Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you learn how the IELTS Speaking Exam is not like common conversation.

To some extent, you do have to look at this interview like a conversation so you can feel more relaxed and use more natural-sounding pronunciation.

If you listen to episode 348, you know that even native speakers can bomb on the Speaking Exam if they don’t prepare. They won’t know what the examiner is listening for to give high scores.

However, in episode 343, you learned about a native speaker who did prepare, and scored highly.

Difference #1: The Variety of Linking Words

You must use a range of transition phrases on the exam. In Speaking Part 3 especially, you have to use high-level linking words just like you do in Writing Task 2.

Using academic linking words like this is not something we do in normal conversation.

Difference #2: The Grammar Complexity

The examiner listens for a range of sentence structures, from simple, to compound, to complex.

If I’m talking to a friend, my range of structures is not huge. There are a lot of simple sentences. However, if I’m giving a lectures, I use more complex structures.

The IELTS Exam is unique because you have to show your ability to communicate in both informal and formal ways.


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Difference #3: The Vocabulary Range

In Speaking Part 1, you need to use some informal language such as slang and idioms. Native speakers use this language naturally, but most students do not.

In Speaking Part 3, you must show some higher-level academic phrases.

In daily conversation, we tend not to use more formal vocabulary.

Difference #4: Answering the Question Immediately

You have to answer right away on the Speaking Exam. You can’t pause or have silence. It brings down your Fluency and your Vocabulary scores.

In real life, I pause all the time! It’s natural to stop and think before you talk. However, on test day, we can’t do this.

What do you think of today’s advice?

Leave us a note in the comments section below!

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