Top 10 IELTS speaking tips

Native English speaker interviewer, one to one interaction, interviewer taking down notes as you speak, two minutes continuous speaking for cue card round and cross questioning in the end can easily leave the student overwhelmed. However, there are things that you can learn not to feel overwhelmed in your IELTS speaking interview and ace it.

  1. Avoid answering in just one word or one line

Since the examiner needs some material to assess your English speaking skills, so, whenever you feel like your answer is just one word or one line long, add a few more details about the question.

For example: Are you a student or a working professional?

                      Answer to this question is: I am a student/working professional but one should add extra details to make it at least 2 sentences long.

Sample answer: I am a student, I study maths.  I am in third year of my graduation program.


  1. Don’t give too lengthy answers

We already know that we cannot give one liners as our response to the asked question, but making it too lengthy is also not good since the examiners have a definite time assigned for each student (generally 15- 17 minutes)

  1. Make the cue card notes neat and clean:

Since you will have to speak continuously for 2 minutes based on your cue card notes, it will be much easier if you make your notes in a way that is easy for you understand by just glancing at it.

                              One way to do so is to make a circle, write the topic you will be speaking about in the centre and write the keywords to answer the sub-questions. It should look something like this:



  1. Don’t try to memorize cue card topics

Many students think that if they get a cue card that they have already practised with their trainer or while self-preparing for the interview, they will do better since they have done it once already. But in reality it is actually the opposite, if you find a same or similar cue card in the actual speaking test, you will try to mimic what you spoke the last time you attempted the same or you might take pause in between to recall what you said about some certain section of the question which reduce your fluency and you will lose a few scores.


  1. For cue card section, speak until the examiner stops you

Cue card round is where most of the grading happens, they assess the student’s fluency, pronunciation, intonation and relevance with the asked question. Speaking until you are told to stop shows that you are comfortable with the language and it also eliminates the possibility of not fulfilling the required duration of speaking about the cue card.


  1. Be yourself: Try to talk in the way you generally do.

While giving the speaking test, it is obvious to think that using advance vocabulary throughout the test and giving long answers to each question will lead to better scores; however, the reality is quite the opposite. To get better result in this test just being clear, comprehensive and natural is enough.

Being clear and comprehensive; Use complex structures and advanced vocabulary only when required.

Being natural; Try to respond to the question in the way you talk to a stranger on the subway. Keep the sentences moderate length (2-4 sentences each answer) and to the point.



  1. Be honest.

When we are honest about what we are speaking, we are confident and at ease, since we believe in what we are saying. It helps us to be fluent and use the correct intonation (rising and lowering of the pitch as we speak). Using right intonation gives the impression of us being comfortable with language.


  1. Don’t be too honest( Pick funny and light incidents to talk about)

Unlike being honest, being too honest and spilling more details than needed can lead to you feeling awkward and stressed out, thinking if you shouldn’t have spoken what you just said or that it was unnecessary. When this happens, the student being interviewed starts judging themselves answers and thinking too much before answering to avoid the prior situation which makes them use incorrect grammar and stutter


For illustration: if there is a question like “Talk about the last incident when you had an argument with one of your siblings” here instead of being honest and describing the actual last incident of  you having a serious heated conversation with your brother or sister, pick up an incident where things were really light and funny. It will be much easier for you to speak about.


  1. Practice narrating imaginary stories

In your actual test, you might be asked to describe about some incident that you have never experienced

For example:

Describe the last time you went to a museum. How did you feel about it and why did you visit it?


What if you have never been to a museum? Since, content doesn’t matter in IELTS speaking test (even if you say something like “India is on Mars”, it would not affect your score because the test is made to assess your English language proficiency only) you can narrate made up stories for the asked questions.


  1. Dress formally

Actually, there isn’t a dress code but since this is an educational test, the dressing should be well mannered. It should be in accordance with the reason why you are giving the IELTS test. You should dress in a manner that makes you feel comfortable, confident and an impressive English speaker. This is what we all want.

Difference between IELTS academic and General

Right after you decide to sit for the IETLS test, an immediate question that you have to face is “Shall I take Academic or General IELTS and what are the differences among the two?”

The very first difference is: 

The Purpose

  1. The IELTS Academic test is suitable for those wanting to study in an English-speaking environment or university (higher education). You can also take IELTS Academic for professional registration purposes.


  1. The IELTS General Training test is suitable for those applying to study below degree level. This includes an English-speaking school or college. It can also be taken for work experience or other employment training.

IELTS General Training is also required for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test features everyday English language skills that you will need in social and workplace environments.

Speaking interview and Listening is same for both the tests, however, reading and writing are slightly different for Academic and General training IELTS


The dissimilarities in Academic and General Training Reading modules:

  • Passages: In academic IELTS, all three passages are about 700 to 900 words long each but for general training IELTS, first two passages are broken in parts. Hence, finding the answers is easier in General Training since the passages are short. The third passage is same as that of the academic test.

Sometimes instead of the passage, you can also find and group of short notice boards to find the answers from. The question set relating to notice boards are of least difficulty.

The third and the last passage in general training reading module will be 800 to 900 words long and there will be 13 questions related to it.


Different Writing modules: (different task 1 in Academic and General Training IELTS)

This module contains two tasks to be completed in an hour. The second task (write an essay) is same for academic and GT IELTS, but the first task is different for the two.


  • In Academic IELTS: you will be provided with pictures and data about a topic, your task will be to prepare a brief but complete report about it.

Tasks you can find to write a report can be:

  1. A Graph( line graph, bar graph, pie chart)
  2. A flow chart or a process
  3. A diagram or a map

The picture for the task (in academic IELTS) will look something like this:


  1. Line Graph                 A Bar Chart                                                                            3. A Map



  1. Pie Charts                                                                                          5.  Diagram


While, in general training, you will have to write a letter for your task 1 in writing:

                        There are two types of letters you can expect:

  1. Formal Letter
  2. Informal Letter

                    Here are some sample task 1 questions for IELTS GT:



  1.        Formal Letter                                                                                         2. Informal Letter


These are all the differences between Academic IELTS and General Training IELTS.

But, since it is slightly easier to score in reading and writing in General IELTS, it is safe to say that general training IELTS is easier than Academic IELTS. As far as your understanding of English is enough for holding a quality conversation with a English speaker then you can ace in IELTS whether it is academic or GT IELTS test with a bit of practice.