1. Don’t memorise answers
Lots of people think that the best way to do well in the speaking test is to remember scripted answers and simply use these in the test. This is a bad idea because memorised answers are very obvious and examiners are trained to spot them. You will not only lose marks, the examiners may also ask you more difficult questions to test your English and establish your real level.
2. Don't worry about the examiner’s opinion
I was surprised when some students told me that you can only do well on the speaking test if the examiner agrees with your opinion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Examiners are not concerned with your opinion; they just want you to demonstrate your speaking ability. Focus on giving a fluent answer that responds to the question and is grammatically correct.
3. Don't insert lots of ‘big’ words
A common misconception is that you must have very long, ‘complicated’ words in every sentence to get a high score on the test. If you listen to how native speakers talk, this just doesn't happen, unless you are at a conference of university professors. You should try to show the examiner that you have a wide-ranging vocabulary, but you should not try to use words you don’t fully understand. If you try to use ‘complicated’ words you don’t fully understand, it is very likely that you will make mistakes and lose marks.
If you are not 1100% sure about the meaning and form of a word, don’t use it.
4. Don't show off your grammar
This point is connected to the previous one. Many candidates feel that they need to show the examiner how amazing their grammar is in order to get a high mark. Again, the danger here is trying to use grammar you are not 100% sure about and then losing control of the sentence. There is no point in using the future perfect continuous tense if it is not appropriate to do so. Think about the tense you need to use when practising, and familiarise yourself with functional language for giving opinions, contrasting views, emphasising, and so on.
5. Don't say nothing
This seems like an obvious piece of advice but you would be surprised by how many students prefer to say nothing rather than attempt to give an answer. It is always better to attempt an answer than simply say nothing. Many students feel this way, perhaps because their old teacher told them to say nothing or criticised them if they didn't know the answer. In the IELTS speaking test, you are not expected to give a perfect response to a question or to be an expert in many different areas. The main thing is to demonstrate your speaking ability. If you don’t know the answer, it is always acceptable to say something like ‘I don’t have much knowledge of this subject, but I think…’ or ‘I'm not really sure, but if I had to say….’, and attempt an answer.
6. Don't be late
Make sure you give yourself lots of time to get to the examination centre and find out where your speaking test will be. By getting there early you will be able to get comfortable in your surroundings and concentrate solely on the exam. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff any questions you might have; they are there to help.
7. Don't rely on the examiner
Some students think the speaking examiner will prompt you if you are talking too much or too little, or not speaking loudly enough, or if you are not sticking to the question asked. In fact, the examiner has no duty to do any of these things and she or he will allow you to make mistakes and not tell you. Take control of your own speaking and don’t look to the examiner for cues or help.