How can you increase your mark in the IELTS Speaking Test? UMG (use more grammar) in every question.
Look at these two transcripts from different IELTS exams. In both cases the candidate is answering the same question: ‘Is your town or village a good place to live?’
Candidate A: “Yes, I think so. We have some good facilities, a nice park and a football stadium. There are shops and schools. But there are too many cars on the roads.”
Candidate B: “Well, I have never lived in a different place so I’m used to my town – but yes, I like it. We have a good stadium, a park, a nice university as well as shops and schools. But if I could change one thing, I would: there is too much traffic.”
Here is an easy question for you: which candidate will get the better mark – candidate A or B?
Obviously candidate B will get a better mark for grammatical range, because the grammar is much more varied. The more grammar you use, the better your mark.
In the example above, the examiner’s question was the same – and it is a question about the present.
Candidate A answers well, but only uses the present (we have; there are).
Candidate B on the other hand uses many more forms. You can see the present (I like it, I am used to it, there is too much), the present perfect (I have never lived) as well as a second conditional (I would change, if I could).
The range of grammar in the second example is greater.
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You can often add present perfect, conditional and even future sentences to questions about the present.
How? The present is a result of the past, so you can use the present perfect: I have never lived in a different place.
The present could be different, so you can use a conditional: if I could change one thing, I would.
The present could even change in the future, so you could use a future form. Candidate B could have said ‘Many people are coming to live in new houses in my village, so I think life will change.’
Let’s see how you can do this with two other typical questions.
Question: What special occasions do people celebrate in your country?
Simple answer: The special feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan. We call it Eid al-Fitr.
Present perfect: My favourite occasion has always been the special feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan. We call it Eid al-Fitr.
Future version: I’m looking forward to our next celebration of Eid-al-Fitr, which will be in six months.
Conditional version: If I could celebrate the feast with all of my family, I would really like to.
Question: Do you enjoy your work / study?
Simple answer: Yes, I do.
Present perfect: I’ve been doing it for two years, and I have never enjoyed anything as much.
Future version: But this time next year I hope I’ll be doing something different. I want to…
Conditional version: I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it.
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Next time you practice your IELTS speaking tasks, think about this! You can use GELIELTS.com to record your speaking practice, and an expert teacher will mark and grade your work, for grammatical range and the other three criteria!
There are many more pointers to good strategies on GELIELTS.com, as well as interactive video exercises and training and practice materials for every part of the IELTS test.