Which part of IELTS speaking is most important?

Are all the parts of the IELTS speaking test equally important?

The IELTS speaking test is graded by your performance in all parts of the test. The examiner will check your English language using the 4 marking criteria for each part of the test.

Speaking Part 1

If you are strong in speaking part 1 but not in the other parts, then you will not get a good score. You must do well in all parts to get a good score.

Most of the questions are quite easy in part 1 and are about yourself or your country. So, doing well in this part is expected for high level students. If you give very short answers, for example “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t”, you are not providing the examiner with a good range of language to assess. So, that means your potential score is not high when you enter part 2 and it will affect your overall score.

Speaking Part 2

In speaking part 2, the examiner has a chance to sit and listen to your English without interrupting. So, giving a short speech of only 1 minute gives you less chance to demonstrate the level of your English and less chance to show fluency. It is still possible to get a good score with only 1 mins or 1.5 mins speech but only if the language you use is very good  and your fluency is very strong during that time.

By the end of speaking part 2, the examiner has a rough idea of your band score. Adding more information and details to each prompt is a way of offering the examiner a broader range of your language ability. Description offers the examiner more vocabulary and fluency. Talking with feeling can offer better intonation. Explaining in detail can offer better sentence structures and grammar. Giving examples of the past and ideas for the future can offer more grammar tenses. Try to find ways to showcase your English in part 2.

Speaking Part 3

In speaking part 3, it is a chance for the examiner to ask more in depth questions which will require more skill in English to answer. The questions are abstract and about the world rather than yourself. This requires a better level of English to answer well.

This is a chance for you to boost your score by providing the examiner with a better range of vocabulary, grammar, fluency and pronunciation. Giving examples and detailed explanations of your ideas naturally produces better language which will help your score.

Will the examiner decide my score in the test or later on?

Your score will be decided by the examiner who conducts the test and the score will be given at the end of the test. By the end of speaking part 3, the examiner will have decided your score.

Does the examiner have model answers?

No, there are no model answers used for assessing you in the IELTS speaking test. Each student will use different English and give different answers. Your score is only calculated on the English language you produce – the level and range of your English and the accuracy of your English.

If I don’t answer one question, will it affect my score?

If you perform well and produce good English in the other questions, you can still get a good score. Struggling with only one question while the others are fine, should not affect your score adversely.

Will I get a low score if I can’t think of many ideas?

The IELTS speaking test only assess your English language, not your ideas. This is very different to the IELTS writing test. IELTS writing assesses your ideas, your answers, how you develop the ideas and how you present them. IELTS speaking only tests your vocabulary, grammar, fluency and pronunciation. See below for the band score descriptors.

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  1. Hello Liz,

    I had my speaking test on 5th April 2017.
    The Q card which I received was like this.. ‘Describe the speech you heard..’
    I described a speech I heard around 8-9 years back about technical Improvements’.
    When I came out I suddenly realized , the Q card was for the speech I heard recently..
    I completely missed the word ‘recently’.
    Will my entire answer go wrong because of this goof up?

    I need at least 7 band in speaking, is there any possibility I get atleast this much?
    Apart from this, I mumbled a little while pronouncing ‘pictorial demonstration’
    what do you feel about my result? will it affect my overall speaking score?


    • Definitely don’t worry about your speaking part 2. You are not marked on following the cue card or being on topic. You are scored on your use of English only. Sounds like you did well – “pictorial demonstration” is a high band score word – don’t worry about the odd mumble. If you mumbled through your whole test, it would be a problem but not with one or two words. I think you should completely relax. Share your results when they come 🙂

  2. Hello Liz,

    I had speaking test today. While at it I used urdu word for “Hymn”, didn’t realize it then.

    I am looking for 8 band.. rest was fine. Will it hurt?

    • If that is the only problem, then don’t worry. Getting band score 8 is about your range of English as well as your accuracy.

  3. Darshan Soni says:

    Hi liz, I had a topic of “Describe an activity you do which is a bit expensive” but I misunderstood that one and talked about an activity I will like to do and most of the tense i have used was future tense instead of present tense so how it will effect my band score ? I have done well in first part, talked fluently in part two and third part was also great

  4. Hello liz,

    In part 3 of speaking test,i dint understand the question for which she had to repeat again.However, i assure that i was very fine with the other parts.

    Do you think that it will affect my score band?

    I gave acedemic once and answered all questions right but still ended up with a band of 7.5 in speaking.

    considering one mistake this time, will this land me in 6.5 gof forbid?


    Thank You in advance


  5. Hii, I am from india. and i want to ask u that, if my topic is ‘describe a historical event’ can i say about ‘mars mission by isro’. Bcoz it is one of the historical event of india.

