How to Prepare for the IELTS Speaking Test

Last Updated on April 22, 2023

People are expected to demonstrate a high level of English language ability if they want to live, study, or work in an English-speaking country. They must communicate in the native language for community integration, to access job opportunities, or pursue higher education in countries like the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. These countries often require applicants to demonstrate their ability to speak, write, read, and listen in English by taking standardized English language tests like the IELTS.

The IELTS Test is comprised of assessments in Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. The IELTS Speaking Test assesses the applicants’ capacity to speak about themselves and the things that affect their lives. It includes how they provide answers to given topics and engage in conversations using correct grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure.

IELTS Speaking Test Structure

The IELTS Speaking Test has three parts. Each part has a specific function: interaction, task input, and output from the test taker. The duration is between 11 to 14 minutes in total. This section of the IELTS test assesses one’s spoken English skills with interviews conducted by the examiner. Keep in mind that all the tests in the section are recorded.

In Part 1, the examiner will ask general questions about yourself, which include familiar topics such as home, studies, interests, work, and family. Part 1 is about four to five minutes long.

In Part 2, you will receive a card requiring you to talk about a specific topic. You can take one minute to prepare before speaking. This part tests your ability to speak lengthily on a specific topic, use the appropriate language, and coherently organize ideas. The maximum time allowance is two minutes. After your speech, the examiner will ask you one or two topic-related questions.

The examiner will ask further questions in Part 3. The questions are related to the topic discussed in Part 2, which means you have more time to expand your conversation about abstract issues and concepts. It is a chance to demonstrate your speaking skills and knowledge of a subject within four to five minutes. 

IELTS Speaking Test Prep

You need enough time to prepare for the test, as it’s an integral part of your overall score that will determine your eligibility for admission. Taking practice tests is the ideal way to prepare because you will experience how IELTS conducts the actual speaking test.

Your goal in the IELTS test is to obtain high scores. You will receive marks based on your fluency and coherence, lexical resource, range of grammar and accuracy, and pronunciation. The maximum score for each criterion is 25 percent, with the highest score of 9 band. Practice making error-free sentences and using the correct grammatical structures. Don’t forget pronunciation, so learn to deliver a clear speech with a full range of features, including sentence stress, soft sounds, and intonation.

Hiring an experienced tutor is helpful. You can find out your current speaking band and work on areas where you need improvement. Set a study timeline. On average, it takes about 200 to 300 hours of study for all the IELTS sections. Therefore, it might take you 75 hours or less to study for the speaking test.

Ensure that you have a study plan you can strictly follow. You can take lessons at an IELTS school and practice at home. Listening and reading will help improve your vocabulary and grammar. Further, find someone with whom you can practice speaking and talk about things that interest you, so you will feel comfortable engaging in conversations. You also need to practice giving longer answers to questions. Instead of giving a brief answer, teach yourself to explain what you mean and, maybe, cite examples from your experiences. You need to know how to expound on your thoughts and provide supporting details for your answers.

Tips on Taking the IELTS Speaking Test

Be Natural

Avoid memorizing answers because the examiner can immediately spot them. It will not give the examiner an accurate measure of your English language skills. Moreover, if you get too nervous, you might forget parts of what you have memorized, and you won’t be able to give the right answer.

Do not try to impress the examiner with unfamiliar and complex words because you will likely make mistakes. It is better to use familiar vocabulary that is relevant to the topic. You should also have an idea of the topics included in the test from your lessons.

Strive for Confidence and Clarity

Show how you use grammatical structures, as you are assessed on your speaking ability based on the given criteria. Thus, your practice should include creating sentences with the correct past, present, and future tenses. Doing so will also help in conversing clearly.

The face-to-face Speaking Test has a human examiner who understands different accents. Concentrate on speaking as clearly as you can and pronouncing the difficult words correctly even if your accent shows in your speech.

  • You can give yourself some time to think by using phrases such as:
  • Let me think about it for a few seconds.
  • Let me see.
  • That is a difficult question, but I’ll try to answer it.

However, you should avoid fillers, such as like, you know, well, and yeah.

Strive for an Engaging Answer

It is important to extend your answers to show the examiner that you can talk about the topic in detail. Likewise, avoid talking in monotone. Learn to vary the intonation and emphasize words. Use hand gestures as they add rhythm to your speech. Moreover, open your mouth so that the sounds come out clearly, helping your enunciation.

Practice Makes Perfect

While the adage is old, you do need to practice a lot to ensure you get good marks on the Speaking Test. Use this guide to help you make a study plan, which you must follow strictly. Constant and repeated practice will help you remember what the examiner wants from you on test day.