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IELTS speaking, all the three parts (Introduction / Interview, Long-turn / cue-card and Analytical / Two – way discuss) have its own significance.  Are we allowed to give our opinions or ideas? Is it Ok? Or we going to lose marks for that? Because the examiner might have a different opinion. Now, that’s the place I might get marked down. This is the question which might be running in your mind. Well! The answer is “NO”. You are allowed to give your opinions confidently. You are not being assessed on your appearance, body language or creativity, opinions or ideas. The examiners are just evaluating your communication or speaking skills such as – Fluency, pronunciation, intonations, lexical resources, grammatical range and accuracy. Let me give the example of a student who came across such a situation in the actual exam. Believe or not, this actually happened with one of my outstanding student.
Before we jump into the case, let me introduce myself. My name’s Abdul Basheer (ELP trainer in one of the reputed institutions in Andhra Pradesh).
I remember this happened 2 years ago (2017). I usually conduct speaking mock tests to the students to evaluate their performance in speaking. I came across plethora of students. But, Srinivas Ravutu (how can I forget his name – he left his bench mark to many students in the institute) is such an aspirant with full of confidence and good at communicating. I took many speaking mocks for him. Whenever, I used to take speaking mocks for him, he never used to jot the notes in the cue card. He just used to stare at the questions and used to frame answers in his mind. He gave a try of jotting the notes but he was confused with the notes and questions. Finally, he messed up the cue card. From that day, he never used to jot the notes.
Remember guys in speaking test – You will get one minute for the preparation. So, it is not mandatory to write down the notes on the blank white paper what the examiner will give in the exam. But it is suggested to jot the notes because the notes is going to help you if you get lost in between. So, it is suggested to take down the notes.
However, you are not supposed to write lengthy sentences. Only key words. Prepare the notes in such a way as per the sequence of the questions in the cue – card. Remember, you are having only 1 minute. Therefore, make a proper use of it. Even here, I suggest you to go for short cuts (symbols) such as – In(+), 2mrw, skl etc. Always, keep in mind that the notes you are writing down is for your help, not for the examiner. You can look at the notes and you can look the questions. You have to speak for 1- 2 minutes. Within those 2 minutes you have to answer all the questions in the cue card. Once you done with the cue card the examiner will take back the cue card question and notes what you have written.
Let’s get back to Mr. Srinivas. Srinivas stopped jotting the notes within that 1 minute because he is messing up the things. He booked his slot through British Council. Finally, the day came for the speaking test. So, the exam held in Minerva Grand Hotel, Vijayawada. The examiners will be allocated a room to take speaking test and the students have to wait outside the room. Among those students srinivas was also there. Now, tighten your seat belts – this is going to be exciting.
Suddenly, he heard some sounds. One of the examiner is yelling at the student. Generally, examiner will not shout at any one unless the student do something which are not allowed to do. They are helpful. The examiner was a lady from Nepal. She was literally yelling at that student. Every one heard those words sitting in the corridor waiting for their turn to come. Somehow that student came out of the room. Obviously, he will not come with a happy face. He came out with a depressed face. Srinivas saw his face. After looking at him, his confidence level drastically plunged. Because, same room same examiner and the same environment. Totally, depressed. He was so scared because she was not in a good mood due to that student and he was so worried because she will take all the frustration on him now. But, no choice dejectedly.
Finally, he entered the room like “Enter the dragon” movie. He said good morning with a smile (Smile is also a part of communication) and took the chair with her permission. Part one quite went well. Now the time came for the cue- card.
The topic she gave was regarding marriages. As usually, Srinivas didn’t take any notes within that minute preparation. She said you are done. You have to speak for 1- 2 minutes and have to answer all the questions in the cue- card. He started speaking – I am going to talk about a marriage ……….. And suddenly in between he started giving negative answers. Usually, people love to get married and love to attend marriages because marriage parties are like family gatherings. After long time, we see friends and relatives who are far away from us. He said I don’t believe in marriages and don’t like to attend marriages. She kept weird expressions because people love to get married and love to attend marriages but he is a quite different guy – totally opposite. Srinivas saw her expressions but he continued for two minutes without any pauses or fillers. Part 3 relevant questions connected to the cue card – he answered them and lastly it ended.
The whole thing happened in the morning around at 10.30 am. As soon as he done with the exam, he gave a call to me and shared his experience. I said, whatever has happened, happened. Forget about it. Let’s hope for the best because I know his level.  I don’t want him to get depressed because the very next day he had Listening, Reading and Writing exam. I don’t want him have this impact on L, R and W. I said concentrate on rest of the test. Prepare for that.
After 2 weeks he received hi results. Can you reckon how much he might have received in speaking test? Marvellously, 8.5 / 9 in speaking.
At the end of the day, what matters is you confidence. Just be yourself. Just go with your flow. Show, the examiner what you are.  Never go for the expressions of the examiners. If you look at their expressions you might get blue at one point of time. You will feel like – am I going wrong that’s the reason he/she giving bizarre expressions. So, you will lose your confidence level. Don’t bother about the expressions of the examiners. Because you are not judged on your opinions or wide range of ideas. Confidently, give your opinions. You can give negative answers about the topic but have to do the proper justification by adding some examples or the experiences you faced in your real life. Make sense?
Students who are done with the speaking come and see me personally or give a call to me and say sir when am speaking, the examiner he/ she was smiling at me. I reckon, he / she is happy with my answers. No, that’s not the case. They are smiling at you that doesn’t mean that they are happy with your answers. Finally, they land with 5 or 5.5 / 9.
To recapitulate, give you opinions assertively. Rock in the exam because India is a democratic country. Everyone have the freedom to speak.
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