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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Using artificial intelligence to check and improve your spoken accuracy

Almost everyone has access to at least one item with this, they use it a lot of the time and it makes their lives much easier. I’m thinking about Artificial Intelligence, or AI, particularly something which has speech recognition software or a speech generation function. These products that only respond once their name is said – Alexa, Siri, Hello Google, etc. – aren't just good for requesting music, they can be a useful tool in spoken English development. Can AI help you with your IELTS speaking skills? I think so.    Judgment free feedback I’m going to focus on Alexa just because that’s the one I use most. However, much of what I suggest is true for other similar tools. This form of AI can help language learners particularly with pronunciation development by being a non-judgmental checker of the sounds in English you use. If what you say is not understood, then it will say so or it will answer according to what it thought it heard. There’s no shame in either of those and it can be sometimes the fault of the machine. Consider this as a learning opportunity. Remember to change the language to English on your device before following the suggestions below.  Pronounce words better: We know there are a number of difficult words to pronounce. For IELTS Speaking, your pronunciation will be assessed along with other key parts of your speech. You don't get marks for having a British or American accent, but for being intelligible (able to understand what you're saying). Create a list of words you’d like to use especially when in the Speaking test.  So, you’ve seen them written down and you’re now familiar with the meaning and when to use the word – this is important here. Start by asking your AI for a definition of the word. Did it understand what you said? Was that the meaning you thought it was? If so, great. If not, don’t worry – try again and listen to the word in an online dictionary. Perhaps your word stress was slightly wrong, or a vowel sound wasn’t quite right. No need to be upset – no one is judging you. That’s the beauty of this system.  Go further and ask how many syllables your chosen word has – again, this will check you’ve pronounced it well enough. Try to find words with more than 3 or 4 syllables. Again, allow any misunderstandings to be an opportunity for learning. Of course, with many of these devices, you need to ask questions – something you don’t often do in the IELTS Speaking test. Carefully think about how you will put these words (or phrases) into simple questions that will check your pronunciation and probably your grammar – rephrase or repeat your question until you feel you’ve been understood. Conversation practice: You can take this approach further by using phrases and sentences. How long can you maintain the conversation? This is a new thing from Alexa called ‘Let’s chat’ – it’s actually a competition that developers are taking part in to see if they can create a ‘socialbot’. Keep an eye out for this as it’s in the early stages but apparently you can talk about a topic with an AI device for up to 20 minutes on many everyday topics.  Remember, breakdowns in communication and misunderstandings are opportunities for you to improve, and you can always blame the technology! Interestingly, you can hear and read your questions and conversations again by accessing the app – this will give you a transcript to check and delete later if you’re concerned about privacy.    Part 2 speaking development  Moving on from individual words and phrases and short questions and answers, let’s now consider IELTS Speaking Part 2. You’ll receive a card and you’ll have to speak about a topic for up to two minutes. There are many examples of possible topic cards online – select a few for the activity I’m about to explain. Without a teacher or even a fellow student, it may seem impossible to get feedback but you can record your answer and then listen again and identify places where you know you’ve made a mistake. Perhaps you didn’t talk about one of the key points or you spoke for too long. Perhaps you made a number of grammar mistakes you can now see. AI can help you go further here.  (Click to enlarge) Remember though that with AI, it’s a computer so it’s not perfect. But it does give you non-judgmental feedback for you to use to improve your speaking and better prepare for the exam. Jishan

Jishan Uddin

19 August, 2020

Top 5 ways to improve your IELTS Speaking skills every day

Being able to speak English fluently is the goal of most language learners. Speaking English when you're travelling or living abroad can make the experience easier. But if you don’t live in an English-speaking country, then having the opportunity to practice speaking in English is quite difficult.  Here are the top 5 ways to improve your speaking skills every single day.  1. Read! That’s right, you read that correctly! Much like writing (see 5 Ways to Improve your IELTS Writing Skills Every Day blog), reading widely will introduce you to a wide range of words and phrases. You’ll also be reading a wide range of grammar structures without actually having to focus on grammar. By being exposed (presented with) words and grammar used correctly and in context, you too will pick up new words and start using new grammatical structures. When you learn new words or structures, copy and paste them into a document or make a note of them on your phone, to help you remember them.  There are loads of freely available reading resources online. The most important thing is that you read about any topic you’re interested in, but it must be in English for this to help you with your speaking skill.   2. Listen!  Listen to music, the news, podcasts, the radio, anything and everything you can. Do this every day – while you’re having breakfast, sitting on the bus or at the gym. In the evenings, watch English speaking movies, TV and Netflix programmes with English subtitles on. You can find more tips for Listening here. The more English you listen to, the more vocabulary and grammar you’ll learn (without having to do any real work) and the better your pronunciation will be.  3. Talk to yourself in English!  A good way to practise speaking English is to talk to yourself when you’re alone. It can be quite embarrassing to try and speak English with others especially if you feel that your vocabulary isn’t very good but speaking to yourself isn’t embarrassing, is it?  Start by watching your favourite English-speaking programme with English subtitles. Watch for five minutes – listen and read the subtitles. Rewind and start again. The follow these instructions:   Watch the first few minutes again and listen to your recording. How did you sound? Can you do it better the next time? Focus on the pronunciation of the words, the rhythm of the sentence, the way the speakers link sounds between words, etc. You can repeat the same sequence as many times as you like.   4. Think in English!  It will also really help if you can think in English. It might sound a little strange but it really does help. Give yourself instructions in English for example; ‘I’m thirsty. Go to the kitchen, get a glass, turn on the tap…’. You could also keep a thoughts and feelings diary in English. Write down what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.  Try changing the default language on your mobile phones so that all the apps and information is in English. Do the same on any of your devices.  Play online games in English. Join online English chat forums. Respond to our Facebook and Instagram posts and stories in English. You may not be speaking but you will be thinking and responding in English! 5. Use technology! If you don’t want to talk to yourself why not talk to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant? Don’t type a question into Google or whichever search engine you use; ask your personal assistant instead.  Going somewhere new? Ask your personal assistant to find the location and tell you the directions instead.  There are also apps which help connect you with native English speakers around the world. Here are a some of them:  HelloTalk Tandem Bilingua  HiNative In this new world that we live in we have to find new ways of speaking to people, technology has made that easier to do than ever before.  Start speaking English today! Every day! We hope this blog has been useful. Let us know which tip or tips you’re going to start using on our Facebook page. Liz

Liz Marqueiro

5 August, 2020

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.     Listening Practice: Listen to Emma read preparing for Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test     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

Episode 3: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 2

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test.

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Episode 2: Prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1

In this episode, IELTS teachers Emma and Liz discuss part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test.

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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.

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