IELTS Speaking Part 1: Make it easy with these 10 Tips

In this post, see the top 10 speaking part 1 tips that will help you to achieve a band score 7 or above.

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.


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

Time: 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 that are included:

  • 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

To view sample questions and answers on a variety of part 1 speaking topics, take a look at the other posts in this section. 

Take a read through our top ten tips below, that will help you to gain a band score of 7 or above!

Speaking Tips

Tip 1: Be Prepared

As well as being prepared for the test questions on the day of your exam, you should also be aware of what to expect in terms of getting to the test centre and the beginning of the test. Arrive in plenty of time, so that you are not under pressure/late and have time to relax before the test.

The examiner will introduce themselves and ask you for your name and proof of identity (Passport etc), to begin with. They will also ask you where you are from, which requires a simple answer – this is more of a formality, so you don’t have to extend your answer here, but simply state, for example; “I am from Romania’ (or name the town/city etc you are from and where).

Take a look at this post for help with how to prepare for the speaking part 1 test..

Tip 2: Make A Good First Impression

Try to be relaxed and confident, having confidence will help you to do well in your test. Make eye contact with the examiner and answer any questions in a polite manner. Try to keep your body language friendly and open. Think of it as a natural conversation and try to stay calm, like you are talking to your IELTS teacher or practice partner. 

Tip 3: Listen Carefully

Listen carefully to the examiner, so that you understand the questions and can answer in an appropriate way. You should also be listening for tenses – for example; “What TV Shows did you use to like as a child?’ then you know that you should answer in the past tense – ‘I used to watch…..’ 

You should also listen out for any yes/no questions and remember to answer and give reasons. Take a look at this post for help with how to answer those yes/no questions.

Tip 4: Show Enthusiasm

Show that you are interested in the questions by answering with enthusiasm, even if you are not really interested in the subject. Native speakers show enthusiasm by varying the pitch of their voice (intonation – the voice falls and rises) to show how they feel about something.

Listen to examples and think about how native speakers talk when answering questions, what happens to their voice? It gets higher when they are interested or excited by a subject and it falls when they are not happy or disinterested. 

Watch the video clip below from the US TV show ‘Friends’ and see how the intonation falls and rises when the actors talk – can you notice the difference? How does it impact on what they are saying?

Tip 5: Extend Your Answers

When giving your answers, try to make sure that they are not too short – for example, if the examiner asks you what is your favourite TV show, saying ‘I really like Peaky Blinders’ is too short.

You can expand your answer by adding more detail of what it is about, and why you like it so much for example; ‘I really like the BBC drama Peaky Blinders, it has an excellent cast and the writing keeps me interested in the story. There is lots of action, as the story is centred on a gangster family in 1920’s Birmingham, who are up to no good!’.

The answers in part 1 should not be too long either, talking for 2 minutes or more is far too long, parts 2 and 3 will allow you to speak for a longer time and go into more detail.

You should aim to use more than one clause when you give your answers, for example; 

Q: Do you work or study?

A: I work at the moment but I continue my studies at the same time. I continue to learn through courses and gain new qualifications every year, this means my knowledge is always up to date. 

Take a look at this post for more information on how to extend your answers.

Tip 6: Be Confident

Show your confidence by speaking clearly and at a normal level. Don’t speak too loudly or quietly, make sure the examiner can understand and hear your answers. Have faith in yourself, to answer whatever questions you get to the best of your ability. 

Take a look at this video below from TED ED:

Tip 7: Be Honest

When answering the questions, try to be as honest as possible, telling the examiner your thoughts, feeling and opinions, for example:

Q: Do you think vacations are becoming more and more important?

A: Yes, I think that many people are working longer hours and have more stress than ever placed upon them. taking a break is necessary to unwind and recharge so that they can let go of the stress and focus on their own well-being. 

Tip 8: Study/Look at past questions and sample answers

Look at past questions and sample answers to get an idea of how you can extend your answers and the type of questions that come up. There are some speaking topics that are popular, regularly being used over and over, which 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

You may also be asked questions about any topic, recently there have been questions about flowers and photography. Going back to tip 7 – be honest, answer any questions you get with honesty, telling the examiner your own opinions, thoughts and views. Do not memorise answers to recite to the examiner, they will be able to tell and ask you something else. 

Tip 9: Read The Criteria

You should read through the marking criteria and be aware of what is required for a band score 7 or above. Many students do not do this and have no idea what they need to achieve in order to get the band score they want. Read it, understand it and aim to achieve it. Ask your IELTS teacher for help to understand it and to see the level you are at now. 

You should also read the scoring information to see how the band scores are given:

Tip 10: Practice

Practice as much as possible with your native speaking IELTS teacher, a partner or friend. Take a look at the most common topics (see the other posts in this section) and practice answering those questions. A good way to listen for errors is to record yourself speaking. Listen to your recording and notice any errors you have made, including grammar mistakes, pronunciation, intonation and fluency. Keep practising and use the posts in this section to help you. 

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