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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A year of We Love IELTS – your top picks for IELTS Speaking

We know 2020 has been a strange year for most of us! Let's talk about the positives, with We Love IELTS launching in February, we hope we have been a great support to you when preparing for your IELTS Test. We have spoken to thousands of you and over a million of you have joined us on this new platform. We are grateful to our growing community and know many of you will be new here. We thought what better time to share your top blogs for IELTS Speaking: 1. Prepare for IELTS Speaking with our new podcast Did you know that we have a We Love IELTS podcast? It seems like many of you do as our most popular blog post of 2020 told you all about it. Our first series covers frequently asked questions, top tips for each part of the IELTS test and looks at each section of the Speaking test in detail. Watch this space for news on our new series launching in the New Year. READ MORE 2. Preparing for the IELTS Speaking test part 1 In this popular blog post of 2020, IELTS expert Emma shares what to expect in the Speaking test part 1 and explains how to prepare for it. She also shares an IELTS topic list for you to download and some general questions for you to practise with. Read the blog post to find out all you need to know. READ MORE 3. IELTS Speaking Game: Don’t say it In the IELTS Speaking test, showing you can keep up a conversation if you don't know a word is as important, or maybe even more important, as knowing the right word. This game by IELTS expert Liz, can help you if you forget the one word you need in the test. Find out more by reading this blog post and play the game today. READ MORE 4. How to become more fluent for IELTS Speaking To achieve a good band score in the IELTS Speaking test, you need to demonstrate a level of fluency when speaking. Find out how to boost your fluency with IELTS author Lucy in this fourth most popular blog post of 2020. READ MORE Enjoy!  


18 December, 2020

Essential Pronunciation in IELTS Speaking

In this post, I will focus on the speaking subskill of pronunciation.    How is pronunciation tested in the IELTS Speaking test? The descriptor Pronunciation assesses 3 main areas of pronunciation.  The range of pronunciation features you use. When you look at the individual band scores for the descriptors, you'll see phrases such as ‘uses a full range of features’ in band 9, ‘a range’ in band 6 and ‘a limited range’ in band 4.  The level of control you have over these features. For example, you'll see the phrase ‘sustains flexible use’ in bands 8 and 9 and ‘lapses are frequent’ in band 4. How easy your pronunciation is to understand. For example, a band 9 candidate would be ‘effortless to understand’ while a band 6 candidate ‘can be generally understood, though mispronunciation of individual words and sounds reduces clarity at times’.  Which features of pronunciation are tested To get a good score for pronunciation, it’s important to be familiar with the different features of pronunciation that are assessed in the IELTS Speaking test. Below is a summary of all the different features you'll need to be aware of…and practise! Accuracy: This is often related to your use of individual sounds. There are three main types of sounds in English – vowels, consonants and diphthongs. You can learn more about these by studying the phonemic chart. It’s quite likely that there’ll be certain sounds in English that you‘ll find more difficult to produce accurately than others, and this will normally be related to your first language. For example, it may be that a specific sound does not exist in your first language.  Word stress: This means placing the stress or emphasis on the correct syllable in a word – for example, the word computer has three syllables and the stress is placed on the second syllable – comPUter. Your use of word stress can affect how easy you are to understand. Sentence stress: This involves the individual word or words in a sentence that you choose to emphasise. It’s different from word stress in that it’s used to convey meaning. For example, in the phrase ‘she called you yesterday’, we could choose to stress the word ‘you’, to make it clear that you are the person she called, or ‘yesterday’ to make it clear which day it was. Weak sounds: English words contain a lot of weak syllable sounds, (represented by the phonetic symbol called the ‘schwa’ /ə/). You can hear this sound in the first syllable of the word ‘about’. Knowing which syllables in a word have these sounds can make your English pronunciation sound more natural.  Intonation: Intonation describes the way in which our voice rises and falls when we speak. The main issue students are likely to face with intonation is sounding ‘flat’ or ‘monotone’ due to not having enough variety of intonation. This can be the result of speaking a language which has less varied intonation, but also from reciting a prepared script.  What resources can I use to improve my pronunciation for the IELTS Speaking Test? 1. Use model answers as a resource for practising pronunciation Both the recordings of model answers or the printed tape scripts that you find in the back of your IELTS coursebook can be great resources for working on your pronunciation. If you’re using a recording, you could practise listening out for a particular feature (such as sentence stress or weak sounds), note them down and then practise saying them yourself. Or you could practise marking up a feature of pronunciation on a printed script (e.g. highlight all the words that you think the speaker will stress) and then listen, check and practise.  2. Record yourself speaking Recording yourself talking about a typical IELTS Speaking topic and then listening out for both good examples of the features of pronunciation as well as any errors can be a very effective way of improving your pronunciation. You may find it easier to swap recordings with a friend and to correct each other, as it can be difficult to recognise mistakes in your own speaking. 3. Use speech recognition software As an alternative to recording yourself, you could use a free speech recognition software, such as Speechnotes to identify your pronunciation errors. To use Speechnotes, you speak into a microphone, and a transcript of what you are saying appears on the screen. Do be aware that voice recognition software is not always 100% accurate; however, it can still be a useful way of identifying words that you may be mispronouncing.  And finally… Pronunciation may not receive as much attention as fluency, vocabulary and grammar, particularly in IELTS coursebooks, but remember that it’s still worth 25% of your Speaking test score, and taking a bit of time to work on it could really boost your score! I hope you enjoyed this series on Speaking! If you have any questions or comments please do share these with us on Facebook or Instagram. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas for how I can help you. Lucy

