The speaking module of IELTS consists of three parts.
Part 1: Interview
Time: 4-5 mins.
The examiner will ask you a series of questions about everyday topics such as work, study, hobbies, home, family or lifestyle.
To answer the questions, you only need to provide the information asked for and perhaps add a supporting detail or two. You do NOT need to give lengthy answers and you do NOT need to use difficult academic words.
Q: Where do you like to go in your free time?
A: Well, I often go to the library because I like to read English books but I can’t afford to buy many of my own.
Part 2: Individual long-turn
Time: 3-4 minutes.
In this part of the IELTS speaking module, you will be shown some written instructions for an individual speaking task. You will have one minute to think about your answer, making notes if you prefer to do so. You will then be asked to speak for one to two minutes.
The question usually concerns a past or regular event in your life, or a goal for the future. You should pay careful attention to the verb tenses used in the question and use matching tenses in your answer.
Describe a person who has had an important influence on your life.
You should say:
Who the person is
How you first met this person
What you think of this person
And explain in what way they have influenced your life.
The examiner will not speak during this time so you must concentrate on speaking by yourself. The examiner will stop you if you continue speaking for more than two minutes.
At the end of IELTS Speaking Part 2, the examiner will ask you one or two brief questions before continuing on to Part 3.
Part 3: Discussion
Time: 5-6 mins
In this part, the examiner will ask for your opinion on a range of issues related to the topic in part 2. This time, however, there is no preparation time so you must begin speaking immediately. You should aim to say as much as possible. Give more than one reason, or compare and contrast different views. The longer your answers, the fewer questions you will need to answer.
Q: Do you think celebrities have too much influence on young people?
A: Definitely, yes. I think it’s because the media has become such a major part of our lives. When my parents where growing up, for example, there were only three TV channels and no internet, but nowadays young people are almost constantly exposed to news and entertainment. It’s not surprising that they tend to pay more attention to who’s on TV rather than their own families.
IELTS candidates often feel that Part 3 places them under enormous pressure. However, it is not a test of your knowledge or intellect – you only need to be able to present an opinion in a style of language appropriate to academic discussion. It doesn’t matter if your opinion is unoriginal or flawed, as long as you attempt to support it!
Five key skills for success in IELTS Speaking
1. Memorise some checking questions of your own in case you don’t understand the examiner’s question. Examples include: I didn’t catch that, sorry; Are you asking… ; I’m not sure what you mean exactly.
2. Avoid ‘parroting’ (repeating back) the words in the question. Always attempt to rephrase in your answer or use a substitution such as ‘Yes, I do.’
3. Avoid silence. Learn some expressions you can can use when you struggle to come with ideas. Examples include: That’s an interesting question; Let me think; What I want to say is…
4. In Part 2, try to finish before your two minutes is up, and end with an emphatic conclusion such as ‘So that’s a person who has had a big impact on my life.’
5. In Part 3, try comparing a range of ideas when you don’t have any strong opinions of your own. Use the reporting verbs you should have learned for IELTS Writing Task 2.
And finally, keep checking IELTS Academic for more detailed advice on applying all these strategies in the IELTS test!