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:
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:
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.
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’