The secret is in the preparation…

Posted February 26, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips

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

Posted February 23, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips, ielts writing tips

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

Posted February 17, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips

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

Posted February 16, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips

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

Posted February 9, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips

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.

Speaking Tip Number 4: Part1

Posted February 8, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips

In recent practice speaking tests  on I have been coming across a problem which occurred again and again through my IELTS examining career. Simply put, candidates drop marks by answering automatically and without sufficient care about the second question in the introductory questions section. Here are two examples: See if  you can spot which one drops marks..

Example 1:

Examiner: Where are you from?

Candidate: I am from England!

Example 2:

Examiner: Where are you from?

Candidate: I am from London, the capital of England.

I will let  you know in my next blog posting which one loses marks…and why.

IELTS Speaking Tip Number 3

Posted January 28, 2010 by ieltsexaminer
Categories: ielts speaking tips, Ielts Tips


Now..a little qualification to IELTS Speaking Tip Number 1 . It is essential to be yourself in a speaking test as previously mentioned, yet at the same time you have to look like you should be taken seriously. So..if you are one those people who likes to dress casually for every occasion then you better invest in some smart clothes for your IELTS exam.

 Now call it unfair, or even superficial, yet the the fact remains that you need to dress to impress. The IELTS speaking test is a formal interview, as I mentioned in my first post. You are introducing yourself to a stranger who knows nothing about you, and you are trying to impress them with your fluency in English.  If you dress smartly and seriously you will be taken more seriously…it is simply human nature.

 Showing concern over your appearance implies that  you also work hard on other things; such as improving your English ability. It also confers respect on the examiner as they invariably  have to dress professionally.

 Now you don’t have to go overboard and buy an expensive tailored suit (though that would certainly impress the examiner!) All you have to do is put some consideration into what you are going to wear on the day of the speaking test. This sounds like common sense, yet I have interviewed numerous candidates who obviously haven’t put  the slightest thought into what they were going to wear! I know unbelievable, yet sadly true.

Remember taking care of how  you present yourself implies that you take care  over other important things in your life as well.