Students want to understand the key aspects of the IELTS speaking exam exam so they can better prepare to pass it. The IELTS Writing Test, IELTS Listening Test and IELTS Reading Test have their own posts on this site.
This post provides a summary of my advice:
What’s the format of the IELTS Speaking Test?
IELTS Speaking Test Part 1
- The exam is approximately 13 minutes in length and there are three parts to the exam. Part 1 is between 4-5 minutes in length and is designed to help you settle in to the exam. The examiner begins recording and will ask you to confirm your name and IELTS number. He or she will also ask you to state your nationality. Then the examiner will ask questions about you. These may include; where you live, your country of origin and the country in which you study. They will ask what you do, whether you work or study.
IELTS Speaking Test Part 2
- You will then be asked questions about one or two topics in Part 2 of the exam, which lasts between 3 and 4 minutes. Initially, you are given a topic to talk about. You are given the topic question and then one minute to prepare and make notes. Typically for a question you have three points to mention and should develop a concluding sentence
- In Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Exam you have a maximum of two minutes to speak.
IELTS SPeaking Test Part 3
- Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking Exam lasts 4-5 minutes and the examiner asks you a selection of global topics related to your presentation.
How will I be assessed?
Understandably IELTS Test candidates are very keen to understand how they are assessed.
Here’s what they look for:
- The examiner will be listening to see how fluently the candidate expresses themselves.
- They will listen for use of language and for any hesitations in speech.
- The examiner also listens for how logically ideas are put together e.g. the candidate’s use of linking and whether what the candidate says is easy to follow.
- The examiner also assesses the grammatical accuracy of the candidate’s speech
- They also listen to the clarity of the pronunciation.
A question often asked is whether candidates lose marks for a strong accent if, for example, they sound noticeably Spanish. The unequivocal answer is no, as long as they can be easily understood.
Other questions include whether candidates can ask the examiner to repeat or explain the question. The answers are yes and yes. The examiner will repeat the question for candidates, if asked, and is also allowed to paraphrase the question to aid the candidate’s understanding. The candidate will not lose marks for this unless they misunderstand the question and answer incorrectly.
Frequently candidates know nothing about the topic they are given for presentation. They may know little or nothing about architecture, for example. During their preparation for the IELTS Test, candidates must develop and learn a range of natural expressions which say that they “don’t know”. Examples could include; “I’m really sorry, I don’t know anything about that topic”, “I’m sorry, I haven’t got a clue about architecture”, “I’m really useless at talking about topics like that” or “That’s a difficult one – Would you mind expanding a bit?” This will guide the examiner to try to elicit ideas from you.
Need Band Score 7? Then read this…
When planning their preparation candidates who are aiming for IELTS Band Score 7 or better should remember that if they use more complicated grammar and more natural expressions, this goes a long way down the path to obtaining a band 7.
Candidates should remember that it is all right to be adventurous and make mistakes. This does not necessarily lose you your band 7, although using simple but perfect English will not get you much more than band 6.
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To your IELTS success,