How Is The IELTS Speaking Test Structured And Conducted?
The IELTS Speaking test is distinct from the other written tests. It consists of a face-to-face meeting with an IELTS examiner who is responsible for assessing your level of spoken English, on a scale of 1 to 9. The test is recorded for possible complaints from the candidate.
To get a good Speaking score, in addition to accent and pronunciation, you need to acquire language skills that will earn you points. GlobalExam provides you with the IELTS preparation tools you need for this Speaking part and the others.
There is no difference between the Speaking IELTS Academic test and the Speaking IELTS General Training test. The following descriptions, strategies and advice are therefore valid for both versions of the test.
How Many Parts Does the IELTS Exam Consist Of?
The IELTS Speaking test lasts between 11 and 14 minutes and contains 3 parts :
Introduction and interview (4 to 5 minutes) : you are asked questions on general subjects (family, work or study, hobbies, interests).
Long turn (3 to 4 minutes) : you are given a card asking to speak about a specific topic and to include certain specified points. You have 1 min to prepare a 2 min speech.
Discussion (4 to 5 minutes) : You discuss with the examiner more abstract and general issues related to the topic of part 2.
The examiner conducts the interview. You must answer the questions he asks you without straying from the topic.
For the first part, you must answer in short sentences. For the second and third part, questions require you to develop your argument. We expect more structured answers from you, but they will not hesitate to interrupt the discussion if you speak for too long (more than 5 min).
Your score will be based on :
Oral fluency and consistency (fluidity of speech)
Lexical resource (richness of vocabulary)
Grammar (correct syntax)
Pronunciation (English accent)
10 IELTS Speaking Tips You Need To Know To Ace The Test
The examiner will base your score on your oral fluency, consistency and fluidity of speech. Also, don’t speak too fast or too slow, you will be penalized in both cases. Find a good balance between speed and clarity.
If you are having trouble gauging your speaking rate exactly, try to base yourself on the examiner’s speaking rate. This effort shows the examiner that you know your subject. Please remember that they are IELTS experts therefore apply all you know about the structure of the test.
Use a rich vocabulary and a correct syntax
Grammar and vocabulary are important topics in the IELTS Speaking score. This is why it is essential to learn vocabulary beforehand on familiar topics including everyday life or other topics that you may be asked on the day of the exam. If you know some vocabulary, you’ll be more comfortable answering questions and knowing what to say to the examiner!
Practice your accent and pronunciation (smiling helps)
Make sure what you say is enunciated clearly, with the best English accent possible. Work on the vocabulary and the pronunciation of words that might seem difficult at first. You will get more comfortable after some training. You will sound more friendly and confident, and it will help you pronunciate and be understood.
Practice tests sample questions
The best way to be fully prepared for your IELTS exam is obviously to practice sample questions. Indeed, you will not be surprised when the time comes and you will feel more comfortable to answer. Train by answering sample questions several times beforehand. Enrich your vocabulary on the common topics discussed during the speaking part : tourism and travel, education, transport, environment, family, friends, sport, leisure, crime and punishment, the internet, advertising, retail, agriculture…
Take time to think before you answer
After the examiner’s question is asked, you don’t have to answer within a second. You may well take a little time to think about what and how you are going to say it. This will allow you to give a more complete and structured answer. Try to memorise answers if this technique helps you.
Moreover, do not hesitate to ask the question once again because you will not be penalized. There are many ready-made expressions that allow you to do this: (“Could you repeat your statement, please?”, “I beg your pardon, but I did not understand what you’ve just said”). It can also help you save time if you don’t have any ideas for an immediate response!
You surely need to listen to what is asked. You will be able to spot the different keywords (the most accentuated words) in order to understand the subject and help you answer.
Don’t use ready-made answers
Think about the fact that the examiner will be asking the same questions and hearing the same answers all day from candidates just like to. So don’t use ready-made answers, give life and emotion to what you want to say. The examiner will feel more involved and entertained by what you are saying.
Avoid using filler words
Avoiding the use of filler words (“like, you know, umm, ahh, ehh, well, yeah…”) can be a relatively difficult task if English is not your first language. You can try to replace them with a short silence which also gives the impression that you are weighing your words.
