I have a lot of students who are studying for the IELTS exams, both Academic and General. A lot of them come to me after they have already taken it once and only scored 5.5 when they really want 6.5 or 7 for visa requirements to go to other countries.
They don’t understand why they only got 5.5 last time.
So we talk, and I listen, and we discuss the last exam, I test them on their grammar and vocabulary and then confirm to them that they speak very good English. However what most them don’t realise is that the IELTS is so much more than a normal English test when it comes to the speaking. There are extra marks that you can pick up quite easily, and if you browse thoroughly through all the online IELTS advice they will confirm what I am telling you here. It is not the quality of the grammar, but the fluency and cohesion of your response, the style and essence of your argument, the ability to hold a discourse at a deeper level. Ok, you say. So what do I need to do? Easy, I reply. Show them that you know how to use 4 things;
Phrasal verbs – often seen as the poor relative of the posher and more intellectual Latin derived verbs in English, they are nonetheless essential to show true levels of fluency in English.
Idioms – an absolute must to be able to converse like a native.
Paraphrasing – to show the examiner that you not only understand but can explain in another way
Give examples in 3s – 3 adjectives, 3 verbs, 3 nouns, 3 anything… as long as you always talk in three. It shows that you can not only give an example, but in fact have lots of ideas.
IELTS candidates can also score highly by…
Getting straight to the point
Using a range of tenses – past simple, present simple and present perfect – with great accuracy
Using a wide range of grammatical forms such as a conditional sentence (If I…) and a cleft sentence (All I need now is…)
Answering all parts of the question
Avoiding over-formality and using expressions such as actually and pretty that are appropriate to conversational style
Providing a summarising sentence to wrap up the response
Finally, what does it take to achieve this? Practice! Just practice!