The IELTS Speaking test format has three parts. In this post, we will take a close look at each one and consider some IELTS Speaking tips and strategies to help you boost your score. We’ve also included a printable PDF cheat sheet that includes the Part 1, 2, and 3 tips from this page, but expands on them with additional explanations and examples!
Before we get to advice for the specific parts, let’s look at some general IELTS Speaking tips for self-study.
IELTS Speaking Tips and Tricks for Self-Study
Self study can be challenging, especially for an interactive English skill like speaking. Our lead instructor Eliot has made a great video of self-study advice for IELTS Speaking. And below that video, enjoy a list of Magoosh’s top 10 self-study tips and tricks!
Our students have found IELTS Speaking test tips 7 to 10 above to be especially useful. So Eliot has made a YouTube video that explores those 4 IELTS Speaking tips in even greater detail:
Here are ten self-study IELTS Speaking tips from Magoosh’s top IELTS experts.
Tip 1: During Practice, Be Relaxed!
Being relaxed and confident helps make your English more natural; that in turn helps fluency. Of course, on the real test, relaxing can be easier said than done. But if you practice giving responses without stress during self-study, you’re more likely to be confident on test day.
Tip 2: Expand Your Vocabulary, But Keep Things Simple.
Study vocabulary so that you can use a wide range of words with confidence. But remember, English speech has simpler vocabulary than highly academic written English. To see the right range of words, check out our article on IELTS Speaking vocabulary.
Tip 3: Practice Paraphrasing.
If you copy the exact words from your Part 2 topic card or repeat the exact words from your IELTS examiner, you’re not demonstrating your own language ability. To avoid this, spend some time practicing putting things into your own words.
Tip 4: Use a Variety of Grammar.
During self-study, when you say something out loud for a practice speaking response, try saying that same thing in a few different ways, with different grammar. This will help you understand the different ways you could say something on test day, and choose the best, most varied grammar.
Tip 5: Practice Both Intonation and Pronunciation
Remember that the sound of English (and any language!) is partly about pronunciation (the individual sounds) and partly about intonation (the tone and rhythm of the language). For intonation, this tutorial from the Magoosh TOEFL Blog (also applicable to IELTS) is a great place to start.
Tip 6: Be Confident, Even if You Have an Accent.
I say if you have an accent. But realistically, everyone has an accent. Even most native English speakers have pronunciation that’s at least a little different from the standard on the IELTS. And that’s OK! Don’t waste time trying to get rid of your accent during practice.
Tip 7: Record Yourself and Listen Back.
This is especially important for self-study. Magoosh IELTS lets its subscribers record and save their responses, but there are many other technologies– on your PC or on the web– that let you do this.
Tip 8: Review the Responses of Other Test-Takers.
This is one of the most important IELTS Speaking tips, a “must do” for self-studiers. Here again, Magoosh IELTS has you covered. But there are also plenty of excellent free ways to listen to other students’ model answers to sample questions on the Internet, such as this excellent page from the official IELTS website.
Tip 9: Find Others to Help You with IELTS Speaking
“Wait”, you might think. “Aren’t we talking about self-study? Yes, but self-study doesn’t always mean studying alone. Even if you aren’t taking a class or using a tutor, resources such as study partners, IELTS help forums, or Magoosh’s IELTS Speaking assessment can be useful.
Tip 10: Stay Disciplined and Follow a Plan.
For IELTS test self-studiers, this the is most important of the IELTS Speaking tips. Our page of IELTS study schedules can help you stay disciplined and plan-focused as you prepare for the whole IELTS exam. Or, you can make a similar plan of your own.
IELTS Speaking Tips for a High Score: Parts 1, 2, and 3
Now, for some IELTS speaking tips for each individual part of the Speaking exam. These tips will help you meet the marking criteria in the IELTS Speaking band descriptors. Read on for ways to get a high score!
IELTS Speaking Part 1
- Avoid simple answers. In Part 1, you’ll often be asked general questions about familiar topics that technically could be answered with just a word or two, or with a simple “yes” or “no.” But to get a great score, you’ll need to answer in greater detail. And since the topic of Part 1 is you, you should have plenty to say!
- But don’t give answers that are too long. Ultimately, on this first part of the test, the questions are still pretty simple. If you speak for too long on any one response, you risk going off topic. (See page 1 of our Speaking Strategies PDF for examples of an answer of the right length.)
IELTS Speaking Part 2
- Speak about every part of the topic. The Task card for Part 2 is a multipart question. Missing a part is one of the easiest ways to miss points!
- Stay focused. Make sure you respond very directly to the prompts on the page, and don’t discuss unrelated topics.
- Pay special attention to Feature 3 on the topic card. This part of the card requires an extended response with main points and supporting details. (For sample topic cards, see our post on IELTS Speaking Part 2.
- Keep those notes simple. You really can’t write that many notes in 60 seconds. Practice creating notes that use just a few words to reference each thing you’ll say.
IELTS Speaking Part 3
- Say what’s easiest. Give whichever opinion is easiest to state and explain. Your goal should be to provide fluent responses. That’s it. As much as possible, respond by discussing ideas you know how to express in English so you can display your skills, even if those are not your real ideas. In short, accuracy is key!
- When necessary, buy some time to think. The speed of Part 3 can be challenging. Sometimes, it may help you to slow things down so you can gather your thoughts before speaking. This is especially true if you don’t fully understand the examiner’s question. Fortunately, there are ways to buy time that won’t hurt your score!
- Ask the examiner to repeat the question.
- Comment on the question.
- Introduce your idea.
- Ask about the meaning of a word.
For examples of these tactics, see pages 3-4 of our IELTS Speaking Strategies PDF.