IELTS Speaking

The Speaking test consists of a face-to-face interview between the test taker and a Speaking examiner. All Speaking tests are recorded.

Below you’ll find more information about the test format and scoring, as well as top tips, free videos and blog articles, and other resources to help you understand the Speaking test and achieve a high score.

If there’s anything else you would like to see, tell us on our social channels.

The Speaking test lasts 11–14 minutes and has three parts.

Part 1 – introduction and interview (4–5 minutes)

This part includes general questions on familiar topics such as home, family, work and studies.

Part 2 – long turn (3–4 minutes)

You’ll be given a task card with a topic and points to cover. You have one minute of preparation time and then you have to talk for up to two minutes.  The examiner will ask one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 – discussion (4–5 minutes)

You and the examiner will discuss issues related to the topic in Part 2.

Your score is marked by a certified IELTS Speaking examiner. You will be scored based on the following criteria:

Fluency and coherence

The ability to talk with normal levels of continuity and rate, and to link language together.

Lexical resources

The range of vocabulary used and how well meaning can be expressed.

Grammatical range and accuracy    

The range and accuracy of grammar used. 


The ability to produce speech which is comprehensible.

1. Practise speaking as often as you can and make sure you can talk for two minutes on a topic.

2. Study all aspects of English including pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar as this will help improve your Speaking score.

3. Use a wide range of grammar and vocabulary during the test. The examiner can only award marks for the language you produce, so show them your full potential!

4. Don’t speak too fast because it can be difficult to follow. Don’t speak too slowly as you won’t have the chance to say much.

5. In Part 3 always give an opinion! It doesn’t matter what your opinion is – you're being assessed on your language not your ideas.


How to avoid being stuck for words in the IELTS Speaking test

In part two of the IELTS Speaking test, you will be asked to speak for 2 minutes about a given topic.

If you’re worried about not having enough to say, find out how to use the one-minute preparation time on test day to ensure you’re not stuck for words.

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Improve your band score for vocabulary and grammar (Part 2)

Welcome back to this series focusing on improving your band score for vocabulary and grammar. I will be sharing an example Part 2 task, asking a Part 3 question and giving you useful language to complete the task. For those of you aiming for a band score of 7 and above, there are examples of language at this level too. IELTS Speaking Part 2 Here’s a recap if you missed the first blog. If you don’t know or don’t remember what you need to do in this part, here’s a quick summary with an example task. You’re given a task card with a topic and some prompts. You have one minute to prepare (use the time to actually make notes and prepare). You then speak for one to two minutes. How is the Speaking test marked? You are awarded a band score from 1 to 9 based on certain criteria. In this blog, we’ll look only at Lexical Resource (vocabulary) and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. Here’s the criteria you will be assessed on: (Click to enlarge) As you can see for a band score of 7 you must be able to use vocabulary flexibly to discuss a variety of topics. You must also be able to use less common and idiomatic vocabulary. For grammar you must be able to use a range of complex structures flexibly. Band 5 always refers to limited flexibility.   If you want greater flexibility you need to be able to use more sophisticated vocabulary and grammar structures. Here’s that example task card: The first prompt asks you to say what the website is. Let’s look at two responses:   As you can see, the response on the right uses less common vocabulary and a range of more complex structures: ‘I use various ...’, ‘the one that stands out for me ...’, ‘I tend to access on a weekly basis.’ Top tip The Speaking test is only 11 to 14 minutes long. You only have this window of time to show the examiner what language you can produce. Make sure that every sentence you produce takes you closer towards a higher band score. Here are the other prompts in the Part 2 task above. Compare the response in the Band 5 column with the response in the Band 7+ column. Remember the vocabulary and grammar criteria we looked at earlier.   As you can see the Band 5 response answers the question well and communicates the message. However, when you compare it to a band 7+ response it is easy to see why one is better than the other. They are both communicating exactly the same message but the language and structures in Band 7+ are far more sophisticated and advanced. Why not download and print off the above responses and highlight the different vocabulary, collocations and grammar structures to see the difference? Compare your highlights to the ones here. IELTS Speaking Part 3 Here’s a quick summary again. In this part, you and the examiner have a conversation about more abstract issues but still linked to the topic in Part 2. The discussion takes about four or five minutes. Here’s an example question that relates to the task above: “What are some possible disadvantages of buying things from online shops?” Let’s have a look at some of the vocabulary you could use to answer this question. Disadvantages Can’t see the quality Can’t see the size Have to give personal details Not safe Don’t get the product immediately Don’t know who you’re buying from Here are the above points using more advanced vocabulary and structures: Can’t verify the quality of the product Unclear dimensions or sizing charts Have to divulge personal data Not secure – open to your personal data being used fraudulently Delayed enjoyment of the product Difficult to determine the seller’s identity Listen to an audio of the above being used in response to the original question: “What are some possible disadvantages of buying things from online shops?”   Notice how the above language is used in context. Use the audio to practice your pronunciation of the above language. Listen and pause and repeat as many times as necessary! My Top tips: try completing the Part 2 task and answering the Part 3 question above use some of the language highlighted as Band 7+ record yourself listen back and give yourself feedback on the vocabulary and structures used    repeat the exercise and this time really focus on using the highlighted Band 7+ language... record yourself once more notice how many new words and expressions you’ve used Happy practising! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

