The best way of approaching the IELTS speaking test is to use your ‘natural’ speaking skills. That means you don’t have to learn any particular skills just for the sake of doing well on the IELTS speaking test.
The IELTS speaking test has three parts. Each part is different and tests your speaking skills in a slightly different way. In other words, the candidate has to adapt his speaking so that it suits the different sections of the test. The objective of the first part of the speaking test is to assess your ability to communicate in basic social situations.
The second part of the speaking test requires you to give a small speech on a given social topic. You will need to express your views on the topic in a fluent manner.
The third part is a discussion. It is designed to assess your ability to think and speak at the same time. It should be noted that the tasks get tougher as the test progresses.
Think of this part as a real life situation in which you are meeting a person for the first time. Usually when you meet someone for the first time what happens is that they will ask you some questions about yourself. In a real life situation, you might also ask some questions about the other person. This, however, doesn’t happen during the IELTS speaking test. You will not be asking any questions. You just need to answer the questions you are asked.
Your answers should be neither too short nor too long. Short answers that simply consists of an ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ aren’t considered polite. Add some details and you should do fine. Excessively long answers are also not considered appropriate. The IELTS speaking test takes only about 15 minutes. You can’t spend the whole of it on a single answer. You won’t be allowed to do that either. Add only relevant details to your answers and then stop.
If you don’t have to say much, you don’t say much. Sometimes short answers are perfectly acceptable. Just make sure that all of your answers don’t fall into this category.
The first part of the speaking test is also the easiest part of it. However, your performance may be affected if you are under pressure. So stay relaxed. The first part of the speaking test doesn’t require you to demonstrate any subject expertise. You just need to give simple answers to simple questions.
The questions asked on an IELTS speaking test are quite predictable. That means you can practice answering them. Just make sure that you don’t learn answers. The examiners are trained to distinguish between a ‘natural’ answer and one learned beforehand.
While answering questions try to maintain eye contact with the examiner. Look at him as a friend you are talking to.
The second part of the speaking test requires you to give a little speech on a given topic. You will be given a cue card with three or four questions. In one minute you have to prepare a speech that contains answers to all of these questions. Note that you need to talk for 2 minutes. For many candidates this could be a daunting task but don’t worry. Think of it as a story telling session. Just imagine that you are describing something to a friend. Your speech doesn’t have to be in formal prepared language. You will do fine even if you use informal language. What is important is that you express your ideas in a fluent and coherent manner.
The third part of the IELTS speaking test is perhaps the toughest part of it. In this part, the examiner will ask you questions that you can’t answer without thinking. In part 1, no thinking time is required: you are asked questions about yourself. In part 2, you will get one minute to prepare your speech. In part 3, no thinking time is given. You have to give your answers as soon as you hear the questions. The good news is that you don’t really have to rush through this part. A clever idea is to discuss the question first before giving your answer. This will give you time to think.
If you don’t know the answer, feel free to admit it. Note that the IELTS is not a test of your general knowledge. It is a test of your language skills. What is measured is your ability to give coherent answers in fluent English.