It’s not about the truth…

An interesting observation I wanted to make about the speaking section is that it’s not what you say, per se, but how you say it. What I mean is that, you can, up to a point, not be strictly truthful in your answer. If we consider the marking criteria: Pronunciation, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Fluency and Coherence, these things are all the examiner is concerned about. He or she is not interested in your life story, or anything else really, not beyond the assessment criteria. What they want you to do is to demonstrate a wide range of grammar, structure, interesting appropriate vocabulary, etc, the actual “content” of what you say (and this also applies to the essay in the writing section) is irrelevant as regards being factual.

This is good for you in that it allows you to use your imagination to talk about a “difficult” topic, although all the IELTS topics are chosen to be something which most intelligent people could say something about. I am writing here mainly in regard to the topic card, for the “long turn”, where you have to speak for two minutes about a specific subject. Some students say that they have difficulty in keeping there talk going or that they don’t know anything about the topic. As I said, the answer then is to make something up or borrow from someone or something else that you have some knowledge about.

For example, when the examiner gives you a topic card that says “What is your favourite advertisement? etc…” and you don’t watch TV anymore or you hate all adverts, this doesn’t mean you can’t answer the question. Far from it!

The examiner doesn’t know what your favourite advert is, nor does he or she care. The question is not designed to test you on what your advertisement preferences are. All you need to do is to think of some ad you may have seen or heard of, no matter how old it is. Then talk as if it applied to you. I don’t watch TV these days but I am sure I could think of some old ad or repeat something I have seen or heard from before and make it sound relevant.

All you need is to embellish a little or slightly exaggerate.

A similar topic might be your favourite restaurant or favourite TV show, if you can’t think of one then use something you have heard of or read about, no problem!

Try this topic yourself for practice…!

IELTS topic card