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 ...

Preparing for IELTS Speaking Part 3

The IELTS Speaking test is a face-to-face test that lasts approximately 15 minutes. Let's have a quick overview of the timings and tasks. (Click to enlarge) Today I will be talking about the third and final part of the Speaking test. If you want more detailed information about Part 1 or Part 2, take a look at my previous blogs: Preparing for the IELTS Speaking Test Part 1  Preparing for Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test So let’s look at Part 3 in more detail ... The final part of the IELTS Speaking test is a discussion between the candidate and the examiner. It is designed to give you a chance to speak in a more relaxed way. It lasts for 4 to 5 minutes and can be a two-way conversation. Many students feel nervous about this section of the test and worry that they won’t understand the questions. It is true that the questions will be more advanced in Part 3, but that is a positive thing. It gives you a chance to let your English language ability really shine. What is Part 3 about? Part 3 of the test will be related to the topic in Part 2. The examiner might ask you to explain the reason for something, the advantages and disadvantages, the future of something and so on. Basically, the thing to do is give an answer including your opinion and then explain why you think that. Add some real-life examples if you can too.   But what do you do if you have absolutely no idea what the examiner has asked you? Well, first, you can ask them to repeat the question, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t catch that, could you repeat the question?’. If you are still unsure and need some thinking time then say something like, ‘That’s an interesting question, let me think about that…’ or ‘ I have never really thought about that before, let me see…’ or even ‘I am not really sure but if I had to answer I would say…’ The worst thing you could do is to sit in complete silence and just not answer! In Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test you are expected to give opinions. Whether or not you have the same opinion as the examiner doesn’t matter, it is just important that you can express an opinion in clear and coherent English. Remember that you are not expected to have specialist knowledge about the subject and you are not being tested on your opinion, just your English. Well, I think/suppose/would say … I think most people would agree that … If you notice that you have made a mistake then you should definitely go back and correct it. This is what native speakers do all the time and it shows the examiner that you are able to recognize and correct your own mistakes, this is a good thing. I mean … What I meant to say was… What I want to say is … What I’m trying to say is … One way to think about the answers that you give in this part of the IELTS Speaking test is that they are more formal than an everyday conversation. The Examiner needs to hear you give a full answer. You can think of your answer fitting into this structure: Give an opinion (say what you think) Give a reason for your opinion (say why you think this) Give an example (show what you mean) Your turn… Have a go at answering some sample questions taken from the ‘The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS’. Remember to use the 3-part strategy ‘Opinion - Reason - Examples’. Do you think it’s more important to earn a large salary or to be happy in your job? Do you think some people spend too much time on their computers these days? (Why?) Pollution is a problem in many countries. What do you think governments can do about it? Remember, the examiner wants to give you the best possible mark in the test. Make sure you answer all the questions as fully as you can so that the examiner can assess your language. Good luck in the test everyone. Emma

Emma Cosgrave

17 February, 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 improve your fluency in IELTS Speaking

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

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How to improve your Speaking for IELTS

In this video, IELTS expert, Pete Jones shares four tried-and-tested ways to improve your speaking for IELTS. You may just be starting to prepare for IELTS or you’ve taken the test already, perhaps more than once, and not got the Speaking band score you need; this video can help you.

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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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