Which Tone Should You Use For The IELTS Speaking Exam Formal Or Informal? - IELTS University (Singapore)

Which Tone Should You Use For The IELTS Speaking Exam Formal Or Informal?

The IELTS speaking test is designed to be an accurate simulation of a real-life English conversation. Although the setting is somewhat formal, the features of this interview-style conversation are meant to reflect natural-sounding English speech.

Therefore it often surprises me to listen to Asian students practicing for the speaking exam using extremely formal words and phrases. These are usually phrases that a native speaker would never use in real life. This is not because these students actually speak this way. More often than not, they have gotten the wrong impression about the kind of language required for the speaking test, either from their teachers or free IELTS preparation websites.

So Which Tone Should You Use During The IELTS Speaking Test?

Using overly formal and complicated phrases will not impress the examiner in any way. In fact, it will do the opposite, and signal to the examiner that you don’t really understand the criteria for everyday natural English speech. The overuse of formal phrases and discourse markers can actually lower your score for fluency and coherence all the way to a band 6.

Here is a list of commonly use formal phrases and their more appropriate informal counterparts.



Store Name

Store Name

Store Name

Store Name

it is said that….

People say that….

It is agreed that….

I agree….

It is necessary for me to….

I’ve got to…

In my opinion….

I think…

In my view…

I guess….

There is much…

There is lots of….




As well as that….

In addition…

What’s more….


Another thing is….

In consequence….






In conclusion…

All in all…


To begin with…

As a matter of fact….



After that….




Mind you….


By the way….


As for….

It is true….

Of course….

In modern life…

These days…..



On the other side of things, you shouldn’t use slang or collocations either. Remember that this is still an academic interview, so you can't exactly tell your examiner that ‘the party is lit’ It would be better to keep your conversation respectful and polite at all times

How Can You Understand Which Tone To Use

Try to familiarize yourself with typical English conversation in a semi-formal situation like the workplace or at university. Many of the recordings for the IELTS listening practice tests contain similar types of situations, along with useful vocabulary. You can kill two birds with one stone, and prepare for both the speaking and listening section simultaneously. Remember to only use authentic IELTS practice tests that have been endorsed by any of the owners of the IELTS exam.