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Strategies for the
IELTS Speaking Test
Part 1 - Warm-up
The questions are easy, so the examiner cannot be sure of your level from only Part 1. You can give very easy answers, but this is a chance to make a good impression. If you give easy answers, the examiner will not know if you are Band 4 or maybe Band 5. If you give good, specific answers with explanations, the examiner will think you could be Band 6 or Band 7!
You can use this time to practice making good sentences. If you wait until Part 2 and Part 3 to give longer answers, you might not do so well. Athletes and musicians always take time to warm up. You should too!
Part 2 - the "Long Turn"
The biggest mistake students make is to not take notes. The examiner will give you a piece of paper and a pencil to take notes because speaking for two minutes without stopping is not easy. Even native English speakers will have trouble speaking for two minutes! Students who don't take notes often say, "Uh, I think maybe, um.... Um..., well... It seems to me...". "Uh" and "Um" are Band ZERO! Use notes to help you remember what you want to say. If not, you WILL get a low score.
Use the P.R.E.P. method. Start with "P" - make one sentence about your main Point. Then give two or three sentences to provide "R", a Reason. Next give "E", an Example. Describe the example using two or three sentences. Finish by repeating "P", your main Point, but use a different sentence. If you have extra time, give a second example.
You must practice! Use a watch and give yourself one minute to take notes on a topic, then two minutes to make four or five sentences using the PREP method. You should practice one or two topics every day before the test.
Do not worry about the time. That is the examiner's job. He or she will tell you when to stop.
Part 3 - General Questions
Part 3 is the hardest part of the Speaking Test and it comes very fast. Most students aren't ready. When you hear the examiner say "And now I'd like to ask you some more GENERAL questions RELATED to your Part 2 topic", you know Part 3 is starting. Be ready!
Do NOT take so much time. Two sentences for each answer is usually enough. If you have a long introduction, the examiner will think you don't know how to answer the question.
Use the General-Specific technique. As soon as you hear the question, give a general opinion about the topic. Then give a specific reason or example in the next sentence or two.