  6. Hi Liz.I am going to take ielts next month and I am fully prepared for this test but I haven’t attended classes for ielts .once I had learned that speaking test will not take more than 15 minutes but one of my friend who recently took ielts informed me that he had been interviewed for 35 minutes.is it right or not?

  7. Hi ,
    I want to ask about something i did in the speaking test part 2 . I talked for nearly 70 or 80 seconds and then i stopped for nearly 3 seconds to look at the notes paper and Q paper to make sure that i answered all the questions and to come up with new ideas to say , after that i talked for about 10 or 15 seconds more and the examiner stopped me . I felt like the time i spoke in till i was interupted was less than 2 min is the examiner able to interupt me before 2 minutes and if so will the seconds i stopped in to read the notes and think of ideas affect my score ?

    • It’s natural to need to look at your notes and that might include a slight pause while you remember your ideas. This will not affect your score. If your pause as longer and due to struggling with language then that would be an issue. The examiner can’t stop you before 2 mins but it’s hard for any student to judge the time accurately under test conditions which is why you rely on the examiner to stop you at the right point.

  8. Hi,
    I totally misunderstood one question in part-3.and she repeated her questions with more explanation. Then i answered as per question.
    And what about the following:
    Q= is there any change in family structure in your country
    A=yes, people are not well connected with their families. They are not so close with each & other.
    How = they kids prefer to remain in their own space & interact less with their parents.

    Is above correct or i not responded well?

    • You are not marked on your ideas in speaking. You are marked on your use of the English language – fluency, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. For this reason, I can’t common as you have only presented your ideas which are not relevant.

  9. I sat for the speaking test y’day.All went well, but in the part two I paused for around 5 seconds to come up with a more appropriate word to express my idea, im expecting a band 8. Will that pause effect me negatively?

  10. Amrit sapkota says:

    Hi mam . I got stopped in 3 to 4 places. Does it affect the score badly?

  11. hello mam , i have used a slang word “pissed off “once during my speaking section which is quite vulgar word . How much marks will they reduce for that . ? and everything else seems ok except section 2 where i think i didnt speak much( not more than 1 and half minutes i guess)

  12. In section 3 the examiner asked me about some inappropriate practices but I heard appropriate, so the examiner repeated his question twice, I rectified my mistake. I am little worried will it effect my bands

  13. I speak cue card well and I also use good ideas but mam I use simple English instead of using high vocabularies. Can I get more than 6 band by using simple language

    • You can get more than band 6 in speaking if you:
      1. are able to speak at length without much effort
      2. are able to expand all answers well
      3. use complex grammar with accuracy ( that means without many mistakes)
      4. use a range of vocabulary for all topics
      5. avoid errors in word choice
      6. have a clear accent

  14. harpreet singh says:

    mam , i was not performed in part 2 but part 1 and part 3 was good.can i got 6.5

  15. Hello mem
    Now just finished my speking
    In part 1 overall answers i told but one question told me again because i can’t understand
    Part 2 que card was good
    Part 3
    2 questions wrong answer
    And examiners told me again and i m confused moreover i spok in part 3

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂 You are marked on your language, not your understanding. As long as you showcased your English, you will be fine.

  16. Maninder Kaur says:

    Hiii ,today i had my exam of speakin session….althogh i was too sick but i tried my best …and my cue-card topic was abou “website” but i did blunder..and i talked about whats app application…..i think i commited a blunder…pls tell me if it would affect on my band schore…how much band i would be abled to get with this blunder….if i am abled to get 7 band or not????,,

  17. Hello Liz, I had spoke well in section 1 and Section 3 with wide answers moreover no mistakes but I didn’t speak much in section 2 .it spoke 1 min how much score would I get ????

  18. Rajdeep sran says:

    Hllo sir
    Yestrdy my speaking was there i did well in part 1
    In second part i completd my cue card and after that examiner asked me did u want to speak more and i repld him that no sir thnq
    And in 3rd part he repeat 2 ques. 2 times and his face expression are not good
    what does it mean ??does it affect my band score???
    Plzzzzz plzzz rply

  19. I gave my speaking test on 13 June, I speak for two minutes and examiner stop me in part 2 but in 3 part of speaking I can’t give answer of two questions please tell me about my score

  20. sukhpreet says:

    Hi Liz –

    I just had my Speaking exam a while ago and I generally did well in 1 and 3 part. But i was unable to speak on cue card .I think i have spoken less than 1 minute.
    May i get 5.5 bands in speaking ??

  21. Hi Liz –

    I just had my Speaking exam a while ago and I generally did well in both part 1 and 3. However, I feel that I didn’t do that well in part 2. Although I addressed all the questions in the cue card, I realized that I was just repeating some points that I already discussed (during the last 30 seconds). Will this adversely affect my speaking band score? Thanks.

