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IELTS Speaking Test

On this page you will learn about the IELTS Speaking test and how to improve your speaking skills for a high score.

Note! IELTS Speaking test is the same for both Academic and General Training module.

We have provided you with:

IELTS Speaking
two women speaking

IELTS Speaking Test Format & Topics

The speaking test consists of an interview between you and an examiner. It will last between 11 and 14 minutes, and is divided into three parts which are described below.

Part 1

4-5 minutes

This part is about yourself, home, work, studies, job, your particular interest, sport/hobby/past time etc.

Practice answering sample questions on these everyday topics. Find topics down below.

TIP! Be polite and start with "Good morning!" or "Good afternoon!"

    • Work, education, your home, hometown
    • Transport and travel – car, buses, bicycles, taxis
    • Daily life questions – shopping, free time, routine, food
    • Media – television, newspapers, magazines, Internet, computers
    • Culture – books, films, music, language
    • Occasions and events – birthdays, festivals
    • People and society – family, friends
    • Past time and skills – skills, photography, cooking
    • Environment and places – seasons and weather, gardens and plants
    • Harder and more abstract topics – boats, actor/actress, pets, concerts, arts, childhood

Part 2

3-4 minutes

You will be given a card with a task and asked to talk on a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking at length, for between 1-2 minutes.

This is how the task prompt you are given usually looks like:

Describe the thing you most like to do when you have some free time.

You should say:

  • what it is
  • what you do
  • what makes you enjoy the activity

and explain why this activity is important to you.

You will be given a pencil and paper to make some notes. The examiner then asks one or two follow-up questions.

We strongly recommend that you make notes of what you are planning to talk about. Make sure you always answer all the questions, otherwise you will lose points!

TIP! Practice giving a speech in two minutes.

TIP! Give long answers so there will be less time for the examiner to ask more difficult follow-up questions.

    • Describe an open-air or street market which you enjoyed visiting
    • Describe something you did that was new or exciting
    • Describe a journey (e.g. by car, plane, boat) that you remember well
    • Describe a person who has done a lot of work to help people

Part 3

4-5 minutes

You and the examiner will engage in a discussion of more abstract concepts and issues which will be linked to the topic you discussed in Part 2.

TIP! Thank you for your time! Goodbye!

Important! Make sure you always answer all the questions!

How to get high score in IELTS speaking test?

For achieving a high score, you need to demonstrate good speaking skills. In particular, you need to show good:

  • Fluency and coherence – learn linking words
  • Lexical resource – read news, books or watch TV series
  • Grammatical range and accuracy – have a grammar book next to you to dip into every now and then
  • Pronunciation – you are not expected to sound like a native speaker, you just need to sound clear enough
  • The four criteria are equally weighted.

You need to be relaxed since being too nervous can easily let you down. This is why you need to practice speaking with a friend, partner or why not to yourself so you could feel more comfortable. Try to do this as often as possible.

two people speaking

During practice you might encounter moments when you are short of words or struggle finding a proper word. Look it up afterwards to widen your vocabulary.

This is all because these IELTS speaking test topics are repetitive and you may as well get a similar speaking topic at the real exam and then it is better to be prepared for that. That's all what practice is about, isn't it?

Look up vocabulary for most common IELTS speaking topics.

However, the questions you need to answer could be sometimes quite silly. So you may feel that you simply do not know the answer, even in your native language! For that case, we have listed useful vocabulary for IELTS speaking to help you out.

You do not need to worry if you don't have an answer for every question, you just need to show your ability to interact with the examiner.

two women chatting

You can easily ask the examiner to specify the question or give the reason why you do not have a good answer. Feel free to express yourself as you like, just be sure to avoid simple 'Yes' and 'No' answers!

As said before, practice plays an essential role in preparing for the test. While you practice, we suggest you consciously pay attention to what you speak. Try to show a wide range of vocabulary, use different tenses and also using conditionals will certainly give you extra points.

