How to ace IELTS speaking test part 1- the interview

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How to ace IELTS speaking test part 1- the interview

IELTS Speaking Test

Feeling anxious about the IELTS speaking test? Relax and take a deep breath as we ease the process for you by sharing some time-tested methods.
The mere thought of the IELTS speaking test makes a lot of candidates feel nervous and shaky but if you are well prepared for the test, you can overcome all your fears.
The first thing that you need to know is that every IELTS speaking test is comprised of 3 parts –
(a)The interview, (b) The cue card and, (c) The discussion round.
In this article, we are going to decode IELTS speaking test part 1, the interview, and give you strategies to ace it.

The first impression 

Your speaking test begins as soon as you enter the test room. Even though the set of questions will follow after the examiner has checked your identification (passport) he / she will already have started to have formed an opinion about you as soon as you enter the door. It’s natural to feel nervous but here, hiding it and showing that you’re confident and calm can help you establish a positive first impression. So, just take a deep breath and smile away all your fears.

Before your test begins, the examiner will note down some details such as the date and time. Please remain silent during this time. He / she will also check your identification and may ask questions like: What may I call you? Where are you from? Can I see your identification, please? This is when you start speaking, so, you can also assume that your test has started. Give simple answers and don’t elaborate at this point. After the examiner has finished these prerequisites, he / she will introduce a topic and start asking you questions about it like, “Now, I would like to ask you a few questions about yourself”.

Part 1- the interview
This part lasts 4 to 5 minutes and is all about you. There is a maximum of three topics and each topic has around four questions. The first topic will be about your work or study, the place where you live or are from. The other two topics can be – hobbies, holidays, sports or entertainment. Ideally, you should give 3-4 sentences answers for each question but, of course, it will depend on the kind of question asked.

Helpful strategies:

1. Expanding your answers
Expansion is making something bigger. In IELTS expanded answers will give you a greater chance of showing off your language skills and get you a higher score. Here’s an illustration:
QUESTION: Do you like playing football?
SATISFACTORY RESPONSE: “Yes, because it’s fun, good for health, and gives me a break from studies.”
GOOD RESPONSE: “Well, I like to play football for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s really fun. Secondly, it’s a great way of keeping me healthy and fit. But most importantly it gives me a break from my studies.”

2. Using a variety of language
Instead of giving simple one word or two word answers, try to bring a variety of language. The following example shows you how:
QUESTION: What colours do you like?
POOR RESPONSE: “I like green and blue.”
SATISFACTORY RESPONSE: “My favourite colours are light green and navy blue.”
GOOD RESPONSE: “Well, my favourite colour is orange. That’s because I like bright and bold colours. I also like sky blue as I find it very soothing and peaceful as it reminds me of the sky and ocean.”

3. Buy some time to think
There are ways to buy some time to think about your answer but don’t use any particular method too often. You can:

  1. Repeat the question: One way to do this is to rephrase the words of the question, “Oh, so you’re asking about my favourite colour.”
  2. Ask the examiner to repeat the question: Once or twice you can ask the examiner to repeat the question. This will give you time to think of a possible answer. However, don’t do it too often.
    You can use language like, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand the question… could you please repeat it?”
  3. Use memorized phrases to start your answer: They can be something like:

    “Well, that’s an interesting question.”
    “In answer to your question, I would say …..”

4. What to do if you don’t understand the question
Final tip- if you do not hear or understand the question, the examiner can repeat each question once. Also, if you do not understand the meaning of a word, you can ask the examiner to explain that word. However, you would surely not want to do it repeatedly. The worst situation would be that you stay silent and make the examiner unsure about whether you will answer or not. Therefore, listen to the question carefully and the keywords and try to give some sort of response to the question.

So that’s all from me this week regarding the first part of the speaking test. Stay tuned for part two of the speaking test. Happy studying!