IELTS Speaking: 5 Examiners’ Tips to Score Higher

For both the actual IELTS exam and’s online IELTS mock tests, the Speaking test is made up of three sections. By understanding what happens in these three sections of the Speaking test, you will be better prepared.

In Section 1, which lasts about 4 to 5 minutes, the examiner will ask you questions about yourself. Topics might include your work, your family, your home life or your interests.

In Section 2 of the Speaking test, the examiner will give you a card with a topic and a few set of questions. You will have one minute to prepare yourself and take notes on the topic; you can then speak on the topic for two minutes.

In Section 3, the examiner will ask you questions around the topics given in Section 2 and allow you to discuss them in more details. This section will also take approximately 4 to 5 minutes to complete.

You might be worried about taking your IELTS Speaking test, but with these tips from our IELTS examiners, and plenty of practice, you will be on your way to getting the IELTS band score you need.

1- Ask the examiner to repeat the question

If you need to think about your answer, or if you have not understood the question, you can easily ask the examiner to repeat the question. In section 3 of the Speaking test where the questions are a bit more complicated, you can even ask the examiner to explain the question. This is specially useful because the examiner will use different words to rephrase the question and try to make it easier to understand.

You can do this safely a couple of times in your test without affecting your band score.

2- Use a variety of grammatical structures

The grammatical range is one of the primary band descriptors that make up your final band score in the Speaking test. Therefore, you should try and use a range of grammatical structures using complex and simple sentences to express what you want to say. In the IELTS Speaking test, you are assessed on your ability to use various grammatical structures accurately, so it’s important to practice speaking about the past, the present and the future using correct tenses.

Some of the grammatical structures that you can (and probably should) use are:

  • Comparative structures
  • Conditional structures
  • Modal verbs
  • Perfect tenses
  • Different ways of talking about the future
  • Passive tenses

You can find some resources to help you with grammar here.

3- Take your time to think

During the Speaking test, you can take a brief pause to think about what you are going to say. However, how you do this is very important. Many IELTS candidates incorrectly use fillers to give themselseves time to think, but this is not recommended (look at tip 4 below).

You can safely use the following phrases without affecting your Speaking band score:

  • Let me see
  • That’s a good point
  • That’s an interesting question
  • That’s a difficult question, but I’ll try and answer it
  • I have never thought about that, but…
  • Let me think about that for a minute
  • Well, some people say that is the case; however, I think…

4- Don’t use fillers

Filler words can make you look unconfident because we generally use fillers when we don’t know what to say. Using fillers shows the examiner that you have difficulty accessing the appropriate language or ideas. Hence, it’s essential to avoid them and to use the phrases we gave you in Tip 3.

Here are some fillers to avoid:

  • Like
  • You know
  • Umm …
  • Ahh …
  • Ehh …
  • Well …
  • Yeah …

5- Use intonations

Many IELTS candidates produce a flat sound, with little variation when answering the Speaking questions. This not only makes it more difficult to express what you say, but also makes it more difficult for the examiner to identify what parts of your answer are important.

You should try putting emphasis on certain words and pausing at sections in your speech to make your answers more engaging and make you sound more natural. When you emphasise certain words, it also makes it easier to compare and contrast ideas and increases the flow of conversation.

IELTS Speaking test is the shortest test in the whole exam as it lasts between 11-14 minutes. However, for many of the IELTS candidates, these 14 minutes or so are the most stressful minutes of the exam. Anxiety and lack of preparation are your biggest enemies, so what can you do about them?’s Online IELTS mock tests are the perfect tool to help you get familiar with the IELTS speaking test and overcome your anxiety. The feedback that you receive from our examiners contains valuable information that can definitely improve your band score.

Click on the link below to take an online IELTS mock test at the world’s most popular mock test platform.

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