10 Tips to Improve Your IELTS Score in Speaking

Are you nervous to face the examiner on IELTS test day? Not sure what is expected and worried your nerves will make get in the way?


In this guide, I will give you my top 10 tips for being better prepared and more confident on test day. They include:

  1. Don’t memorise answers
  2. Only use words you are comfortable and familiar with.
  3. Pause to think
  4. Don’t use fillers
  5. Smile
  6. Use a range of grammatical structures
  7. Extend your answers
  8. Practise the common IELTS topics
  9. Don’t speak with a flat tone
  10. Don’t worry about your accent


Following these tips will help you build up your confidence and perform to your best when it matters. And remember the saying “Practise makes perfect” It really does.


10 IELTS Speaking tips to be better prepared on test day


  1. Don’t memorise answers

It may be tempting to try to memorise answers to the most likely questions. But it will be obvious to the examiner if you do this and you will be marked harshly for it. They want to see fluency and adaptability in your answers, so this is not the right approach.


  1. Only use words you are comfortable and familiar with

You may want to impress the examiner with big and complex words in your Speaking test. But there is a much higher chance of using the incorrectly or mispronouncing them which can affect your final band score. Keep it simple and stick to words you are comfortable with. Make increasing your vocabulary a priority before sitting the IELTS test. It will pay off dividends!


  1. Pause to think

You may be tempted to think that silence is not a good thing in a speaking test to show fluency. And in one respect you are right. But even native speakers need time to think about the answer sometimes. Just use the right phrase to ensure this is natural.



  • That’s an interesting question
  • Let me think about that
  • Let me see
  • That’s a difficult question, but I’ll try and answer it
  • I hadn’t considered that.
  • That’s a good point.


  1. Don’t use fillers

We generally use fillers when we don’t know what to say (ahh, umm, like, you know….). This can make you appear to have limited vocabulary or can’t understand the question so avoid them as much as possible. Small, natural usage is no big problem. Try using the phrases to pause and think – it will sound much more natural.


  1. Smile

We generally relax when we smile. That’s why it is such a powerful presentation/ negotiation technique. “Fake it ‘til you make it”. So why not use the same technique in the IELTS Speaking test? Also, the tone of our words sound different when we smile. And this can really help to improve our intonation and make us sound more friendly/natural. Seems like a good idea to try! 😁


  1. Use a range of grammatical structures

When IELTS examiners assess your speaking skills, they mark you against the following assessment criteria:

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation


Using a wide range of grammatical structures is necessary if you want to get a great score in the speaking test. The bonus here is that it will also help you in the other tests too!


  1. Extend your answers

Practise answering questions in full before the test. Extend your answers and don’t wait for the examiner to ask you more questions (such as why?). When your answers are short and the examiner need to ask you another question, they assume that you cannot talk in detail about a topic. So keep expanding your answers. They will let you know when you are done.


  1. Practise the common IELTS topics

Common topics you can practice for the Speaking test include:

  • Tourism and travel
  • Education
  • Transport
  • Environment
  • Family life
  • Sport and recreation
  • Crime and punishment
  • The internet
  • Advertising and retail


Practice these IELTS topics with friends, family or colleagues to improve and make sure you focus on increasing your vocabulary associated with each topic.


  1. Don’t speak with a flat tone

English is a language built on rhythm and sound. If you want to sound natural and fluent, make sure you practise your intonation and word/sentence stress. If you do, it will be much harder for the examiner to understand what you are saying and they may reduce your score for it. Don’t be afraid to use your hands too!


  1. Don’t worry about your accent

As long as your words are able to be understood, you accent isn’t important. All speaking tests are done face-to-face as AI is not able to understand all accents equally. But do be aware of sounds that you have difficulty with and make sure to use stress and intonation as English is a stress-timed language. And remember, your accent is part of your identity! Embrace it!


Start using these tips to improve your confidence and get the band score you need to pursue your dreams!


Now you have the tips for how to achieve your desired score in the IELTS Speaking test, the only thing left is to practise and then go and start kicking those goals! You got this!




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