Aside from being the exam of the shortest duration, Speaking also is the only interactive component in the IELTS exam. This apparently different exam also needs slightly different approach. Let’s find out how!
Format of the Speaking Test
The speaking section consists of three parts: two structured interviews and one short speech. It takes about 11 to 14 minutes and every part is recorded.
The examiner asks you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.
You will be given a cue card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have 1 minute to prepare before speaking for up to 2 minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.
Here you will be asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions will give you the opportunity to explore and talk about more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.
IELTS Speaking Marking criteria
The IELTS Speaking component marks you on:
- Fluency and coherence
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy
Following are the detailed breakdown of the above rubrics:
- The ability to talk with normal levels of continuity, rate and effort and to link ideas and language together to form coherent, connected speech.
Key indicators of fluency speech are:
- speech continuity
Key indicators of coherence are:
- Logical sequencing of sentences,
- Clear marking of stages in a discussion, narration or argument.
- The use of cohesive devices (e.g. connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) within and between sentences.
- Lexical resource refers to the range of vocabulary used and the precision with which meanings and attitudes can be expressed.
The key indicators are:
- The variety of words used.
- The adequacy and appropriacy of the words used.
- The ability to get round a vocabulary gap by using other words with or without noticeable hesitation.
- The range and the accurate and appropriate use of your grammatical resource.
The key indicators of grammatical range are:
- The length and complexity of the spoken sentences.
- The appropriate use of subordinate clauses.
- The range of sentence structures, especially to move elements around for information focus.
The key indicators of grammatical accuracy are
- The number of grammatical errors in a given amount of speech.
- The communicative effect of error.
- The ability to produce comprehensible speech to fulfil the Speaking test requirements.
The key indicators are:
- The amount of strain caused to the listener.
- The amount of the speech which is unintelligible.
- The noticeability of L1 influence.
What Skills are Tested in IELTS Speaking?
Now that you know how you will be marked, let us look at the skills you need in order to achieve a good score.
Task 1 is a general interview about you and your interests. For detailed discussion on Task 1 refer to this(PLEASE ADD THE HYPERLINK TO THE ARTICLE “IELTS Speaking 1: Topics and questions”)
Task 2 is all about speaking at length. This requires you to speak uninterruptedly. This may seem daunting but with the right skills you can sail through.
- You should be able to generate thoughts and express them in suitable words.
- You must be able to link ideas.
- You must have a flawless pronunciation.
Task 3 is a continuation of Task 2. Here you will be asked questions related to the topic you spoke about in Task2.
- You should be able to develop an argumentative conversation that is based on the discussion.
- You should be able to delve deep into the topic and present a well-reasoned argument.
- You must brainstorm instantaneously.
Remember that in Task 3, the questions tend to go deeper into the topic to check:
- How long can you keep the conversation going.
- How meaningful your conversation is.
- Whether language is becoming a hurdle in your ability to do so.
How to Prepare for the IELTS Speaking Test?
As you can see, the entire IELTS Speaking component is an exam of assessing various skills that must be acquired by practice and expert guidance. The bad news is you can’t pick them up from books. And the good news is we have tips on how to prepare for the IELTS Speaking test!
- You must Read in order to improve your speaking. There is no other way to learn new words and sentence structures other than establishing a reading routine
- Practice speaking with a partner. Remember that you will be tested within a conversation. Therefore, get a partner and allot some time to speak at length, without any interruption. Make sure you maintain 100% honesty while you practice this.
- Take Speaking mock tests every day for 30 days before you take the exam. This helps you to alleviate the fear of spontaneous speaking and allow you to become more confident.
- Consider getting a professional trainer who can evaluate your performance on a regular basis and give you accurate feedbacks. In this way, you will be able to work on your shortcomings and get better.
IELTS Speaking is a short and structured exam. It has a very detailed marking system and checks a wide range of skills. For such a uniquely crafted exam it is only proper that you prepare for it little differently. Remember that the focus is always on skills rather than information. Preparing for IELTS Speaking is basically acquiring and honing speaking skills.