The Speaking test format

It is very important to know how the Speaking test is structured. It lasts between 11 to 14 minutes – NO more, NO less and it has 3 parts. 

Follow the links below to have a look at a candidate's performance on his IELTS speaking test  and you will have a better idea of what you have to do in every part:

Part 1 (4-5 mins)

Introduction and interview: The examiner asks set of questions about familiar topics. In this part you need to give personal information, talk about everyday issues and express opinions. Watch video part 1

Part 2 (3-4 mins)

Long turn. In this part you have to speak for about 2 minutes on a topic given in a prompt card. You have 1 minute to make notes and prepare your answer. Watch video part 2

Part 3 (4-5 mins):

Developing a discussion.  The examiner introduces a discussion linked to the Part 2 topic and you are encouraged to develop language of a more abstract (and more complex) nature. Watch video part 3

Due to copyright issues, I do not have permission to upload the videos on this blog.

What is the examiner looking for?

It is also very important to know what areas are assessed in the Speaking test. The examiner will focus his/her attention on 6 main areas of your Speaking. These are: fluency, coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range, accuracy and pronunciation.  

For more detailed information about Speaking assessment criteria click here

If you want to read the comments on Lester’s performance click  part 1, part 2, part 3

Visit Australia Network website for more videos, podcasts and TV programme that will help you to improve your English.

IELTS test dates 2011

Don’t miss your date! If you need to locate your IELTS test centre, check out the links at the left hand side bar. 

For more information visit the official IELTS website 

Reading Module – Reading skills for IELTS

The reading test has 40 questions and it lasts 1 hour. This component is divided into 3 sections or passages and each one has up to 4 question types. It is very important that you know what type of question you may find in your IELTS test and which reading skill you need to apply.

Reading question types:
·         Multiple choice
·         Paragraph headings
·         Short answers
·         Sentence completion
·         Note/summary/diagram/flow chart/table completion
·         Matching lists/phrases
·         True/False/Not Given
·         Classification
·         Identification of writers views/claims
·         Yes, No, Not Given

Reading skills:
Among other skills, skimming and scanning are vital for your IELTS preparation.

Skimming: when you skim a text, you read it in a superficial manner and very quickly. This skill will help you to:

§  Identify the text structure: how the text is organized (main titles, paragraphs and/or sections)
§  Find out what the text is about, in other words, to get the general idea of the text.

How to skim a text:
Have a look at the following extract from the New Scientist magazine and try to find out what the text is about. Do not spend more than 20 seconds.

Unnatural selection: How humans are driving evolution
27 April 2011 by Michael Le Page
Issue 2810 of New Scientist magazine, page 32-33
The Zoque people of Mexico hold a ceremony every year during which they grind up a poisonous plant and pour the mixture into a river running through a cave (pictured below). Any of the river's molly fish that float to the surface are seen as a gift from the gods. The gods seem to be on the side of the fish, though - the fish in the poisoned parts of the river are becoming resistant to the plant's active ingredient, rotenone.
If fish can evolve in response to a small religious ceremony, just imagine the effects of all the other changes we are making to the planet. We are turning grassland and forests into fields and cities, while polluting the air and water. We are hunting species to the brink of extinction and beyond, as well as introducing new pests and diseases to just about every part of the world. And that's not to mention drastically altering the climate of the entire planet.

What did you do to get a quick overview of the text?

ü  read the title of the text
ü  read the  first and the last line of each paragraph
X   read every word
ü  look at the illustration that accompanies the text

For more information about skimming follow the link above.

Scanning:  when you scan a text, you look for particular information, in other words, you look for specific words, e.g. names, countries, specific phrases, etc.)

How to scan a text:
What did you do to find the words in the text?

ü  move your eyes very quickly across the text until you find the word
X read every word

For more information about skimming follow the link above

Note: If you are looking up a dish in an index recipe book, it is very helpful to follow the A-Z order. However, in IELTS you may not have this kind of ‘help’. So, I recommend practising with IELTS format texts so, you do not build a wrong idea of the Reading passages or the scanning technique. 

Looking for more practise? Follow these links (You can print them out)

Practise skimming text for information

Practise scanning text for information

Do you want to test your scanning skills?

Do you want to test your skimming skills?

Or maybe fancy a scanning game? Try it! It’s great! And it’s by BBC

IELTS WRITING- Task 1 General Training Test

In task 1 of the General Training Writing, you will have to write a short letter using informal or semi-formal style. As suggested, you should spend 20 minutes on this task.
In this task, you are given a problem or situation which requires a written response in letter format. What you are expected to do is:

ü  Respond to task
ü  Show familiarity with letter style
ü  Use appropriate and accurate language.
For more information about how your writing is assessed follow this link

Here, you have some two samples of Task 1 of the General Training Writing:

You and your family are living in rented accommodation in an English speaking country. You are not satisfied with the condition of some of the furniture.

