Introducing the IELTS Prepare by IDP : 10-part video podcast series.


The IELTS test is an essential part of the overseas university application process as well as obtaining your work visas to many English-speaking countries including Australia and the UK. 

The Speaking test is one of the core components of the overall IELTS test and performing well here is essential to get a good overall score and attain the IELTS band you desire to enter your dream course. 

While it is normal to get nervous about the right way to prepare for the Speaking test, you shouldn’t believe many of the misconceptions of the test, especially from 3rd party experiences and anecdotes! 

In this article, we will be debunking the 9 most common myths and misconceptions of the IELTS Speaking test to keep you back on track. 

9 myths of the IELTS Speaking test you shouldn’t believe

1. A native accent or slang is necessary to score better

While you might have an accent local to your country, you do not have to worry about getting penalised for it. 

Your examiner is not here to ensure you have the same accent as him or her. Your accent or slang is not part of the evaluation criteria and does not affect your score. 

Instead, you should be paying attention to what is being evaluated - your pronunciation, use of grammar, fluency and coherence of your argument and conversation. 

A good way to practice is to read aloud to improve your pronunciation and practice with family and friends or even online teachers to see if you can be understood and if your ideas flow naturally and well. 

2. The Speaking test is simple & easy to score

Yes, the Speaking test is all verbal and you do not need to do any writing, however, like all other parts of the IELTS test, it does come with its own challenges that require ample practice. 

Depending on your preference and unique situation, you might find the speaking test simpler but the evaluation criteria go beyond just holding a simple conversation.  

You’ll have to discuss abstract ideas and issues, talk about yourself naturally as well as ensure your thoughts and speech are coherent with good pronunciation. 

3. I have to agree with my examiner’s opinion

Engaging with your examiner in a conversation doesn’t mean you need to always agree with their opinion or statement, especially if you do not believe in them. 

You are not being evaluated if your ideas match with theirs or not. It is about engaging in a fluent conversation with good grammar, pronunciation with coherence. 

If you do disagree with their ideas or statements, a good way is to acknowledge what they are saying and then present your idea.

4. I should ask my examiner personal questions

Engaging with your examiner does not require you to ask questions or pry into their private lives. 

Instead, you should focus on the discussion topics given to you and talk more about yourself across the different topics such as home, family, studies and your interests. 

5. My Speaking test duration was only 11 minutes long

The test duration of the IELTS test lasts between 11 to 14 minutes. 

While you might be concerned that your test lasted shorter or longer than the average duration, it doesn’t mean that you will score lower or higher because of it. 

The evaluation criteria do not take into account how long your test lasts. 

A female test taker having a conversation with an IELTS Expert

6. Being polite & courteous will help me score better

Being polite, courteous and smiling should be part of basic manners when engaging with anyone in a conversation. 

It does help the interaction move forward, however, it is not part of the evaluation criteria. You should not worry about being overly polite but focus on the conversation and topic at hand. 

7. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I might get penalised

Your knowledge of particular topics isn’t being tested here. Your examiner will be paying attention to how you say things and the flow of the conversation and not what you say. 

While knowing the topic can definitely help, you can’t possibly prepare for every possible topic. 

If you do not know the answer, you can always draw from personal experience or give your own opinion on the subject to engage and move the conversation ahead. 

8. Using short & simple sentences means making fewer mistakes

Using simpler sentences might seem like a good strategy, but you are also being evaluated on how you link ideas together plus your grammatical range and sentence structuring. 

It reduces your ability to use clauses, verbs and time clauses. 

Shorter and simple sentences limit your ability to really shine and stand out in the conversation and would probably leave the examiner little choice but to mark you down. 

9. I cannot ask the examiner to repeat a question

A common fear during the IELTS Speaking test is to attempt to answer every question even if you do not understand the question or have heard it accurately. 

This is false! 

It is definitely acceptable to ask the examiner to repeat the question or phrase it in a different way so that you will be able to understand it better. 

Always ask for clarification when you are unsure, in fact, it will help you score better when you understand the topic. 

A happy female test taker preparing for the test.