Being Relaxed At Your Speaking Test

February 6, 2017 by Andrea Castro

Have you been preparing for your IELTS Speaking test recently? Have you read all about answering questions on familiar topics, giving a short talk and developing a discussion? If your answer is no, let me suggest going back to previous posts such as Did You Say 2 minutes?, Planning and Delivering a Short Talk During Your Speaking Test and What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say on the IELTS Speaking Exam, which focus on how you can prepare for the different parts of the IELTS Speaking test. If you answered yes to the above questions and you are wondering what is next, then this is the right post for you.

You've come a long way if you're about to take the IELTS Speaking test! It's perfectly normal to feel nervous when the big day arrives. While being prepared is, without a doubt, one important way of making sure you perform to the best of your abilities, being calm and relaxed also plays a vital role in succeeding on your Speaking test. The good news is, there are things you can do to help you calm your nerves and to help you feel relaxed on the big day.

The Night Before and the Day of the Test

If you want to reach your peak at the right time, you need to be sure not to go into the Speaking test exhausted from wild late-night cramming. Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before the exam. A warm bath and/or a relaxing herbal tea can help to prepare the mind and body for deep relaxation.

After a good night’s sleep, your brain will be charged and ready to work. Wake up early and start the day with a good breakfast – your body will need nutrients for energy and focus!

Calming Your Nerves While You Wait 

Waiting for your interview can be a very stressful part of the process. But then again, there are many things that you can do to help you calm your nerves and feel more optimistic about the whole experience while you wait.

  • Take deep breaths

Deep breathing helps to lower your heart rate, thereby making you feel more relaxed. While you're waiting for your interview, take a deep breath in through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven and exhale completely through your mouth, to a count of eight. Continue with this rhythm of inhaling, holding and exhaling until your breathing becomes more relaxed and regular. 

  • Speak English before your Speaking test

Practice speaking English with other candidates while you are waiting so you go into the Speaking test thinking in English. Topics may include plans for the weekend, job or studies, or any other kind of small talk. And remember, nerves tend to make us speak too fast, so take this opportunity to watch your speed and slow down.

  • Think about the Speaking test as a valuable opportunity

It's easy to let your mind run wild when you're feeling nervous. Thinking about the Speaking test as a valuable opportunity to show off your skills can help you regain focus. Think of the reasons why taking this exam is worthwhile for you and focus on your true purpose – achieving your IELTS goals. 

At the Speaking Test

It's not unusual for the nerves to rise again once you're face to face with the examiner. The following tips can help you keep calm in the examination room

  • Find your best sitting position

Leaning to the back of a chair may not always be the most comfortable position. In fact, it is recommended to lean slightly forward on your chair. This will make you look and feel more engaged and dynamic.

  • Listen

When nerves take over, you may find it hard to listen and may even answer the wrong question. So, try your best to slow down your body’s natural responses (breathe!) and listen to the examiner.

  • Be yourself

If you're being yourself when talking to the examiner, you'll likely come across as relaxed and authentic. Try to use your own voice rather than putting on a formal ‘speaking voice’. Enjoy the interview and be proud of what you have achieved so far.

After the interview, make some time to give yourself a special treat; indulge in your favourite ice cream, watch a movie, talk to a good friend or anything else that makes you happy. You have worked hard on your IELTS test and you deserve it!

Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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