CIES | 12-July-2019


Speaking module of IELTS has 3 parts and lasts for 11–14 minutes.It is done on one-to-one basis with the student.

Part 1: Examiner introduces him/herself and asks you to introduce yourself.He asks general questions on the familiar topics, eg. home,family, work, studies, hobbies etc.This part lasts between 4 and 5 minutes.

Part 2: The candidate is given a topic to speak, which is printed on a task card.Students have to speak for 1–2 minute at least and are given one minute to write down some points or make notes after thinking. This part ends between 3 to 4 minutes.

Part 3: It’s basically a two way discussion with the examiner (mosty questions that are reated to part 2 are asked).The discussion ends between 4 to 5 minutes.

(After the exam, you are allowed to gather your belongings that are checked in before the examination. You are leaving the test centre for the lunch. There is a schedule posted for the time for the speaking test. It is generally between 1pm to 7 pm. This schedule is followed in most of the centers. In some centers, speaking exams are held on different days, in the week before or after the official test date.)Recheck

Do you…

A) Say nothing

B) Talking fast and hoping for some good result

C) Remain cool, calm and collected and control the situation

D) Say uhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmuhhhhherrr

The correct answer is… C!

In the exam, there likely be moments where every student’s mind goes blank, he or she maymishear a question or  simply need time to think. However, if this happens don’t worry because this is totally normal and we have a perfect IELTS strategy to deal with these situations!

In the event If you are asked a question that you cannot respond  straight away during your IELTS speaking exam, you should avoid awkward silences and instead use a phrase designed to fill the void. It is essential to continue speaking even if you still need to think of what you want to say.

In the real world, native English speakers use a multitude of phrases to help them cope with these exact situations. Please note, these phrases will not harm your score in any way. They actually show the examiner you are comfortable controlling the situation and not panicking.

If you need a moment of thought before speaking, below are some phrases for you to use during IELTS speaking exam. Finally, I just want to mention that although these phrases will not harm your score, you should try not to use them for every question as the examiners may think that you do simply just not understand the questions they are asking you. Just use them when you need them!


1. “I’m so sorry but today I am a bag of nerves. To be honest, my mind just went completely blank”. — This expression lets the examiner know that you are feeling under pressure but that you are trying. “A bag of nerves” is also an idiom so you will score points for idiomatic use of language.

2.”Wow, what a fantastic question. I have genuinely never thought about that before. Let me just take a moment to consider your question”. — Being excited and showing enthusiasm is a great way to improve your intonation score. Also, examiners are subject to flattery like anyone else so, don’t be afraid to compliment their questions!

3. “To be perfectly honest, this is not a topic I normally talk about. But, if you have to ask me I guess I would say that…”. — Once again, honesty is the best policy and by using this line you will give yourself precious time to think of a better response.

4. “Unfortunately, this subject is not really my cup of tea. I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other. If I had to choose, I would have to say…”. — Perfect for those tricky IELTS questions about Art like “what is your favourite painting?” and all you can think of is the Mona Lisa. Don’t be afraid to buy some time and score points with these idioms.

5. “You know, it’s been such a long time since I’ve thought about this matter. Please, let me take a few seconds to collect my thoughts”. -Sometimes, we all need a few seconds to think in life. Don’t be afraid to take those seconds you need, as long as you don’t leave your examiner in silence for the next five minutes you should be fine.

6. “So, let me see”. — Nice, simple and sweet. Sometimes, we just need a moment to think. Use this nice phrase instead of making a dreaded mmmmuhhhhmmmm sound.

7. “I’m so sorry, I’m not sure what you meant by that. Can you repeat your question please?”. — On occasion, you can always get the examiner to repeat the question. In this way, you may get few valuable moments to think of a response. Try to only use this one if you have to though as the examiner may think you are not comprehending the questions if overused.

8. Paraphrase the examiner. You can use this to Create good effect and score high, although, this one is not technically a phrase. Let me give you an example:

Examiner: How has global warming affected your country?

Student: Wow, that is an interesting question actually. Let me take a few seconds to rack my brains and consider the recent ramifications of climate change in my nation.

So, what we have done here is bought ourselves time, used idioms and successfully paraphrased the examiner. All these things will help to improve your score and the quality of your answer.

Don’t feel pressured by the IELTS exam or examiner. This is your test, your future and with these phrases, you are in control!


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The test day can be quite stressful and tiring. The time before the speaking exam should be used in proper relaxation. Do the planning a few days before the exam for where to do lunch and which park is best for walk in. Plan for some activities. Look at the area map around the test center. Ensure proper convenience.

During the speaking exam, you are should be back to the test center at around 30 minute to 1 hour before. In some cases, you are allowed to be interviewed before your time. Ensliure you have a tablet, book or other relieving activity for the wait time.

Your name will be called by an IELTS staff member, your ID is checked and one fingerprint is done. You are only allowed to take the ID into the interview room. You are taken to the speaking exam room by a staff member and you will sit in a chair outside. Do not try to go in before letting the examiner take you.

During the Speaking Exam which is 11–14 minutes

The examiner will begin by turning on a recording device after you enter the room and sit directly across the examiner. The examiner will say good afternoon to you and he would look at your passport. The recording device is usually a mp3 player and sometimes she/he will use a timer. The exam commences.

Part 1: Here you are asked about three topics based on your personal experience and are easy. The first set of questions would be about your studies, work or home/home town. The next group of questions would be anything from exercise to food to shopping. Again they are all easy and about you. You should be aiming at 2–5 sentences for each answer.

Part 2: Here you are offered a topic card, pencil and paper. You are given directions by the examiner. You are given one minute to take notes about the topic. Then you are ought to speak for two minutes. Keep talking and speaking until the examiner asks you to stop. He will then ask you a follow up question. You should give one sentence answer to the closing question — It’s not important.

Part 3: Here you are asked more abstract questions about the society or world in general. The questions are more difficult, academic, formal and related to Part 2 topic. The question can be tricky question. Then you are asked whether it is positive or negative? It last 4–5 minutes. Aim for answer in approx. 30 seconds. Do as much practice as you can before the exam so that you answers are organized and direct.

After this, the examiner will say you thank and you should also greet the examiner the same way. Now you are done! Relax and leave the test center.


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