Archive for the ‘ielts speaking tips’ category

How to ace part 2 of the speaking test..part 2…

March 31, 2010

All…I repeat..ALL of the IELTS speaking test part 2 topics follow the same format

Which is…?

1. A general discussion topic is presented.

2. Three different  talking points are presented, and the candidate is expected to include each separate one in their talk.

 The candidate is then given 1 minute to prepare for their talk and then they are asked to speak for between 1 and 2 minutes only.

So how does knowing the above information help us in our preparation for this  challenging part of the speaking test? Simple, once you know the format is easy to build a template answer script which you can use to answer any of the part 2 questions!

You don’t believe me? I challenge you not to to be able to talk for two minutes on any subject if you have prepared and memorized a part 2 answer script.

To learn how to prepare your own part 2 answer template click on the following link:

How to ace part two of the speaking test…part 1..

March 29, 2010

Part two of the speaking Test is where you are given a topic to talk about for 1- 2 minutes. The topic can be on any subject and you are given one minute to prepare for it including making notes if necessary. After speaking for one to two minutes  ( you must speak for a minimum of 1 minute and a maximum of two minutes.),  the examiner will stop you and ask you a general  follow up question on the topic which should be answered briefly (ideally 5 seconds.)

Tip. You should try and speak for the maximum 2 minutes permitted to maximise your chance of being highly rated in your ability to present a topic in English.

To see an example of a part 2 speaking test, click on the following link:

The beginning and and of an IELTS speaking test

March 25, 2010

As many IELTS candidates are aware, the examiner formulates the candidate’s band score  in the  5 minutes after the end of the speaking test.  This is where the  IELTS Examiner reviews their original inclinations about how well the candidate performed in each part of the IELTS. This is usually done with the assistance of the digital recording of the speaking test. So knowing this, can we then assume that it is more important to  concentrate on how you say farewell to the Examiner, raher than how you introduce yourself to the Examiner?

 As with most  things in life, the beginning and the end of the speaking test are both important, however the start of the test  is what really counts in influencing the opinion of the IELTS examiner. It is harder to change someone’s opinion at the end of meeting somebody rather than at the beginning, especially in something which is as structured as the IELTS speaking test. Therefore concentrate on making an initial postive first impression, and then back this up by producing high bandscoring  speaking answers. To find out how to plan high band scoring  IELTS speaking questions ahead of the IELTS speaking test, please click on the following link and check out my IELTS speaking test E-Book:

How to prepare properly for part 1 of the speaking test

March 18, 2010

Part 1 of the speaking test is by far the easiest part of the speaking test in which you can gain high band scores relatively easily. Why is this the case? Simply because there is very little variation in the IELTS Examiner’s questions for part 1 of the IELTS speaking test.

Let’s take a closer look at how  part 1 is structured:

  • Part 1 lasts for 4-5 minutes
  • The Examiner’s questions are divided into four separate topics (frames)
  • Frame one is always the introductory frame
  • Frame two is always either about where you live (home town or living accommodation), or about what you do (are you a student or do you work)
  • Frames, 3 and 4 can be any of the remaining  8 possible  different topic frames for that day’s test, and are selected by the Examiner
  • Each frame has 1-3 questions for the candidate to answer
  • As the part 1 section must last for a minimum of 4 minutes and a maximum of 5 minutes, you can therefore put yourself in a position to answer each available question by planning to speak for 15 seconds answering each part 1 question

So to  summarize the above findings: You can preprepare  high band scoring answers for 40% of part 1 of the IELTS speaking test. Why is this? Because the introductory frame questions are always the same, and there are only 3 possible options for the second frame questions. (questions about your home town, questions about your living quarters, or questions about your occupation.

 As for the rest of the question frames for part 1 of the speaking test, they all follow a very predicatable pattern and so even if you have not actually prepared for the specific question topic, you can answer convincingly by merely changing the subject.  So a preprepared answer on bicycles can be used to answer questions about public transport for example.

 To find out more about the structure and format of the part 1 question frames, click on the following link to see the question transcript for an IELTS speaking test.

Learning the rules of the IELTS speaking test

March 16, 2010

 Today we’re going to take a look at that other area of the IELTS test where most candidates  find very challenging…..the speaking test. Like the writing test, the speaking test requires specific knowledge in order to succeed in. You will not get a high band score unless you know how to approach the speaking test.

I have personally conducted and graded over 3000 speaking tests in my IELTS career. In that time I saw a lot of easily avoidable mistakes made. Mistakes, which can be avoided if you know what you are doing in the test. I also experienced a select few candidates gain high band scores because they knew what was expected of them in the test.

