Quick Tips for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Below are a list of tips that will help you in speaking part 1.

I want to thank you for posting your concerns on the Research Page for Speaking Part 1. All your concerns will help me create a strong Advanced lesson for part 1.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Tips

  1. Part 1 will last between 4 to 5 mins. Not more and not less.
  2. You will know when part 1 starts because the examiner will turn on the recording device.
  3. In part 1, you will be asked questions on three everyday topics, such as home, hometown, work, studies, weather, hobbies, family, happiness, parks, sport, cooking, computers, school, food, flowers etc.
  4. You cannot ask the examiner to change the topic.
  5. The topics are chosen randomly by the examiner from a long list.
  6. Just because you don’t like or know much about a topic doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your past, your memories, your hopes, your likes, your dislikes, what people in your country like or what is popular.
  7. You will be asked a total of about 12 questions in part 1 based on the three topics.
  8. The questions will be about your memories, your childhood, your future hopes, your life, your family, your friends and sometimes about what people think or feel or like in your country. 
  9. The examiner will indicate the topic by saying “Let’s talk about X”.
  10. Your answers will usually be between 1 – 2 sentences.
  11. Always answer directly to show correct use of grammar – Q. Do you like swimming? = A. Yes, I do.  But…
  12. You must always add more to your answers = A. Yes, I do. I swim mostly at weekends though because I don’t have much time during the week due to my work commitments. 
  13. Never give two or three words as an answer. If you don’t show the examiner your English, you won’t get a good score. Always add more as explained in tip 12.
  14. Let the examiner decide when to move to the next question. Keep talking until he or she asks the next question.
  15. It is normal to have your answer interrupted – you should be prepared for that. It doesn’t not reflect your score or the strength of your answer. It is just part of the testing system. 
  16. Part 1 sometimes feels like a rapid fire question section. Be ready for that.
  17. It is fine to give a negative answer. Q. Do you often go to the cinema? = A. No, I don’t. To be honest, I rarely have time. I think the last time I went to the cinema was about two years ago.
  18. Some questions might require a longer answer because they need  more explaining. Q. Do you think men and women like similar movies? = A. Well, it’s hard to say. I suppose that it is common for men to prefer movies that are more action based with more special effects, while women generally go for romantic movies and comedies. Of course, that’s an over-generalisation, but I guess you could say that.
  19. If you are asked about your hometown, this means the town where you spent most of your childhood. If you were brought up in more than one place, you can choose which place to describe.
  20. If you are asked about your neighbourhood, it means the street and streets around where you live now.
  21. If you are asked Q. Do you work or do you study?,  just be honest and direct in your answer = A. I work /  I study /  I am a housewife / I don’t work or study at the moment. The examiner will then ask you about your work, about your studies or the examiner will change the topic if you do neither. This is the only time the examiner might change the topic based on your answer.
  22. The questions are not because the examiner wants information about your life. The questions are just to give you an opportunity to show your English. Your ideas are not marked. Go to the main speaking page (link given below) to learn about the marking criteria and other information about the speaking test.
  23. Some examiners are not as friendly or encouraging as others. You should be ready for that and make sure it does not affect your performance.
  24. Your aim in the test is to speak naturally and confidently. Be chatty. Be ready to share your life, your thoughts and your feelings. Be polite, but remember it is informal. Each question is a chance to show the examiner your English. 
  25. If you want more tips on preparation, topics & questions for each part, and model answers for IELTS speaking, please go to this page: IELTS Speaking Main Page.
  26. If you have taken your test already – feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments box below.

I hope you find this list useful. Make sure you follow the link to the main speaking page and get lots of free lessons and tips 🙂 Main pages for other sections of the IELTS test can be found through the RED BAR at the top of the website. There are over 300 pages of tips, lessons etc on this site – use them all.

