IELTS Speaking Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to IELTS speaking frequently asked questions. Click on the questions to see the answers and get useful tips and information about IELTS speaking.

  1. How many parts are there to the IELTS speaking test?
    There are 3 parts. There is an interview, a talk and a discussion with the examiner.
  2. How long does the speaking test take?
    It takes a total of 11 to 14 minutes. Part 1 is 4-5 mins, part 2 is 3-4 mins and part 3 is 4-5 mins.
  3. Is the speaking test face to face with an examiner or by computer?
    Your speaking test will be face to face with an IELTS examiner. There is no option to do your IELTS test by computer.
  4. How will the speaking test be marked?
    You will be marked on fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Each one accounts for 25% of your marks. Learn learn more about the speaking criteria, follow the link.
  5. What kinds of topics will be asked in the speaking test?
    There are many different topics for each part of the speaking test. Follow the link to get a list of common topics and questions for part 1, part 2 and part 3.
  6. How many questions will I be asked?
    You will be asked 12 questions in part 1 (these are based on 3 different topics) and in part 3, you will be asked 5 or more questions – it depends on the length of your answers. Try to aim for long, detailed answers in part 3.
  7. Why do I need to expand my answers in my speaking test?
    To get band score 6 and above for the criterion of fluency, you must show the examiner that you are willing to speak at length. This means you are happy to give longer answers.
  8. Do I need to talk for 2 minutes in part 2?
    In part 2, you must talk for between 1 and 2 minutes. I recommended you aim for between 1.5 to 2 mins which will show a good level of fluency and the ability to speak at length. However, if you are not a confident speaker, don’t try to push it too far and just aim for slightly over 1 minute.
  9. What happens if I continue talking past 2 mins in speaking part 2?
    The examiner will control the time very strictly in your test. The examiner will stop you when you reach 2 minutes and then he/she will move on to part 3.
  10. Can I choose my topic to talk about in part 2?
    No, the examiner will give you a topic card which contains a list of prompts.
  11. Can I ask the examiner to change the topic is part 2 if I can't talk about it?
    No, you can’t change the topic. You must try to talk on the topic you are given.
  12. Do I need to follow the prompts on the cue card in speaking part 2?
    No, you don’t have to, it’s not compulsory. However, I recommend that you do follow the prompts because they offer a good structure for your talk. This is part of the criterion of fluency.
  13. What's the difference between part 1 and part 3 in the IELTS speaking test?
    Part 1 is like an interview. The examiner will ask you short answer questions on common topics relating to your life or your country. In part 3, it is more similar to a discussion. The examiner will ask you about world issues or broader, more complex questions. In part 3, your answers should be longer and more detailed.
  14. Should I give examples in my answers?
    Yes, it is very useful to do that, particularly in part 3 when you need to give longer, more detailed answers.
  15. What can I do if I don't understand the question?
    In speaking part 1, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question but the examiner can’t explain it or help you. In part 2, the examiner will give you a topic and you can’t change it. In part 3, you can ask the examiner to explain the question, just say ” I’m sorry could you explain that, please?
  16. Will I get a lower score if I ask the examiner to repeat the question?
    No, it will not affect your score. However, only do this two or three times and no more.
  17. What can I do if I don't have any ideas for the answer in part 3?
    It sometimes happens that you are asked a question for which you have no ideas. Here’s a typical example “How do you think space exploration benefits mankind?” If you get a question but you have no ideas for the answer, you can say “To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it before. I guess there are benefits to space exploration but I can’t say what they are.” This answer is still good. You are still using a range of good language.
  18. Does it matter if I have an accent when I talk?
    No, as long as the examiner can understand clearly. If your accent prevents the examiner from understanding you, it will lower your score drastically.
  19. Why did the examiner interrupt my answer?
     It is possible for the examiner to interrupt your answer and not let you finish. There are three main reasons why this might happen. Firstly, there is a time limit and the examiner must move on to the next question. Secondly, the examiner is satisfied with the language in your answer and wants to move quickly to a new question which tests another part of your English. Thirdly, your answer has gone off topic and the examiner wants to start a new question. So, if the examiner interrupts your answer, don’t worry about it. Just focus on the next question and answer confidently.
  20. Can I ask the examiner for his or her opinion?
    No, this is a language test, the examiner wants to hear your English and your opinions.
  21. Where can I get a practice speaking test from?
    Follow this link and you will be able to do a practice speaking test on video and then get a link to model answers.
  22. Should I correct my mistakes when I'm speaking in the test?
    It is ok to correct some mistakes but make sure it doesn’t affect your fluency. Every time you stop speaking to correct a mistake, it will affect your fluency score.
  23. How should I greet the examiner?
    When you walk into the speaking exam room, the examiner will greeting and do an ID check. Follow this link to learn all about the questions for the ID check and how to greet the examiner.
  24. What should I wear for my speaking test?
    You can wear whatever you want. This is not a formal interview, it is only a speaking test. Wear clothes that you are most comfortable in.
  25. What happens if my answer includes the answer to the next question on the examiner's list?
    The examiner has quite a long list of possible questions and they choose which questions to ask and which not to ask. So if you answer includes the answer to the next question on the examiner’s list, he or she will skip that question and move on to the question after that. So never worry about adding extra information to your answer – it won’t affect the next question.
  26. Can I use body language in my speaking test?
    The examiner is only interested in hearing your English language. It is your choice if you want to use body language or not. Most people find it natural to use body language while talking so feel free to use it. It is important that you are relaxed and talk naturally during your test.

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