The Speaking module of IELTS is one of its key components, the other three being, Listening, Reading and Writing. It’s an 11 -14 minute long face to face interview between the certified examiner and the test taker designed to check his English speaking proficiency. Here the examiner assesses the English speaking skills of the test taker as he speaks through the test. This interview is interactive and close to real life like situations. It is recorded so that it can be reassessed if required.
The Speaking test, common for the IELTS Academic and General Training modules, is the only part of the IELTS test that can be taken on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other three tests which are to be completed in one sitting by the participating candidate.
The speaking test consists of three sections.
The first section is the introduction and interview. It lasts for 4-5 minutes. Here the examiner generally asks simple questions from the candidate related to home, work, studies, family, hobbies and the like. The idea is to make the test taker comfortable while he is being assessed. The candidate is expected to speak naturally during the entire test.
The second section of speaking module is called the individual long turn. It is 3-4 minutes long. Here the candidate is given a cue card which contains a topic. The test taker is given a minute to prepare to speak for about two minutes on the given topic. The task card also includes the prompts that are to be included in the talk. The test taker is then expected to speak for about two minutes on the given topic. Time management is the key in this section. The examiner asks a question or two based on the topic thereafter.
The third section of the speaking test is generally 4-5 minutes long. This entails a general discussion between the examiner and the candidate. It is usually based on the topic given to the candidate in section two.
The spoken skills of the candidate that are assessed in this test are:
- The ability of the candidate to communicate opinions and information about everyday topics and common experiences.
- The ability of the candidate to speak at length on a given topic in an appropriate manner.
- The ability to plan, organize and present the ideas in a logical manner.
The marking of this test is on four main criteria Coherence and fluency, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, Lexical Resource and Pronunciation. These are marked on a band scale of one to nine. The former score is classified as non-user and latter, the expert. The scores are reported in whole and half bands.
Tips to get a good band in speaking
*Since the topics covered are based mostly on familiar situations therefore you should feel relaxed and speak naturally to the examiner.
*Speak fluently and spontaneously as far as possible. Don’t take pauses as you answer any question.
*Develop your answers. Use good discourse markers that direct the flow of your conversation. A very good example of this is,
To sequence a narrative you can say:
First and foremost..
Last of all…
To change a topic:
Linking words act like a bridge that helps in smooth transitioning of the sentence. Good linking words like, in addition, however, despite etc will not just give you talk better structure but a finer meaning as well.
*Be candid. Express your opinions freely and develop your answers for you will be assessed on your ability to communicate.
*Use a variety of sentence structures. Right from simple sentences to compound or complex sentences, you can vary your sentence structures giving the talk a better perspective.
*Be articulate. Show that you can speak fluently and coherently. Pronounce the words and expressions right.
*Most of the questions are predictable, practice and record yourself.
*Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if required.
*And last but certainly not the least, showcase that you can speak the language well, use good vocabulary and express yourself clearly and confidently.