In this article we’ll be focusing on Part 1 of the IELTS  Speaking section.

We’ll describe exactly what happens during Part 1 of the test, as well as taking a closer look at the main topics you’ll be asked to speak about. We’ll also explain what you can do to prepare for the IELTS Speaking test.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test!

Studying is mandatory before taking a test therefore we recommend you to practice with exercises for all sections of the IELTS exam.

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What Actually Happens in the IELTS Speaking Part 1?

Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking section of the test will last 4-5 minutes. Typically, an examiner will ask three sets of questions in this part. Common topics are home, family, work, studies, and your interests. An examiner cannot skip questions. There will be ten-eleven questions in total. The usual distribution is:

  • 2-3 introduction questions
  • 4 questions on the first topic
  • 4 questions on the second topic

Below is an example of how Part 1 of the IELTS speaking test might proceed.

There will be straightforward questions such as:

  • How are you?
  • How did you get here?
  • How was traffic?

Next, will come questions with a single theme. For example, you might have questions such as these:

  • What is your job?
  • How do you feel about your job?
  • Why did you choose this work?
  • Is it a popular job in your country?

Then will come questions with a different theme. For example, you might have questions such as these:

  • Where is your hometown?
  • What’s your hometown like?
  • What is an interesting place in your hometown?
  • What needs improving in your hometown?

Don’t worry about speaking too long. The examiner keeps careful track of the time and will stop you when it is time to move on to Part 2 of the speaking test.

What Are the Main Topics for the IELTS Speaking Part 1?

One way of preparing for the IELTS Speaking test is to look at what are the main topics the examiner will ask you to speak about. Remember, the secret to any test is preparation! We’re going to introduce you to some of the key subjects, as well as show you some typical questions which may come up.

Do you study or do you work?

The subject of work and study is a popular one. The examiner will adapt their questions depending on whether you answer if you are a student or not. Typical questions could be:

  • What do you study?
  • Is that a popular subject to study?
  • Why did you choose it?
  • Do you enjoy the course?
  • Would you like to have a job which uses this subject?

The questions for work will be similar, with perhaps a question about what your colleagues are like and would you like to change your job.

Food and Drink

Above is an example question you can find on the GlobalExam platform. Other questions could include:

  • Do you prefer sweet or savoury food?
  • Do you dislike any food?
  • Do you like cooking?
  • Do you have a healthy diet?
  • Is there a typical dish which people eat in your country?

Your Hometown

sample exam question

example of an exam question

Speaking about your hometown is a popular subject for IELTS Part 1. As you can see from the examples above from GlobalExam’s platform, you’ll often have a general question followed by something a little more specific. Other questions could include:

  • What’s the main activity in your town?
  • What would you show a visitor to your town?
  • Has your hometown changed a lot from when you were a child?


sample exam question

sample exam question

You must prepare how to speak about relationships for the IELTS test. Topics about relationships could be about parents and children, colleagues, and friends. You may be asked to speak about your best friend and whether friends are more important than family.



This is also a very common topic. Questions can be quite easy – what do you do in your freetime? Do you think you have enough freetime? Do you prefer to do these activities alone or with other people?

Although in the two questions above, freetime is not directly mentioned, by asking about “relaxation” and “leisurely activities”, we’re still speaking about freetime. You should prepare synonyms to discuss the various subjects!

Seasons and Weather


Questions asking about seasons and weather are also very common. Follow-up questions will often include asking how the weather makes you feel. It could also ask what you like to do in a particular season, and whether you have a specific memory attached to one type of season or weather. Again, you should be prepared with synonyms – don’t only speak about rain, but also showers, drizzle and fog for example!



Transport is a popular subject for all parts of the IELTS test! For the Speaking section, you may come across questions about public transport (“Is public transport good where you live?”) or whether you prefer taking the bus, car or train to travel.

Asking about your favourite mode of transport is also a common question. You could also be asked how you arrived at the test centre!

The Internet


Asking about internet shopping and your online activity is also a frequent Part 1 topic.

  • Do you have a website you’d recommend?
  • How much time do you spend online every day?
  • Do you prefer to study online or in class?
  • Do you think internet time should be limited?






Along with work-life balance, IELTS also likes to speak about concentration and study habits. Typical questions could include the following:

All of these questions speak about different aspects of concentration – if you’re not prepared, it’s not the easiest subject to speak about!

Personal Style and Taste


Although these questions are not so frequent, you should definitely prepare for them. A popular question in the past was about your favourite pair of shoes!

These questions aren’t necessarily complicated to understand or answer. However, if you’re not prepared, you may find you don’t quite know what to say.

Just thinking about the questions isn’t enough – you need to physically practice them! That’s why on the GlobalExam platform, we allow you to record your answers so you can listen to yourself speak and see how you do. You can also read sample answers so that you can get some new ideas and lexic!

How Can I Prepare for the IELTS Speaking Part 1?

There is an abundance of material out there for you to use. Buy a book, take a course online or in person, read tips and advice that you find online. Hire a tutor.

Make a schedule for your practice tests sessions so that you are consistent in your efforts. Set realistic goals for yourself with regards to time and the band score that you want.

For more information on the other exercises of the speaking section you can check out the IELTS Speaking Part 2 and the topics of the IELTS Speaking Part 3.

Basic Strategies

  • Be fluent. That is don’t hesitate or stop while you’re answering. If you make an error, keep talking. Stopping for a prolonged period affects your score.
  • Keep it short and simple. In Part 1, you don’t give long and detailed answers. One or two sentences is good enough.
  • Speak in sentences. One word answers are not good enough. For example, if the examiner asks you: what do you do? Don’t reply: student. Use a full sentence: I’m a university student.
  • Confidence is important. The examiners don’t give a score for your confidence, but your confidence affects your fluency, and what you say. Posture and facial expressions can affect how we speak. Sit up straight, smile, and make eye contact.
  • Get comfortable with the situation. Part 1 is the warmup. It is not where your main score will be determined.

Start Preparing for the IELTS Tests Online With Globalexam

GlobalExam is an online solution dedicated to IELTS preparation, with dozens of sample exercises and answers. The website is very interactive, you can listen to audios and record yourself. You’ll get a detailed correction at the end of each exercise, and you also have a timer keeping track of the time. With GlobalExam, you can train in real exam conditions! Take a test at the beginning of your studies and take a second one a month later to see how you’ve improved!

You can check your statistics at any time and follow your progress. If you identify any weaknesses on certain parts, you ca, access our vocabulary and grammar study sheets, that will help you study.

With over 30,000 questions which we regularly update and train for 27 different language tests, GlobalExam has you covered. Work online when it suits you and build your own study programme. Explore our site with the trial version to see exactly how we can help you achieve the score you need!

Check out our trial version for free by registering!

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