7 Dangerous IELTS Speaking Myths

Here are some IELTS speaking myths that I regularly hear from candidates:

  • You need to sound British.
  • There’s only one correct answer.
  • The examiner can’t repeat anything for you.
  • Some IELTS examiners or centres are easier than others,
  • Band 9 is for native speakers only.
  • You have to tell the truth.
  • You need to use lots of different tenses.

Here’s a video I made about the myths and IELTS speaking.

Lets take a look at those IELTS speaking myths in more detail now.

About two years ago I remember doing a practice speaking test with a particular student. I hadn’t met him before so when he entered the room I asked him his name to which he replied “I have been being called Paulo all of my life”. And I stopped and asked him why you didn’t just say I am called Paulo, and he replied:

“I thought you had to show off a range of tenses to impress the examiner”

And I said to him.

‘No that’s not true. You need to use the tenses naturally, as they’re supposed to be used’. 

‘You can’t just show off different tenses in each different sentence, it is not going to make sense.’  

After that he answered the questions much more naturally, but that is an example of a myth that could damage your IELTS speaking band score, and here are 7 more that ‘yes’ I have heard students say all of these.  So pay close attention and I hope you don’t believe any of these by the end of the video and by the way if you want to do a full mock IELTS speaking test and find out your score then you can use these guys here.

The first myth is that you need to sound British.  Well I know a lot of people would perhaps like to sound British, but it’s not going to make you score any higher in the IELTS band score. If you sound American that’s absolutely fine.  If you sound like you’re from your own countries so if you’re India and you sound Indian that’s absolutely fine too.  As long as you speak clearly and with the correct intonation then it’s absolutely fine.

I’m from Britain, but I sound very different from somebody from London.  Even people from Britain sound very different from other people who are from different areas of Britain.  It’s very difficult to learn to sound ‘British’ anyway, and it’s not something you need to try and do.

Myth number 2; there’s only one correct answer.  Well that’s simply not true in IELTS speaking questions. There is many ways to answer the same question. There is not one answer that you need to learn.  It’s not like math where you know one particular question only has one answer. There are many ways to answer questions and you need to simply say what is true for you.

Myth number 3; you can’t ask the examiners to repeat anything.  You absolutely can. The examiners are allowed to repeat what they say. They are also allowed to give you synonyms for a particular word or the definition of a word.  That’s actually a good thing to do if you don’t understand the question ask them to repeat it there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Myth number 4; some examiner’s or test centres are easier than others.  Again this is not true.  The IELTS organization is extremely strict on this.  They spend a lot of time and money making sure that the examiners in different countries assess you in the exact same way and to the exact same levels.

If you take a test in one country with one particular examiner you will be able to go to another test centre in another country with a different examiner and get at same band score, or very similar.  So, because it’s such an important test, universities use it, immigration departments use it, it’s very important to IELTS that they judge you consistently. It’s not easier to do it in one place, or with one teacher than another place, or with another teacher.

Myth number 5 is that band 9 is for native speakers only.  Well, it goes be a lot easier to get a band 9 if you are a native speaker obviously, but you can get to a band 9 often.  It requires living in an English-speaking country to get things perfect, but it is possible.  It is certainly possible for non-native speakers to get a band 9 following a lot of hard work and exposure to the language.

Myth number 6; you have to tell the truth. No you don’t have to tell the truth.  Sometimes it helps to speak from true experiences because you can perhaps remember more, but you can actually make things up. The examiner is not going to know.  They are not going to go and check so you can make things up.  They’re only interested in the level of your English so how well you can explain things not if you’ve said something that’s not true or not. Why not find out your level by doing a mock speaking test here.

Finally myth number 7; you need to use lots of different tenses.  Again this is not the case you need to show good control over the types of sentences and structures you’re using, but it’s going to sound very unnatural if you try to use 10 different tenses in your IELTS speaking test part two.  it’s going to lower your band score in fact because you’re not showing good control or using that tenses when they shouldn’t being used.

Don’t force the situation. Don’t try to use different tenses just use the tense that makes the most sense when you’re answering the questions. One good tip here is that you can actually copy the tense that the examiner speaks to you in. If he or she asks you a question what did you do on your last holiday?  Well, they have just asked you a question in past simple. So you know to answer in past simple. That’s a quick tip that often works really well.

Alright just one more thing to mention; finally if you want to write really good essays then I’d recommend reading our how to write IELTS essay guide here. You can even get your essay checked using these guys here.