IELTS interview

IELTS interview
How to get a good IELTS score

Almost all exam interviews begin with simple questions about you and your life. This is helpful because it means you can prepare some impressive answers.

Many test takers don’t take advantage of all the opportunities to show the English they know. The question: ‘Where were you brought up?’ can be answered very simply e.g ‘In a village near Rome’ or, alternatively, you can say something like: ‘I grew up in a quiet village about 20km to the north of Rome. It’s quite famous for the dry red wine that’s produced in the area.’

Imagine the most talkative person you know and think about how they manage to say so much. Often they do it by giving a succession of thoughts or observations. You can borrow this ‘technique’ for your interview but, of course, don’t forget to listen too!

As the interview progresses it gets more challenging. However, you also have a little more time to develop your ideas. In Part 2 of the IELTS interview, you are given a card which lists some things you have to talk about. You have one minute to prepare and you can take notes. Here is an example set of tasks:

  1. Describe someone who is important to you.
  2. Say why they are they important.
  3. Say how long you have known them and how you met.

Well, it might be true that your mum or dad or your one of your siblings is very important to you but choosing a member of your family often results in rather boring, short responses. Even though many test takers do this, it’s probably better to be different. Why not try to think of someone who is really interesting and unusual? If you don’t know anybody like this, why not invent them? After all, it is your English that is being assessed, not the truth or accuracy of what you say. How about this as an example:

One of the people that has influenced me greatly is a woman I met on a long-distance train in France. It was a boiling hot day and I was looking forward to a nap but just as I was starting to fall asleep a voice asked me if I’d ever been to the Himalayas. It was a really unexpected question and when I replied that I hadn’t the woman in the seat facing me started telling me about her experiences the previous year. Before long we were fully engaged in conversation and she offered to lend me her book on Mount Everest. Little did I know that less than 3 years later I would be attempting to climb some of the highest mountains in the Alps! Today we keep in touch regularly through social media.   

The final part of the IELTS interview is an opportunity to discuss with the examiner more abstract ideas connected with the topic in Part 2. For example, it could be a discussion about what makes a good friend. Try to think of lots of things to talk about such as:

  • trust
  • fun
  • shared interests
  • being there when you need them
  • shared experiences

Complex grammar is more suited to writing than speaking so why not focus on using really interesting adjectives and adverbs. You can practise by starting with simple ideas and then making them more descriptive and interesting.

The key is not to waste opportunities to show how much great English you know!