Home » IELTS Speaking » 14 IELTS Speaking Tips and Phrases
Our speaking tutorial will give you our best 14 IELTS Speaking tips and phrases to help you improve your score on the IELTS speaking Exam.
The IELTS speaking exam is made up of three parts. By knowing what to expect, you’ll be better prepared for the test.
Format of the test
Part 1 of the speaking test, is a 4-5 minute conversation with the IELTS examiner. The topics will be questions about yourself. For example:
- Your personal Interests
- Your career
- Your family and/or home life
In part 2 of the test, you will be given a cue card with a topic. In one minute, you need to make notes on the topic to prepare yourself. Then you will speak about the topic for two minutes.
During part 3 of your speaking test, you will have a conversation with the examiner around the topic you just spoke about in part 2. This gives you an opportunity to develop your answers. This part lasts about 4 to 5 minutes. Expect challenging and abstract questions. Also expect questions that seem to be repeating themselves, in this situation the examiner wants to see if you can say the same thing but in a different manner.
Top IELTS Speaking tips
Tip 1. Don’t memorize your answers before the exam
The IELTS examiners will know whether you memorized answers before the exam. Learning answers by heart is a bad idea and it will make you sound scripted.
To sound natural and fluent, learn some phrases and collocations.
Tip 2. Speak spontaneously
Try to speak fluently and spontaneously during your exam, easier said than done -we know! This video will help you produce quick and automatic answers.
Confidence-boosting techniques can help significantly here, for example, this student used diaphragmatic breathing to reduce her nerves.
Vocabulary is also important, you can build this skill with a notebook and reviewing synonyms, have a look at our full IELTS speaking exam vocabulary guide here.
Tip 3. Practice your IELTS speaking using sample questions
Listening to IELTS speaking practice exams is great but it is also important to practice answering questions about common topics.
During the exam, you will be asked about everyday topics, such as your hobbies, sports and family. Try answering these kinds of questions before your exam to prepare.
Tip 4. Don’t be shy to ask for clarification
If you’re not sure about the question the examiner asked, you’re allowed to ask for clarification or ask them to repeat themselves. Learn phrases like “I’m sorry, could you please repeat the question”. You won’t lose points.
Tip 5. Elaborate and extend your answers
In the speaking exam, you should avoid giving one-word answers and always try to elaborate your responses to show your fluency and grammatical range.
Tip 6. Don’t rush your answers. Speak slowly and clearly.
Give yourself time to think, especially when you’re nervous. If an answer doesn’t immediately come to mind, try using some phrases that will give you some time.
Example: “I’ve never thought about that before…” or “That’s an interesting question…”
Tip 7. Don’t panic if you make a mistake
It’s normal to make some mistakes, especially when you’re nervous. Don’t panic though, you can either ignore it or acknowledge it with a perfect sentence like:
- Sorry, what I would have liked to say was…
- Let me rephrase what I just said…
- Don’t misunderstand me, what I wanted to say was…
Tip 8. Practise fluency and accuracy separately
Keep in mind that the speaking criteria comprise two components: accuracy and fluency.
Choose one and practice it until you feel confident. Concentrating on one at a time will help you put in 100% of your effort on each one separately, rather than sharing it out.
Tip 9. Practise speaking with native and non-native speakers
Remember that you can practice speaking with both native and non-native English speakers. Both will help you in different ways.
Tip 10. Use anecdotes
If possible use anecdotes during your IELTS Speaking Part 2. An anecdote is a short story about a real incident.
For example, if your topic is about “taking a vacation” try to share an interesting or amusing incident that happened to you on your last vacation.
Tip 11. When using examples in your responses, try to avoid hypothetical situations.
Hypothetical situations require you to invent, translate and then communicate. But if you use your own memories, you will only need to translate and communicate your examples.
Tip 12. Learn useful phrases for the exam
Learn new vocabulary and phrases for your exam. You should also learn to use them in context, adapt them, and master them and they will help you – but only if used correctly.
Tip 13. Write out your sample answers
Try and upgrade them (especially the basic vocabulary!).
Tip 14. Develop your listening skills
You want to be able to understand the examiner without asking for clarification.
If the examiner asks you your opinion about your home, studies, job, or country, you can add one of these ‘generalising’ phrases to show a more relaxed aspect of your language ability.
This is perfect for the introduction part of your IELTS speaking exam.
|To some extent||To some extent the weather is poor but I do love the city centre when it rains.|
|On the whole||On the whole, I do enjoy living in Manchester.|
|By and large||By and large, Manchester United was considered a successful club a long long time ago. (HA!).|
Phrases to enrich a normal answer
It is more than likely that the examiner will ask you some questions regarding your opinion or yourself. In this situation you could enrich a normal answer by beginning with one of these phrases:
- I’m pretty sure that…
- In my case…
- I personally believe/think that…
- It’s my opinion that…
Phrases to restate
If you see a funny expression on the examiner’s face and you feel they aren’t following you, first slow down and then use one of these:
- What I meant was…
- To put it in other words…
- Let me explain it to you…
- What I’m saying is…
- Let me put it another way…
Phrases to get you back on topic
If you find yourself off-topic, which can happen when you’re nervous, get back on track with one of these phrases:
- Where was I?
- In any case…
- To get back to what I was saying…
Phrases to use when giving examples
These phrases, when adapted, are perfect when giving examples:
- Take McKinsley for example…
- To illustrate this…
- A case in point is…
- To show you what I mean…
In part 3 of your IELTS speaking exam, you will find yourself in a discussion with the examiner. This is the perfect time to use your similarity phrases.
Just make sure you are using them correctly, as these are more advanced and can be a little confusing.
|In the same way||In the same way as Manchester industrialised, so did Liverpool.|
|Just as||Just as United used to win trophies, so did Inter Milan.|
|Similarly||Similarly, we also studied via the internet.|
Phrases to expand and develop
If you want to further develop reasons or explanations, use these phrases:
- What is more…
- In any case…
- As well as that…
- In addition…
- Furthermore… (formal)
- Moreover… (very formal)
Phrases to explain a logical consequence
These phrases are good to use when coming to a conclusion about the topic you are talking about:
- As a result…
- Consequently… (quite formal)