Let’s talk about IELTS Speaking. More specifically, it’s time we focus on those common IELTS speaking mistakes.

This article addresses each section of the Speaking test and shares the most common IELTS speaking mistakes test-takers “trip up” on during each part.

common IELTS speaking mistakes
Avoid these common mistakes on test-day! 

Common IELTS Speaking Mistakes #1

Part 1: Answers are too short.

In this part of the test it’s important to elaborate! Provide enough information to make the interaction feel “conversational”.

You should try to aim for a 2-3 sentence answer.

Here’s an example:

“Where did you grow up?”

Bad Response: “A small city in Nigeria.”

Good Response: “I grew up in a small city in Nigeria. It’s about 2 hours from the capital city. The surrounding area is known to be very beautiful. But I moved away when I was only 4 years old. So…  honestly, I don’t remember it clearly.”

Now, let’s talk about these responses.

Remember, during this portion of the test the examiner needs to evaluate the quality of your spoken English! Therefore, it’s important that we give them something to evaluate!

Of course you need to stay on topic and answer their question directly, but, don’t be afraid to also add details to your responses.

Watch this speaking simulation for Part 1:

Common IELTS Speaking Mistake #2

Part 2: Not elaborating enough. 

common ielts speaking mistakes
Silence is not going to help. Remember to sound “conversational” when you speak. Your fluency will determine this.

In any of the three parts, giving responses that are too short is one of the most common IELTS speaking mistakes.

It can be quite hard to speak for such an extended amount of time!

Especially in PART 2 where you are required to speak continually for two minutes. (Note: IELTS time specifications are important!)

It helps to try and tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. This will help you produce a lengthier response while still giving a “well-organized” and clear answer.

For more help with Part 2 watch this webinar:

Common IELTS Speaking Mistake #3

Part 3: Silence … is not golden? 

This section of the Speaking test can be intimidating. It requires you to think critically and give your opinion.

Remember, it is important to not only give your opinion but also explain your reasoning. You may want to give an example or even explain by using a story from your own personal experience.

You want to avoid false starts during any part of the Speaking test.

So, if necessary, you may need to think about your answer. In particular, when you are asked to give these opinion type responses in Part 3, you may feel the urge to pause.

But rather than thinking silently or mumbling, “Uhhhhh..”, try to save yourself time.

While you think start by saying, “That’s a good question…” or, “Wow, I really haven’t thought of about that before…

For more tips on Part 3 check out this short Lesson video:

3 Most Common IELTS Mistakes Recap

common ielts speaking mistakes
So there you have it! Did you get all that? Read on for some IELTS speaking tips! 

Overall here’s what to remember:

In general, avoid pauses and false starts. If you make a mistake, keep going. The examiner wants to see that you can have a conversation and express yourself without issues. Mistakes are okay – just keep talking!

You need to remember that there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. You are not being judged on the opinions you give! So try to relax and keep all your responses as conversational as possible.

Some of the most straightforward advice we can give you is to stick to what you know and use on a daily basis. This way you will avoid long pauses and eliminate stressing yourself out.

Again, it comes down to how well you can communicate fluently. It’s not about speaking absolutely perfectly. You just need to make sense.

So, to fine-tune your presentation skills practice with this webinar:

Another great way to improve is by recording yourself as you answer different questions. This way you’ll be able to critique your own mistakes and better notice subtleties that may make your speech a little harder to comprehend.

Remember, these common IELTS speaking mistakes are easily avoidable. With the right amount of revision and practice, you’ll be well on your way!

For more information on the IELTS speaking, including test format and preparation tips, visit the IELTS speaking preparation overview article.

For an account of Jay’s experience getting an “impossible” IELTS 9 in Speaking, visit the article on How to get an IELTS 9 in Speaking.

What are your common IELTS speaking mistakes? Be sure to let us know what yours are in the comments! 

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Written by Olivia B. 

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