What Is Asked of the Participants for the IELTS Speaking Test?
The IELTS Speaking test is the same for both the IELTS Academic and General tests. It has three parts and lasts between 11- 14 minutes. This part of the test is live, with an actual IELTS examiner.
As with the other sections of the test, it’s important to be familiar with the different parts and prepare well. Many people think that the Speaking section is “just chatting”, but it’s not. It would be a shame not to get a great result only because you didn’t prepare enough.
In the Speaking section, the examiner will be looking at four key elements:
- Fluency and Coherence – do you speak without hesitation and are your ideas clearly explained and presented?
- Lexical Resource – in other words, vocabulary!
- Grammar Range and Accuracy – do you use a variety of grammar structures and do you use them well?
When looking at IELTS Speaking samples, it’s important to keep those four items in mind, so that you can build to a better result!
The test itself has 3 parts:
IELTS Speaking Part 1 – Introduction and Interview (4-5 minutes)
IELTS Speaking Part Part 2 – Individual Long Turn – a 1-2 minute monologue on a set subject (2-3 minutes)
IELTS Speaking Part Part 3 – Two-way discussion – an exchange with the examiner (4-5 minutes)
As with the other sections of the IELTS test, there are subjects which are IELTS favourites, so preparation is key!
Now let’s have a deeper look at each part of the Speaking section!
IELTS Speaking Practice Tests and Sample Exercises
As we said earlier, it’s important to keep level points in mind when you’re both preparing and speaking. Try to use synonyms and paraphrases – this shows the examiner your range of vocabulary. If the subject is “educating children”, try to use ‘bring up’ and ‘raise’ in your answer rather than repeating ‘educating.’
IELTS Speaking Test Part 1: Introduction And Interview
Part 1 of the test lasts about 4-5 minutes and is there to help you to relax and warm up for the test. At the beginning the examiner will ask you your name and check your identity documents. They’ll often ask you what you like to be called
For example, perhaps your name is Samuel, but everyone calls you Sam. They then ask you several relatively simple general questions. You shouldn’t give very long answers here, but don’t give one-word answers either – you need to find the balance! Listening to IELTS Speaking samples will help you with this.
As you can see from this example, the question is quite straightforward. With GlobalExam you can record your answer and then listen to yourself. You can listen out for any repeated words or ‘errs’ and ‘umms’. You need to speak fluently and hesitate as little as possible.
You’ll then be asked 3-5 questions in part 1 on a similar subject:
It’s important to read the sample answers as well, so that you can see how the sample differs from your response. Maybe the vocabulary is better or they used an expression you don’t know!
Once the examiner is ready, they’ll move you on to Part 2.
IELTS Speaking Test Part 2: Individual Long Turn
In the second part of the Speaking test, you’ll be given a task card to prepare with a subject:
You’ll have one minute to prepare where you can take some notes – don’t write word-for-word what you want to say! Firstly, you won’t have time and secondly it’ll make your speaking sound unnatural and you’ll be penalised.
Make sure you speak about each point – the questions are there for a reason. In this IELTS Speaking sample question, you can see that the first question is for the past while the third is for the future, so use the different tenses that you know!
For this question, think of a song which is easy to talk about. If the first song that comes to mind is actually very complicated to explain, choose another one! Again, this is why preparation is so important – imagine you’ve already done this question as a practice question and then something very similar comes up in the test! It’ll be easy to speak about and you’ll be confident and fluent!
Many people see Part 2 as a ‘story-telling’ exercise. Imagine you learnt how to play the trumpet because your uncle used to play the trumpet when you were a child and so on. By seeing Part 2 as telling a story, it can make your speaking more natural.
Do not panic if you did not truly answer the questions for Part 2 – you can make something up! Remember they’re testing your English. This is another reason why practicing with IELTS Speaking samples is a great idea – you can see the type of questions and subjects you might be asked about!
IELTS Speaking Test Part 3: Two-way discussion
The last part of the test is a conversation with the examiner. Very often the subject leads on from Part 2, but not always. Part 3 is your opportunity to show how much you can do in English. Test out some phrasal verbs. Use past continuous and modals. This is how you can increase your score in the Speaking test!
You’ll have a series of questions, usually on one subject (perhaps two) and this part of the test lasts about 5 minutes.
If the examiner asks you a question and you don’t quite know how to answer, don’t hesitate to say: “That’s an interesting question – let me think.”You could also say: “I have not thought about that before – let me see.”
You will not be penalised for doing this. Similarly, if the examiner asks you a question and you don’t understand, you can ask them to repeat or explain their question. You won’t be penalised for doing this – even in our mother tongue we don’t understand everything all the time, so don’t be afraid to ask. For the question above, perhaps cooking is not really your thing. You can say for example that you do not really like cooking. Perhaps it’s because your parents were terrible cooks and you don’t have good memories of family dinners!
Let’s imagine this is the second question:
Even if you have said you don’t like cooking, don’t panic! You can say: “As I said before, I don’t really like cooking, but I make a good fried egg on toast.” The examiner won’t be testing your culinary skills, but your English.
Another thing which can easily happen in Part 3 is that you give an answer and then the next question asks that point again! Don’t worry – the examiner has a script they must follow. If this happens, simply start with: “As I said before” or “As I said earlier” and then continue.
The final question often creates an opportunity to use modal and conditional verbs. Therefore, listen carefully to the questions. Here you could reply with: “I might like to start my own business, but it depends. If I found a good business partner, I could consider it.”
Try and prepare some set expressions that can be used flexibly. That way, no matter what question is asked, you can try and use your expression. On the GlobalExam platform you can find expressions specifically for expressing your opinion and views – see how many you can use in your recorded answer!
As with the other parts of the IELTS test, practice makes perfect and that’s where GlobalExam can help you. For the Speaking test in particular, you have numerous IELTS Speaking samples, and you can record yourself and compare your answer with the sample. By subscribing to our platform, you can get full access to our practice resources!
You could also find online articles with exercises on the IELTS Academic Writing, the IELTS Reading Test and exercises With Answers for the IELTS Listening Section.
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