Preparing for IELTS Speaking
Matt McGinniss - 28, Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The speaking section of the IELTS exam is the same for General and Academic IELTS. Candidates speak to an examiner for approximately fourteen minutes, and the conversation is recorded. The key to success is to demonstrate your ability to speak fluently, accurately and for an extended period of time. Often candidates get nervous during this part of the exam and do not do as well as they should. By smiling and acting confidently, candidates can significantly boost their chances of getting a high score.

In parts one and three, candidates are expected to speak for a long time to answer questions. The best way to do this is by following four basic steps. Firstly, candidates should answer the question. Secondly, candidates should provide reasons for their answer. Thirdly, they should give examples. Finally, candidates can give a contrast to demonstrate they have the ability to see both sides of an issue.

In part two, candidates should quickly take notes that answer the relevant parts of a question. For example, if the question asks them to talk about what, when, where and why a festival happened, their answer should cover four parts of the answer. Too often candidates do not cover all aspects of the answer, and therefore lose marks.

 Before the speaking exam

a. Understand the types of questions

- Part One – Personal Questions.

- Part Two – Individual Response.

- Part Three – General Opinion Questions.

- Total time – Approximately fourteen minutes.

b. Practice speaking

- Speak English as much as possible.

- Record your speaking and try to self-correct your mistakes when you listen to yourself.

- Transcribe your speaking to read how you speak.

- Always think about different tenses (for example: past simple tense for completed events, present continuous for events happening now).


Listening Tests - Preview with your pen
Matt McGinniss - 10, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

An IELTS student once told me that the way he approached the test completely changed after one test, when he sat next to a candidate whose pen never rested!

My student was kind of daydreaming between two of the listening sections when he heard the continuing scratch of pencil on paper from the desk next to him.He wondered what this guy could possibly be writing when there was nothing to listen to at the moment, so he looked over and saw the guy bent over his test paper, feverishly underlining keywords in the upcoming questions, half a page in advance, using every moment available to preview what was coming next.

My student had often heard the advice to preview and underline, but he had never seen it applied so efficiently. He said that he realised at that moment his concentration levels and intensity were not at the level they should have been to squeeze every little moment and every little point he could out of the test to obtain the highest possible score.

Concentrate, use every second, and get your pen on the paper! If you are actively underlining the keywords, it will naturally help your mind remember better what you need to listen for.

Forget about listening answers you’ve missed

Many IELTS candidates tell me that they often miss two or three listening answers in a row, simply because they are still thinking about the one they just missed. Don’t think about the one that got away!It’s not coming back! The audio will not be replayed!

If you know you’ve missed an answer because the speaker is now talking about the topic in one of the next questions, it’s important to refocus quickly and forget about it. Make sure you get the correct answer to the very next question.

Worry about it when the speaker has finished and you have a few seconds to go back and guess the answer. Do not lose focus during the listening itself, because it will affect your ability to focus on the remaining questions.

It’s better to get one answer wrong and then refocus than miss the next three in a row because you are still thinking about the past.


Giving strong opinions in English
Matt McGinniss - 10, Monday, April 10, 2017

Do you use natural expressions to give strong opinions in English?

What can professional footballers teach us about speaking English?
Matt McGinniss - 16, Thursday, March 16, 2017

What does it take to get a great score on speaking tests for PTE, IELTS or TOEFL? According to football stars like Messi, it takes the feeling of 'being in the zone’.  +

Common pronunciation problems
Matt McGinniss - 10, Friday, February 10, 2017

People who learn English as an additional language may share the same pronunciation problems as other people who come from the same first language background. For example, speakers who come from Vietnam may often have problems with joining consonant sounds, because the Vietnamese language has fewer consonant sounds than English.  +

Always think about English synonyms
Matt McGinniss - 08, Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Synonyms are different words that have the same meaning (eg. large = huge). Synonyms are very important for English language learners.

How will you be marked for IELTS Writing?
Matt McGinniss - 05, Sunday, February 05, 2017

The IELTS examiners will consider the following areas when marking your writing.  +

80 English Power Words
Matt McGinniss - 26, Thursday, January 26, 2017

These 80 Power Words will be useful when preparing for language tests such as IELTS, PTE and OET. To score highly on these tests, you should be familiar with the meaning of these words and know how to use them in different situations.  +

IELTS vs TOEFL - Which test should I take?
Matt McGinniss - 29, Saturday, October 29, 2016

We are often asked about the differences between the IELTS test and the TOEFL test. If you’ve been wondering the same thing, the following information will be helpful. +

Critical thinking is essential for high test scores
Matt McGinniss - 19, Monday, September 19, 2016

In many ways this is the hardest principle for candidates who take IELTS, TOEFL, OET or NAPLAN. Critical thinking involves using a number of skills. The skill of predicting, the skill of evaluating, the skill of judging and ultimately, the skill of forming an opinion.  +