Many consider Speaking Part 2 to be the most difficult part of the IELTS Speaking test because it is a monologue. A monologue is different from the rest of the test because you will be speaking alone, without any questions or help from the examiner.
The examiner will give you a cue card similar to the one below:
As stated above, you will have 1 minute to prepare before you speak and you are expected to talk for between 1-2 minutes.
Below are 7 tips to help you with this section of the test:
1.You Don’t Have to Talk About Every Bullet Point
In the Official Marking Criteria for the Speaking Test there is nothing that states that you have to talk about every bullet point. Lots of IELTS examiners know this, but they don’t tell students because they don’t want to give them an unfair advantage.
You will always be given a general topic at the start of the test and then ‘You should say:’ followed by 3-4 bullet points. The rule is that you must talk about the general topic at the top of the card, but you don’t have to talk about all of the bullet points. Note that it says ‘You should say’ not ‘You must say’.
The bullet points are there to help you, so if you want to talk about them, please do. However, if there are one or two that you don’t like or you don’t feel comfortable talking about, leave them out and talk about something else. Make sure what you talk about is within the general topic and you will be fine.
2.Have a Strategy
IELTS is much easier if you have a strategy for each part of the test. You can use this strategy when you are practicing and then you will be much more confident in the real test.
I have developed a very effective strategy for Part 2 of the Speaking test that many students have had success with.
They say practice makes perfect and this is very true for IELTS Speaking.
- Don’t memorise answers. There are too many topics for you to memorise and it is highly unlikely that you will get the same topic in the real test. It is a complete waste of time and leads to some very strange answers. If the examiner spots this, they are allowed to give you a Band 0!
- Focus on fluency and pronunciation. Record yourself and listen to yourself. How could you improve your fluency and pronunciation?
- Learn functional language used to describe common grammar functions, such as talking about the past, present or future, giving your opinion, evaluating someone’s opinion and talking hypothetically.
- Time yourself so you know how much you have to speak in 1-2 minutes.
4.Use 1 Minute Wisely
You will have one minute to prepare before you start talking. You will not have enough time to write full sentences. You will, however, be able to write keywords. These keywords should guide you through your talk and help if you can’t think of ideas.
Having a strategy will also help you because you will know exactly what to talk about and you will be able to make a clear plan using short notes and keywords.
5.Personal Experiences Are Best (but telling a lie is OK too.)
The best answers are always about things you have actually experienced in your life. You will be able to describe these things in much more detail and you will also be able to talk more coherently about them. Students tend to be more confident talking about real experiences and this helps them with their fluency and pronunciation.
However, some of the cue cards will ask you to talk about things you might not have experienced at all in your entire life. It is fine to lie. The examiner will never check your answers or worry about whether they are the truth or not. However, they might ask you some follow-up questions, so be prepared for these.
In my experience, the best strategy is to use real experiences first and add in some lies to help you answer the question fully. Use your imagination and you will be fine.
6.Expand Your Ideas
It is much better to fully expand each main idea, than to simply state lots of main ideas and not develop them at all.This will help you give more impressive answers and it is also a better use of your time. It is much easier to think of a few relevant ideas and develop them, than it is to think of lots of different ideas.
When you are practicing, a good way to expand your main ideas is to use ‘Who, what, why, where, how‘. This will help you quickly and easily develop your main ideas and you will also get used to the grammar structures needed to do this.
You can also use your senses to help you use a wide range of vocabulary. Think about how things looked, sounded, smelled and tasted. You obviously won’t be able to talk about all of these things for every topic (you would sound a little strange describing how a book tasted) but you will normally be able to use two or three of them.While practicing you can use a dictionary to help you describe these sensations and expand your vocabulary.
7.Mistakes are OK
Everyone makes grammar and vocabulary mistakes. Every time I make a new video it takes me longer to edit out the mistakes than it does to record the video. Even students who get a Band 8, or even 9, make small mistakes. This is totally understandable and you should therefore not panic when you make a mistake.
I have listened to students who were half way through their Part 2 question and then they made a small grammatical error and they completely lost their way and their score went from a very high one to a very average one.
Being nervous and stressed affects your ideas, pronunciation, fluency and normally leads to further grammar mistakes. When you make a mistake simply forget about it. There is nothing you can do. Don’t panic and continue.
For more information on the Speaking test, please check out our Speaking page.
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