IELTS Exam is meant to check the English speaking and understanding ability of the person so that he can adjust effortlessly in a foreign country without any language barriers. People from all walks of life appear for the IELTS exam like people of Asian origin, Australian origin, Chinese origin, English (British or American) origin, etc. So each one has a different way of pronouncing the words and that is their vernacular accent.

IELTS exam comprises four modules: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking and out of these four modules Speaking is considered to be most challenging other than the Writing module as the Speaking test is conducted by an IELTS certified examiner. Since you have to be present physically on the location of the test, so each and every parameter is evaluated by the examiner which includes your tone, clarity, fluency, spontaneity, body language, etc.

The accent is something which differs with a change in every geographical location, so in order to score high bands in the IELTS Speaking test, the role of accent is not considered important because every individual has a different way of speaking English, their pronunciation differs and this is something every IELTS examiner understands. The person who has a natural accent is a plus point but of course, they don’t get any additional points or benefits due to that. The only thing that matters is the logical answer which is to the point and is exactly in sync with the question asked.

MYTH: The accent is important in scoring high bands in the IELTS Speaking exam.

Reality: You should have clarity in speech so that the examiner can easily comprehend what you are speaking. And it is not the accent which an examiner assesses you on, rather he assesses you in the way in which you respond with proper use of grammar, intonation, vocabulary, right pauses, and word stress. So, there is no need to flaunt an accent just to score well as that is something an examiner is not going to judge you on.

Sometimes the examiners do not even focus on the content that you speak during the speaking test, rather they look for the confidence with which you converse and handle the response to the given question. Basically, your answer signifies that how well you have understood the question and that is all examiner is interested in. Your ability to strike a conversation at length with the examiner is something that fetches you a high score that an America, British or Australian accent will not be able to achieve.

The thing you should stress upon is the proper sentence formation, the right use of grammatical syntax, good vocabulary which is appropriate to the topic, relevant examples, clarity of ideas, well-structured content of the answer, the right rhythm of the speech, etc.

Suggestions:

By now it is evident that accent has got no role in scoring high bands in the IELTS speaking exam. Rather there are other descriptors that help you in getting a high score such as:

  • Lexical resource

  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  • Fluency and Coherence

  • Pronunciation

So in order to get high bands here are a few suggestions that will enable you to score well:

  • Keep your accent natural or neutral, avoid heavy or a fake accent as that hampers your clarity and if you have unclear diction, your marks will be deducted.

  • Focus on the intonation, which means maintaining a rhythm in your speech by stressing on the words that need stress and taking pauses where needed.

  • Make sure to use good vocabulary which is in sync with the topic.

  • Listen to the question carefully and don’t reply back immediately, take few seconds to organize your answer by using apt fillers eg, you can start the answer by saying, “That sounds interesting..”, “Very interesting question…..”, or “ I haven’t come across this question earlier but …”. These filters will give you something to think to organize your thoughts and put them in your response chronologically.

  • Maintain a good body language that can show the examiner that you are confident about yourself.

  • Make sure you practice the difficult words well in advance and do not use any such word whose pronunciation you are not sure of, use a synonym of a word instead.

  • If while speaking you stutter or falter at some point, there is no need to panic, take charge of the situation and continue speaking about the topic you are given. If you are able to control the speech even after faltering, it shows that you are aware of the mistake you have made and you have corrected it.

  • Before appearing for the exam practice well and identify the problematic areas. The best way to do it is by recording your speech, then listen to the recording to identify the mistakes and rectify them.

  • Find a speaking partner with whom you can role play or converse with to get more practice as practice will make your speech more fluent and spontaneous.

  • Make your speech engaging and interesting and avoid a monotonous tone. The more interesting and variety you will brig in your tone, the more engaging it will sound to the examiner.

To sum up, the accent does not play any role in the IELTS speaking test, rather it is the clarity that matters and you get a high score on the basis of clarity of speech and thought. So make sure you just stay focused on the content, stay confident while speaking as you will be assessed on that.