Your approach to preparation in the IELTS tells me a lot about how you will succeed. I meet students who are organised, who have a plan and who create a process for their learning and their preparation. They balance their general English practice with their IELTS test practice and know that it is impossible to get a good band without both. They are usually successful. I also meet students who keep on just ‘having a go’. This approach to the IELTS exam is VERY EXPENSIVE and will not guarantee you success. If you do not get exposure to English except via the Cambridge practice tests, then getting a high band score is going to take a VERY long time and in some cases where a student’s English is not of a high level it will be impossible.
There are no short cuts. Either you have the language or not and no amount of IELTS practice can make up for a lack of good English language skills just as really great language may still not get you your score if you don’t prepare well for the exam itself.
So, particularly in the speaking, make sure you give yourself the best chance and start to pratice as soon as you can and way before you go into the exam.
Here are some tips to improve your speaking:
- Find speaking buddies to practise with
- Record yourself – it’s good to hear how you sound and this will help you to hear where you hesitate or where your speaking might not be clear
- Take any opportunity you can to speak – join a local English club or start one yourself! Look for an online one or start one yourself
- Choose some topics write them on bits of paper, fold these up, put them in a container – everyday choose one at random and speak about it non-stop for 1 minute (then extend to 2 minutes) Choose some ‘silly’ topics like oranges or purple shoes etc.. if you can manage 2 minutes on this then the IELTS Part Two will not be a problem
- Don’t stick to IELTS books go beyond this and just get out into the world to found opportunities if you have a wider experience then you will have much more to say in the IELTS exam
- For pronunciation find recordings of poems or other short pieces and try to imitate the speakers – record yourself and compare
My advice to students the night before their exam is to relax, watch a movie, read a book or magazine (in English) and go to bed early!
When it comes to speaking, there is no substitute for actually doing it, getting out into the world and creating opportunities to use English with other people. These don’t have to be English native speakers – you can practice with other people who speak well or with other IELTS candidates who are looking for the same band score as you.
This is why immersion is such a popular, and effective, way to take great leaps forward in your fluency and progress at learning a language. I have always been a big advocate for immersion programs, even short term, and why I have developed one that I run at my own home, Fleetham Lodge, in Northeast Great Britain. If you are interested in hearing about my immersion programs, check out some of the courses that I have coming up.
Language is a skill the more you practice the better you get generally. Speaking is the most fundamental part of a language and you just need to find opportunities to practice. If you can’t speak well, how on earth will you manage in your new country, your new job, or your new study? That’s what the IELTS is testing! Do you have the right level of English to succeed in the venture that you are embarking upon?
This reminds me of a student that I once had. He was taking his test that week and he told me how in the last test he only scored a low score but wanted to get a 6 or 6.5 this time. His strategy for improving his score was to speak every day with a friend who is at about the same level, and they go through the test pretending one of them is the examiner and the other the IELTS candidate. They choose lots of topics and ask and answer the questions as if it were the real exam. They also take some time to chat as well. I was amazed at his level of fluency and confidence through using this simple technique to improve his speaking. If you don’t have the chance to speak to a teacher, join a class or converse with English speakers, then a simple arrangement like this will really help you to get some fluency and use your English.
Find speaking buddies– like this student did– other members who are on the same IELTS journey who they can connect with on Skype in order to practise speaking English. I also run speaking workshops where we practise the test and talk about how to approach the speaking using practice exercises to improve performance. The speaking may only be a short part of the test but I really feel that it is one in which you can have a lot of influence over your score so it’s really worth making that extra effort to make it good!
As a former IELTS examiner and with decades of experience preparing and coaching people for the exam, especially at Bands 7 and 8, I know what it takes to achieve these scores.
I have developed many programmes, resources, classes, and webinars over the years that can help you succeed. I offer personalised help that will focus in on exactly which areas you need improvement in and will develop a plan for you that will guarantee you the best chance of success. I want to see you succeed, and help you make your dreams come true!