How Can I Manage Anxiety During the IELTS Speaking Exam? 

 March 10, 2024

By  Jonathan

Taking the IELTS exam can be nerve-wracking, especially when it comes to the Speaking test. Are your palms sweating just thinking about it? Do you worry about forgetting everything you’ve learned when faced with the examiner? If so, you’re not alone! As an experienced IELTS teacher who has helped over 450 students ace their exams, I understand your anxiety. Let’s work together to address those pre-test jitters by strategically preparing you for a range of IELTS speaking topics, building your confidence for the exam day.

Why Do We Get Anxious?

Feeling anxious before a test is completely normal. It’s your body’s way of preparing you for a challenge. But sometimes, that anxiety can get out of control and make it hard to think clearly. Here are some reasons why the IELTS Speaking test might make you feel especially nervous:

  • Fear of judgment: You might worry about making mistakes or the examiner thinking you’re not smart.
  • Pressure to perform: The IELTS is a high-stakes exam, and you want to do well.
  • Lack of practice: If you haven’t practiced speaking English out loud enough, it can feel daunting.

Tips to Calm Your Nerves

Good news – there are lots of things you can do to ease your anxiety and perform your best! Let’s break it down into manageable steps:

Before the Test

StrategyWhy This Helps
Practice, practice, practice!The more you speak English, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Focus on understanding, not perfection.It’s okay to make small mistakes – what matters is communicating.
Get enough sleep and eat well.Being well-rested and nourished helps you think clearly.
Learn relaxation techniques.Deep breathing or meditation can calm your mind and body.

On Test Day

  • Arrive early. Rushing will only make you more stressed.
  • Visualize success. Picture yourself speaking calmly and confidently.
  • Remember, the examiner is on your side. They want you to do your best!

During the Test

  • Take a deep breath. A few deep breaths can reset your nerves in a pinch.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If you don’t understand a question, ask the examiner to repeat or explain it.
  • Focus on giving your best answer. Don’t obsess over tiny mistakes.

A Story from My Teaching

One student I worked with was terrified of the Speaking test. She would start stuttering and forget basic vocabulary when put on the spot. We spent a lot of time just chatting casually in English, with no focus on “right” or “wrong.” Slowly, she started to feel less pressure. By the time her test rolled around, she was still nervous, but she also had the confidence to get through it. Guess what? She passed with flying colors!

Important Note: Around 20% of people experience extreme test anxiety, which can make it difficult to perform well even if you’re well-prepared. If you think your anxiety is more than just normal nerves, reach out for support from a teacher, counselor, or doctor.

You Can Do This!

Remember, everyone feels some nervousness before a test. The key is managing it. With practice and the right strategies, you can tame those IELTS Speaking jitters and showcase your English skills!

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.