    • Repetition is not good for IELTS speaking but if it is only at the end of part 2, it won’t affect your score much. Part 2 has no questions at all. There are only guidelines for what to put in your talk. It is your job to add more information, more description, comparisons, past memories, future hopes etc to get a high score.

  22. Mohd Yousuf says:

    Hi Liz, I appeared for my speaking test today, i answered first 2 sections well, but in 3rd section examiner asked me a question for which i replied – that’s what i was saying and continued my answer. I later realized that it sounds rude. Will i loose marks for this comment?

    • It’s good to be able to communicate so clearly in English and it definitely won’t affect your score. Don’t worry!! Good luck with your results 🙂

      • Hello Liz, First of all I have to say that your videos inspired me so much and helped me a lot to improve my skills 🙂 I’m Mongolian and studying in Australia around year and half. I had to take at least 6.5 score on my IELTS to start my future study. I took 3 tests earlier and couldn’t reach the target score then i took the test on last Saturday but im still worrying about my result even have not get the result yet. So my question is about speaking test. in my previous 2 tests i got band score 7 and on the third one I got 6.5 i dont know why it is decreased and on the last test im not sure about my speaking because the examiner didn’t let me to finish my answer almost all questions in part 3. He always keep asking me other questions while im answering the first ones and finally time was up and i could not finish my last answer im worrying about is it going to affect my result? And i realised that i made some mistakes on part 2. I took some pauses but not that long and i used some inaccurate vocabulary occasionally. What do u think about it is it going to affect my score? Thank you so much i hope u will reply me
        Regards Noni

        • If your English is around band score 7, it means sometimes you might perform worse or better. This can depend on the topics and also your answers. Sometimes students offer a better range of English on one topic than on another.

  23. Hi Liz. I appeared in IELTS speaking exam a couple of days ago. My preparation was almost basted on your video lectures which helped me a lot during the exam. In answering a question I suspect that I might have lost the track while answering a question and answered quite contrary to what I was supposed to answer. Later on realized that something went wrong. What’s the penalty in such case if I was okay grammatically and fluent as well but missed the context?

    Atna ali

  24. Hi liz
    I just took my ielts speaking exam and i accidentally interrupted the conductor to correct my name and felt very bad afterwards because it was recording
    Will i lose marks?

  25. Ashogbon Henry says:

    Good day ma, I had my IELTS examination today. The test was quite interesting, however, I have a problem as touching my writing section. Of the two sections I did section one very well to a convincing point that the candidate can make use of the language to express his thoughts logically. The problem here is that I was expecting the invigilators to tell us to move to the second task unknown to me that we were expected to do both tasks within the same time given. Well, it was a mistake on my part.

    My argument is, will my task one be convincing enough to tell the examiner that I can use the language coherently and logically regardless the untouched task two and still end a reasonable score , since the core of the exam as you have rightly expressed was to see if candidates can use the language expressly.

    May I suggest that you forward your response via email in order to know if my comment h
    as been addressed.


    • Task 1 only counts for one third (about 30%) of your marks. You will not get any points for task 2 if you didn’t complete it. Sorry to give you bad news.

  26. Shraddha Patel says:

    Can you tell me my answer is right or wrong? and y?
    Cue Card Question : Describe a journey which u enjoyed during your teenage years. (Question was asked in my speaking test)
    I have answered about a journey of 4 hrs to pick up my mother in law from another town.
    Overall speaking was good. I have only doubt about this question.

  27. Hi. Liz
    I have my exam on 21st of November.. My all modules are good except speaking… I have only 9 days to prepare. Could you tell me please is it possible for me to increase my speaking score to 7.0? (my speaking score approximately 6.0 at the moment)… also who will check my speaking skills examiner or experts (from London who will listen to the recording of my voice)? and is it possible to prepare for all topics or predict topic in writing task 2?
    Waiting for your reply

    • Your score is given at the end of your test by the examiner who tests you. To improve your score to band score 7, you need to use a range of grammar tenses, good vocabulary for most topics and expand your answers naturally without difficulty. For writing task 2, go to my main page and see the list of common topics – prepare ideas for those as well as topics reported on the recent exams questions page.
      All the best

  28. Mam,
    I appeared once for the IELTS General Module 2 months back and scored 6.5 as an overall band.On 14th of November,I an going to appear for IELTS Academic Module.I want you to guide me as to is there a huge difference between the two modules.Also I scored 6 band in the Speaking earlier so how can I improve it?

  29. Kristhy Jean Arnaiz says:

    Good day Liz,

    I misunderstood the question on the que card in part 2. I finished entirely the 2 minutes for talking but I think I didn’t answer really the question. Does that affect my score?

  30. manpreet singh says:

    hello mam,
    my ielts exam is on 31st oct . my all three modules are good , instead of speaking . words get skip from my mind during speaking time,it is due to lack of confidence also i get nervous in it.now i have only 10 days left .can you please tell me how i improve it and score good in speking.