All the best



  1. thanks a zillion for this explanation.
    it is little things like this that make a huge difference in understanding ielts

  2. Hi liz,
    I am Tring to help my gf with the speaking exam but I’m very confused on where to even start but I’m going through all the topics in part one to prepare for answers for all the question but do you have answers for all the question on your website by any chance to just get an idea for how to answer some questions if you do please let me know as soon as possible I will really appriciate it

  3. Hi Liz
    my first to write the IELTS test
    I have bought your ebook and I must admit it’s by far the best thing to explaining ideas for the IELTS writing task. One polite request I want to make here regarding speaking part 1 questions. I always see ‘why/why not’ next to each of the part 1 sample questions. Am not sure if these are part of the question or not. I will if you would be kind to explain what they.

    • It means if your answer is negative the question is asking you to explain why not. If your answer is positive, the question is asking you to explain why.
      Do you like museums? If you do not like museums, explain why not. If you do like museums explain why. Basically, your aim is always to add more explanation.
      Glad you like the ideas e-book 🙂

  4. I have just received my test results today, only managed to get 7 in speaking..the rest 6..my 3rd attempt.God knows how i want to pass these exams.. i cant understand where i go wrong.im so sad today

    • You need to review your English. Do you on the whole make only a few errors or do you make some errors when you write? Some errors = band 6 / few errors = band 7. Of course, this is over-simplifying it, but it is one way to assess your own level. If your English isn’t strong enough, you will never get band 7 until you improve your English. You need to have a good think about your English and your aims. Also review all your techniques and your understanding of the test.

  5. Thanks a lot for ideas and lessons which are so useful and helpful to me.

  6. Thank you Liz for your very useful tips. I will take the IELTS exam in a couple of days.

    • Hi Liz,

      I was practicing a listening test and it was a form completion type question. It was in the section 3 of listening test. There was a particular field in the form completion that I was confused about. here it goes:

      dates : From ________ to ________
      The answer is given as : 5th may , 16th may
      My answer: May 5th, May 16th

      Is this wrong? I mean, the ordering matters for dates? It sounds grammatically correct either ways, doesn’t it?

      Please suggest.

      PS: The word limit was : No more than three words and/or a number

  7. Amir Shahivand says

    Thank you for your perfect way of teaching.
    you’re the best Ielts teacher I’ve ever seen.

  8. Lizzzzz
    Thank you so much for all your advice. I did nothing but use your website to learn, practice and analyse myself and I managed to get a overall band score of 7.5.

    You’re great Liz!

  9. Thanks a lot Mam. Your TIPS and IDEAS are really helpful. I will make sure to use it well on my exam…..

  10. Anupama Thakur says

    Hello Liz,
    I have referred to your lessons and it helped me , i got overall 8 with 8.5 in listening.
    Thank you.

  11. Thank you Liz a lot that really help to me to understand perfectly.
    But still I have one confusion which is that in part 1 there are topics which are general but how can I give the perfect answer of that.By this I mean that from where Toni can get stuff about topics
    Plz help me

    • Your answer is not marked – only your English. There is no such thing as a perfect answer. Any answer which does not contain grammar or vocab errors, which is expanded to show fluency and which is spoken using excellent pronunciation is band 9. It’s all about English – not ideas.

  12. Vineeth Bastin says

    Hi Liz,

    I just wanted to thank you for all the wonderful tips that you have provided on your website. I randomly found your website on google. All the tips that you provided were very useful for my preparation. I got an overall Band Score of 8.0 ( Listening-8.0, Reading-8.0, Speaking-8.5 and Writing 7).

    Thank you Liz!

  13. Malcolmx Chelimo says

    Its happened that during my last speaking test when examiner was asking me some questions, I peeped into her results and I saw she wrote 6.0 on her papers. That pulled me behind and lost concentration, I never understood this because I thought marks are given straight after session. .
    This affected me slightly when I was tackling part 3.
    And to my astonishment, my end results in speaking I scored 6.0, retaking another exams has been a problem to me.
    Advice liz

    • You shouldn’t be looking at numbers written by the examiner because they are nothing to do with your score – nothing at all. They are actually to do with timing. It is purely coincidence that your score was band 6. Next time, focus on the questions and showcasing your English rather than the examiner. You must not be distracted by anything and only think of being chatty and giving a good range of language in your answers.

