This page that will guide you through the three types of IELTS Speaking questions the examiner will ask.
Not knowing anything about the questions comes in as the number one mistake most IELTS test candidates make.
The 3 Parts Of The Test
The IELTS Speaking Test has 3 sections, which get progressively harder. When combined, the 3 parts take between 11-14 minutes.
Your test will take place within a strict time limit. Do not worry if the examiner interrupts you halfway through a question, a half-finished answer does not affect your score. It just means that the examiner had to end your answer before that part of the test went overtime.
For more information about how the Speaking Test is marked, take a look at the public version of the marking guide used by examiners.
IELTS Speaking Questions Part 1
In the first part of the test, the examiner will ask you about three different topics.
These questions deal with topics of general interest which most people can answer. This section will take between 4-5 minutes.
The examiner cannot deviate from his script during this part of the test. You can ask him the meaning of a word. You can also ask him to repeat a question, but nothing more. The examiner will not respond to any other questions or comments that you make.
The first set of questions follow an easy to predict pattern.
The examiner will ask you either about your home, your hometown, or the city where you live now. Alternatively, he may ask about your work or study. Even the lowest-level English speakers can handle these questions.
While you should try to answer these questions to the best of your ability, this section will end quickly. Don’t waste too much time learning vocabulary just for this section.
After these questions, the examiner will ask you about 2 more topics that he pre-selected. Topics in this section can include a variety of subjects, including flowers, trees, the sky, your hobbies, shopping and so on.
The examiner may ask you about a topic you have no experience of. Even if you tell the examiner at the beginning, he will continue to ask you the questions in his script.
Avoid Overlong answers – sentences of two or three sentences should suffice.
If the examiner wants you to say more, he will ask you ‘Why?’.
Don’t take this personally, they can’t say anything else in this part of the test, except for reading the question.
IELTS Speaking Questions Part 2
Part 2 begins when the examiner says “Now, I’m …”.
He then explains that he will give you a question and that you have 1 minute to prepare a 2-minute answer. The examiner will provide you with a pencil and paper and the question. He will then read the first line of the question and start the clock.
During that time, you should make some notes about how you will answer the question.
My video course contains some tips on note making. It also provides advice on what to do when you have no experience with the question and which parts of the question you can ignore.
After you have finished answering the Part 2 question, you the examiner will ask one follow-up question.
See my video course for an effortless way to handle this question.
IELTS Speaking Questions Part 3
Part 3 begins when the examiner says: “We’ve been talking about …”.
This section differs to Parts 1 and 2. In this part of the test, the examiner can ask his own questions and aim them at your level. However, the final section does continue the theme of Part 2.
Part 3 pushes your ability as far as it will go. The examiner will have decided your score within half a band. In this section, he will adjust it up or down based on how well you respond to the questions.
In Part 3 the examiner can ask his own questions and can deviate from the script. This flexibility allows him to further challenge you on something you have said.
The exam writers have designed the questions to make you do specific things, for example, to compare, to describe, or perhaps to speculate.
This section has no limit on the number of questions, but it can’t go beyond 5 minutes.
When you reach the end of Part 3, the examiner will say “Thank you very much. That is the end of the Speaking test”.
You cannot ask the examiner anything else, and the examiner has no more questions for you. Wish the examiner a lovely weekend – then go home and enjoy yours!
For a fuller guide on the types of questions and grammar, you should use, please refer to my video course.