When helping students prepare for the IELTS test, one of the biggest fears is how to do well in IELTS Speaking.
IELTS Speaking is a face-to-face, informal discussion with an IELTS examiner, and is the same for both Academic and General Training. The test is divided into 3 parts and is designed to test your pronunciation, fluency, grammar and vocabulary.
IELTS Speaking Test: Band 8
In this IELTS Speaking sample, you’ll learn exactly what the examiner needs to see to award you a Band 8 in the IELTS Speaking test.
Top 5 IELTS Speaking Tips
- Speak some English every day.
This is something that all my Band 7+ students have in common.
It is better to practice a little bit every day and improve your skills gradually than to speak your native language all week until you have IELTS class. You’ll find more advice for IELTS Speaking practice here.
- Ask the examiner questions if you don’t understand.
Your IELTS Speaking test is meant to be like a normal conversation between 2 people. Therefore, if you don’t understand a word you can ask the examiner to explain what it means. Just say ‘I’m sorry, could you explain what X means?’
You can also ask them to repeat the question. However, you can’t ask the examiner to explain the whole sentence.
Here’s what to do if you get an unfamiliar topic in your IELTS Speaking test.
- Do a 24-hour English warm up.
It takes most IELTS students 10-15 minutes to ‘warm-up’ and perform to the best of their ability on test day. Just like an athlete needs to warm up before a sporting event, you also need to warm up before your IELTS exam.
Therefore, you should speak, write, read and listen to English for 24 hours before your IELTS Speaking test. Your family and friends might think you are crazy, but it will make a huge difference to your score!
- Give full answers.
‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are NOT satisfactory answers in your IELTS Speaking test – you need to show the examiner how good your English is.
If you give very short answers, there is no way the examiner can know how good you are. Therefore, you should try to extend your answers with explanations and examples.
- Correct your mistakes.
People make small mistakes when they speak all the time, especially when they are nervous in an exam. By correcting your mistakes as you make them, you can show the examiner that you really do know your grammar and vocabulary.
When you make a small mistake, simply say sorry and repeat the sentence correctly.
IELTS Speaking Part 1
Part 1 is about YOU.
The examiner will ask you familiar, everyday questions about your life. This will last around 4-5 minutes. See the links below for tips, sample questions and answers for Part 1.
This video will show you exactly what is required to score a Band 8 in IELTS Speaking.
This article will give you a strong idea of what to expect on test day.
Simple yet effective ways to extend your answers in Part 1 of the Speaking test.
10 quick tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in Part 1.
IELTS Speaking Part 2
Part 2 is sometimes called the ‘long turn’.
You will be given a cue card and you will have 1 minute to prepare your answer. You will then be asked to speak for 1 to 2 minutes.
Below you’ll find advice that I give to all of my speaking classes and a strong sample answer for Part 2.
Learn exactly how you can score a Band 8 in IELTS Speaking Part 2.
Advice for getting the score you need in IELTS Speaking Part 2.
Click above for a strategy you can use each and every time.
IELTS Speaking Part 3
Part 3 is more abstract.
This is your opportunity to really develop your answers and discuss the issues brought up by the examiner. The topic will be linked to the topic you discussed in Part 2, and this will last 4-5 minutes.
This video will show you exactly how to score a Band 8 in the final part of IELTS Speaking.
Our detailed guide for getting your required score in IELTS Speaking Part 3.
This post contains the most common questions that examiners ask in Part 3.
This article will show you some tips about the psychology of Part 3 and how to mentally prepare for that part of the test.
How you can avoid the most common mistakes that students make in IELTS Speaking.
IELTS Speaking Practice
There are many ways that you can practice your speaking. The most important things to remember are:
- It is better to practice on your own than not practice at all. Don’t let the lack of a partner stop you practising.
- There are thousands of ways to practice with a partner online. You’ll find some in the articles below.
- Focus on the 4 marking criteria. Everything else is irrelevant.
- Be a reflective learner. Record your practice sessions and honestly appraise your performance.
- Practising for the sake of it will not help. You need to identify your weaknesses and take action on improving those shortcomings.
This article will show you how to practice on your own, find other people to practice with and find an IELTS expert to help you with your speaking.
There are lots of real practice questions out there. It’s important that you use these before your test to give you an idea of what to expect on test day. This article will show you how to use these effectively.
