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The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam grades a candidate on the level of their English Language Proficiency. The exam is divided into two categories; IELTS Academic & IELTS General Training.

A lot of academic institutions in Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand & the United States, etc. accept the IELTS score as proof of your proficiency in the English language. The score is also recognised for immigration purposes, non – academic work-related profiles, etc.

The exam is a measuring parameter of an aspirant’s practical application of the English language across four sections – Reading, Writing, Listening & Speaking. The listening & speaking sections remain the same for both IELTS – Academic & General; the difference lies in the Reading & Writing part.

The Speaking test is the shortest among all the tests in the IELTS exam. However, the test is regarded as a bone of contention by the aspirants considering ‘average scores despite a good performance.’ But why is that?

You are well aware of the fact that you are not being judged directly in the other tasks. But, in the Speaking section, you are on a face–to–face test with the examiner. That is a big thing for a person who may not be fluent or one who has trouble conversing in English.

But hey! Let’s look at the brighter part. The IELTS Speaking test is only held for a total duration of 12 – 15 minutes. You have to maintain that natural speech throughout.

The Speaking Test is divided into nine bands and three sections. Let’s have a detailed insight into each of these sections, and know how to answer them correctly.

IELTS Speaking Sections

  1. INTRODUCTION & INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
  2. CUE CARD TASK
  3. COUNTER QUESTIONS/DISCUSSIONS

1. INTRODUCTION & INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

The examiner first introduces themselves and then asks the candidate questions on familiar topics. Consider this as a warm-up section, one which will get you familiarised with the exam.

Some common questions asked are: What do you do? Where do you come from? Why select a particular field of study? Hobbies? How do you utilise your free time? Or which town are you from? What kind of place is it? Is it a good place to live & why? How long have you lived there? What do you like most about it?

These are some questions whose answers you can pre-prepare so that you can have a crystal – clear of what you’re saying. But, no matter what the question is, never answer in just one or two words and elaborate your viewpoints in 2 – 3 sentences. They should be crisp yet complete. Speak in a very relaxed & composed way.

The questions will be spontaneous. Some common questions revolve around areas of work, school, college, the area of residence, etc. However, you should improvise your responses when needed. Know your domain fully so that you’re able to answer any possible question that comes from the examiner. Again, the questions are basic.

2. CUE CARD TASK

In the IELTS Cue Card task or Candidate Card Task test, you get around one minute to prepare yourself to talk about a particular topic. The instructions to ‘guide your talk’ are written on a card and is given to you by the examiner. Your talk or extempore as you may call it should last for two minutes until the examiner asks you to stop.

Let’s take an example: Describe someone in your family you admire.

Start by giving an immediate answer and a supporting reason the background and relation of the person to you. Also state, your first memories of the concerned person, how often do you see this person, and how is he different from others?

You could also try and show their profession, nature, behaviour, personality, your personal experience with that person, etc. In this case, whatever you speak, don’t stray away from the main point; don’t shift your answer to other family members!

The IELTS Speaking topics are generally, not General Knowledge or I.Q. based, it revolves around people/events/experience in day-to-day life.

Behind every successful thing, there is a carefully structured plan. The IELTS exam is no different. Begin with micro-planning. You often may have heard people frequently repeating statements or things.

Begin with jotting down essential points on the paper. Writing is crucial as it helps you get a proper idea of the flow you need to maintain when you’ll be speaking in your second task.

You tend to remember and add extra – small details which elaborates your content knowledge & quality. Your ideas should be natural, and your speech must gain a considerable length.

Write down some points; it helps you eliminate nervousness and keep calm. In the exam, do not continuously look at the paper, look at the examiner and elaborate the points you’ve written.

Before starting to talk, make sure that you’ve got the flow of speech the way, you want it. Using this outline, go through every sequence of ideas you’ve planned. Be audibly loud when you speak and speak with confidence so that the speaker hears every word clearly. Do not shout, though!

3. COUNTER QUESTIONS/DISCUSSIONS

As you can infer, these are counter – questions asked by the examiner to you, after the second task. The questions are based on the Cue – cards and are to be answered in 2 – 3 sentences.

Let’s see how powerful your memory is! Remember a question we asked you previously on your family? Now, these are some possible counter questions that might follow:

  • What are the values of family in your country?
  • How can you relate family to happiness?
  • What type of family do you prefer? Nuclear or joint?
  • How have family bonds and values changed over the years?

Understand that a bit of bluffing here, and that is okay. It is always recommended to stay honest with your opinions. This honesty is visible in the way you behave; it gives you a different level of confidence altogether.

The flow is naturally well-maintained. Know that the examiner will not judge you based on your viewpoints or ideas you present. Positivity or negativity in your content does not influence your score.

The way you speak, the clarity, the way you express your ideas, level of ambiguity, etc. are some parameters on which you’ll be judged.

Now that you know how to tackle the Speaking section, you must understand about IELTS Speaking parameters assessed across various band descriptors. Here is an assessment criterion:

Fluency & Coherence – Fluency is nothing but how you speak at a normal pace, with normal speed, and without any hesitation. If you can frame your sentences & ideas in a logical order, that’s Coherence! Remember: Fluency is not when you talk fast, it is when you speak correctly, without many errors.

Lexical Resource – It assesses your knowledge of vocabulary.

Grammatical Range & Accuracy – It is all about your knowledge regarding grammar, basic structures, subject-verb agreement, etc. and how accurately you use them while speaking.

Pronunciation – It shows your ability to speak.

  • It is a good idea to prepare answers to the questions in the first section; you should improvise as per the questions.
  • Avoid repetition; try not to repeat the same points over and over again. You do not get any score for that. It might instead showcase your limited thinking ability to the examiner.
  • Knowing a good number of words is a huge plus. But don’t use words for the sake of it. It does more harm than good. Make it a habit of regularly learning ten new words a day. Also, use them in daily conversations to get more used to them.
  • Self – Correction is okay but don’t do it at the end of each sentence. Keep it occasional.
  • When engaging in a conversation, do not fake your accent. It might make your pronunciation unclear and might not be clearly interpreted by the examiner. Keep your speech natural instead!
  • If you’re still confused, just think about engaging in a conversation in your native language, your mother tongue with someone you know. You should know where to pause, where to emphasise on, where to put that full stop, etc.

DO’S

  • Practice speaking before an exam, and talk in English with your peers.
  • Practice at Home – Most important. Enough said.
  • Ask the examiner – To repeat questions or part of those questions you don’t clearly understand. Again, don’t repeat this too often.
  • Extend your answer – Don’t leave midway throughout your answer. Learn to give a complete answer.

DON’TS

  • Memorise answers: You could end up losing track of the questions asked and tend to stop at slightest chances of confusion.
  • Worry about the examiner’s opinion: The examiner is not there to check your opinion; he/she is there to check you speaking command over the English language.
  • Insert lots of big words – Use not – so – hard vocabulary, instead of ruining your answers with words hard to speak than to write!
  • Stay silent: As this section is about speaking, you need to talk. Even if you do not know the answer, talk about something relatable.
  • Worry about your accent – One thing. Stay natural. Your accent isn’t in the assessment criteria.
  • Get nervous: It is the exam day and is understandable. Speak daily in front of people and gain confidence.

To reach your desired goal and to enter the 7+ league requires not just strategy or will, it takes a good amount of practice to consistently get your scores to a good level.

If you want to learn and be trained every step along the way, get in touch with certified & experienced tutors at IELTS Tutorials. Get one – to – one attention and tailor-made tips to advance your scores. Begin by signing up now to get 20+ FREE practice tests!

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