  14. Thank you for the tips. I’m relieved after reading.

    • Glad the tips have helped 🙂 Also go the main speaking page (link given above) to learn much more and see model answers.

  15. Hello Grateful Liz,
    Really thanks for your tips.

  16. Am happy to see you in this site.
    I want to know weather ielts test for African is different from other region of the world or not.

  17. Hello Lisa,

    Thanks a lot for all your tips,they are really helpful. Please l have a question about speaking part l.lf someone has a European ID and the person is an African, lf you are asked (where do you come from)?,what would be the answer?

  18. Hello Liz,
    I revere your all efforts in making ielts student’s life easy.
    After gathering strength, I have choosed 11th May as my exam date, speaking date is still not out.

    Kindly suggest from where I can practice speaking part, I need buddy.
    @readers: kindly contact me on ustadshalin@gmail.com.

  19. HI Liz, about tip 21, is it ok for me to add few details like what am studying, and the duration?

  20. Addai Michael says

    Hello Liz, please does some of the examiners deliberately give the unfriendly attitude or relation?

    • No, not at all. Examiners are human and thus vary sometimes in their behaviour. It isn’t anything deliberate.

  21. Hi Liz,
    If the examiner asks me “what’s the main meal of the day?” in Part 1, am I supposed to answer like “Mainly lunch, because I seldom have time to eat breakfast so at lunch I’ll eat a lot.”?
    Thank you so much!

    • There is no right or wrong answer for IELTS Speaking. The examiner just wants to hear your English. So, your answer is fine- but not perfect. However, it is grammatically incorrect to start with “mainly”. It is grammatically correct based on the question to start with “Lunch, because …”. Also notice that the question isn’t actually about “your main meal”, but about main meals in general. So, you would be more accurate with English to say “Well, most people think breakfast is the main meal, but for me it is lunch because ……..”.

  22. Priti singla says

    Hi liz,
    My test was on 14th feb and now is on 11th may. My tips fot speaking test is that one should keep calm and confident and be prepared for any type of question. Try to speak more and more in english at home, work, with friend. No need to cram others answers.

  23. Alsayed Alsayed says

    Thanks, Liz for all these enlightenments!
    Last Saturday I was hit by tip #23. Exactly he dragged me from the in front of the room door like a guilty guy who just committed a crime hhhhhhha. that moment I knew what experience means because he was a very young guy and in the next 20 mins. I just kept defending myself while my mind was crying on other test modules which were perfect!
    this is not justice as I never did the same with my undergraduates haaaaaaa

    • It’s very hard to complain about an examiner’s body language because there is no evidence. However, one thing you can remember is that anything you say after the recording device is switched on is recorded for everyone to hear. For example, if you say “Please can you speak more slowly and more clearly because I am hearing impaired” will be recorded for a senior examiner to hear – so if the examiner doesn’t modify their speech after you say that, there is evidence.
      Unfortunately, it doesn’t really help you at the time. You still need to go through the test. And it is doubtful your score will change. But anything you say is recorded for complaints purposes.
      Anyway, I really hope your speaking test results will be ok – fingers crossed 🙂

      • Alsayed Alsayed says

        Grateful Liz!
        I didn’t mean that he was behaving badly rather than he just said good afternoon and turned the recording device and begin. last two times, examiner kindly greeted me even with just a smile. I was expecting the same!
        Actually, I told this not to complain, rather than just to share my fault with IELTS takers (esp. first-time test takers) to expect an examiner of a certain type of personality or behavior. I TOTALLY AGREE it is a professional and fair test of high standards.
        Hopefully, I am keeping all my 20 fingers crossed until 26th April.
        27th through I will have one more GT.

        • I’m relieved to hear that. I was worried you had had a very bad experience. Examiners do not all behave the same. Some are much more friendly than others. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you 🙂

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