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.

Find the right preparation material for you

We’ll recommend study resources to help you achieve your target band score.

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More on Speaking ...

Preparing for Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test

Do you find part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test difficult? You're not alone. Many people get really nervous about this. Don't panic, We Love IELTS is here to help.  Following on from my post about part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test today, I am going to  look at Part 2, explaining what it is and how to prepare for it so that you are confident and relaxed when you take the test. Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test is designed to test your ability to talk for a longer time. It gives you an opportunity to speak fluently about a personal experience.  Let’s start by looking at the format. The Speaking test is the same for both the Academic and General Training IELTS tests.  Part 2 lasts for a total of 4 to 5 minutes. The examiner will give you a cue card, a pencil, some paper and explain that you have 1 minute to prepare a 2-minute talk on the topic on the card. The cue card will look like this: (Click to enlarge) As you can see the cue card gives you the topic in the first line and then 4 areas to talk about. It’s helpful to use this as the structure of your talk. During the 1-minute preparation time you can make notes - these help you to plan your ideas and also help you if you get stuck in the middle of your talk.  Here are some things to remember: keep notes short - just a few words for each point on the cue card write notes in English (you don’t want to be translating as you talk) organise your notes so that they follow the prompts on the cue card try different approaches: lists, mind maps, words scattered on the paper.   Two minutes can feel like a very long time so make sure you choose something (from the above example) you can talk about for 2 minutes, this could mean adding to the story with extra information. Don’t worry about telling the truth, you’re being tested on your ability to organise your ideas and talk fluently on a topic! Don’t try to make the whole thing up though, that can be really hard, you may just want to add a few details that are not 100% accurate to show off some more vocabulary.  When you talk for longer than you would in a normal two-way conversation, it is important to think about cohesion, the way you link your ideas together. Be careful, though - using linkers that are too formal will make your speaking sound unnatural. Here are some linking devices to use in your speaking:   because    so     also      in addition on top of that        but  on the other hand   So, now you have a cue card, an idea of how to organise your notes and some linkers that you can use in your Speaking test. The only thing left to do is have a go.  Using this cue card, try making notes in different way and think about what works best for you. Here are two formats you could use:  (Click to enlarge) (Click to enlarge) Before your test, make sure you‘ve done lots of practice questions. Practise speaking with an alarm set to go off after two minutes so you can get a sense of how much you need to say. Be warned, if you have nothing to say it can feel like forever!  Another really great way to prepare is to record yourself (use your phone to do this.). Listen back and ask the following questions:  (Click to enlarge) Using sample cue cards, prepare for a minute and then talk for 2 minutes, record yourself and listen back, ask those questions and analyse your own work. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more confident you will be.  Good luck everyone! Emma 

Emma Cosgrave

9 July, 2020

Top tips from examiners for IELTS Speaking

As an author for IELTS, I always find it's really important to fully understand the exam and hear from experiences of a really important group of people: IELTS examiners. Many of them have been doing this for a long time and have seen thousands of students. I asked some of them for their top tips to give to students taking the Speaking test and this is what they said:  Familiarise yourself with each part of the exam: As you can imagine, many examiners said that it’s essential that candidates are familiar with all the procedural aspects of the exam before taking it. That means that you should know how the exam works, how many parts there are and what is expected for each part. Of course, all good learners will do that! Make sure you answer the questions:  Sounds obvious but examiners have told me that too often candidates answer questions with answers that aren’t relevant. What often happens is that learners think they’ve heard a certain question – or maybe they’ve planned for a certain topic and want the question to be about this and so mishear the examiner – when in fact the examiner has asked something different.  One good piece of advice here is to ask the examiner to repeat the question if you’re not sure – better this than you give an answer that’s not related to the question. What if you hear the question correctly but the examiner uses an unfamiliar word? You can ask the examiner to explain that word to you. Again, it’s better to do that than guess the meaning incorrectly and start giving an answer concerning something you weren’t asked about. Once you’re confident about what you’ve been asked, it’s time to answer. Make sure you provide enough detail in your answers to get as high a score as possible. Expand on your initial answer by giving explanations and examples. Take your time and make yourself time: Not even native speakers can give the perfect answer immediately. Trust me, I’ve had many job interviews where I’ve tried to answer straight away and wish I had just given myself a little bit more time to think. Of course, you don’t want to appear as if you are hesitating or lack fluency so here’s a good tip. Paraphrase – or put in other words but with the same meaning – the examiner’s question back to them and then add a small comment like ‘that’s an interesting question’ or ‘that’s something I haven’t really thought about’. This will ‘buy’ yourself extra thinking time and it’s perfectly natural to do as long as you don’t do exactly the same thing for every single question. I certainly wish I had done this for my last interview!  As well as giving yourself time, think about how best to use it. You shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to answer the questions. Take your time and think about what you want to say. Speaking too quickly without taking the time to organise your thoughts can negatively affect your message’s coherence and may make it sound a bit muddled. Perform at your best in Part 2: To give yourself the best chance of doing well in Part 2, you should use all of the 1 minute preparation time before the long turn in this part. Ensure you have read the topic and prompts carefully so that you are confident that you know what you’ll say. Also, make notes in response to the prompts. These should just be keywords but having them will help you give a good answer. One examiner told me that some candidates forgot to answer the question in part 2. It seems amazing that this can happen, but apparently this is particularly frequent with candidates with lower levels of English. If that sounds too obvious for you to make the same mistake, then that’s great. Hopefully by reading this you’ll definitely not make this mistake in the exam.  One last bit of advice about Part 2’s long turn is that you should keep speaking until the examiner asks you to stop. When the examiner does this by indicating that you’ve run out of time, finish your last sentence and stop. That way you can finish in a more natural way. Hopefully these top tips can help you do even better in your next IELTS exam.  Good luck! Jishan

Jishan Uddin

2 July, 2020

Prepare for IELTS Speaking with our NEW podcast

We're pleased to announce the launch of our podcast, 'All you need for IELTS success'. This podcast is for anyone taking the IELTS test. Every episode we'll be joined by experts from the world of IELTS (teachers, authors and former IELTS examiners) to help you prepare for your test. We know preparing for IELTS can be challenging, which is why we're here to help. So whether you're taking Academic or General Training, you have six weeks or six months to prepare, we hope we can help you on your IELTS journey. Please see highlights of our current episodes and links to listen below: Episode 1: Top 5 IELTS questions answered In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz answer five questions they are frequently asked by their IELTS students. They cover the following questions: How can I prepare for IELTS at home? Which IELTS test should I prepare for? How long will it take me to prepare for IELTS? What is the difference between the computer delivered IELTS test and the paper based one Is the IELTS test easier in my home country?   Episode 2: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1 In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test. Introduction to the IELTS Speaking test What is Part 1? Student/Examiner Speaking Part 1 examples and critique Hints and Tips to aid your preparation   Episode 3: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 2 In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test. Introduction to Part 2 of the Speaking test What will you see on a cue card How to plan and answer the question Student/Examiner Speaking Part 2 example and critique   Episode 4: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 3 In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test. Introduction to Part 3 of the Speaking test How to form opinions What is an unpopular opinion Examples from IELTS 12 (part of our authentic practice tests series)   LISTEN NOW:         If you like this podcast, do rate and review on your preferred podcast player – this will help us to create new episodes and share more hints and tips to help you on your IELTS journey. Don't forget to subscribe to make sure you never miss another episode.


6 May, 2020

IELTS Focus: Speaking Test Part 3 questions

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

IELTS Focus: Speaking Test Part 3

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

Episode 4: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 3

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test.

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