Of all the stupid things you can do while preparing for your IELTS test, and there are quite a few of them, collecting lots of IELTS Speaking sample questions and preparing memorised answers is probably the worst thing you can do.
There are a few different reasons for this including:
- Most IELTS Speaking sample questions on the internet are fake and highly misleading;
- Examiners know you’ve memorised prepared answers;
- You are highly unlikely to get a Part 2 or 3 question you have seen before.
However, that doesn’t mean that finding real sample questions is a complete waste of time. In fact, they can be extremely useful.
This article will show you:
- Where to find real IELTS Speaking sample questions;
- How NOT to use them;
- 7 ways to use them effectively to improve your chances of getting the score you need.
REAL IELTS Speaking Sample Questions
90% of the questions you’ll find online are fake. Like most fake things, they have been produced by people who don’t really know what they are doing. They are very misleading and give you a false sense of what you can expect on test day. Most of them are not in the same format as real questions and many of them are far more difficult than real questions. This is one of the main reasons why people think the IELTS test is ‘unfair’ or ‘too difficult’. Look at real sample questions and you’ll find that, for most people, the vast majority are relatively simple to answer.
Luckily there are some very reliable resources from the following places:
- IDP Speaking Sample Tasks
- British Council Speaking Practice Tests
- IELTS.org Sample Questions
- Cambridge English
- IELTS Advantage
How NOT to Use Speaking Sample Questions
As mentioned above, you are highly unlikely to get the same questions in the real test. You might be asked common questions about your work, study or home in Part 1, but that is where the predictability ends. Part 1 is important, but Parts 2 and 3 are more important and you will not be able to predict the questions for these crucial parts.
Therefore, it is a complete waste of time to try to prepare memorised answers. If you do this, you are highly likely to sound like you have completely misinterpreted the question because you will be answering another question, not the one you have been asked.
It is also very obvious when a student has done this. The examiners are not stupid. This is their job and they know when someone is answering a question naturally and when someone is reciting something they memorised.
Even if you were lucky and got a question that you had an amazing prepared answer for, the examiner is going to ask you more questions that you are not ready for and there will be a huge gap in quality between the two answers. The examiner is not going to believe that you did really well in one question and that is your true level. It is not a case of your best answer getting you the score you need; you will receive a score on your overall performance, not just a couple of questions you were lucky enough to predict.
7 Ways to Use IELTS Speaking Sample Questions Effectively
You can’t predict what questions are going to be asked in Parts 2 and 3, but you can predict the type of question.
It is highly likely that you will be asked about:
- The past
- The present
- The future
- How things have changed from the past until now
- How things will change in the future
You will also be asked questions that require you to use:
- Contrast other’s opinions
When you know what the examiner is asking you to do, it becomes much easier to use the correct grammar and answer the question.
Here is a guide on the common IELTS Speaking question types.
It important that you answer each question in a coherent way i.e. a way that is easy to understand and makes sense.
It is important to remain flexible in your approach, but practicing for the test using real sample questions and thinking about the structure of your answer is a very useful exercise.
Fluency is your ability to speak smoothly (not quickly) without noticeable effort or loss of coherence. Poor fluency is normally associated with frequent self-correction, hesitation, pausing or repetition.
It is essential that you practice in order to improve. You can use the sample questions during this practice.
Here are some reasons why your fluency might not be as good as it could be and how to improve.
You can also practice your pronunciation while using the sample questions.
It is essential that the examiner can understand what you are saying during your Speaking test.
It is also good if you can use some of the higher level pronunciation features, such as:
- Connected Speech
- Weak Sounds
Here is my IELTS Pronunciation Guide to help you out.
During the test, the examiner will be looking to see if you have the vocabulary to talk about the topics given to you. There are too many possible topics to prepare for them strategically, but you can still work on your vocabulary while practicing.
A useful technique when practicing is to do a full practice test and record your performance. There are a huge number of things you can listen out for, but if you are struggling with vocabulary, listen out for the times when you found it difficult to express yourself because of a lack of vocabulary. These will often be times when you know what you want to say in your native language, but find it difficult to express in English because your English vocabulary is not wide enough yet.
In these situations, you can note down the language you were searching for and use a dictionary or Google translate to help you think of the word. Note these new words or phrases in a vocabulary notebook and review it regularly. This will then become part of your active vocabulary and you will be able to express yourself more effectively.
6. Raising Awareness of Mistakes
Most of us are completely unaware of the number of fluency, grammar, pronunciation or vocabulary mistakes we are making when we speak.
You can use the IELTS Speaking sample questions to do a practice run before your real exam and record your performance. This dry run will raise your awareness and will help you address and improve upon the mistakes you are making.
This is particularly useful for common mistakes you make over and over again without even thinking about.
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’, right? Well, I prefer ‘perfect practice makes perfect’.
You are wasting your time with fake speaking questions, but using the real ones above are perfect for your preparation.
For more help, check out our main IELTS Speaking page. We have loads of free articles, guides and videos there to help you out.