IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking is the last of four parts. It is 12 to 15 minutes long and consists of three parts. This aspect of IELTS can take place on the same or a different day from the written part. Below are sample questions with answers given in italics.
1. Part 1 – General questions and answers (4-5 minutes)
— 1.1 Part 1 sample questions with answers
2. Part 2 – Task card (2-3 minutes)
— 2.1 Part 2 cards with answers
— 2.2 Part 2 tips and useful phrases
3. Part 3 – Questions related to topic from Part 2 (3 minutes)
— 3.1 Part 3 sample questions with answers
4. IELTS Speaking tips
5. IELTS Speaking assessment criteria

Part 1 – introductions and general questions (4-5 minutes)

About IELTS Speaking Part 1

In this part they ask you to tell your name and show your ID card. The examiner will then ask a number of general questions about you. The questions can be about your hometown, your interests, your family and so on.

The purpose of this part is to assess your ability to talk about topics of general interest: common experiences, regular situations and everyday life.

Tips

  • Keep your answers fairly short – two or three sentences are just enough. Make sure your answer addresses the question.
  • Make sure your answers are relevant to the question – stay on topic!
  • If you mishear or don’t understand the question – ask the examiner to either repeat or rephrase it. This is better than giving an answer unrelated to the question (see previous point)

IELTS Speaking Part 1 sample questions and answers

Where are you from?
I am from a small town in Spain, just outside of Barcelona. I have been living there for as long as I can remember.

What is your town (or city) famous for?
It is really small, so we are fairly unknown. A famous Olympic cyclist was born here, Isaac Gálvez. Other than that, we are not really famous for many things.

How long have you been studying English?
I have been studying English for as long as I can remember, probably since I was six or seven. Recently, I have been putting more hours into it so hopefully it has improved.

Do you have any hobbies?
I do not have much free time nowadays, so hobbies are not something I can comfortably have. However, when I was at school, I used to attend swimming classes and play a lot of table tennis!

Part 2 – Answering the task card questions (2-3 minutes)

About IELTS Speaking Part 2

This part of IELTS Speaking involves a task card that is given to you by examiner. The card has a task question with a number of points you should address in your answer. You will have one minute read and prepare for your answer, and you are free to make any notes during that time. After the minute of preparation is over, you will have to speak for 1-2 minutes. If your answer takes longer, the examiner will let you know. After the answer, the examiner will ask you a few questions related to the topic.

Tips

  • Make notes! This is the most important point I can’t stress enough. Learn how to make efficient notes. This will allow you to structure your answer well and not miss any parts of it.
  • Normally there are four points that you have to cover – three main ones and the conclusion at the bottom. It is highly recommended to include all of them in your answer – even if you don’t have much to say about one of them. This holds especially true about the conclusive point which you absolutely have to include in your response.
  • Use the two minutes you are given to the fullest – use this time to show your good command of English. However, just like in the previous task, make sure to stay on topic.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 sample card and answers

More IELTS Speaking sample questions with answers and useful phrases

Describe the person in your family you admire the most
You should say:

  • How you are related
  • What they have achieved in their life
  • What do they do now

and explain why you admire them so much.

I’d like to tell you about my uncle from the father’s side. His name is Ignacio, he’s in his late fifties now. He comes from a rather poor background, we all do, so he had to make his own way in life. When he was twenty, he decided to get into the construction business. He started off as a manual labourer and eventually he worked his way up all the way to the top of the company he worked for. Later in his life he decided to start a company of his own, which exists and prospers to this day.

He is now happily retired, while several members of our extended family are employed in said company. We like to call it a family business.

I admire uncle Ignacio for his perseverance, resilience and his well-spirited nature. He is very friendly and approachable, the kind of person that one enjoys working with.

Part 3 – Discussion (3-5 minutes)

The examiner will ask you questions related to the topic from Part 2 of your exam. As more abstract concepts and ideas are discussed, so you have opportunity to use a wider scope of vocabulary. Despite its similarity to IELTS Speaking Part 1, there are two key differences. First, in this part you will be talking about things in general rather than your own experience. Second, your answers will have to be longer – think of them as mini essays with introductions, body paragraphs and conclusions.

Tips

  • Give examples. There is no better way to illustrate your point of view than providing examples. However, you should keep in mind that in this part the question (and the answer) are more abstract so avoid basing your examples on personal experience.
  • Expand on your points. Don’t give isolated arguments – develop them, provide more details.
  • Think about your vocab. By the time you finish IELTS Speaking Part 2, you will have a general idea of what topic you are going to get in Part 3. Use this knowledge to recall useful words and collocations of that topic.