Write a letter to the landlord. In your letter

introduce yourself
explain what is wrong with the furniture
say what action you would like the landlord to take

Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write your own address.
Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ..........,

A Canadian friend recently sent you a present by post. You want to thank him/her.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

say how you felt when you received the present
describe what you like about it
explain how you will use the present

Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write your own address.
Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ..........,

How to deal with Task 1 (GM)

Task prompt analysis

Firstly, you need to know how to analyze the task prompt; this is perhaps the most important part as it tells you what you have to do in your letter. Let’s take a look at the following sample:

A Canadian friend recently sent you a present by post. You want to thank him/her.

Write a letter to your friend. In your letter

say how you felt when you received the present
describe what you like about it
explain how you will use the present

Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write your own address.
Begin your letter as follows:

Dear ..........,

As you can see, I have underlined some key words in this task prompt; notice that by doing this, I have identified who I should write to, therefore, I have also recognize:

ü  the style of the letter I need to produce;
ü  the language I may use and the appropriate opening and closing of the letter;
ü  the verb tenses I need to use.

The style of the letter and language to use:  in this case, you have to write a letter to a friend; this means that the style can be semi- formal and the language can be more relaxed and friendly than in a formal letter (friendly does not mean rude).

Opening and ending of the letter:  the way you start and close your letter will depend on the style of the letter I am required to write. Here -because the prompt calls for a semi-formal letter- you may start asking your friend some personal questions such as how is your family? How is your life these days? Or you could apologise for not writing as much as you wish (this is very common between friends). For your ending, also, you need to find the proper closing phrase for a semi-formal letter; in this case, you could use Kind regards, Best wishes, With love.

Verb tenses: the three bullet points are telling you what information to include; in other words, this information will be the body of your letter. Here, you need to pay attention to the verb tense of the sentences:
say how you felt when you received the present: you need to use past tense in order to say how you felt when you received the present.
describe what you like about it: here, you need to talk about what you like about the present which means you need to use present tense.
explain how you will use the present: last but not least, you need to mention the future use of the present which means you need to use ‘going’ or ‘will’ structure.

Letter structure:

It is very important to have clear the structure of your letter, in other words, you need to know how to organize your ideas into *sections. If you are able to do this, I am sure this will have a positive impact on the clarity of your writing.

*a section may contain one or more paragraphs

Carrying on with the example, you may organize your letter in 3 sections:

Section I: Letter opening
Section II: Letter body
Section III: Letter closing

Let’s have a look at the following sample answer and see how this IELTS candidate has organized his letter: 

Dear John, -include a real name

section 1
It has been a long time since I visited you in Canada. It is a shame we have not been able to keep in touch, but I have been busy working on a new project. -Letter opening - as you are writing to a friend the start can be relaxed and friendly.

section 2
I am writing to thank you about the present I received from you last Monday. It was a big surprise, totally unexpected. ¹I really felt like a child in Christmas because I was really anxious to open the present. I must say that I am grateful because I really needed this calculator.
Besides, ²it is the last edition of the TI-89 calculators, with 2GB of RAM and USB port it also has night vision on the screen so I can work late.  ³I love my new calculator because I can use it at work since it has many engineering programs and I can download even more.
– state the reason of your letter; also expand the three bullet points with your own ideas.

section 3
I really appreciate this gift. It really suits me. Well, I had better return to work. letter closing
Regards, - appropriate closing phrase

Carlos Rossi sign your letter
160 words

Comments: this candidate has started with an informal greeting –suitable for a semi-formal letter. He also has covered and expanded the three bullet points with good and very well linked ideas. Verb tenses and grammar in general are fine. He also has closed his letter with a friendly message and an appropriate good-bye phrase. The word count is perfect (within the advised word count 150-165). I would expect Band 7 -7.5 for this letter.

N.B. this letter has been graded by an IELTS teacher no by an IELTS examiner.


ü  Task 1 of the General Training test is always a letter, so your answer needs to look like a letter on your ‘writing answer sheet
ü  Don’t forget that task prompt analysis is very important. This will tell you the style and language to be used in your letter.
ü  The three bullet points form the body of your letter. Be sure you include all of them and expand them with your own ideas.
ü  Try to follow the order of the bullet points. This will help you to organize your ideas and to avoid missing any of them.
ü  Use clear connectors to link all sections.
ü  Make your letter real: remember to fill in a name if your letter is to someone you know.
ü  Write at least 150 words – Underlength answers will lose marks- however, do not write  too much, as you won’t have time to edit your work. Keep your word count within 150-165 words.
ü  ALWAYS EDIT YOUR WORK. Leave at least 1 minute to edit and re-read your final letter. In this way, you can amend spelling mistakes/wrong verb tenses and punctuation that may affect your score. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...