So, here is our third article on the IELTS Speaking Test. Today we are going to look at section 2. This is the part where the candidate gets to show whether he/she can talk for an extended period of time. First, let’s look at the structure of this section.
The examiner will tell the candidate that the new section is starting and what he/she has to do. There is one minute preparation time and the candidate has to speak for 1 to 2 minutes. Then the examiner will hand the candidate a card with the information and instructions needed for his/her talk. During the preparation time, the candidate can read his/her prompt instructions and make some written notes. When the candidate has finished speaking, the examiner will ask a question (possibly 2), based on something the candidate has said. When this question is answered, the examiner will move onto the next section. Section 2 should last for between 3 and 4 minutes.
It is in the candidate’s interest to use the 1 minute preparation time. There are no extra marks for starting immediately. Taking the time to read the instructions carefully and making some brief notes will ensure that the candidate will not forget to answer an area of what is expected. Do not try and write the whole 2 minute speech verbatim, as there is not enough time for this. Reading a script anyway nearly always destroys a candidate’s fluency. If you feel that you do not have enough material to fill in the required time, try and think some real life anecdote that is relevant to the topic asked. For example, if it is about describing a hotel where you once stayed, try and give some real details of this. If you describe in detail how good or bad the check in was or the state of the room, you will easily fill in lots of time whilst still being relevant. Make a note to remind you which details you will talk about. Try though to fully address within the 2 minutes all the parts of the prompt instructions given you. If you really wish to start immediately, then of course you can do so. Just let the examiner know you wish to start.
Before you start, the examiner will tell you that he may stop you if you talk for too long. Remember, you have a maximum of 2 minutes. Whatever you do, don’t stop before the 1st minute. In my opinion, you should try and impress the examiner by speaking relevantly for as long as possible. This is what the section is testing!
Speak normally – not too fast or slow. Don’t worry about being perfect, just try to speak normally and you won’t feel so nervous. Think about body language. Look at the examiner and create eye contact. Smile at appropriate times. It’s hard for an examiner not to feel good about someone who is friendly, and of course this sort of thing is really all about successful communication. If you are finished, let the examiner know, either through the tone of you voice when you finish, or by directly saying so.
The questions that follow will be fairly simple ones. Try and give a genuine reaction to the question and don’t make it too short.
In my opinion, the speaking section can be quite stressful, as you actually have to interact with the native speaker examiner. Therefore, get lots of practice in with all the sections. Get some example questions from our IELTS practice tests or elsewhere and use them to create a practice speaking test with a friend or even an empty chair where you can imagine an examiner. Make it like the real thing. Pretend to listen to the questions and use the preparation time to make notes. Recording yourself is another good idea, as this imitates the situation and puts realistic pressure on yourself similar to the real thing. Our IELTS practice tests also provide films and audio recordings of IELTS speaking tests and also examiner reports that explain how the candidates did with estimated bands on the students’ performances.
In the next article, we’ll look at the last section of the IELTS speaking test.