IELTS Speaking Part 3 sample questions and answers

More IELTS Speaking sample questions with answers and useful phrases

Importance of family

How important are family ties in your country?
I would say that family ties are very strong here. In our culture, extended families are as close as nuclear ones. It is customarily to have frequent get-togethers with your relatives. We also have great respect for the elderly, we tend to visit them as often as we can. So yes, I believe family ties are one of the crucial social aspects.

Do you believe that people should keep in touch with their families? Why/Why not?
Of course they should! I mean, your family are the closest people you’ll ever have in your life. You should do your best to get along with them, and even if you don’t, they are still your flesh and blood. Getting on well with your dear ones really pays off, it is a very rewarding feeling!

Family and friends

Who are more important to people: their family or their friends? Why?
Do you agree that childhood friends are best? Why/Why not?

Family traditions

Do you have any traditions in your family?
How important is it to follow family traditions?

Speaking Assessment criteria in IELTS

To help you meet the examiner’s expectations and to address any weaknesses you might have, know the speaking assessment criteria. Aiming high? Check this article on how to get Band 7+ in Speaking.

1. Fluency and coherence

Your speech should be fluent and without long pauses. It should also be easy to follow — your sentences have to be logically connected so that the listeners don’t get confused (Coherent and cohesive)

2. Lexical resource

Your should demonstrate your vocabulary, avoiding word repetition and using synonyms instead. The words that you use should collocate well with each other. Your speech should be idiomatic.

3. Grammatical range and accuracy

You should display various grammatical structures. They have to be used appropriately. Your speech should not have grammar mistakes.

4. Pronunciation

You should be easy to understand — which doesn’t mean having perfect British or American accent. It only means that your accent shouldn’t prevent the examiner from getting the meaning of what you’re saying. Your pronunciation has to be consistent (for example, you should stick either to American or British pronunciation).

How to improve your IELTS Speaking score

Fluency and coherence

To be fluent in you speech means to sound natural. Many students find it difficult to keep the natural pace. As students try to speak more fluently they find themselves making more mistakes. There are two ways of dealing with this situation.

The first one is long and laborious — to keep practising. This involves a lot of reading to remember speech patterns, learning new words, memorising various cohesive devices to help you join clauses in your speech.

The second way is easier. Speak a little bit slower than you usually would. That’s it. By slowing your pace you get yourself more time to think your sentence over. This also eliminates the pauses or at least makes them less noticeable. By making your speech hesitation-free you will certainly make a good impression on your examiners. As you practice more and grow confident of your skills you might want to try increasing the pace.

Coherence is how much sense your speech makes. That includes:

  • Relevance of your answer. You have to address the question, not something you much prefer talking about right now
  • Text sequencing. How naturally your ideas go from one to another
  • Cohesion. How well you connect your closes with various cohesive devices
Lexical resource

Expanding and developing your vocabulary is a long and tedious process that lasts for as long as you study the language. However, to help you score more points for lexical resource use this list of synonyms for words that students overuse in their speech. Repeating words as “like”, “good” or “very” over and over again will not get you a good mark, so getting to know a couple of synonyms is an easy way to get a higher Speaking band.

Grammatical range and accuracy

Similar to vocabulary, English grammar can’t be learned overnight. You will have to make do with what you have at the moment. Do not use more complex aspects of grammar if you don’t know how they work. More simple structures that are used accurately and appropriately are much better than a sloppy complex clause with several mistakes. Simple doesn’t mean bad, but simple also shouldn’t slip into primitive.

Pay attention to your tenses — for example use simple tenses for things that are universally true. Don’t use continuous tenses if you don’t know why you’re using them. Show that you can express sequencing of events by using past simple, present perfect, past perfect.

You may want to use this short guide to English tenses for more info.

Pronunciation

Don’t be afraid of your accent. As long as your pronunciation is clear and easy to understand you will not have points deducted for that part of the aspect. If you have difficulties pronouncing certain sounds (“th” is a common example), don’t try to avoid it in your speech. It will be extremely difficult for your to speak your way around it. Either find a pronunciation tutor or make sure that the way your pronounce the problematic sound is at least understandable and does not cause confusion (thinking-sinking).

Consistency with AmE, BrE pronunciation like “schedule”, “either”. Same to spelling and vocabulary in writing.

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