Preparation for the speaking test is not something that can be rushed…of course you might get lucky without preparation and perform very well on the actual day of the test…but I doubt it. No, avoid the risk of failure by planning properly for the speaking test.

So here’s today’s tip.

Learn how the speaking test is made up and crucially, how it is marked afterwards (how the examiner decides what band score to award you.)

Now, luckily for you, I have put my years of IELTS Speaking Examining into a PDF file for you to learn the inside information about how to gain a high band score in the IELTS speaking test. Yes for those of you who don’t yet know, this is my Speaking E-Book. Click on the following link to take a look and to view some sample pages.

The secret is in the preparation…

February 26, 2010

Let me ask you a simple question. Do you think you would do well making a gourmet meal for the first time without  following a recipe?…No?…Are you sure?….I thought not…unless you have a natural talent, then you are very unlikely unlikely to succeed. The same process applies to the IELTS speaking test.

Unless you know what  to expect in the IELTS test then you will struggle to  score the maximum marks which will be available to you according to your English ability.

In exams, we often fantasize about knowing the exam questions in advance of the actual exam. Why? because if we are able to do so, then we can prepare the best possible  exam answer according to our abilities. Now we know that  we cannot do this in practice, and indeed it wouldn’t be a very good test if were were able to know the answers in advance. But we can learn the format of the exam questions. This allows us to plan our exam answers to a great degree in advance. If you know the territory, then you can plan your route effectively.

So if  you go to my website, you will see a complete transcript of both an academic speaking test, and a general training speaking test. If you study the tests closely, you will not only get a good understanding of the type of questions which the examiner asks, you will learn how each  of the three parts of the speaking test are structured. And crucially you will learn the importance of timing to the speaking test. Knowing the timing allows you to plan how to manage the length of your answers so that you are able to deliver high band scoring answers to each  of the examiner’s questions.

Here’s the link:

General advice on approaching the IELTS test

February 23, 2010

The IELTS test is unique. There is simply nothing, else like it in the world of language learning and examinations in particular. It  is a test that even native speakers of English would struggle to achieve a high band score in if they were not sufficiently prepared.

So what can we learn from this analysis of the IELTS test? Namely that as the old saying goes,  preparation makes perfect. You simply cannot expect to do well in the test if you do not  do the following:

 1) Learn what the test is about

 2) Practice delivering answers

Yes that’s right, practice, practice, practice and practice again. If you do not practice, then it doesn’t matter if you learn all about the test and how to achieve high band scores. Unless you practice you cannot internalize what you have learnt. if you do not internalize what you have learnt, then how  are you supposed to remember to use all your freshly acquired knowledge in the highly stressful  conditions of the test day?

The need for practice is especially relevant and important in the speaking and writing parts of the IELTS test.  To get into the practice mindset  visit and try your hand at the IELTS speaking and writing practice tests.

To shake hands or not to shake hands…my answer to the candidate’s query

February 17, 2010

Don’t shake hands with the examiner unless the examiner specifically offers their hand to you (which does happen very occasionally.) The reason for this is simple. It’s about allowing the examiner to continue to think that they are in control of the interview. People like to be in control, and examiners are no exception. When someone is in control, they feel more at ease. When they feel more at ease, they are more likely to be generous in their band scoring. it’s that simple. Always let the examiner think that they are in control of the speaking test. (They usually aren’t by the way, and in my speaking e-book I reveal how you can manipulate the pyschological aspects of  the test in your favour.)

A candidate’s thought-provoking speaking test query

February 16, 2010

Now I’d like to share a little insight into the mindset of the average IELTS examiner with you. But before I do that, I am going to repeat the question which one of my candidates asked me the other day during our online practice speaking test. Before we even began the test, she asked me:

“When I go into the speaking test room, should I try to shake hands with the Examiner?”

I am going to give you a little time to think about that before I post up the answer which I gave her. An answer which actually suprisingly reveals a lot about the psychology of the average IELTS examiner.

Speaking Tip Number 4: Part 2

February 9, 2010

So did you work out which was the better answer? Well the correct answer is to provide more than just the name of your country. Why? Well, the chances are the examiner  either a) Lives in your country, or b) has interviewed many other candidates from you country.

Therefore if you just give the name of your country without any additional detail, then you are disrespecting the examiner.  Do you know what the average examiner is thinking when you just give the name of your country as an answer? They are thinking “YES I KNOW THAT! WHERE IN YOUR COUNTRY ARE YOU FROM?”  Of course they are very unlikely to say that,  but that  is what they will almost certainly be thinking.

 So to recap; get off to a good start with the examiner by respecting their intelligence and the fact that they will probably  interview many other people who are also from the same country during the same test day.