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Tips for the IELTS/TOEFL Speaking Test

The IELTS Speaking Exam gives you the opportunity to use your spoken English face to face with an examiner. Here are a few tips for getting through your Speaking Exam:

Back to Basics

In Part 1, the Examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This is relatively easy to prepare for, as you can anticipate some of the questions and prepare your answers. Revise vocabulary and expressions related to where you live; family; jobs; and hobbies.

Past Predicts the Future

In Part 2 of the exam, you will be given a card asking you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The Examiner will then ask a few related questions. For this part, it is important to practice answering questions that were given in the past in order to familiarise yourself with the questions that can be asked, and to revise ways of giving your opinion.

Opinions and Personal Views
In Part 3, you have the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes. These questions are often related to moral and cultural topics. This is your opportunity to discuss your perspectives on more controversial topics and express your views. Remember you are free to say what you like, the only thing you are being examined on is your English.

You will need to listen to the questions carefully so that you can answer them correctly. Revise common question structures and be very clear about the meaning of question words.

Keep Talking
Talk as much as you can. Elaborate on your answers where possible. If you are asked about your hobbies, for example, you could talk about your practice schedule; how it makes you feel; the friends you made while participating; or any special equipment you use. The more you talk, the less opportunity the Examiner has to ask more complicated questions.

Slow Down
When we are nervous, we tend to speak more quickly. This can mean you are more difficult to understand. Get lots of practice speaking to native speakers and rehearse speaking at a rate that is not too quick.

Variety is the Spice of Life
Sometimes we don't even notice that we use certain words or phrases as a crutch. Ask a friend or teacher to listen to you speak, and make a note of the expressions and words you rely on; and use a thesaurus or check out some of our Expressions Pages to find different ways of saying the same thing.

Practice Pronunciation
Many people don't spend enough time practicing intonation and pronunciation. If the examiner is not sure what you are saying, they cannot give you marks. You probably won't know if your pronunciation is wrong unless someone tells you - many words in English are pronounced differently to how they are written.

In your Speaking Exam, you have the opportunity to use lots of different tenses and to switch between them naturally - the way you would in a real life situation. Try to incorporate a variety of Grammar structures where possible. Use Conditionals if appropriate and have a good mastery of the different Tenses in English.

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