An Introduction To IELTS Speaking

The IELTS Speaking Test lasts 11-14 minutes. 

The test has three parts, where you are interviewed by a trained examiner. You are not allowed to use a dictionary during the test. IELTS Academic and IELTS General students take the same test and it is marked in the same way.

The three parts of the test are as follows;

Part 1

4-5 minutes >> You will be asked questions on familiar topics, like your hobbies, family, where you are from, what your hometown/city is like, etc.

The topics might include;

  • Your studies/education
  • Hobbies/sports
  • Your family
  • What kind of movies, books, tv shows or music you like
  • What you like to eat / where you like to eat
  • Your job
  • Where you live

Part 2

3-4 minutes >> First, the examiner will give you one minute to think about the question and make notes. Next, you will speak for 1-2 minutes uninterrupted. Then the examiner will ask you a further two or three questions about what you have said. 

For example, you might be asked a question like this on your cue card >>

"Describe an interesting place you have visited"

You should say;

  • When you visited
  • What you did when you were there
  • What activities you could do there
  • Would you recommend it to others

Part 3

4-5 minutes >> The examiner will ask you further questions related to the question topic from part 2. This will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas.

The cue card used as an example above was asking you about a place you had visited. Further questions might include;

  • Why do you think the tourist industry is growing?
  • How do people choose a destination for their holiday?
  • Some people like to take a package holiday, while others prefer to explore and organise the trip themselves, why is this?

IELTS Speaking Criteria

The IELTS Speaking Test is designed for you to be able to talk about, describe and explain your own experiences and opinions.

You will be assessed on the following criteria;

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

It is important that you take the time to read the IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors and familiarise yourself with what is expected for the higher scoring bands. Like other parts of the test, you will be given a band score from 0-9. With the academic students aiming for a band score of 7, the criteria is as follows;

Non-native speakers who can express themselves on most subjects but frequently pause to think of words or ideas, mostly get a band score 5 or 6. Native speakers would be expected to get an 8.5 or 9. 

The examiner is looking for your ability to speak English well, expressing your own opinions and feelings. Your score will be lower than a 7 if you make frequent mistakes or the examiner has trouble understanding you and what you are trying to say.

Requirements from universities and immigration agencies vary. Most students will need at least a band score 6 for undergraduate study. For postgraduate study or immigration, a band score 7 is generally required. 


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