In this post, we will look at how you can prepare for the IELTS Speaking Test.
Recapping on the first post in this section -> An Introduction to IELTS Speaking, you should read and become familiar with the IELTS Speaking Marking Criteria, so you can discover the level you need, in order to gain a band score 7 or higher.
Here is a recap of the four marking criterion:
Fluency and Coherence
You should be able to speak without hesitation, have natural pauses, be able to order your ideas and connect them when telling a story.
Be able to demonstrate the ability to use advanced vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms, intensifiers, collocations and idioms.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
Use complex senetences, connecting words, a variety of tenses, passive voice, conditionals.
Show that you can make individuals sounds, connecting sounds, word stress, sentence stress and intonation.
Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses?
Do you practice speaking English regularly?
Hopefully, the answer to both of those questions is yes. You need to be able to identify your strengths and weaknesses so that you know where you need to improve, to reach the band score you want. Having lessons with a native speaking teacher is worth it so that they can identify your weaknesses and help you to work on them.
Looking at the table below, where would you say you are right now?
How can you start to improve?
Making a study plan and following it is a really great idea to get started.
Read the sections below and get some ideas on how you can improve in all four areas of the IELTS Speaking Test marking criteria.
Fluency And Coherence
How can you improve Fluency and Coherence?
Practice with as many resources as you can for part 1, part 2 and part 3 questions. For parts 2 and 3 you should read the practice questions and see how well you understand them.
Think of examples you can use in your answers and the structure of your answers. The part two answer should sound natural and be well structured, which can be challenging. In part 3 the answers should be extended and ideas should be linked.
How can you improve Lexical Resource?
For example, you could listen to podcasts and TED Talks, find a speaking partner to practice with and read some English news (online from the BBC News website or the Guardian) every night. You could also make vocabulary flashcards, listen to English music, listen to TED Talks and record yourself giving a summary of what you have heard.
It is such a good idea to partner up with other IELTS students and practice speaking via Skype/Facetime etc. Take a look in the IELTS ACHIEVE Facebook group and meet someone you can start practising with.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
How can you improve the Grammatical Range and Accuracy?
It is a good idea to record yourself speaking, answer some speaking mock questions, record yourself, then listen back to the recording and identify any errors you have made. You can check if your answer included the following:
- Did you use the correct tense, did the verbs agree with the subjects?
- Did you use complex sentences?
- Did you use the passive voice and conditionals?
- Did you use connecting words? Such as; before, after, because and although.
Alternatively, book lessons with a native speaking teacher and they will help you to improve.
How can you improve Pronunciation?
One way to improve your pronunciation is to listen to native speakers, on the radio, tv or through TED Talks. Listen carefully to how the speakers pronounce words, how do they emphasise their points? Where do they place the word stress?
Another way is to look up the pronunciation of words, practice saying them out loud and record yourself. You can then listen to the recording and see if you have made any errors. If you find it difficult to identify your own errors, then booking lessons with a native speaking English teacher who will correct you is the best way to improve.
It’s fine to practice with past paper questions and other questions you may find online, but it is much better and beneficial for you to practice talking to people in real life.
Say for example you have a friend who lives in the UK or the USA, make time to Skype with them and gossip! Or ask them to ask you some questions and give you feedback on how well you answered. Did they hear any errors? Could they understand you clearly?
If you are already living in the UK (or another English speaking country) talk to friends, work colleagues etc about everyday subjects. Talk about the news ‘Did you see……. that story in the news? What did you think about it?…..’ Everyone has an opinion on popular news stories.
Just get talking about anything that interests you, so that you can practice.
Extend Your Answers
When you practice speaking to your partner, friends or work colleagues, practice extending your answers.
For example, if someone asks you:
What did you do at the weekend?
Nothing much, you?
I went to town on Saturday to have a look around, then had a coffee from my favourite coffee shop run by the hipsters next to Marks and Spencers. After that, I took my dog to the park where he played for a couple of hours with his friends. Finally, when it started to get dark, we went home and watched catch-up TV together on the sofa. On Sunday, I just relaxed, cleaned the house, then met some friends at the beach for a game of volleyball.
Answer 1 is not a good answer because it is short and doesn’t give away any information.
Answer 2 is better because it answers the question, gives detail (extends) and includes components needed to score well on the marking criteria.
You need to show the examiner that you can answer the question, give more information (expand) and give an example. Even if that example is made up, that is ok as the examiner will not know (make it sound realistic though!).
What are you going to do to improve your speaking? Let us know in the comments below: