Scoring a band 7 or higher in the IELTS speaking test is a common goal for many students who are looking to study or work in an English-speaking country. Getting at least band 7 in IELTS speaking section may open the door for getting a teaching assistantship from many universities. Also, if you are planning to immigrate to certain countries, getting a band 7 in IELTS speaking will boost your point for the point based immigration system. Thus, getting a band 7 or 7+ is the most desirable score that most of the test takers aim for.
Understanding the IELTS speaking test:
Before we jump into the tips and strategies, let’s discuss about the format of IELTS speaking test. The speaking test is divided into three sections and takes approximately 11-14 minutes to complete. The exam is given in person by an IELTS-certified examiner. The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and your interests during the first part of the test. This will take roughly 4-5 minutes. Then, You will be given a cue card with a topic in the second part of the test, and you will have one minute to prepare your answer and two minutes to speak. The examiner will ask you additional questions about the topic of the cue card in the third part of the test. In this part, you may have to speak for 4-5 minutes max.
Know the requirements for band 7+ score:
If you look at the official IELTS speaking assessment sheet, you will find out that your speaking will be evaluated based on four specific criteria. There are certain parameters for each criteria according to the different band score, and you have to pass them all in order to obtain your desired band score, respectively. To achieve a minimum band score 7.0, you need to fulfill the following parameters specifically set for each criteria.
Fluency and coherence (25%):
- You should speak at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence.
- Occasional hesitation for language or ideas is acceptable.
- Your talk should be well structured.
- You should use a range of connectives and discourse makers with some flexibility.
Lexical resource (25%):
- You should use a wide range of vocabulary to discuss a variety of topics.
- You should use less common and idiomatic vocabulary and use a wide range of language.
- You should use paraphrase effectively.
Grammatical range and accuracy (25%):
- You should use a range of complex structures with some flexibility.
- You should be able to produce error-free sentences with very rare errors.
- Your pronunciation should be easy to understand.
- You should use a variety of pronunciation features, such as intonation, connected speech, word and sentence stress and a steady pace of speech.
- You should deliver in a steady pace – not too slow and not too fast. Speaking too fast will hold your band score down.
Now that we have understood the format of the IELTS speaking test and the requirements, let us look at some tips and strategies that can help you to score a band 7.0 or higher in the actual test.
Tip #1: Never memorize answers:
The IELTS speaking test follows a general pattern. The questions asked in the first section and in the cue card are mostly available on internet. Thus, it is very tempting to the non-native speakers to memorize the answers of those questions while they practice. Hence, you must avoid recalling large chunks of your roted answers as the examiner can easily detect the memorized answers. During the exam time, if the examiner feels that you are trying to recall answers, then s/he will ask you some additional questions. If the examiner finds out that you have memorized answers, your band score will simple go down.
Tip #2: Focus on nonverbal communication:
To achieve a band score 7 or more, you must work on your non verbal communication skills such as smiling and bringing emotion to your tone. Most of the non-native speakers bomb the speaking test because of their anxiety. If you get nervous, then you can’t communicate properly. Remember, the IELTS speaking test is designed to evaluate your communication skill, and it is a two way approach.
Pay attention to your facial expressions and body language when you are speaking with the examiner. Your nonverbal cues affect the first impression you make on someone. Maintaining eye contact, limiting hand gestures, and having good posture will always leave a positive impact on the examiner. This will boost your score for sure.
Tip #3: There is no wrong answer:
The examiner evaluates your ability to communicate your opinions. Therefore, it is critical that you express your views and thoughts clearly, regardless how accurate or justified it is. During the conversion the examiner might throw a different opinion to you. Rather being nervous about it, you should actively participate in the discussion. Tell the examiner whether you agree or disagree, but stand your ground. That’s what an effective communication should be. You will not be penalized for disagreeing, but your score will definitely go down if you fail to participate in the discussion.
Tip #4: Always give a complete answer:
When you give an answer to any question, make sure you give a complete answer with examples (if possible). For example, the questions that can be answered by just replying yes or no, elaborate it. You should always try to stretch your answer a bit even you can comfortable answer the question just by one sentence. This stretching of answers indicates that you can keep a conversation going. The examiner always wants to see your communication ability.
Tip #5: Practice hard:
There is no other way around other than practicing to get a good band score in IELTS speaking section. You should try to incorporate the usage of English language in your daily life, else it will be difficult to speak effectively during the test.
One major mistake that test takers often do is that they choose wrong speaking partner for practicing. Regardless with whom you are practicing, you should always expert advice and tips from someone who use English in his/her daily life i.e. mostly professionals. Because it is often difficult to evaluate the other speaking partner when both of you are on same page. Get the sample questions from the official guides and practice daily.
While practicing you should also focus on maintaining a constant pace and fluency. If you speak fast, it will be incomprehensible. But don’t speak too slow.
To conclude, there is not short cut of getting band 7+ in IELTS speaking section. It takes time to improve your communication skill in a second language. Here, we assume that your fundamentals are good and you only need to work on your basic communication skill to get a good band score in the exam. A band score 7 in the speaking test, is definitely going to boost your overall band score in IELTS by at least 0.5. So, you should be well prepared for it.
Disclaimer: No A.I. was used to generate any portion of this content.