6 April, 2021

Developing cohesion and coherence for the IELTS Speaking test

In this post, we will focus on cohesion and coherence in speaking and how improving these can help you to improve your score in the IELTS Speaking test. What do we mean by ‘cohesion’ and ‘coherence’ in speaking? Both are related to how you organise your ideas when speaking. ‘Cohesion’ describes the methods used to link words and ideas together. You often do this by using specific words and phrases called ‘cohesive devices’. ‘Coherence’ describes the quality of being easy to understand. Even if a text or presentation is ‘cohesive’, it will only be ‘coherent’, if the ideas make sense and are clearly linked to one another. What are some common features of cohesion in speaking? One cohesive device that is probably familiar to you is linking words or ‘linkers’. These can be used to link ideas together in either spoken or written English and have a range of different functions. For example:   Linkers used in speaking are usually simpler and more informal than those used in writing. Furthermore, there are some cohesive devices that we would use when speaking, but that would be too informal for writing. These are often called ‘discourse markers’. If you can learn to use these correctly, they can make you sound more natural in English. For example:   It is important to understand how to use these discourse markers. Keeping a list of example sentences for when to use new discourse markers can help you to learn to use them correctly. For example: (Click to enlarge) Why are cohesion and coherence important for my IELTS Speaking score? Cohesion and coherence are assessed under ‘Fluency and Coherence’ in the IELTS Speaking descriptors. A Band 9 candidate ‘speaks coherently with fully appropriate cohesive features’, while a Band 7 candidate ‘uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility’. A Band 6 candidate ‘uses a range of connective and discourse markers, but not always appropriately’, while a Band 5 candidate ‘may overuse certain connectives and discourse markers.’ What can I do to practise using features of cohesion in speaking? 1. Learn a range of discourse markers and practise using them Starting a list of useful discourse markers with example sentences will help you speak more cohesively and naturally. Listen for discourse markers that people use when they are speaking. You could listen to sample IELTS speaking test tasks (and look at the transcripts). Make a note of how they used it and then write down your own example. Then practise using them, both when you are doing IELTS speaking practice and when you are speaking to anyone in English. 2. Reflect on which discourse markers you feel more or less confident about using Using familiar discourse markers when speaking will help you to feel more confident, but you want to avoid overusing them. Think about the ones you use often and then ones you would like to use more. Record yourself giving a task 2 speaking presentation if you don't know which connectives you use. Check your understanding of the meaning and write down an example of when you would use it. You may find it helpful at first to record yourself saying these example sentences so you can get used to them. 3. Record, listen and play back Once you are feeling more confident about using a range of discourse markers, record yourself responding to an IELTS Speaking question. You could do this with a friend, so that one of you asks the question and the other responds. Then play back the recording and pay attention to the linkers and discourse markers you have used. Did you use them appropriately? Do you overuse certain discourse markers? Make a note of any points that you need to improve and continue to practice. Hope you found this useful! You can find the rest of my series here. Lucy

