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How to Practice IELTS Speaking for a Band 7+ Score?

If you want to achieve a high score (at least 7) in IELTS speaking, then you may have already heard many times that a lot of practice is the key.

While, on the one hand, practising is necessary, it is at least the same important that you first fully understand the IELTS Speaking Test Format.

IELTS speaking practice, two people speaking

Understand the IELTS Speaking Test Format

The IELTS speaking test has three parts, and they all test your speaking skills in various situations.

For example, IELTS Speaking Part 1 is an introductory part where you will be asked questions about yourself, such as home, work, studies, job, interests, or something similar. 

In IELTS Speaking Part 2, you will be given a cue card with a specific topic and questions, and then you will have a minute to prepare before speaking about the topic for 1–2 minutes.

The IELTS Speaking Part 3 is an extension of Part 2, where the examiner will ask some follow-up questions arising from the Part 2 topic. However, these questions expect you not only to respond but rather demonstrate you can discuss them.

After you have learnt about the test format, then make sure that you fully understand on what grounds and how your speaking skills are assessed.

Know how the IELTS Speaking is assessed

In IELTS speaking test, your speaking skills are assessed on a scale of 0–9 (see IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors.

There are four assessment criteria, and all the criteria are equally weighted:

  • Fluency and Coherence
    Your speaking skills are evaluated based on how fluently you can speak and how connected your ideas are.
    → Learn cohesive devices for IELTS to make your speech more fluent and coherent.
  • Lexical Resource
    The examiner assesses how much variety you have in your words and if you can use them properly and get around a vocabulary gap. For example, if you do not remember a specific word, can you explain it in other words?
    → Read news and books, and watch TV series to widen your vocabulary.
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
    Your speaking skills are assessed based on how wide range of sentence structures and how accurately you can use them.
    → Have a grammar book next to you and learn different tenses and sentence structures. For example, conditionals, passive voice, reported speech and so forth.
  • Pronunciation
    The examiner evaluates if your speech and words are easy to understand.
    → Make sure you sound clear enough; you are not expected to sound like a native speaker.

As you can see, your score will depend on how well you perform in different assessment criteria. Therefore, if you practice for the IELTS speaking test, you should focus on improving different areas to boost your score in IELTS speaking.

IELTS Speaking Practice Tips for Score 7+

Now, if you know enough about the IELTS speaking test format and assessment criteria, follow along with our 7 TIPS that help you practice speaking and achieve a band score of 7+.

Practice answering sample questions

Practice answering sample questions on everyday topics like home, work, studies, job, your particular interest, and so on. Learn appropriate vocabulary and be prepared for the exam.

You can easily list speaking topics that are usually used in the IELTS exam.
Write these topics on sticky notes and blindly take one topic. For instance, ‘home’ (describe where you live, describe your living room, who you live with, and so on).

ielts speaking topics, postit notes on grey board
Image: Patrick Perkins via Unsplash

It is a very good idea to play the exam situation with a friend or why not alone as well. Why not do it when you are walking a dog, jogging, preparing dinner, or just chilling at home? It is much more developing if you can do it out loud! Just pick a topic and talk about it as much and as fluently as you can.

Practice being prepared for silly questions

The questions you need to answer are sometimes quite silly. So you may feel that you simply do not know the answer, even in your native language! For that case, we have listed useful phrases for IELTS Speaking to help you out.

You do not need to worry if you don’t have an answer for every question; you just need to show your ability to interact with the examiner.

ielts speaking practice, conversation between two women at the table
Image: Pexels

You can easily ask the examiner to specify the question or give the reason why you do not have a good answer. Feel free to express yourself as you like; just be sure to avoid simple ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ answers!

Practice all the parts of the speaking test equally

There is a tremendous amount of topics available online, and here we have listed some as well. For example, you can start with IELTS Speaking Questions & Topics for Part 1.

However, it is essential that you equally practise all parts of the speaking test, and not just Part 1. It is even more important to focus on the IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 and Part 3.

Make sure you practice IELTS Speaking Part 2 many times, so you can speak for 2 minutes with ease and feel confident to present a story within the set time.

Therefore, pick a Task 2 Cue Card from the IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics and the Part 3 Follow-Up Questions and practice!

Practice using linking words and cohesive devices

Learning linking words and useful vocabulary for speaking will help you better connect ideas and make your language more fluent. Here are some examples:

  • What is more, …
  • On the one hand, …
  • I am inclined to believe that …
  • To my mind of thinking …
  • What I’m trying to say is …

Practice being creative with your answers

In IELTS Speaking Test, no one will check the facts. It means that the answers you provide do not need to be true. The IELTS Speaking Test assesses your ability to interact with the examiner, not the facts! If you don’t have ideas about what to talk about, you can make things up!

For instance, you may need to describe a recently finished book. Rather than explaining that you have not had much time for reading, you can describe a recent TV series you have watched as a book.

To get ideas, read a book or, why not, search materials about your hobbies and interests in English. There is a great chance that you have to speak about your hobbies. And if not, you can always direct your conversation somehow to more familiar topics of yours.

Practice speaking fluently

Speak fluently and don’t rush. If you speak too fast, you can easily run out of ideas or put yourself in a difficult situation in other ways. Don’t worry too much about using rich and sophisticated vocabulary. Being fluent is more important.

Again, learning linking words and useful vocabulary will improve your speaking fluency.

Try also to be relaxed since being too nervous can easily let you down. This is why you need to practice speaking with a friend or a partner, or why not to yourself so you could feel more comfortable. Try to do this as often as possible.

Practice giving fuller answers

Extend your speech. As said before, never give just ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers. If needed, give yourself time to think and you can use phrases like:

  • Well, it is not a simple question …
  • I’ve never thought about that before …
  • Well, if you ask me, …

You are always allowed to reformulate the examiner’s questions. Learn useful vocabulary for IELTS Speaking.


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