The IELTS Speaking Test is the ultimate test of fluency in Spoken English. It not only means great fluency in how you converse in English with perfect pronunciation, but also a high level of vocabulary and accuracy in Grammar. As an aspiring candidate who wants to crack the IELTS exam, it becomes even tougher for you if you are not a native English speaker and do not have an English medium background. So, it would be advisable that you should first develop a good grasp over the language by studying under an experienced and fluent English tutor, or join a good coaching class to upgrade you language skills.
Assuming that you have achieved at least a reasonable level of command over English, you can then work upon the strategies or extra efforts that you need to put in to get a high score in the Speaking module. At the onset, it should be very clear, that there is no shortcut to IELTS success. Hard work, perseverance and preparation are the pillars on which you can maximise your score. However, you should not only study, but do a smart study, and this is where the strategies work. Let us try and discuss how proper planning and right strategy can help in the betterment of your Speaking test score.
A) Know how to use the IELTS Speaking rubric : There are 4 basic rubric scoring category for the IELTS Speaking test. They can be broadly categorised as
i) Fluency and coherence
ii) Lexical resource or vocabulary
iii) Grammatical structure and sentence construction and finally
This IELTS Speaking rubric describes the official difference between the band score of 6.5-7, or a 7-8. These are known as Speaking band score descriptors, and you have to learn to use them strategically while studying to improve your score.
B) Maintain a calm and composed self : The more anxious and uncomfortable you are, the more difficult it will be to keep up the fluency and maintain coherence. It might be an overwhelming feeling for you to use a wide range of vocabulary and grammatical structure accurately, yet with the correct meaning at various places to impress upon the examiner. But do not be flustered and keep your mind under control. Dress properly as your first impression counts. Also remember that the examiner is there to help you and make you feel at ease by asking questions about familiar topics like ‘Your Family’, ‘Your Home’ etc. Just relax, take a deep breath, and make your best effort to speak to the examiner as if you are having an interesting and engaging conversation with someone. This will reflect on your Speaking test scores, which will increase many times.
C) Have a sound knowledge of the Speaking Test structure : This is a basic challenge which many candidates face. If you are taking the test for the first time, make sure you read the test format information thoroughly before sitting for the actual test. Remember, even students who have taken the test many times, are confused about the structure of the exam. So, know the structure, gather all the correct information, before going for the actual test.
D) Do not attempt everything written on the cue card : One popular misconception is that a candidate’s answer should cover everything written on the card. This is not true. If you come across a totally unfamiliar topic, just skip that. If you try to answer these questions but they are incorrect, you will end up in losing more marks which is obviously not desirable. At the same time do not panic if you get an unfamiliar topic. Discuss other topics first which you know. This strategy will help you score much better in the Speaking module.
E) Do not try to engage the examiner in any conversation : It is very important to understand that the examiner reads from a script, and will not utter anything beyond the test booklet. So, do not try to pose any question to the examiner. If you are unable to comprehend something, ask him/her politely to repeat the question. Do not try to flaunt your expertise or prowess over the language by unnecessarily speaking a lot. It can create an adverse effect on the examiner and you can end up in losing more marks than desired.
F) Use/ Implement key phrases strategically : This also makes a marked difference in your Speaking test score. When you prepare for the test, make sure you are fully familiar with the format, the type of questions asked, as well as the topics generally covered in the test. Increase your vocabulary by learning idioms, new words and phrases which you can use during various situations that might rise during the test. For e.g., if you are unable to understand a particular question or confused, you can buy some time with phrases like : “Hmm…that is an interesting question. “Do not say” I am sorry, I am unable to understand what you are asking. ” The examiner might feel irritated with this, and you tend to lose marks for nothing.
G) Do not try to be a perfectionist : Always remember you are meeting the examiner for the first time in your life, and chances are, you will never meet him/ her again. So, do not try to be perfect in everything, it is just not possible. Prepare to your level best, study hard, and give the exam your best shot by committing as few mistakes as possible. Do not avoid eye contact with the examiner, it only makes him/her more irritated and create a bad impression about you. Many candidates memorise a lot of topics hoping that he or she will get a known topic or theme for the test. This is a huge blunder as, if you do not get one finally in the test,you feel nervous and shattered. So the ideal strategy is to prepare yourself in such a way that you are ready to face any topic and speak fluently on it.
These are few golden rules that will help you maximise your score in the IELTS Speaking module. Have a Speaking partner when you practice, and as mentioned before, give stress on fluency, pronunciation, grammar structure and vocabulary to achieve optimum result.