Lucy Passmore

31 March, 2021

Talking about Winter Sports

What was the last sport you played? Do you prefer to play team sports or exercise alone? What is the most popular sport in your country? Sport is a topic that often comes up in the IELTS test, so today let's talk about winter sports. Possibly the most well-known winter sport is downhill skiing. You go up the mountain on a cable car or a chair lift and then you travel back down the ski slope or piste on skis. You might go over a mogul field or even do a bit of slalom as you go down too. There are usually lots of routes that you can take down a mountain that are colour-coded according to how difficult they are. You start on the nursery slopes learning how to balance and importantly turn and stop, then, work your way through blue, red, and black runs. As you get better at the sport you ski down steeper and steeper routes. There are other types of skiing such as ski jumping which involves skiing off a specially made hill into the air to do special tricks or to see how far you can travel before landing. It is fun to watch but I think that I would be really scared to try it myself. Cross-country skiing is another form of skiing that is done across long, relatively flat, distances. The equipment that you use is slightly different to regular skiing, you can move your foot in more of a walking action, lifting your heel from the ski. It is a slower paced form of skiing and is a great way to take in the beautiful scenery of an area. Snowboarding is another extremely popular winter sport. It is different from skiing in lots of ways. While skiing uses two long thin boards (or skis) under each foot, snowboarding uses one wide board under both feet. You stand sideways on a snowboard and you don’t use ski poles. It is more like surfing or skateboarding on snow. Snowboarders often do amazing jumps and tricks. Skiing and snowboarding are both extreme sports; they are dangerous, exhilarating and perfect for adrenaline junkies! You don’t need to travel to the mountains for all winter sports. Take ice skating for example, it is an activity done both indoors and outdoors. In many countries ice skating takes place on frozen lakes, ponds and rivers outdoors or indoors in an ice rink. It can be a gentle sport but if you have ever watched the Winter Olympics you will have seen the amazing ice dance routines that seem to defy the laws of gravity at times. Ice hockey is another winter sport that is played on ice either outdoors or indoors. Unlike ice skating, ice hockey is a team sport. Each team is trying to get the ‘puck’ (like the ball but a flat shape) into the goal to score. The players wear a lot of protective clothing to play because they skate really fast and can get hurt easily. Another fun winter activity in the snow is sledging. We often think of only children sledging, but adults can have a lot of fun doing it too. All you need is a hill, some snow and a sledge. You can even make your own sledge using whatever you can find; an old tray, some spare wood, anything you can sit on to slide down the hill. I love sledging, it is so much fun! Of course, you don’t have to speed down a hill or skate on ice to enjoy the cold weather. Building a snowman, having a snowball fight or even just going for a walk and being the first to make footprints in the snow is just as fun. In my opinion, the very best part of any winter activity is coming home and warming up by the fire with a big mug of hot chocolate. Have you tried any of the winter sports we have talked about today? If you haven’t, which would you like to have a go at? Let us know on Facebook or Instagram. Remember to use the correct collocations when you talk about sports. (Click to enlarge) Emma

Emma Cosgrave

17 March, 2021

3 tips to boost fluency in IELTS

In the IELTS Speaking test, you will be marked on your fluency. In this video, IELTS author Lucy Passmore shares 3 tips on how to improve your fluency for the test.

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How to use cohesive devices in IELTS Speaking

In the IELTS Speaking test you will be marked on your coherence and the use of cohesive devices. But what does this mean? In this video IELTS author, Lucy Passmore, explains what they are and how to use them to improve your test day performance. Knowing how you are assessed will help with your preparation and on test day.

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How to improve your coherence in IELTS Speaking

In the IELTS Speaking test you will be marked on coherence. But what does this mean? In this video, IELTS author Lucy Passmore explains what this means, and how to get a good mark for coherence in the test. Knowing how you are assessed will help with your preparation and on test day.

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