Tips for improving your score on the IELTS Speaking Test

Tip 1 In Part 1, the questions will mostly be about familiar topics: personal information and daily life. Take the opportunity to relax, adjust to the examiner and answer the questions as naturally as possible.

Tip 2 Candidates shouldn't just provide one-word answers in Part 1, but it isn't necessary to stretch one question out for minutes either! The answer to 'Do you have any brothers or sisters?' should not be as short as 'Yes', nor as long as 'My eldest sister is 5 foot 2 inches tall and her birthday is 7 weeks after mine. I last saw her at New Year, together with my younger sister, who has long dark hair and blue eyes and who works a nurse, and my brother, who ... (etc.)!'. Again, be natural. Neither of those responses would feel right in an interview or other semi-formal exchange, would they? For different questions, slightly longer or shorter answers will be appropriate. Part 1 takes 4 to 5 minutes in total.

Tip 3 Avoid giving "rehearsed" answers. Examiners can recognise these very easily. Prepare and practise for the Speaking test but do not over-prepare.

Tip 4 Focus on meaningful interaction rather than the display of language. Remember to make eye contact and use your face and body language to help communication.

Tip 5 Practise with a friend and record your speaking on a cassette. This will help you to find your weak points and improve. Listen for bad speaking habits such as repeating words or sounds when you are thinking, overuse of certain words (like "so" or "for example") and basic grammar errors. Your friend can also tell you about nervous habits, poor body language and whether you are speaking loudly enough.

Tip 6 You should practise speaking English every day. Talk to yourself if nobody else is available. Practice both the test format and everyday speaking.

Tip 7 Listen to the news and read magazines and newspapers in English as much as possible. This will help not only your language but also give you ideas of what to talk about.

(You can also order practice materials from www.ielts.org)

Updated July 20, 2017
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