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

Today’s episode is an answer to a student in our course who sent this email:

I took an IELTS prep course at ACET in 2014, a very reputable IELTS trainer in my country. My tutor has been an IELTS examiner at IDP. He advised me that we will be graded on 4 things in Speaking Part 2… especially well-organized speech. Thereby, within 2 minutes, I’m advised to answer all the bullet points in the cue card as well as have a conclusion...

Honestly, as an IELTS teacher, it’s just easier to tell students to follow the bullet points.

It’s more clear-cut and, the teacher doesn’t have to teach as much.

In reality, there are higher-level ways to answer the Speaking Part 2 question, that are more fluent and cohesive, and, most importantly, natural.

It’s difficult to teach students to communicate naturally.

So, that teacher is not entirely wrong, but it’s not the way to get the best results.

One thing that sticks out from this advice is that being ‘well-organized’ is more important than the other categories. This is not true, as all four categories that you are marked on are equal.


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Organizing your answer is part of this, as the Fluency and Coherence score. Merely talking through the bullet points is not the best way to do this.

Fluency and Coherence scores are based on clear, easy to understand ideas that are connected with linking words. You can see this in the public descriptors.

This is why we recommend telling a story.

Another way to score beyond a 6 is to stand out from other students. So, if all the candidates are staring at the bullet points and only addressing those, if you go further than this in your answer, you stand out!

Another weird thing about that advice is the conclusion part. The fact is, it would be really hard to time your answer perfectly so you fit in a conclusion at the end of the 2 minutes.

Providing a conclusion is appropriate in writing, not naturally speaking more informally, as you must do in Speaking Part 1 and Part 2.

Stating a conclusion in Speaking Part 3, with more academic questions, it is appropriate.

If the examiner has to stop you at two minutes, it shows that you can keep talking. That’s fluency!

In sum, the more natural your communication is, the higher the score!

Do you have questions about IELTS advice?

Ask us in the comments section below!

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