Give your talk a structure to help you achieve a higher Band score.
In IELTS speaking part 2, you have to talk for 2 minutes on a particular topic. The examiner gives you a cue card with 1 minute preparation time to make notes.
It is important to have a structure in this part of the speaking as 2 minutes is actually a long time to talk non stop, even I would find that a challenge!
The way to make this easier is to structure your talk. Remember that you really need to develop your speech like you are telling a story. This is very important for a higher band score.
Below is a useful structure for part 2 of the speaking. There are 4 steps to this, but of course, it is flexible so you can change it around. This is not an IELTS rule it is just a structure to help you keep the talk going for 2 minutes.
Introduce the topic
Talk about the past
Talk about the present
Talk about the future
One Minute preparation time
When you are taking notes in your 1 minute preparation time, do not write whole sentences, just note down keywords that you can refer to and build sentences around while speaking. Write keywords for important information or ideas you want to mention.
Do not keep staring at your notes while speaking as this will interfere with your fluency. Your talk must be natural and smooth. If you hesitate too much you will lose marks so develop your pace.
Let’s take a look at how this works with a cue card below:
Introduction: I’d like to talk about a museum I visited a few months ago.
Past: Last September I went to the V&A museum in London. This is a popular museum that exhibits art and design from the past and also current fashion exhibits. When I visited, I saw a showcase of high quality rare victorian dresses and examples of fashions from the 19th century. There were also many antique artefacts such as old furniture from the middle ages and a bed that Shakespeare once slept on !… It was a fascinating place and I think I was there for around 3 hours. There was also a beautiful restaurant in the building, it had high ceilings and big stained glass windows, it was really magnificent. The food was great too, although a little expensive.
Present: Recently I have been too busy to go to any museums or art galleries but I am interested in visiting more galleries in London, especially the Tate modern gallery and in particular, the British Museum, which I hear is well worth visiting.
Future: Next summer I am planning to visit London so I’d like to go to the British Museum, I heard it has a wide range of amazing exhibits. In particular Egyptian mummies and artefacts from thousands of years ago. I’m going to do some research on what exhibitions are scheduled in the British Museum and plan a whole day to walk around there.
The highlighted words in red indicate the tenses. The blue words are time markers.
This structure works well with many of my students and you can use it with many topics. In fact, I could still develop this further for a longer response. Do not memorise this answer though, it is just my example.
Note: If you go into the speaking exam with memorised responses you will lose a band score as the examiner will clearly see you are reading from a script in your head.
I do not advise using idioms or proverbs in the IELTS speaking section. you really need to know exactly how to use these or they can sound memorised. The way to impress the examiner is to answer the question well by supporting and developing your points.
How is the Speaking test graded?
If you want to see the differences between the Band scores in Speaking, take a look at this link from IELTS Essentials, there are videos of students doing the test from Band 3 to Band 9.
The Marking criteria for Speaking Band 7:
‘Speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence’
- This means that you should be using a smooth flow of clear speech that seems natural and is easily understood by the examiner. Your answer must be well developed and coherent too.
‘May demonstrate language-related hesitation at times and some repetition or self-correction’
- There might be some hesitation here and there as you are looking for the right words to express your ideas and even a little repetition of words, but self-correction is minimal. If there is too much hesitation or self-correction it will really lower your score in fluency and you will end up with a Band 5 in this part of the criteria.
‘uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary’
- Idiomatic vocabulary is idioms, colloquialisms and fixed expressions. Actually, I don’t recommend using idioms unless you are absolutely confident when using them and you know exactly what they mean. It’s easy to use an idiom out of context and it can sound odd if you are not entirely familiar with them. Certainly, do not memorise them to throw into your talk.
‘Uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility’
- Discourse markers are words like ‘anyway, right, okay, as I say, to begin with’. They are used to connect, organise and manage what we say. To find out more about discourse markers click here to see how they are used in speaking.
‘Frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes still persist.’
- This means that the majority of the sentences you use have no errors, but actually it doesn’t have to be perfect. Some basic or general mistakes can still be heard, although this will not interfere with overall understanding. So yes there is room for error here and you can still get band 7.
- Your pronunciation needs to be clear and easy to follow, use intonation and stress for clear communication. There might still be issues with particular sounds though. Your accent does not matter as long as it does not interfere with communication and you are easily understood. By the way, you do not need a British accent to get a high Band score.