Structure of the IELTS Speaking test

The tasks test your ability to perform the following functions in English:

  • Communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions
  • Analyse, discuss and speculate about issues
  • Express and justify your opinions
  • Organise your ideas coherently
  • Speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language

Make sure that you relax and talk fluently. You will need to speak naturally.

There are three tasks or parts to the test which takes the form of an
interview lasting between 11 & 14 minutes:​

  • Part 1 Introduction & Interview (4-5 minutes)
  • Part 2 Individual long turn (3-4 minutes)
  • Part 3 Two-way discussion (4-5 minutes)

Procedure of the test

The test is conducted by one examiner. He or she asks all the questions and assesses you. The test is recorded on audio cassette. You will be taken to the examiner’s room where you will be asked to sit either opposite or at right angles to the examiner. The examiner will then switch on the cassette recorder and start the test.



Your performance will be assessed on the criteria below:

 1.  Fluency & Coherence

- Being able to keep going, to talk at a normal rate without unnatural pauses and hesitations.
- Being able to link ideas and language together clearly so the examiner understands you.

2. Lexical Resource

Having the vocabulary which enables you to express yourself while talking about both familiar and unfamiliar topics or being able to get around any vocabulary gaps without hesitation

 3.  Grammatical Range & Accuracy

- Being able to use a variety of grammatical structures appropriately.
- Making as few grammatical mistakes as possible.
- Being understood despite making grammatical mistakes.

4. Pronunciation

- Being able to use English pronunciation features like stress and intonation naturally.
- Not causing the examiner any problems in understanding what you are saying.

The examiner will give you a score from 1 to 9 for each of these factors.
They will be converted into one final score between 1 and 9

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Introduction & Interview (4-5 minutes)

The examiner will introduce himself or herself and confirm your identity. He or she will then ask you a number of general questions about yourself to try and make you feel relaxed.

You may be asked about your home or studies. Then you will be asked one or two more
sets of questions on familiar topics such as your interests, your country, your family or types of things you like in various categories such as food, clothes, holidays etc.

The questions come from an examiner ‘frame’ (pre-determined questions) so the examiner will not necessarily follow-up with questions based on what you say. The more questions that are asked on a specific topic the more difficult they tend to be.

However, you do not have to express a point of view or justify it in this part.

Some typical questions/prompts might be:

Typical questions

™1. Where do you come from?
2. ™What is your home like?
3. ™Tell me about your family.
4. ™Tell me about your job/studies.
5. ™Is there anything you dislike about your job/studies?
6. ™What type of transport do you use most?
7. ™Do you like reading?
8. ™What kind of television programmes do you watch?
9. ™Tell me about a film you have seen recently.
10. ™Do you have a pet?
11. ™What kind of food do you like?
12. ™How often do you go shopping?
13. ™What’s your favourite festival? Why?
14. ™How do people celebrate this festival?

Refer to: IELTS Speaking Part 1: TOP 10 Most Popular Ielts Speaking Topics

How to do IELTS Speaking Part 1

  • Listen to the questions carefully
  • Give full answers to the questions if possible but don’t anticipate
    related questions. For example, if you are asked where you live a
    suitable answer would be ‘I live in the new territories – in a village just
    outside Sai Kung, called Pak Tam.’

NOT I live in Sai Kung. It’s a really nice town with quite a large population and lots of seafood restaurants. It’s a lovely place to live as it’s in the countryside. I have lived there for ten years.’ as this sounds like a prepared answer and the examiner’s next question might be
‘What’s Sai Kung like?’.

  • Don’t give one or two word answers as the examiner can only rate you on what he or she hears.
  • Make sure you relate what you say to what the examiner asks. For example

Examiner: Do you like reading?
You: Yes, I do but I don’t get much time to read these days

How to prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1

1. Make a list of possible topics you could be interviewed on e.g.

Possible topics

™ Your home
™ Your country
™ Your job
™ Your interests

Your school
™ Your family
™ Food
™ Festivals

™ Clothes
™ Books
™ Films
™ Transport etc

2. Write questions for each of your topics and get a family member or
friend to ask you the questions or put them on an audio cassette and
test yourself responding to them.

3. Record yourself answering the questions and listen to see how you
can improve your responses.

4. Make sure you know all the vocabulary necessary to talk about
these topics. Practice the pronunciation of any new vocabulary.

5. Think about the language that will be useful e.g.

  • Think about the language that will be useful e.g.
  • Tenses to talk about the past and present and your experiences
    e.g. ‘I’ve never been to Europe.’ or ‘I went to London for a holiday in
  • Linkers like ‘even though’ and ‘unless’

How to practice for IELTS Speaking part 1

Nex post: How to prepare for IELTS Speaking in Part 2 and Part 3 with detail guides





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