24 Hour English Warm-Up
Have you ever gone into English class after a few days without speaking English? How do you normally feel in the first 10 minutes? It takes most students 10-15 minutes to ‘warm-up’ and perform to the best of their ability. Just like an athlete warming up before a sporting event, it takes time for you to get back to your correct level. If you don’t warm up before your speaking test, it will be over before you are really ready to show the examiner how good you are.
For these reasons you should speak, write, read and listen to only English for 24 hours before your test. Your family and friends might think you are crazy, but it will really make a huge difference to your score.
Speak a Little English Every Day
It is better to practice a little every day than speak your native language all week and then go to English class once or twice a week. ‘But I have nobody to practice with!’ I understand that you might have very few native speakers to practice with in your local area, but the internet is full of people willing to talk to you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask the Examiner Questions If You Don’t Understand
IELTS Speaking Tips 1
I have lots of students who think that the examiner is the only person allowed to ask questions in the speaking test. It is meant to be a normal conversation between two people, so if you don’t understand what they mean, just ask them.
You can’t ask them to explain a whole sentence, but you can ask them to explain what one particular word means. Just say ‘I’m sorry, could explain what X means?’
You can also ask them to repeat the question if you didn’t quite understand what was said. Just say ‘I’m sorry I didn’t quite get that, could you repeat the question please?’
You should not however abuse this rule and ask the examiner to explain every word and repeat every question. This is not allowed and will probably make the examiner a little angry. Just ask for help when you really need it.
Give Full Answers
‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are not satisfactory answers. Remember this is a test and you have to show the examiner how good your English is. If you give very short answers, there is no way the examiner can know how good you are.
You should try to extend your answers with explanations and examples.
Let’s look at good and bad examples for this question: ‘What are the causes of traffic jams in your city?’
Bad answer: ‘The causes of traffic jams are narrow roads and overpopulation.’
This answer is too short and has given the examiner the minimum amount of information possible.
Good answer: ‘The causes of congestion are narrow roads and overpopulation. This is because our roads were designed a long time ago when the population of the city was much lower. For example, the road near my house was built in the 1960s when the population was about a third what it is today.’
This student has not only answered the question, but also explained what they mean and given an example to further support their answer.
Learn What Types of Questions to Expect
You should never memorise answers, this is a very bad ideas because the IELTS examiners are trained to spot these and are very good at spotting them. If you give the examiner memorised answers you are likely to get 0 in your test.
Despite this there are certain question types (not topics) that always appear and we can study and learn the functional language used to answer them.
Here is a list of the comment question types:
- giving examples;
- giving opinions;
- contrasting view points;
- commenting on someone else’s opinion;
- talking about cause and effect;
- talking about hypothetical situations;
- talking about the past and future.