, sit up straight, look your examiner in the eye and don’t forget to smile!

Tip 4: Develop your vocabulary

To score really well in your IELTS speaking exam you’ll need to prove that you have a good grasp of grammar, you are able to speak fluently without too many long pauses and that you use a wide range of grammar.  

Test yourself every day to see if you can describe everyday events using different words to get used to using more vocabulary. 

Don't learn any speeches before your exam through – your examiner is trained to spot this, and it will make you sound much less natural. Just relax and enjoy talking about yourself and things that you're interested in.

Tip 5: Practice, practice, practice 

Try to do as many practice tests as you can. Not only will this give you a good idea of what kind of questions you can expect on the day, but it will provide you with an opportunity to think of ways you could expand and develop your answers during your real IELTS exam.

The practice is also key to improving your confidence – and we already know what benefit that will have!

Tip 6: Don't memorise the answers to the questions in your mock test

It might be tempting to memorise the answers to the many questions mentioned in mock tests. After all, your real interview questions will be quite similar to the ones mentioned in mock tests. It should be easy to memorise a few sentences, right? Wrong!

Firstly, you might mix up your answers and say something unrelated to the asked question. Secondly, you might forget and stutter, making it look very artificial. Lastly, the interviewers are well trained to spot such things, and they might fail you for the same.

Use the mock tests to practise but answer on the spot during your IELTS interview.

Tip 7: You don’t have to tell the truth

Your examiner won’t be marking you on the truthfulness of your answers – all that matters is that you can talk about the subjects they ask you to use a wide range of vocabulary and correct grammar.

For example, if the examiner asks you about what sports you like playing, you can tell them about how you love playing football, that you play it every weekend at a pitch near your house with a group of people you study with. You could even go on to say that you love it because it keeps you fit and healthy and gets you out in the fresh air. 

All the examiner will be looking for is that you can talk coherently about a subject and link ideas together. It really doesn’t matter if you love football or hate it – what matters is that you can talk about something.

Tip 8: Pay attention to the questions

The whole point of the IELTS speaking test is to find out if you can understand and communicate in English. If you give answers that are not related to the asked question, you will be penalised. Take your time and keenly listen to what the examiner has to say, think about what you want to say and say it clearly. 

If you do not understand the asked question, you can respectfully ask the examiner to repeat it before answering.

Tip 9: Elaborate your answers without using any filler words

‘Ummmm, Haan, Huh.' - Are some of the filler words we use at times when we are not sure about our answers. 

You can use some filler in between, but too many of them will make it difficult for the interviewer to understand your point. If they don't understand, they are more likely to give you low marks. 
You can take up make practise interviews to address this issue and avoid filler words. 

Tip 10: Avoid forced accents and speak clearly

Remember that your own accent is fine so long as it is understandable. If you try to speak in a fake British accent, your interviewer will notice it. 

Don't worry too much about your accent; just make sure that you pronounce the words clearly.
If you'd like to find out more about taking an IELTS practise exam, speak to one of our experienced consultants today.

If you’d like to find out more about taking an IELTS practice exam, speak to one of our experienced consultants today.

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