IELTS Speaking

How to improve your score

Fluency and coherence

To be fluent in you speech means to sound natural. Many students find it difficult to keep the natural pace. As students try to speak more fluently they find themselves making more mistakes.  There are two ways of dealing with this situation.

The first one is long and laborious — to keep practising. This involves a lot of reading to memorise speech patterns, learning new words, memorising various cohesive devices to help you join clauses in your speech.

The second way is easier. Speak a little bit slower than you usually would. That’s it. By slowing your pace you get yourself more time to think your sentence over. This also eliminates the pauses or at least makes them less noticeable. By making your speech hesitation-free you will certainly make a good impression on your examiners. As you practice more and grow confident of your skills you should try increasing the pace.

Coherence is how much sense your speech makes. That includes:

  • Relevance of your answer. You have to address the question, not something you much prefer talking about right now
  • Text sequencing. How naturally your ideas go from one to another
  • Cohesion. How well you connect your closes with various cohesive devices
Lexical resource

Expanding and developing your vocabulary is a long and tedious process that lasts for as long as you study the language. However, to help you score more points for lexical resource use this list of synonyms for words that students overuse in their speech. Repeating words as “like”, “good” or “very” over and over again will not get you a good mark, so getting to know a couple of synonyms is an easy way to get a higher Speaking band.

Grammatical range and accuracy

Similar to vocabulary, English grammar can’t be learned overnight. You will have to make do with what you have at the moment. Do not use more complex aspects of grammar if you don’t know how they work. More simple structures that are used accurately and appropriately are much better than a sloppy complex clause with several mistakes. Simple doesn’t mean bad, but simple also shouldn’t slip into primitive.
Pay attention to your tenses —  for example use simple tenses for things that are universally true. Don’t use continuous tenses if you don’t know why you’re using them. Show that you can express sequencing of events by using past simple, present perfect, past perfect.

You may want to use this short guide to English tenses for more info.


Don’t be afraid of your accent. As long as your pronunciation is clear and easy to understand you will not have points deducted for that part of the aspect. If you have difficulties pronouncing certain sounds (“th” is a common example), don’t try to avoid it in your speech. It will be extremely difficult for your to speak your way around it. Either find a pronunciation tutor or make sure that the way your pronounce the problematic sound is at least understandable and does not cause confusion (thinking-sinking).

Consistency with AmE, BrE pronunciation like “schedule”, “either”. Same to spelling and vocabulary in writing.

Have a look at this list of mispronounced words to make sure you pronounce these tricky words correctly.


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