12th February 2021
I have conducted a number of speaking tests recently and noticed some areas where students can, with very little effort, boost their scores.
Remember, IELTS requires you to demonstrate that you will be able to live and study in an English-speaking country.
Firstly, there is fluency: are you able to speak without hesitation ?
Secondly, is your vocabulary broad enough ? You will be studying at university level (1) therefore you should be acquainted with low-frequency words (L-FWs), while living in an English-speaking country will necessitate you being familiar with phrasal verbs, idioms and expressions that comprise the bulk of everyday language.
For some help, have a look at this blog: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/06/02/everyday-idioms-everyday/
Obviously, grammar is imperative, especially the ability to form complex sentences. You will need to combine several pieces of information in one sentences, using clauses and discourse markers.
I have written several blogs on this subject, for example: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/23/ielts-introduction-to-complex-sentences/
Finally, pronunciation; this is not merely the clarity and accuracy of your speech, but features such as intonation, stress, pacing, body language, rhythm, chunking … features which are best learnt by listening to native-speakers and imitating what you hear (2).
To sum up, if you have been disappointed by your score, listen to the feedback your instructor gave you, and work on those areas.
(1) Even if you study in your home country, many textbooks are only printed in English. I’ve known friends from Greece, Sweden and Germany who had to use English language books
(2) There will be an incredible variety of accents, dialects and linguistic features within one large city, but for the purposes of teaching, I’m referring to features that may be particular to English, namely adding the letter ‘s’ to form plurals, how words ‘run into’ one another and how less important words are swallowed, while key words are stressed.