Lucy Passmore

25 November, 2020

Everyday English: Ordering Coffee

Preparing for your IELTS test is really important, but what about real life English? Could you order a coffee in a busy coffee shop? Sounds simple I know but even the most advanced English users can stumble when it comes to this. There are more and more coffee shops full of people drinking amazing beverages. From ‘skinny soy lattes with an extra shot’ to ‘venti caramel macchiatos to go’… (Most of the words are not English but have been borrowed from languages like Italian.) So, where do you begin? My advice is to work out what you will order before you go and practise saying it. Fortunately, there are some common names for different styles of coffees. Use this list to work out a basic order and avoid any stress at the counter.   Add these words to get a cold drink or a decaffeinated drink. You could even add both e.g. ‘an iced, decaf latte’ Iced (+ any of the above orders): cold, with ice Decaf (+ any of the above orders): decaffeinated coffee Milk When you order your coffee, you may be asked what kind of milk you’d like. Here is a list of the most common options on offer. Whole milk / full fat milk Semi skimmed / low fat milk Skimmed / fat free milk Soymilk (milk made from soybeans) Almond milk (milk made from almonds) Some coffee shops have coconut milk and oat milk too! Most people use the word ‘skinny’ to show that they want a fat free milk choice. If you don’t say you want your drink to be ‘skinny’ you will get whole milk. Extras As well as choosing your milk you can choose to add flavours and other extras to your drink. Here are some of the most common options. A shot of vanilla syrup A shot of hazelnut syrup A shot of caramel Mocha (chocolate) Whipped cream Extra foam (more foam than the standard serving in a cappuccino) Cup Sizes Another thing that confuses everyone is the sizes. Different coffee shops use different words to describe the size of their drinks. I have included the names used by Starbucks as I find them the most confusing of all! Be warned, in some countries the size of coffee cups is enormous, have a look around on the counter to see if you can see the size of the cups they use. Even a small coffee may be a lot bigger than you are used to! Watch out, you get more shots of coffee and more caffeine!   Questions the barista (a person who serves in a coffee bar) might ask The barista might ask you a long list of questions to get the details of your order right. This can make even the most confident person feel nervous, it is often a noisy place and things happen fast. Think about these questions and how you would answer them for your perfect cup of coffee. Hi, there. What can I get you? / What are you having? / What would you like? Would you like milk with that? Regular milk? What size is that? (What size cup do you want?) Any flavours or other extras? Is that for here or to go? (are you drinking in the shop or are you taking the coffee with you?) Is that all? (Do you want to order anything else, more drinks, food?) Can I have your name, please? (the barista will call you when your drink is ready) Phrases to order coffee in English If you know exactly what you want, give the barista as much detail as possible, this will mean far fewer questions to answer! I’d like a tall, decaf, Americano to go, please.   Can I get a skinny soy latte for here please? Could I have a regular full-fat cappuccino with extra foam please? Also, I would like a blueberry muffin and a banana. Thank you. The next time you arrange to meet a friend in a coffee shop you don’t need to worry about ordering, you should be able to work out the kind of thing that you want in advance and then order like a local! Good luck! If you would like to learn more Everyday English please do let us know on Facebook or Instagram! Emma

Emma Cosgrave

20 November, 2020

Episode 9: How to manage IELTS test anxiety

In this first episode of our second series, IELTS expert Pete Jones shares some tips on how to reduce any anxiety you might have regarding the IELTS test to help you make the most of your preparation time and perform better in the test.

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IELTS Speaking: Don’t make this mistake with in and on

One of the most common mistakes made by IELTS test takers when speaking about the internet or computers is using the word 'in' rather than 'on'. Many say 'in the internet' or 'in the computer' instead of 'on the internet' or 'on the computer'.

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IELTS Focus: Speaking Test Part 3 questions

In this recording IELTS teachers, Emma and Liz focus on Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking Test.

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