IELTS Speaking Test Preparation Advice & Tips

Tips are always useful, but we recommend starting with a strategic approach to your preparations.

Practice speaking to yourself

Try to practice speaking every day. If you have someone to practice together with, prepare for the exam situation like this: one of you is the examiner and asks questions from the other and the other way round.

Think and speak in English whenever you can!

You can easily list topics that are usually used in the real exam. Write these topics on sticky notes and blindly take one topic. For instance, 'home' (describe where you live, describe your living room, who you live with and so on).

sticky notes

It's a very good idea to play the exam situation with a friend or why not alone as well.

Why not doing it when you are walking a dog, jogging, preparing a dinner or just chilling at home. It is much more developing if you can do it out loud!

Just pick a topic and talk about it as much and as fluently as you can. There are other IELTS websites which provide tremendous amount of sample topics. For example, IELTS Buddy has listed different IELTS Speaking Questions & Topics for IELTS speaking test.

However, it is very important that you don't just stick to practicing Part 1. It is equally or even slightly more important to focus on IELTS speaking test Part 2 and 3.

Focus on IELTS speaking test Part 2. This is the part where you need to speak alone 2 minutes in a row.

You probably need to practice giving a speech (Part 2) many times to make sure you could easily speak for 2 minutes, so you could feel confident to present a story within the set time.

Therefore, pick a Task 2 prompt from the IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics and practice!

Don't know what to talk about in IELTS speaking test?

Lack of ideas is often what students complain about. As mentioned before, you may feel that you don't know what to answer to some dumb questions even in your own language.

This is all because the IELTS speaking test is set up in a way it tests your speaking skills also in uncomfortable situations. Some of the questions don't necessarily need to make much sense.

However, being able to overcome this kind of situation is also what comes with practice. It's a given that the more you practice for IELTS speaking test, the better you get.

You may think that again the same advice – practice makes perfect – but it works!

If you fit practice in your everyday life, it actually should not make you feel like you are studying for the exam. Not at all! Actually, you can watch TV series from Netflix instead. And this certainly has a positive impact on your score!

Watching TV series and movies with subtitles on enriches your vocabulary and also helps in other ways as well.

For instance, you may be asked to describe a recently finished book. Rather than explaining that you have not had much time for reading, you can describe Netflix TV series as a book.

Immerse yourself in English. Fit practice in your daily routine. TIP! Watch TV series in English!

The things that you say don't need to be always true, since nobody is going to check whether this or that book even exists. Keep in mind that IELTS Speaking test is made to assess your ability to interact with the examiner, not the actual facts! If you don't have ideas what to talk about, you can make things up!

In order to get ideas, read a book or why not search materials about your hobbies and interests in English. There is a great chance that you have to speak about your hobbies. And if not, you can always direct your conversation somehow to more familiar topics of yours.

So, learning does not have to be boring and painful, just immerse yourself in English. You will find the best way for that! And while doing it, we suggest printing our IELTS speaking vocabulary that you can use while preparing for the speaking test.

IELTS SPEAKING TIPS

  1. Practice answering sample questions
    • Practice answering sample questions on everyday topics like home, work, studies, job, your particular interest and so on. Learn appropriate vocabulary and be prepared for the exam.
  2. Be fluent and liberated
    • Speak fluently and don't rush. If you speak too fast, you can easily run out of ideas or put yourself in a difficult situation in other ways. Don't worry too much about using rich and sophisticated vocabulary. Being fluent is more important.
  3. Don't give short answers
    • Extend your speech. Never give just 'yes' and 'no' answers. If needed, give yourself time to think by using phrases like "I've never thought about that before ...". You can always reformulate examiner's questions. Learn useful vocabulary for IELTS Speaking.
  4. Be coherent
    • Learn and use linking words and phrases, which can help you speak more coherently and make you sound more fluent.
  5. Make up your story (if needed)
    • If you do not know what to speak about, because the question you are presented with sounds ridiculously silly, just make things up. You are not required to provide real facts and therefore none of what you are saying has to be true.

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