The following links are from the British Council and will give you real questions to practice from home:
There are four parts to the IELTS Speaking marking criteria:
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
- Fluency and Coherence
You’ll find help with each part of the IELTS Speaking marking scheme below.
I believe that pronunciation is the most important skill to master in the IELTS Speaking test.
Quite simply, without clear pronunciation, it doesn’t matter how good your fluency, grammar or vocabulary are. If the examiner can’t understand what you’re actually saying, you will struggle in all areas.
The articles below will help you work on your pronunciation skills.
Vocabulary (a.k.a. Lexical Resource)
Vocabulary is probably the most misunderstood area of the whole test.
Most students think that learning lists of ‘high-level’ words or idioms will get them the score they need. In fact, it’s probably the best way to LOWER your score.
You should use vocabulary as a tool to help you communicate clearly, NOT to show off.
Fluency is a really tricky area because it is so connected to grammar, vocabulary, and confidence. Luckily, I believe that it is the area that can be ‘fixed’ quite easily.
You can learn how to improve your IELTS Speaking grammar skills in the following video:
IELTS Speaking Topics
In Part 1 of the test, it is very likely that you’ll be asked about familiar topics, such as:
- Your job or studies;
- Your hometown;
- Your family;
- Your home;
- Your likes and dislikes.
That does not mean that you should prepare memorised answers for these topics. The examiner will know exactly what you’re doing and could lower your score.
In Parts 2 and 3, it is impossible to predict which topics will come up. I carried out extensive research on this and you can see the results here.
IELTS Speaking Help
Find out how you can improve your IELTS speaking preparation by following the advice given by students who scored a Band 7+ in their IELTS speaking test.
This article will explain the reasons why your accent won’t affect your IELTS speaking score (and what you should focus your time on instead).
It’s common for people to worry about getting an unfamiliar topic on the IELTS speaking exam. However, this article will outline the reasons why this shouldn’t be your priority and what to do if you do receive a topic you know little about.
Is it OK to ask the examiner questions? There are only two that you can ask him or her. The above article shows you how.
I don’t believe in quick fixes and tips are just that. These tips are useful if you just need a quick guide but do realise that you need more than just tips.
The above article will help you take a strategic approach to your preparation for your speaking test.
Many students think that they should speak in a very formal way. You don’t want to speak very informally, but you don’t want to sound like a robot either.
What is the Examiner Looking for?
Your examiner does NOT want to see:
How many answers you have memorised.
How many ‘big’/’fancy’/’high-level’ words you know.
How many different grammar structures and tenses you know.
How ‘British’ or ‘American’ your accent is.
The examiner DOES want to see:
How well you can communicate through spoken English.
There is a little more to it than that, as you will see below. However, you should always remember that the examiners in the IELTS Speaking exam are simply testing if you can open your mouth and communicate in English.
Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Keep it simple!
See the interactive tool below for the most commonly asked questions we receive about IELTS Speaking:
IELTS Speaking FAQs
How can I improve my speaking?
Head over to our Speaking page where you'll find all of the free materials you'll need to improve your speaking skills and get a higher score.
Click the link below:Speaking
How can I practice my speaking?
Most people think that it's difficult to practice speaking at home, but there are lots of options - all you have to do is look.
First of all, you can practice past exam questions at home by yourself and record your answers. Listening back to these will really help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.Click this link to watch my video lesson on practising speaking from home.
Should I use lots of idioms and phrasal verbs to get a high score?
Idioms and phrasal verbs will help boost your score for vocabulary, which is 25% of your total mark, but only if you use them correctly.
If you use them incorrectly, it will lower your score.
Below is a full guide on this:
Idioms and Phrasal Verbs
Do I need a British or American accent?
Absolutely not! There are no extra marks for having a 'British' accent. The key is to sound clear and for the examiner to be able to understand what you're saying.
How do I improve my pronunciation?
Click the link below for more help with pronunciation:
How can I improve my fluency?
Fluency is your ability to speak smoothly (not quickly) without noticeable effort or loss of coherence. You'll find a guide to improving your fluency here:
Can I send you a recording of my speaking?
No, we don't have the capacity to provide feedback on everyone's speaking recordings. If you'd like a one-to-one session with an IELTS expert you can check out our mock speaking sessions:
If you need serious help improving your speaking skills, you can join the waiting list for our VIP Course:
Can I use contractions?
Yes, it is good to use contractions when you speak as this is how most native English speakers talk.