    • See the video lesson: how to improve your speaking at home. It’s on the main speaking page. You still have time to prepare topics and ideas.
      All the best

  31. where is the answers of test 2 ?

  32. Mam plz reply @ my gmail ID (sugestions and band score) topic ‘is increasing the price of fuel fruitful to reduce pollution’

    The current scenario of world’s pollution is worrisome as it is leading to perilous consequences regarding environment , a fact to be considered that hiking fuel price is the best solution in order to reduce pollution, however , there other factors , which are contriving to rise the hitch of pollution, as I opine.

    Although , the means of transportation make a bigger contribution to increase pollution yet , industrilization is an undeniable fact to emerge this problem, large amount of wastage of industries and factories dissolve into water resources and contaminate the presious water. Furthermore , behaviours of people can be cited as having brought about this state of affaires like people tend to use products made of plastic , which is non-biodegrable, cutting trees and using them as woodfuel as well as excess use of pestisides to boost the production of crops.

    No doubt , the amount of numbers of cars is at high , but , does the increased price of petrol and diesel means people will reduce the use own vehicles . Although , it affects the poor , while , richer families can afford, thus, it cannot be said to be a fruitfull solution

    To tide over the crisis regarding pollution , instead of increasing fuel price, people should be discouraged for use own vehicals , so there is a need of awerness. Eco-friendly producds , which can be recycled must be prefered to use. Moreover, there should be an appropriate place to throw the garbage of factories. Using solar energy for different purposes can contribute to overcome this hitch

    Sadly, people as well as goverments have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to this problem of pullution, so awerness amoung people and some usefull steps ought to be taken ratherthan incereasing fuel prices.

  33. I”m Arjun From India. I’m Mechanical Engg. I want going to Canada for job work. But i think my english is not good.how i can improve it ?

    • This blog mainly aims at developing exam skills although there is some language building to be done here as well. Even so, you need to google and find English language websites to help you develop further.
      All the best

  34. Hello Teacher,
    I finshed Ielts 1-9 listening and reading practice test.only the problem i faced during the sesion: matching list somewhat, fuzy and bit time taker in exam, it’s all about quickness and accuracey,and in writting to be honest im bit poor in spellings.So,Teacher what im thinking might be im wrong,should i strat from the easiest one first or could i randomize the question?

    Hope for your opinion.

    Thank you.


    • You need to improve your English language to get a good score in IELTS. It takes time to do that. Even focusing on IELTS for one year will not give you a good score if your English language is weak. Get your English assessed and work on your English.
      All the best

  35. Mohammad hassan says:

    Hi Liz,

    I’m weak in Reading section. Sometimes I got 7+ but sometimes I got only 5.5, actually I’m not good enough in T/F/NG and fill in the blanks. Could you please help me how I recover this problem.

    Mohammad, Bangladesh

    • You need to develop your vocabulary by making word lists and paraphrasing lists from all practice reading that you do. You should work through techniques for each type of question. You need to develop your ability to locate information in the passage. In time, you will improve but only with focused practice. If you have time, try to find an IELTS course to join.
      All the best

  36. Thank you mam for valuable inputs…. I saw at the end of my speaking exam… she wrote 15… I don’t know whether this is final score for my band…. Could you please explain.. what it could be?

    • When examiners make notes, it is using their own method of note taking. Any words or numbers you might see have no relation to your score. It will be related to your language. Each examiner makes notes their way and some make no notes at all.
      All the best

  37. Yeollie says:

    I took the IELTS last month. My results in Speaking and Listening are too bad because I couldn’t hear the question of the examiner. I’m going to take it again next month. Can you give me some advice, please. I feel disappointed and hopeless now :((

    • Don’t get disappointed. It is important to take control of your test. In the speaking test, it is completely fine to say “I can’t hear you, can you speak up” or “Can you speak louder so I can hear you more clearly”. The test is recorded and your comments are recorded. If you couldn’t hear the examiner, that would be a reason for a remark.

      For the listening, there is an example given at the start of every section 1. During that time, you must ask for the volume to be increased if you can’t hear it. Or tell the invigilator that you need it loud as soon as you go into the test room. Alternatively, find a center that uses headphones.

      Take time to figure out your weaknesses in listening and speaking. Make a list of them and then carefully work through them. The more methodical you are with your preparation, the better you will do. I’m sure if you work positively and carefully, you will do better. Also, many students take the test more than once because they are getting used to the form of the test. Think of your last test as a practice and then next test as the real one.
      Keep positive 🙂

  38. Good afternoon Teacher,

    Thank you very much for this dedicated spirts


  39. Hi Liz

    i have 2 questions . My ielts exam is coming after 2 months should i do practise or preparetion? And second one is my reading has some problems.
    what can you suggest?

    Thank you for replying


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