In IELTS Speaking Exam,the speaking component assesses the test taker’s use of spoken English and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is digitally recorded and consists of three parts:
Test takers answer general questions about themselves and a range of familiar topics, Example topics are work, study, where you live, food, holidays, friends, going out, festivals, sports, schools and public transport. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
The examiner gives the candidate a topic on a card and the candidate needs to speak about it for about 2 minutes. They have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner may ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.
Test takers are asked further questions which are connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions give the candidate an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas. This part lasts between four and five minutes. The format of the Speaking test is common across both the Academic and General Training modules. It is structured in such a way that does not allow test takers to rehearse set responses beforehand.
Some useful tips to get high band score in IELTS Speaking Exam.
IELTS Candidates should:
- feel confident and remind themselves to relax and enjoy the conversation with the examiner
- listen carefully to the questions
- use fillers and hesitation devices if you need ‘thinking time’ before answering
- realise it is their language level, not their opinions which are being evaluated
- IELTS Candidates should be familiar with the assessment criteria.
IELTS Speaking assessment criteria in IELTS Speaking Exam
+Fluency and Coherence
Fluency refers to your ability to speak smoothly and at an appropriate speed, without any unnatural pauses. This is an area that is often misunderstood by students to mean that you just talk as fast as you possibly can or talking without pausing. If you listen to how native speakers talk they don’t normally talk very fast and there are plenty of pauses. This is totally acceptable, you just don’t want to pause more than normal.
Coherence literally means being logical and consistent. For the IELTS speaking criteria, this refers to how you expand and explain your answers with explanations and examples, answer the question being asked and how you connect sentences together using discourse markers and tenses.
Simply it means that when the examiner asks you a question they clearly understand your answer and you have answered the question fully.
Lexical resource basically means vocabulary. To do well in this area you need to have a wide-ranging vocabulary and use that vocabulary accurately.
+Grammatical Range and Accuracy
This part of the IELTS Speaking Criteria refers to your ability to avoid making grammar mistakes. You should also have a wide enough range of grammar to be able to talk about a range of things and use complex sentences.
For example, the examiner might ask you to talk about the past and future and you will, therefore, need to be able to use past tenses and future structures. Moreover, you also need to be aware of different types of functional languages, such as how to give your opinion, explain something, talk hypothetically and compare and contrast ideas.
You don’t have to worry about having an American or British accent, the main consideration here is that your speech is clear and you are easy to understand.
At sentence level you also need to consider:
Sentence stress (certain words being emphasised in a sentence)
Weak sounds (certain words sound weaker than normal in a sentence)
Intonation (the rise and fall in pitch or tone)
Linking words (how certain words connect with one another)
IELTS Speaking Sample Exam
Time: 4-5 minutes
Now, in this first part of the test, I’m going to ask you some questions about yourself.
Are you a student or do you work now?
- Why did you choose this course/job?
- Talk about your daily routine.
- Is there anything about your course/job you would like to change?
- I’d like to move on and ask you some questions about shopping.
Who does most of the shopping in your household?
- What type of shopping do you like? (Why?)
- Is shopping a popular activity in your country? (Why/why not?)
- What type of shops do teenagers like best in your country?
Time: 3-4 minutes
Describe an important event in your life.
You should say:
When it happened?
Who you were with?
And explain why you feel it was important.
Follow up questions:
Do you still think about this event often?
Can the other people involved remember this event?
Time: 4-5 minutes
We’ve been talking about an important event in your life, and I’d now like to ask you some questions related to this.
- What days are important in your country?
- Why it is important to have national celebrations?
- How is the way your national celebrations are celebrated now different from the way they were celebrated in the past?
- Do you think any new national celebrations will come into being in the future?
Challenges for candidates in IELTS Speaking Exam
Here are some of the challenges candidates face, and ways to help them prepare:
- Many candidates do not prepare in the same extensive way as a learner taking an FCE exam at the end of a course, for example. This means that amongst other problems they do not know how long their answers need to be. It is important to focus on the different answers needed in order to not only give a good performance but also reduce strain on both the candidate and the examiner. For example in part 2 a long response is needed but this is followed by another quick question, which requires a very short answer.
- Candidates are evaluated on their entire performance and need to get started immediately in part 1. It is good to speak only English just before the test, and candidates can organize this amongst themselves, or with a teacher.
- The topics in part 1 of the test are limited and very familiar, so candidates can do focused practice of these areas. They can write their own questions, interview each other, do mini-presentations for the class, and prepare the vocabulary they might need. Similar activities can be used to explore part 3 more – writing their own questions is particularly effective in deepening candidates’ understanding of the demands of the task.
- The long turn in part 2 is always very challenging. Candidates often produce answers that are short, repetitive, off topic (although this may not be a problem), or lacking structure. Ways to help include integrating practising this into other lessons and as an easy form of homework, playing ‘Just a minute’, learners writing tasks for each other, 1-minute micro-practice of the notes stage, and focusing on structuring answers by writing them rather than speaking.
- The IELTS test is designed to push a candidate to the limits of their language and so learners will at some point struggle. It is useful to look at strategies to deal with this, such as paraphrasing and rephrasing, using the rubric to help (such as in part 2), and asking for time to think about answers – especially useful in part 3, where there can be some complex ideas.
IELTS Sharing Community Team.