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Do you speak English well?

Gurpreet Wadhera | April 06, 2006

Planning to study in a foreign university? You will need to take the International English Language Testing System exam, which tests the proficiency of a candidate in the English language.

The IELTS consists of four parts: reading, listening, writing and speaking.

We have already dealt with the reading, listening and writing modules. For those of you who missed it, please see:

~ Planning to take the IELTS?

~ IELTS: Crack the listening module

~ Do you write well?

Speaking is the last module in the IELTS exam. This module is an oral interview between the student and examiner that tests the student's spoken skills. For those worried about it, this FAQ list may help:

Is the speaking module conducted on the same day as the written examination?

No, it is generally on the next day but, sometimes, it can be a day before the written exam. These days, few candidates are interviewed on the same day as the written exam.

Is it different for the academic and general modules?

The speaking module is the same for both categories. The same kind of questions are asked. A candidate is interviewed for around 15-20 minutes, and the interview is divided into three parts.

Part 1 introduces a candidate. You wil be asked basic questions about your life, background and general interests to make you feel comfortable. This session lasts five to six minutes.

In Part 2, you will be asked questions related to general topics. These are not subject-specific. For example, you may be asked questions related to food, fashion, culture, weather, environment, etc.

In Part 3, you are made to speak at length. You will be given a cue card with a topic written on it; you have a minute to prepare before speaking for one to two minutes. Once this is over, you will be asked  questions related to the same topic.

What if you are not aware of the topic?

The topics are general and taken from day-to-day life. Take time to think before answering because, once a question is asked, it will not be changed. If you cannot answer a question, the examiner will move to the next question.

What if my answer is not correct?

It will affect your band score. Besides being good in spoken English, you must also be able to understand the question and reply to the point.

Do I need to have an accent to score high bands?

No, an accent is not required. You will be interviewed by people from your own country who have passed this test and have met other basic requirements to become examiners.

How important is grammar?

Grammar is very important as, along with your fluency, you will also be marked on your grammar. Many grammatical mistakes mean lower bands.

Can I use my hands while speaking?

You need to have control over your body language. More body movement will indicate your inability to express yourself through words. It will also reflect your nervousness.

Avoid crossing your arms or legs during your interview session.

Maintain proper eye contact with the examiner. Not having proper eye contact shows a lack of confidence.

Other points to consider

~ Don't keep your answers too short or too lengthy.

~ Don't use the word 'no' in any answer.

In the cue card session, continue speaking on the topic until you are asked to stop.

Speak clearly and slowly.

~ Approach your interview as you would an informal conversation, but avoid using slang.

Speak clearly as your voice will be recorded through an audio device. The cassette will be played at the end of your interview to check the clarity in your voice. If the recording is not clear, chances are pretty high that your interview will be repeated.

Answer your question in a balanced and genuine manner.

Whatever you say, say it with conviction.

Grammatically, you should sound correct. Do not hesitate to correct your grammatical mistakes immediately.

Make sure you use the right word in the right place. If you are not sure of the meaning of a word, don't use it.

It doesn't matter if you speak less; just ensure your answers are appropriately worded.

~ Stay confident throughout the interview.

~ Good body posture, proper eye contact, minimum hand movement are all signs of positive body language.

~ Retain your calm even at the end of your interview. Don't rush out of the room.


Part I: Planning to take the IELTS?
Part II: IELTS: Crack the listening module
Part III: Do you write well?

The author is Centre Manager, BetterThink division of Top Careers & You, Ludhiana, which specialises in IELTS preparation. She can be reached at

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Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 4

Sub: i want to talk in english

plese send a address where the classes are conduct. since i am also wants to talk...

Posted by mahesh

Sub: speak

How to speak fluency in english.

Posted by M.prabhu

Sub: paper presentation

How to present the paper presentation.

Posted by M.prabhu

Sub: english for indians ?? crazy !

hey...i read law at Leeds University. the Univ asked me to sit the TOEFL / IELTS else they said i would not be given admission...ultimately ...

Posted by shripad sathe


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