But you can also use phrases to give you time to think such as “that is an interesting question” or “let me think about that for a minute”.
Don’t go off topic
You will not earn more points for trying to speak more by going beyond the question asked. On the contrary, it is important to stay on the topic that is asked of you, even if it does not necessarily inspire you.
Before you even think about your answers, it’s just as important to pay attention to what the examiner is asking you so you don’t get off topic. So listen carefully to the way the person speaks.
Give extended and communicative answers
You must enrich your answers with explanations and give the opportunity to the examiner to communicate with you. Remember the speaking exam must feel like a conversation between the both of you, not just a question-answer dialogue. So once again, don’t use ready-made answers and give emotion to what you are saying. Don’t be afraid to talk too much (as long as you stay on topic) and if this is the case, the examiner will tell you that your time is off.
Don’t use unfamiliar words to impress the examiner
Don’t try to impress your examiner, it will have the opposite effect. Only use words you are familiar with rather than big words you do not master. You will most likely use them in the wrong context or pronunciate them the wrong way, and this can penalize your final score.
We will be addressing some useful tips for improving your spoken English.
Speak a lot and speak slowly
There is no secret, if you want to improve your spoken English, you have to practice it! Try speaking with your family, your friends or even with yourself. You can, for example, describe in English and out loud all the actions you are doing in your daily life.
Also, try to speak as slowly as possible at first, to work on your accent and your pronunciation. Once you feel more comfortable, you can increase your speaking rate.
Listen and read
The more you listen and read out loud in English, the more you will be able to develop your vocabulary and create rich phrases and conversations. Read books, listen to music while reading the lyrics, watch a movie with the English subtitles on so you can practice on the pronunciation and the context the words are used.
Practicing is the key to success. Practicing English needs to become a habit. To do so, practice a bit everyday whether it is online, with books, series, music, conversations with friends, apps… Learn new words, phrases, structures and expressions everyday.
You can also learn English online with GlobalExam and work on your pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary!
Think in English
The best way to immerse yourself in the English world is to practice during every aspect of your life. The more you force yourself to think in English, the more it will become natural to you.
Recording yourself will allow you to judge your accent, your pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary with more distance than directly when you are talking. You can also ask an English-speaking person to listen to you and give you feedback.
Learn phrases, not just words to be able to answer the questions. You will get to practice how to say the same thing by using different structures, words or expressions. Be careful not to mix formal and informal sentences!
You know what they say, “fake it until you make it”. The more you act confident while speaking in English, the more you will master it! Do not be afraid to make mistakes and be corrected by others, this is the best way to learn.
Enjoy the training
Do you need to learn English? It doesn’t have to feel like you are taking courses at school. You will be way more motivated if you practice thanks to things you enjoy doing on a daily basis : read, watch a movie, listen to music… the options are endless.
Examples of IELTS Speaking Questions To Get Prepared For The Exam
Part 1 – Introduction and interview
If you’re a student, what are you studying? If you’re a professional, what do you do for a living?
Part 2 – Long turn
Candidate Task Card
Describe your last birthday party.
Who was there?
What did you do?
What was your favorite gift and why?
Part 3 – Discussion
Let’s consider adulthood, first of all…
What are the best parts about being an adult?
What are the main differences between your generation and your parents?
The Best Online Solution For Your IELTS Preparation
Before taking the IELTS test, it is necessary to practice, in order to familiarize yourself with the structure of the test and the sample questions. The type of questions and the vocabulary used are recurrent for IELTS which is why GlobalExam has created an online training platform for language tests.
Each exercise and each mock exam are corrected, and the results are automatically recorded so that test takers can consult your progress follow-up. You will therefore be able to compare your IELTS score at the start with the one you reached after effective preparation.
IELTS-specific vocabulary and grammar sheets are also available to help you explore certain points. You have the opportunity to complete the equivalent of a full white IELTS speaking practice subject for free, just register!
To go further, you can also consult our sheets on the other sections of IELTS: the Writing test, the Listening event and the Reading test.