Tips for Speaking Test

  • Try to talk as much as you can.
  • Talk as fluently as possible and be spontaneous.
  • Relax, be confident and enjoy using your English.
  • Develop your answers.
  • Speak more than the examiner.
  • Ask for clarification if necessary.
  • Do not learn prepared answers; the examiner is trained to spot this and will change the question.
  • Express your opinions; you will be assessed on your ability to communicate.
  • The examiner’s questions tend to be fairly predictable; practice at home and record yourself.

Dos and Don’ts

Talk to the examiner – you’ll feel more involved in the conversation.

Listen carefully to the questions you’re asked so that your answers are relevant.

Answer the questions you’re asked with some detail so that your answers are long enough.

Practise speaking for 2 minutes for the long turn in Part 2.

Use the preparation time in Part 2 to think about what is written on the card.

Use the instructions and prompts on the card in Part 2 to help you to organise your long turn.

Practise ways of delaying answers to give yourself time to think in Part 3.

Explain your opinions and give examples to support them.


Don’t learn answers by heart.


Don’t give very short answers except when the examiner interrupts you at the end of the 2 minutes in Part 2. At this point the examiner needs to move on to Part 3 of the test and only expects a short answer to his/her questions.


Don’t talk about something different from what’s on the card in Part 2.


Don’t worry if the examiner stops you in Part 2. It means you have spoken enough, and s/he has to keep to the timing of the test.


Don’t worry if you can’t think of a word, try to paraphrase and get round it.


Don’t write on the task card.


Don’t worry if you realise you’ve made a mistake. It’s OK to correct yourself. If you can’t correct yourself, forget it and carry on.


Don’t ask the examiner if what you say is correct.

Speaking Test Guidelines

PARTNature of InteractionTiming
1Introduction and interview4 – 5 minutes
2After introductions and identity check, the examiner asks the candidate questions about familiar topics.Long turnThe candidate receives a task card with a topic. S/He3 – 4 minutes
3Then has 1 minute to prepare and make notes before speaking about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes.Discussion4 – 5 minutes
The examiner discusses with the candidate more abstract aspects of the topic in Part 2.

Give a full answer

Don’t just give one word answers. Include more information. For example, when asked where you’re from, instead of just saying the name of the place, speak in a sentence which states the name, the location, and how long you’ve been there. This shows the examiner you are confident speaking in English. But don’t speak too long or the examiner will think you’ve misunderstood the question!

Speak clearly and don’t worry about your accent

Everyone has an accent when they speak English. The important point is that you enunciate the best you can so the examiner can understand you. Rehearse in advance to overcome any obvious pronunciation problems. If you make a mistake, don’t worry, just correct yourself and keep going.

Use descriptive words

Don’t use boring words like good, bad, nice, or okay.Use exciting words that covey emotion. Practice using higher level words for every simple word you know – such as thrilled instead of happy, or depressed instead of sad.

Speak up

Sometimes, students mumble and speak very softly because they are nervous or unsure of their words. Use simple, correct language rather than complicated vocabulary and speak loudly enough that the examiner does not have to strain to hear you. This indicates self-confidence and command of the language.

Don’t use slang

You have 11 minutes to display the best English you know in all the years that you have been learning English! Choose to be formal rather than informal.

Stay on topic.

Don’t change the subject or the examiner will think you have misunderstood and may give you a lower mark.

Have daily discussions with friends.

Take turns asking each other questions about current events and develop your ability to speak about various topics, using varied sentence structure and vocabulary.

Use natural spoken English

The best form of English to use in the test is natural spoken English. This will help you to speak more fluently and improve your pronunciation. Here are some examples of what works:

  • short forms like it’s and not it is
  •  words like quite that we use a lot in speaking
  • common spoken phrases like I guess and I suppose

Sometimes give short answers too!

Not all IELTS speaking questions are equal. For some you may have more to say about and some less. That is only natural. If you get a question that you don’t know very much about do NOT try and talk and talk about it. If you do you will probably become incoherent. Much much better is just to give a shortish answer saying that you don’t know very much about that and then wait for the next question – there’s always another question.

Naturally you can’t do this all the time and in part 2 you do need to keep speaking for at least one and a half minutes.

Correct yourself – if you can do it immediately

If you make a mistake and you can correct it immediately, do so. This will show the examiner that you have control over the language. If, however, you are unsure how to correct yourself, move on: the examiner may not have noticed the mistake in the first place and if you try unsuccessfully to correct it, a small mistake may become a much bigger one.

If you don’t understand the question – ask

This is a speaking test and not a listening test. If you don’t understand the question, ask the examiner to repeat or explain it – you should not be penalised for this. If you try to answer a question you do not understand, you will almost certainly become incoherent.

Listen to the grammar in the question

The best advice for IELTS speaking is very simply to listen to the question and answer it. The reason for this is for this is the one time you are face to face with the examiner and nerves are a sigificant problem. If you are trying to remember complex advice, you are likely to become more nervous and not perform to your best. Keep it simple.

One example here is in part 1. If you here a question in the past tense:

 “What sports did you play as a child?”

A good answer will use the past tense – the examiner will be listening for this.

Give examples

If you are the sort of person who finds it difficult to explain things or tends to give short answers, then it may help you to try and give examples. Examples are great for explaining ideas and it is much easier to say for example than because. If you give an example, you are just describing something you know about and that takes very little mental effort. If though you say because that is much harder as you now need to think! Be easy on yourself.

Make eye contact

A large part of communication is non-verbal. You are marked by the examiner in the room and you should do everything you can to show that person that you are a good communicator. If you do not make eye contact with the examiner, s/he is probably going to be less impressed with your performance.

Do not relax too much – it’s not a conversation

This is an exam and you need to show the best side of your spoken English. If you relax too much and become too conversational, your English may suffer. You need to recognise that this is not a true dialogue between two people: it is more of an interview with one person speaking and the other listening.

In a conversation the speaking conventions are quite different: you expect the other person to share 50% of the talk time and to react to your comments, typically one person will not speak for any length of time.

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