Updated: Mar 23
If you are preparing for the IELTS examination, you have probably come across a slew of information advising on the best way to approach the speaking section of the test. It is, for many, the most daunting part of the exam and people are naturally looking for ways they can give themselves an advantage when it comes to impressing the examiner. Well, the following article is going to give you 5 simple ideas that you can use in order to give yourself that competitive edge.
1. Know what the examiner is looking for.
It seems straightforward enough, I know. But familiarizing yourself fully with the marking criteria can make a world of difference.
Whilst success on the test is achieved by demonstrating your keen ability to speak good English, you can help make a good impression by making an effort to give the examiner some of the specific things they are looking for.
Finding a knowledgeable IELTS coach is probably the most surefire way to be certain you’re developing the right habits to score high in parts 1, 2 & 3 of the speaking test.
2. Use refreshing vocabulary.
It is important to exercise a wide range of interesting and suitable vocabulary. In parts 1 & 2, making good use of informal, colloquial language and the accurate use of one or two idiomatic expressions will certainly help boost your score. In part 3, the questions are more formal so, ideally, you want to try and use a more formal and academic register of speech. You can use phrases like “I maintain that…”, “I concur with the notion that…”, “This can be exemplified by…”
3. Link those words!
In order to score a 7 or above for fluency and coherence, an IELTS candidate needs to demonstrate an ability to ‘use a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility’.
In parts 1 & 2, cohesive devices such as and, or, but will satisfy the examiner. But in part 3, aim a little higher with phrases like moreover, furthermore, however, as a consequence
Good use of these words will not only improve your fluency and coherence score, but should also have a positive impact on your lexical resource mark as well.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
This next piece of advice is going to seem painfully obvious, but I am going to stress it all the same. Language is not a set of knowledge, it is not a list of facts that one can memorise as you might in history or science subjects. Language is a skill, and developing good language skills is far more similar to mastering a sport or musical instrument than learning academic knowledge.
As such, the only way to truly improve your language is to exercise it regularly and in a natural manner.
Find a good English teacher or even a language partner who has similar goals, and practice your skills as often as you can.
5. Be friendly 😊
Last but not least, it is important to put on a happy face when you are in that examination room. Along with putting the examiner at ease (something you definitely want to do), a sunny disposition can have some very practical benefits to your IELTS speaking test.
Firstly, it will make you appear more confident and look as though you are not struggling to move from one sentence to the next. This will reflect well on your fluency score.
Furthermore, happy speakers speak with more energy and emotion. This means that you will naturally use more rising and falling tones which will make the intonation of your speech sound less robotic and a little more fluid. The benefits of that will be seen in your pronunciation score.
Useful vocabulary from this article:
a slew of information - A very large amount of information
competitive edge - Something that gives you an advantage over your competitors
make a world of difference - Have a very positive impact
a surefire way - A method that is 100% certain to work
painfully obvious - Something extremely clear to see/know
last but not least - Equally important, in spite of being mentioned last
a sunny disposition - Very happy behaviour