IELTS Speaking Part 1 Introduction

In this post, we will be looking in-depth at part 1 of the speaking test. 

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.


PART 1 Information

To begin with, the examiner will introduce themselves to you, then ask you your name and for proof of identity.

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 1 Questions

The questions in part 1 will possibly be about your work or studies, hobbies, your family, where you live, hometown or where you live now. Your answers should include facts and your own opinions or feelings

Possible questions >>

  • Do you live in a house or an apartment?
  • What do you do at the weekends?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • How often do you like to travel?
  • Where is a good place to visit in your hometown or city?
  • Do you go to the cinema often?

Example Q+A

Take a look at the questions below and the two possible answers, which one is better?

Question: Do you like to travel?

Answer 1: yes, I do. 

Answer 2: Yes, I have been to many places in Europe, including Italy, Spain, Greece and the UK. In the future I would love to be able to visit and explore the USA, going to New York and perhaps driving through other states. 

Which answer looks better to you?

Feedback: Answer 2! Why? The first answer does not fully answer the question and show off the students ability to speak English. In part one, your answer should be at least 2-3 sentences. The second answer is much better, giving background information (I have been to many places in Europe, including Italy, Spain, Greece and the UK.) and adding details (I would love to be able to visit and explore the USA).


Answering The Question

Make sure you answer the question fully, with correct tenses where appropriate. 

Question: Do you enjoy going to the cinema?

Answer 1 - Kate: Yes, I do love going to the cinema and I always think it is good to go and see new movies, especially in the IMAX. On the other hand, I also like to watch movies in my house, as it is more comfortable. 

Answer 2- Georgina: I went to the cinema last weekend. I was invited to go with a friend. She wanted to see the latest thriller.  

Feedback: Georgina did not answer the question, she didn't make it clear whether she enjoyed going to the cinema, she used the past tense and the question was in the present tense. her answer was also short in length. Kate has a high-level answer, she answered the question using varied vocabulary, not just repeating the words the examiner had used. She also connected her ideas by using 'on the other hand' and used the present tense. 


Yes/No Questions

When you hear a yes/no question, try to start your answer with one of the following phrases >>

  • I don't think so
  • not really
  • absolutely!
  • definitely!
  • I think so
  • not very often
  • most of the time
  • sometimes
  • yes, in general

For example for the following questions....the answers can be started with one of the phrases from above and expanded upon, you can add more detail or give an example. This is so you don't answer the question with a simple yes or no, which would not get you many marks. 

Question: Do you use your phone or tablet every day?

Answer: Absolutely! I always check my phone for emails and texts, then of course to see social media. 

Question: Is travelling important to you?

Answer: Definitely! It is something that I aim to do as often as I can, for example, next year I plan to visit Barcelona. 

Question: Is reading important to you?

Answer: Not really, I don't have much time to read, I prefer to listen to music or watch netflix.


Preference Questions

Some part 1 questions may ask you about your preferences.

Can you see which is the better answer?

Question: Do you prefer travelling alone or in a group?

Answer 1 - Claire: I prefer to travel alone, I don't really like to be in a group.

Answer 2 - Susan: I haven't ever travelled on my own, I have always been with friends. It is so much fun to travel in a group, as you can share experiences and have a laugh with your friends. I think travelling alone in some parts of the world could be dangerous. 

Feedback: Claire's answer is short and repeats too many words from the question. Susan's answer is better because she gives more detail and uses different words to the question, she also gives reasons for her preferences. 

You can use the following phrases in your answers for a high-level answer >>

  • I like...... more than.....
  • It depends on.........
  • I like both...........and.............
  • My first choice would be ..............
  • I'd rather..............than....................

For example, 'I like both travelling on my own and with friends, because......' or 'I like travelling with friends more than on my own, because......'.


Using Would and Could

Some questions may ask you a hypothetical question, which invites you to use the words 'would' or 'could'

Question: Where would you recommend a foreigner to visit in your country?

Answer 1 - Marco: I will tell them to visit the Vatican and to see the sights.

Answer 2 - Ricardo: I would highly recommend that they visit the galleries and museums when in Rome, especially in the Vatican. A great historical site to see is the Colosseum, a stunning example of architecture. I could also recommend visiting the Trevi Fountain and sampling some delicious ice cream!

Feedback: Marco's answer is short and does not use enough vocabulary. Ricardo expands on his answer, listing places to visit and uses the words 'would' and 'could' in his answer.


We hope you found this post useful in helping you to study for the IELTS Test. If you have any questions please let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

The best way to keep up to date with posts like this is to like us on Facebook, then follow us on Instagram and Pinterest

If you need help preparing for the IELTS Test, join the IELTS Achieve Academy and see how we can assist you to achieve your desired band score. We offer an essay correction service, mock exams and online courses.