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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More on Speaking ...

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

Improve your band score for vocabulary and grammar (Part 1)

Everybody wants the chance to do well in the IELTS Speaking test. This blog is here to help you improve your band score. This blog will give you an example Part 2 task, ask a Part 3 question and give you the correct language you can use to complete the task. IELTS Speaking Part 2 – What is it? 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: (Click to enlarge) The first prompt asks you to say where the hotel is. Let’s look at two responses: The hotel I’m going to talk about is in Thailand. The hotel that springs to mind, is in Krabi which is situated in southern Thailand. Which of these responses shows a use of less common vocabulary and greater flexibility in vocabulary and grammar? I think you’ll agree it’s the one on the right.   Here are the other prompts in the Part 2 task. 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.   (Click to enlarge) If you feel that the language you produce is more like the language in Band 5 above, then look at the band 7+ column and highlight the language and grammar structures. Try using them yourself to improve your answer to the Part 2 task above. IELTS Speaking Part 3 - What is it? Here’s a quick summary. 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: “Do you think hotel work is a good career for life?” Here’s an example response to this question. Listen and decide if you think this is more like a Band 5 answer OR a Band 7+ answer. Now compare that answer with this one. The first audio is a Band 5 response. The second audio is a Band 7+. Listen to it again and see if you can hear the following: It’s completely dependent on … long term goals professional development may start off thinking … not a very secure career All of the above show vocabulary being used flexibly. There’s also use of less common and idiomatic vocabulary. In terms of grammar, there’s a range of complex structures used flexibly. Top tip: try completing the Part 2 task and answering the Part 3 question above use some of the language highlighted as Band 7+ record yourself do it again record yourself notice how many new words and expressions you’ve used. Happy practising! Liz

Liz Marqueiro

10 February, 2021

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

How to use 'well' in the IELTS Speaking test

When you're preparing for the IELTS Speaking test, it is not only useful to think about how you will respond to the examiner's questions, but also the language you can use to give your response. One of the most simple, but most common words that we use to begin a response to a question in English is the word 'well'. Find out how to use 'well' in our short video.

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3 tips to improve your coherence in IELTS Speaking

In the IELTS Speaking test you will be marked on your coherence. In this short video, IELTS author, Lucy Passmore provides tips on how to practise being coherent and improve your score in the test.

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3 tips to improve your coherence in IELTS Speaking

In the IELTS Speaking test you will be marked on your coherence. In this short video, IELTS author, Lucy Passmore provides tips on how to practise being coherent and improve your score in the test.

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