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Doodle Nandi

Doodle Nandi is a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, and helps write articles that help students with their study abroad journey.


09 May 2018 5.5K Book icon 5 mins Share

Do’s and Don’ts for the IELTS Speaking Test

Know what to do and what not to do while taking the IELTS Speaking Test

09 May 2018 5.5K Book icon 5 mins Share
Doodle Nandi

Doodle Nandi is a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, and helps write articles that help students with their study abroad journey.


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Do's and don'ts for IELTS speaking test

The IELTS speaking test is one of the sections of academic IELTS that students have to take up, if they are looking for their higher studies in a foreign country. Some of the countries which accept IELTS as an English language requirement from non-native speakers include the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

But often students get stuck when they don’t know which points they should avoid or follow while taking the speaking test in IELTS.

The speaking test is used to measure your ability to communicate effectively and clearly in English. The primary reason being students heading abroad should be able to speak up when required since they will be on their own throughout the study journey. Also, certain courses like hospitality, nursing or journalism demand students to speak in fluent English.

Of course, fluency comes with experience and practice, and every student wanting to study abroad should focus on their weak areas and try to improvise them.

In this article, you will learn what to do and what not to do during the IELTS speaking test.

The do’s

Do practise

The old adage ‘practice makes a man perfect’ is not wrong. It’s advisable to warm up 24 hours before the IELTS speaking test, and look for flaws in the way you communicate.

Practise with any family members or friends or practise with yourself. Also, on the test day, you can reach the test centre early on and try to converse with the faculty or people around in English; this will boost your confidence.

You need to be consistent, and make sure that you speak a lot, at home or wherever you go. There are plenty of apps to help people improve their speaking skills so try any of those.

Do speak in a natural way

Most examiners want students to speak in their natural tone. Don’t make a mistake by speaking too loud or too low because it might make you more nervous.

Besides, students should avoid memorising answers; instead they should make an opinion, give examples, talk about the cause and effect and talk about hypothetical situations – all spontaneously and to the point.  

Do ask the examiner

You must ask the examiner about any question that you are not able to understand. And you can also ask them to explain a word that you have never heard of. Examiners would be glad if you ask them relevant questions. But a vital point to remember here is not to ask too many questions to an examiner, and not to request them explain every word or vocabulary.

If you don’t listen carefully and fail to understand a question, it might lead to negative marking so feel free to ask questions to the examiner about anything that you don’t understand.

Do stretch the talk

IELTS examiners expect students to speak for a longer length of time. It’s advisable that you don’t limit your answers, instead try speaking for a longer duration, covering the why’s, how’s and what’s, along with giving a few examples.

Do give preference to grammar

Often the majority of students complain about getting nervous during the speaking test, with most of them struggling to answer in a grammatically correct way.

But worrying too much about the grammar doesn’t help. The best way, and probably the only way, to get rid of the fear of speaking incorrect English during IELTS is to record yourself and listen how your speech sounds. If you feel there are mistakes in it, try to speak and record again until you achieve perfection.

Do know the topic

It’s a good thing to follow sample test materials or past papers, but not too much. Sometimes the examiner might ask you to speak about any topic that interests you, so you should find your area of interest and read about it, instead of speaking about something that the examiner has already heard of from different students multiple times.

If your interest lies in books, then talk about the various genres you have read or if you are interested in sports, then talk about the sports personalities who you like, with a little bit of history added to it.

Do correct yourself

While talking at length, it’s quite natural to say one or two grammatically incorrect words. But make sure you correct yourself when you make such mistakes.

Although some students may dislike it, this habit might sometimes help the examiner understand that you are aware of your grammar basics.

Do take time to think

It isn’t a bad idea to pause and think and then answer questions that are hurled at you. Thinking will help you gather thoughts about a question you are unsure of. But when you pause, you can use certain phrases that might help, such as:

  • That’s an interesting question. Let me think…
  • There is no easy answer to this. I think…
  • I’m not really sure, but I would say…

But make sure you don’t overdo and start every answer with such phrases because the examiner might be able to spot that you have come prepared with scripted answers. And this might result in putting the examiner off.

The don’ts

Don’t learn answers by rote

Some students might think learning answers by rote will help them in impressing the examiner. But an examiner is never impressed with scripted answers. This might make the examiner give you poor scores, and also make him test you more by asking difficult questions.

Don't agree if you don’t want to

Many students might think that if you disagree with the examiner’s opinion in the speaking test, you might lose marks. But that’s wrong! Examiners test your ability to speak and are not concerned with your opinion.

Don't use big words

Many students think that using strong vocabularies might take them far, but that’s a common misconception. You must use words you are comfortable with, but at the same time use words to show that you have a wide-ranging vocabulary.

The examiner will also judge you by the way you pronounce words so make sure you give importance to pronunciation equally while using new words.

Don’t be a grammar nerd

Don’t be so addicted to correcting every grammatical error in your sentence, and most importantly don’t use flowery words. It’s important to focus on speaking accurately but being too pedantic won’t help. Actually, the former point is as same as this one. If you try to show off your language skills or simply use too many alien words, then examiners can easily spot that you are not what you are.

Often, students give more preference to grammar than fluency which is wrong. Focusing too much on your accent can also prove to be negative for you when talking to the examiner. As I said earlier, examiners see how well you talk and what you talk, and they don’t bother about if you are doing an accent or using any jargon.

Don't stay quiet

You would have heard this several times that in the IELTS speaking test, you shouldn't stay quiet. If you have nothing to say, then pause awhile and say something that would connect your sentences, for example, when you don’t know the answer to a question, say ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have much knowledge on this…’. It’s always good to attempt an answer rather falling silent.

Don’t divert

You shouldn’t go off the topic that you have been asked to speak about. When asked your name and native city or town, stick to answering the question in lesser words. If the examiner asks you about your hobbies, you must answer his or her question in minimum words, without describing any history or incident attached to your hobbies.

That’s all we have got to give you – you may know about a few more do’s and don’ts for the IELTS speaking test.  Why don’t you share them with us?

If you are still doubtful or have questions about the IELTS exam, then you can speak to our IELTS experts and study abroad advisors. 

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