Let’s begin with the Test Format
First of all, let us understand the format of the test so you know what to expect. The format is the same for both the IELTS Academic as well as IELTS General Training tests and is designed to test a range of skills related to English. You will be speaking to a certified examiner in an interactive face-to-face setting. There are three parts to the Speaking test and the total time will be 11 to 14 minutes.
Part 1 (4 to 5 minutes): You will be asked to identify yourself and answer common general questions on your family, work, hobbies and background. The examiner will put you at ease and help you relax.
Part 2 (3 to 4 minutes): You will be given a task card with a topic. You will be given one minute to prepare points and will then be asked to speak for 1 to 2 minutes on the topic. You should keep talking as you will not be interrupted. At the end, the examiner will ask you 1 or 2 further questions.
Part 3 (4 to 5 minutes): You will be asked a few questions on the topic given in Part 2.
What will the examiner be assessing?
You will be judged on your ability to:
- Communicate on common topics and experiences
- Speak at length on a topic chosen by the examiner
- Express your opinion and stand by them
- Analyse and discuss given issues
- Answer the questions asked
What is the marks scale?
Your marks will be based on four criteria:
- Fluency and coherence during the conversation
- Your vocabulary (lexical resource)
- Correctness of grammar and accuracy
- Your pronunciation
Scores are reported in whole and half bands, between 1 (the lowest) and 9 (the highest). You will be given a 0 if you did not attempt the section at all.
Tips to improve your speaking scores
- First of all, learn to relax! It’s just a test, and the examiner is only human. Besides, getting nervous will not help and you will not be able to answer clearly. So, take a deep breath. It’s okay.
- Get off on the right foot; a smile and a positive attitude can help! If your examiner asks, “How are you?”, answer with a big smile, “I’m doing fine, and how is your day going?” Of course, this is just an example.
- You will be starting with an introduction: your name, where you are from and your ID. Answer to the point, as this is not part of the test.
- Finally, your test will start! Your examiner is following a script and may be reading from the screen, so will not respond naturally to your answers. Do not worry if they don’t smile or appear to be a bit distant. It does not mean you are not doing well!
- The questions in Part 1 will be about you and you can answer honestly as there is no right or wrong answer. You could be asked where you live or what your level of education is or where you are working.
Tip: Here, you should not answer to the point but try to expand your answers. For example, if you are asked, “Do you enjoy reading?”, do not simply answer, “Yes”. You can add another sentence about what you are presently reading.
Do you enjoy reading?
Yes, I love to read! I like to read thrillers and right now I am reading <name of book and author> (Be prepared to answer a question on what interests you about this genre or this particular book)
Do you like to cook?
I don’t mind cooking but I honestly don’t have the time to cook much. My work and studies keep me very busy. I am lucky to be staying at home with my parents, so my mom does most of the cooking at home anyway. I do help her when I am able to.
- During Part 2 of the test, you will be given a topic on a card and given 1 minute to get prepared. After that, you will have to speak on the topic for 1 or 2 minutes, till you are asked to stop. Practice is the key, so keep trying out as many topics as you can at home, till you gain enough confidence to ace this section. Remember, they are not testing your knowledge of the subject matter; all they are looking for is your English language capability.
Here are some topics you can practice on:
Describe a book you have recently read.
You should say:
- The title and author
- What kind of book it is
- Why you liked, or disliked it
- The gist of the story in a few sentences (do not ramble on and tell the entire story)
Describe a member of your family who you get along well with.
You should say:
- Who this is
- Your relationship with him/her
- Describe this person
- Why you get along well
Describe your favourite place.
You should say:
- Where it is
- How you can get there
- When you last visited
- What you can do there
- Part 3, the final part, will have the examiner asking you questions related to the topic in part 2. So, for example, if your topic in part 2 was about your favourite teacher, the questions in part 3 could be related to, “What do you think is the best age for children to start school?” OR “How can a teacher influence the personality of a child?” Just talk naturally and you should be fine!
- And that’s it! You will be wished a good day and told that it’s over and you may leave. Here, you must note that the examiner is not going to tell you whether you have done well or not. You will have to wait till your results come out.
- Keep practicing your skills and you will gain the confidence you need to do well on your big day. Don’t worry; you have this!
It always pays to have the support of experienced IELTS tutors who can coach you to succeed. So do sign up for face-to-face or online IELTS classes and get started on polishing your skills!