5 Common Mistakes in the IELTS Speaking Section

21K School · Sep 23, 2023 · 4 min read

Many students make common mistakes during the IELTS Speaking section. But the good news is that by carefully going through 5 of these common mistakes, students can watch out for these mistakes during their practice sessions and work on them so they can get a better IELTS score!


Exams are life-changing experiences and it is common for people to get nervous while taking an exam. But if students get too nervous, they may risk getting confused during their exam or end up going blank and not saying anything at all. To get over this nervousness, the main thing students must do is relax and not be too stressed during the IELTS test. Students must remember that it is simply an informal conversation they are having with the examiner. If it helps, they can think of it as a conversation with their friends or colleagues rather than as an examination.

Of course, it is important to not be too casual but at the same time, students should not try to sound too formal and use big words that are difficult to understand or use. The conversation with the examiner should be similar to speaking with someone the student knows. Therefore, it is important to relax because that will help students process their thoughts, produce good answers and have more positive and confident body language. Students should train their minds to look at the Speaking section as an informal and casual conversation to reduce their nervousness.

Inability to Communicate

If students are not sure what to say or do not have much to say in response to a question, it is very important to not remain silent. Rather than freeze or be silent, students can always try to come up with some facts or an example of a personal story as their answer. Furthermore, they do not need to provide a lot of points in their answer. They can answer in such a way:

“I am not sure about that, but what I do know is this…”

Another point for students to remember is that examiners do not want students to demonstrate that they can use big or impressive words. Even though 25% of the total Speaking score is based on vocabulary, it is more important to be clear and coherent in the answer rather than trying to impress the examiner with complicated words, which may end up complicating the sentence and the entire answer.

No Clarity in Pronunciation

Students should ensure that they are speaking clearly. Since pronunciation counts for 25% of the IELTS Speaking score, the examiner should be able to understand what the student is trying to say. It should also be noted that the student’s accent does not matter. They do not need to have a British accent or an American accent since the accent does not count at all. The words need to be pronounced well and understood by the examiner. Sometimes, there will be the influence of the student’s native language or geographical location. So, students should make sure that their words are pronounced clearly and can be easily identified and understood.

Incomplete Answers

Answers that are incomplete or undeveloped are another common mistake. In the IELTS Speaking section, the examiner will be checking the student’s ability to use the English language well. So students should make sure they do not provide one-word answers. For example, if the examiner asks the student if they prefer the winter or the summer, the students should not answer with one word. Instead, they can answer in the following way:

“I prefer the winter because I live in a tropical country and the winter season is pleasant for outdoor activities.”

Students must ensure that their answers are developed. There are always methods to extend answers such as providing reasons, giving examples, bringing in personal experiences, talking about the past or the future, etc. The examiner should be sure that the student can use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures, so it is important not to give one-word answers.

Thinking Too Much

Instead of answering and speaking naturally, students are sometimes continually thinking about their answers, grammar, pronunciation, ideas, what the examiner must be thinking, etc. These thoughts can obstruct the flow of speaking and can prevent the student from providing a well-developed and fluent answer. The student just needs to focus on communicating the answer to the examiner calmly and confidently and not think too much. Thinking too much only prevents the student from answering well.

For more information and guidance on how to score well in the IELTS Speaking section, contact 21K School! 


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