In our last post, we talked about how to book and prepare for your IELTS test.
In this post, we’ll be sharing our experience when we took the Speaking portion of our IELTS test last July 22, 2015.
Usually, one takes all the IELTS tests on one day, but sometimes, you may get scheduled on two consecutive days. In our case, we had our speaking test a day before the listening, reading and writing tests.
N and I were scheduled hours apart, she was scheduled at 9:30 am and I was scheduled at 11:00 am, but we were both already at the (location), bright and early at 8:30 am, before they even opened the doors since you won’t be able to reschedule a test if you missed it because you were late.
A few minutes after 8:30 am, the testing center doors opened and we were led into a room where they took our pictures and kept our stuff. Take note that while waiting for your turn to take the test, you will have to surrender all of your personal materials to them, so you’ll only have yourself and your imagination to keep you busy while waiting.
We’ll both sharing both our experiences with the IELTS Speaking exam in this post. Up first, will be N.
It was really excruciating, having to wait while watching the others get called one by one. I nearly peed my pants. I couldn’t sit still. I was getting goosebumps all over. I was about to implode. Then finally, I heard my name get called in this weird Australian-American-Bisaya accent. Seriously, I couldn’t decipher what accent he was going for, but the important thing is, I understood that it was my name being called. So yipee! One point for me!
The examiner led me into another room, this one smaller than the waiting room. There were two chairs, a table, and on top of the table was a small tape recorder and lots of papers. NERVE-WRACKING. But alas, I had to power through. Plus, it helped that my examiner had a friendly face. (There were 2 examiners at that time, and the other one seemed super strict. Thank the heavens.) And so I began conversing with my examiner, with his weird Australian-American-Bisaya accent and my, well, normal one. Good thing I didn’t accidentally imitate him.
Note that for each question, you are given a certain number of minutes to answer (usually 2 minutes). NEVER go under this time limit. If you do, the examiner will just gesture you to go on until the time is up. If you can’t think of any more to say, either let the awkward silence hang *croo croo*, or just keep blabbing even if it borders TMI. But at least you tried. Remember, it’s not the quality of answer they’re listening to but your ability to deliver it. A tip to make your answers longer: attach some sort of anecdote from a personal experience in relation to the question. It may also help ease the nerves once you talk about something close and familiar to you.
The whole interview lasted 20-30 minutes. The exam began once he clicked on the tape recorder and I was asked to state my complete name. Here are the questions that were asked afterwards (that I could remember):
What do you do?
Did you like eating fruits and vegetables as a child? Why or why not?
Do you think you have a good selection of fruits and vegetables where you live?
What kind of books did you read as a child?
(There were a couple more, mostly mundane questions, but I can’t summon them up to my memory.)
During the second part of the interview, the examiner will ask you a more difficult question so you will be given a pen and paper and a couple of minutes to think about and outline your answer. My question for this portion of the test was:
What historical landmarks in the Philippines have you visited? What did you like about it?
(I’m not sure if I wrote something substantial on my paper, or if I actually looked at it while answering. It was all a blur to me. I just knew that the interview was about to end and I can’t screw it up!)
Once the time was up, he told me that I have completed the speaking exam. I thanked him and left the room. And it was probably the first time that day I was able to breathe freely.
But after a while, it all caught up to me. I was afraid that I may have spoken too fast, or that I didn’t make sense, or the fact that I was short of the time limit in one of the questions. But no use crying over spilled milk. I found out, later on, when I received my results, that I actually did better than I expected. So whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over it! Just do your best and practice, practice, practice!
Here’s my experience.
A few minutes after N was called for her test, the stricter looking examiner came into the holding room and called my name. Shit. I was really hoping for N to breeze through her test so that I can also be tested by the
kinder Russell-looking examiner. But hey, we should never judge a book by its cover right? So up I went and followed him into a room that was furnished simply with a table and a couple of chairs.
It’s crazy how all of this reminds me exactly of a job interview. I guess in some ways, you can consider it some kind of job interview. I mean, do great here and the better your chances of getting to Canada… so yeah…
After asking me to state my full name, he clicked his recorder on and began the test.
Do you live in a flat or in a house?
Ummm… thing is, I don’t live in either of those. My family, extended family and I live in a building, with each family group occupying a specific floor of the building. I think I hesitated for around five seconds before I remembered that I’m being graded for my ability to speak English, not really in how I technically answer the question – so I proceeded to tell him about how I don’t live in a flat or a house. There were some follow up questions after that, but they were mostly simple questions revolving around your initial answer.
Next, we moved on to the 2nd part of the test, wherein you will be asked a tougher question and given a pen, paper and some time to write down your answers before you answer.
Tell me about a time wherein you experienced an awkward social situation
Well… this test is a pretty awkward social situation, but I couldn’t really answer that so I tried to think about one that I could talk about. For some reason, my brain just couldn’t recall anything that had enough substance to allow me to talk for two or three minutes straight (or until I was told to stop). What to do?
I made up a fantastic story.
Now, I won’t trouble you guys with the intricacies of my story, but for something that was literally created in 20 seconds, I felt pretty good about it. I guess it worked since about three minutes after a couple of questions and answers, the examiner held up his hand, and informed me that I have reached the end of the exam.
Like what N said above, it’s pretty normal to have some regrets and fears about how you did after you take the test. I myself was worrying about a couple of things and I was beating myself over it for a couple of days after the test. But really, the most important thing you can do after taking your IELTS speaking exam is to just stay positive and move on. Chances are, you’ll do better than you expected.
Tips and Reminders
Arrive Early: You will not be able to reschedule the test if you miss it because you were late.
Bring Your ID: We used our passports for everything so that we won’t have to bring multiple IDs.
Language Assessment: Remember that the IELTS is a test to gauge your ability in using the English language. So your ability to speak the language will be more important than what your answer / story is about.
Take it Slow: You won’t realize how hard it is to speak in straight English until you’re forced to remove all the tagalog filters we normally use in our day to day conversations. Words like “parang”, “kasi”, “ba”, etc may get you big deductions.
Keep On Talking: You will be given two to three minutes to speak after being asked a question. Be sure to at least speak for more than a minute and not let a lot of awkward silence happen. In fact, just speak until the examiner tells you to stop.
Be Presentable: Like any test/interview scenario, being presentable with a pleasing personality may help.
Hope you guys enjoyed and/or got something our our our IELTS Speaking Test experience. In our next post, we’ll talk more about our experiences during the other parts of the IELTS exam. If there’s anything you want to ask, feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as I can! Alternatively, we’ve also set up a Twitter account @tropics2rockies, so we can also talk there. 🙂