The IELTS Speaking module is a face-to-face interview divided into three parts. The speaking module is the same in both the academic and general training versions of IELTS.
Total time varies from 11-14 minutes depending on the length of your answers. The IELTS Speaking test is often held on a different day to the IELTS paper test.
IELTS Speaking 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.
IELTS Speaking 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. It’s not necessary to give a long or detailed answer to these questions.
IELTS Speaking 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!
How IELTS Speaking answers are scored
To get a good score in IELTS Speaking, it certainly helps to understand the scoring criteria. The examiner uses four criteria in IELTS Speaking, and each is worth 25% of your score:
Fluency and Coherence: Are you able to keep talking without too much hesitation or repetition?
Lexical Resource: Are you able to use a wide range of vocabulary and show some awareness of collocation?
Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Are you able to use a variety of grammatical forms, including a mix of simple and complex sentences?
Pronunciation: Are you able to pronounce words correctly and use speaking techniques such as intonation and contractions?
When you practice IELTS Speaking with a teacher or partner, it helps if they can give feedback based on these scoring criteria. If you don’t know an IELTS teacher, I tell you below how you can find one on Skype.
Five exam techniques for IELTS Speaking
1. Memorise some checking questions. Be ready to use these when 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 or hesitation. Being silent is worse than making mistakes! Memorise some ‘filler expressions’ for use when you can’t come up with any ideas. Examples: That’s an interesting question; Let me think; What I want to say is…
4. In Part 2, try to keep talking for two minutes. This is more important than answering all parts of the question. The question prompts on the card are only there to help you, not direct you.
5. In Part 3, try comparing different ideas and opinions. This should help you to keep talking even when you don’t have any strong views of your own.
Now practice IELTS Speaking
You can find plenty of IELTS speaking practice questions and sample answers on this site.
When you’re ready to try speaking yourself, our online IELTS Speaking practice test allows you to practice the test wherever you are in the world using Skype.