IELTS exam preparation contains four sections: speaking, listening, writing and reading. Let's start with the IELTS speaking.
The breadth of the IELTS speaking questions is so broad, covering 10 macro topics. There are seven steps that a candidate needs to master and get a reasonably good score.
1. Know what the examiner wants by studying the marking criteria.
Obviously, it is necessary to know what the examiners are looking for in the test in order to get the band score you need. This is a crucial part of the IELTS exam preparation, as so many candidates walk into the exam room without having a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
The test is marked on a 1 to 9 band chart in four areas of criteria as listed below:
- Fluency and Coherence
- Lexical Resource
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
The examiner will mark a score for each of the 4 areas and the speaking score will be an average of them. You can read on the IELTS speaking assessment criteria from British Council.
After years of teaching IELTS students and learning from various sources, we have come up with the 10 skills to help you expand and enrich your response in the exam.
3. Familiar yourself with the test by practicing past speaking questions.
By reviewing past speaking questions, you will be aware of the variation of them and know what to expect in the speaking exam.
4. Incorporate the topic language in your answers.
For a candidate to achieve band 7 and above in the "lexical resource" of the marking criteria in IELTS speaking, it states that you need to "use vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics". This means that you are required to use the language specific to that topic to form your responses.
5. Record your answers using a sound recorder.
Most of the time, you will be practicing by yourself. A recorder and timer will be your best friend here. They allow you to assess the length of your response, and listening back to the recordings lets you identify your weakness, whether it is grammar, pronunciation, or choice of words.
6. Find a speaking partner and practice asking and answering past exam questions.
In the journey of IELTS exam preparation, in particularly the speaking part, you may need a partner's help to get used to the format of the speaking exam. He or she can run you through the past exam questions just like in a real exam and time you.
A candid feedback at the end would help your immensely. You can find a speaking partner from your class or by simply posting on our Facebook blog indicating that you are seeking a speaking partner.
7. Learn to paraphrase quickly.
This is a more advanced technique that will tremendously improve your IELTS speaking score. The ability to use different ways to express the same opinion can boost your scores in all the four marking criteria.
Paraphrasing doesn't not only include using "words that mean the same thing", but it also includes changing word form, switching sentence order, and alternating between active and passive voice.