Since its introduction almost three decades ago, IELTS has emerged as the world’s most popular English language test for higher education and global migration.
Over this time, some myths about the test have also been established. In this series, we’ll attempt to dispel some of the myths about the IELTS Speaking test.
Myth #1: Speak as fast as you can
In the Speaking section, test takers are marked on four criteria, one being fluency and coherence. A common misconception among test takers is that it’s good to speak as fast as you possibly can in order to show the examiner that you are a fluent speaker. Unfortunately, this isn’t always helpful – if you focus on speed and say whatever comes to mind, you may soon start sounding incoherent. Besides, speaking fast can also make you breathless, affecting your delivery and resulting in a lower band on pronunciation.
The truth: While it’s important to speak at a reasonable pace and without hesitation, what you say should be well organised and logical. A higher rate of speech DOES NOT automatically mean a higher band score on fluency. What you should aim for is producing answers that are sufficiently developed.
Myth #2: Put on an accent
The IELTS test accepts all standard varieties of native-speaker English, including North American, British, Australian, and New Zealand English. However, this doesn’t mean that non-native speakers are expected to sound like native speakers of the language. Trying to fake an accent could have a boomerang effect – some of the sounds you produce might become unintelligible.
The truth: Pronunciation is assessed in IELTS, accent ISN’T. As a test taker, you need to ensure that you’re intelligible to the examiner throughout, and that’s all that is required!
Myth #3: Dress formally
It’s surprising how many test takers feel pressured to dress up and look their best in the hope that it might fetch them a higher speaking band score. Nothing could be further from the truth: the examiner closely monitors what you say during the test, not what you’re wearing.
The truth: Your choice of clothing has absolutely NO bearing on your final scores, so DO NOT agonise over what to wear to the speaking test. Choose something that makes you feel confident and comfortable. We’ll be back soon to bust some more speaking myths.