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In this, the concluding feature on the IELTS and it's sections we look at the 'Speaking' section, which is the last module in the IELTS examination. It is a verbal interaction between the candidate and the examiner. The purpose of this module is to assess how well you can communicate in English.
The actual test lasts between 12 and 15 minutes and is divided into three parts. Generally, the speaking test is the same for both Academic and General module candidates. Remember that the entire session is recorded. This is done in order to archive the speaking section of the candidates for easy retrieval in case one applies for re-checking.
Language experts from TCYonline.com explain the test structure and strategies to help you prepare and perform better in the test.
About the test structure
Here, the examiner introduces himself/ herself to you and confirms your identity in the beginning. After this, the examiner asks a few simple questions about you, for instance, your name, town, educational background, family background, current job, future plans etc.
Clearly you have an advantage in this part because you know the answers to all the questions. Here, every question is an opportunity for you and you should score your points here. You can expect questions like:
1. What is your name?
2. What is the meaning of your name?
3. Where are you from?
4. What are you doing these days?
5. Can you tell me something about your family?
6. What are your future plans?
The advantage of this part is that the questions are familiar and you will not have any difficulty answering them. This helps you to settle down comfortably in the test situation and feel a lot more confident about facing the remaining session. Use of this part to create a good first impression.
Here, you have to speak for 1-2 minutes on a given topic. For this, you get about one minute to prepare your speech.
The examiner provides a topic card and a sheet of paper that you can use to make some notes before speaking. You are given a minute to prepare. After presenting your speech, the examiner may ask you a few questions to round off the session. A sample topic card is given below:
Talk about your favourite sportsman
And explain why he is your favourite.
You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes.
Rounding off questions
It is recommended that you use the preparation time to think about the points listed in the topic card and plan what you want to talk on the points.
Scribble down your thoughts on the paper quickly so that you can keep an eye on your notes to ensure that you are not missing any of them.
What you have to do is to elaborate each point with 3-4 sentences. Generally, a topic card contains 3-4 points and elaborating on each with 3-4 sentences is enough to take you to the two minutes speaking limit.
When the preparation time is up and you are ready, begin your speech. Start with a general introduction of the topic and move ahead elaborating your cues in the order as they are given in the card and wind up your speech with a good conclusion. Don't forget to keep an eye on the topic card to see that you don't miss any of the cues.
In this part as well you have an advantage since the points are already specified on the topic card. Your task is just to elaborate on the points and present them in your own way. Here too, your objective is to prove that you can speak well. Therefore, be aware of the edge you have in the first two parts and try to make use of this favourable situation to score well.
This part of the test is a two-way discussion. The examiner will initiate a discussion by stating something related to the topic you spoke about in Part II. A point to be noted here is that the questions in this part are of an abstract nature.
For example, the topic card given above asks you to talk about your favourite sportsman. In this session the examiner may ask you questions like:
The moment you get your Part II topic card, you are in a position to guess the kind of questions you are likely to get in this part of the session.
Creating and maintaining a good impression
The third section is where you have a lot flexibility. In the first two parts you get specific questions where you don't have too much freedom to think beyond the expected. However, in the third, the questions are abstract in nature and you can take the liberty of exploring a question and touching its different dimensions.
Take this as an opportunity to prove that you can speak well and with great comfort. Try to apply the following techniques to make this section more impressive:
1. Start your answer with a nice comment on the question. Eg, Oh! That's quite interesting; Wow! That's really a tough one.
2. Try to relate the question to your own experience, if possible. Eg, I have often discussed this issue with colleagues of mine.
3. Split your answer into two or more parts and try to explain each one of them. Eg, I think there is more than one way to tackle this problem. The first one, to my mind, is...
4. Use the correct tense and modals to convey your views. Generally, you have to use the present tense or future tense to answer the questions in this part. Using the correct modals is also essential to make your answer more impressive.
What is actually tested? Grammatical range and accuracy
The examiner will definitely test the following aspects of your speaking skill:
~ Fluency and coherence
The examiner will check whether you can speak well without stopping too much. He will also check whether you can remain organised and focused on the topic at hand.
The range of your resources and your ability to use the right word at right place are tested. Therefore you need to be sure about the words you use.
Your pronunciation of different words and phrases is tested in this module. The way you speak sentences ie the stress you give to the different parts of a sentence is also taken note of to assess your skills.
This refers to the range of structures available in the English language and your capability to use them with a greater degree of accuracy.
Grammatical range and accuracy
Many people hesitate, stammer or falter when talking in front of others, especially under testing conditions. Regular practice is the only way to get rid of this hesitation. Language experts from TCYonline.com suggest you try the following to make your practice more effective:
The writer is a Senior Verbal Trainer with Top Careers & You (www.TCYonline.com). Visit www.TCyonline.com/angrezi for more information on IELTS and innumerable FREE tests on Grammar and Vocabulary.
Part I: How to ace the Reading section
Part II: Are you ready for the writing section?
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