The Best IELTS Speaking Test Preparation Tips

The IELTS speaking test is considered to be one of the most difficult parts of the IELTS exam. This is mainly because during this part of the test, you are asked to produce language on the spot (with little or no time to prepare or plan out your answers). In this article, I have compiled a list of IELTS speaking preparation tips that will help you to ace your IELTS speaking test and get the band score your desire. These tips are useful whether you are taking the exam in Singapore or any other part of the world.

Reduce Your Test Day Anxiety

Students often experience a high level of test-day anxiety and this has a great impact on their fluency and coherence. It can be overwhelming to have to use a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structures accurately. The best way to overcome this is to know what to expect. There is no way to predict the exact questions that you will be asked but you can familiarise yourself with the test format, question types and common topics. Another good way to avoid surprises is to take a look at some high scoring speaking test interviews, which can be easily found on the internet.

Many students panic because they feel that they do not know enough about a topic. This can cause them to hesitate and sound flustered instead of fluent. Remember that even if you do get asked about something that you are unfamiliar with, the content of your talk is not nearly as important as how you say it. The examiner will assess your fluency, grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, and not your knowledge about a topic. So don’t panic if you feel that you are unfamiliar with a topic.

Make Sure To Paraphrase

Paraphrasing (rephrasing words by using synonyms) is also an important skill that the examiner will be listening out for. Avoid reusing the words from the question or repeating a particular word over and over again. Try to replace these words with suitable synonyms. This is something you can only do if you have a wide range of vocabulary, which is why learning topic-specific words is a vital part of the preparation for the IELTS Speaking test. You need to demonstrate that you can discuss a variety of topics without difficulty.

Make A Good Impression

Before you actually begin with your speaking assessment, you will get the opportunity to meet and greet your examiner. Although this is not part of the speaking test it’s a great chance to create a good impression. The examiner will check your ID and ask you a few introductory questions, such as:

You should make sure that you use contractions, as the use of contractions demonstrates natural speech. You should also extend your answer a bit, when asked “where are you from” in steading of simply stating the name of your town you could say something like, “I’m from a small town called Pahang, which is on the eastern coast of Malaysia”

Avoid Memorization

Another important point to note is that it is pointless to memorize answers, as this will only count against you. Doing so makes you sound unnatural and the examiners are trained to detect scripted answers. Rather practice answering as many possible questions as possible. Become familiar with vocabulary and phrases related to the common topics for this particular part.

Buy Yourself Time To Think

You can ask the examiner to repeat the question in all parts of the speaking test. In part 3 you can ask the examiner to explain a question that you don’t understand. However, you should definitely not do this often as it creates the impression that you are struggling to keep up. To avoid this issue you can use phrases to buy time to think such as:

  • That’s a difficult question, let me think for a second.
  • That’s a very interesting question, let me think.
  • It’s very difficult to know exactly, but I think/but I believe/perhaps….
  • It’s difficult to say, I think….
  • I don’t really know for sure, but I would say….

Extend Your Answers

Although you should always focus on answering the question, you should not answer in with a simple yes or no form or with answers that are too short. You also must develop and extend your answers. You can do this by adding explanations in the form of additional details or background information and examples to your answers. This gives the examiner extra information to assess you on.

For example, if you come across a question like “Do you like music?” in the exam, then instead of answering with a simple yes or no, you could say something like “Most definitely, music has always played a significant role in my life, since my parents were both musicians.” 

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.