All You Need To Know About The IELTS Speaking Test

What Is IELTS?

The IELTS is designed to test your basic knowledge and application of the English Language. It will test your capability to speak, converse, address a foreign degree, or work a foreign job in English.

IELTS has two versions that you can sit for-

Academic IELTS: This is for students going abroad for their higher studies, i.e., educational purposes.

General Training: taken by people looking to immigrate or work abroad.

What is the IELTS Speaking Module?

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to test one\’s ability to speak and converse in fluent, coherent English. An 11-14 minute long test, the Speaking module looks for good pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and examinees\’ capabilities to speak at length and justify their own opinions in spoken English.

Although theoretically intimidating, the Speaking test can be viewed as a simple conversation between the examiner and the examinee, complete with a proper introduction of themselves by the test takers, followed by a long turn with a cue card and further discussions.

Note that you do not need outside, technical or subject-specific knowledge to answer this section. You will need to converse with the examiner in fluent, spoken English.

What are the sections of the IELTS Speaking module?

The Speaking test is divided into three (03) parts, each of which has separate durations allocated.

  • 1st part: Introduction
  • The introduction lasts for 4-5 minutes, where test-takers will be asked to introduce themselves and be asked regular, familiar questions about their everyday lives. Questions can range from asking about examinees\’ families to their work, studies, interests, hometown, likes, and dislikes.
  • 2nd part: Long Turn
  • In this section, examinees will be given a cue card containing prompts and 1 minute to prepare their answers, to speak at length for around 2 minutes. While the cue card prompts are unpredictable, they can range from asking about your favorite memory, your achievements, a specific incident that has stuck with you, etc. The purpose of this section is to test one\’s ability to have impromptu, coherent conversations where one can speak fluently at length and pull personal experiences in everyday conversations.
  • 3rd part: Discussion
  • The discussion section is where you are presented with an opportunity to develop and add to your second part\’s response. The examinee will be asked further questions based on their cue card \’ topics and tested based on their abilities to speculate, analyze, and justify their opinions with relevance to the Long Turn section.

How Are The Scores Calculated in the IELTS Speaking Test?

The IELTS Speaking Test is marked based on four (04) criteria:

  1. Pronunciation- This is integral to the speaking test. Examiners will need to understand what your point is and what you\’re trying to put forward. Remember that it is your responsibility to make your point heard and not the examiner\’s to hear you.
  2. Lexical Resource- Vocabulary for communication. An important disclaimer in this section is that no one expects high-end, jargon-like, big words that you do not know how to use appropriately. Incorrect usage of words, no matter how articulate, will result in lower scores. Vocabulary is important to relay your ideas and points correctly you\’re covering to understand the examiner better.
  3. Fluency- Fluency = flow. This criterion tests one\’s ability to speak smoothly. Note that you do not need top-notch content in your conversation to be fluent; you need to speak in easy English, with minimal faltering and repetitions. You are also allowed to tell your examiner if you have limited ideas about a certain given topic to avoid stuttering and blanking out in the middle of the examination.
  4. Grammar- Grammar is essential if you want to make your point heard. Keep in mind that with incorrect grammar, the examiner will not understand your argument about a given topic.

You are marked out of 9 for each criterion; the average of the four criteria is what you receive as your band score.

Everyday checklist to ace your IELTS Speaking Test:

  • Practice with a friend 
  • Ask a friend to sit with you and ask you questions about any topic while you attempt to speak for 2 minutes on that topic. It does not have to be formal, just conversational. You can allocate no more than 20 minutes per day for this for a week, leading up to the day of your speaking test.
  • Practice in front of a mirror
  • Make cue cards for yourself, or look up examples of cue cards on the internet. Pick any random one, stand in front of a mirror, and practice speaking. The majority of the time, examinees panic because the prospect of having to speak English, which is not their native language, is intimidating. Practicing in front of a mirror with yourself is a good way to identify your own mistakes and rectify yourself.
  • Watch more English movies and series with subtitles
  • In the days or weeks leading up to your IELTS exam- specifically speaking- surround yourself with more and more English content, be that books, movies, series, or journals. Movies and series with their original subtitles are an effective way to prepare yourself for the test- the audio will help with your speaking test, and the subtitles will help you with the rest of the three modules.

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