What does the IELTS Speaking test include?

The IELTS Speaking Test is the same for the IELTS Academic and General Training versions.

The interview is for 11-14 minutes and is recorded.
There are 3 parts:

Part 1: Introduction and interview 

This includes short questions and answers on familiar everyday topics, e.g. home, family, hometown, work, studies and hobbies (4-5 minutes). There will be about 12 questions.

Part 2: Long turn

You need to speak on a topic for about 3 minutes. The topic will be given on a card, including a list of things to talk about. Topics are usually about something you or something that happened to you. You will have 1 minute to prepare what you are going to say so you can make some notes.

Part 3: Discussion

You will be asked to discuss topics in part 2 in more detail (4-5 minutes).

You can see examples of the IELTS Speaking Test on the IELTS pages.

How do the IELTS examiners decide what score to give you for speaking?

Fluency and coherence
Does your speaking have good flow? Is it easy to follow what you say?

Lexical resource
Vocabulary. Do you use a wide range of vocabulary correctly?

Grammatical range and accuracy
Grammar. Do you use a wide range of grammar correctly?

Pronunciation
Do you speak clearly?

You can see the complete details of band descriptors for the IELTS Speaking Test on the IELTS pages

How can you improve your score?

Do you want to feel more confident when you listen to English? You can build this confidence. You need to take responsibility for your learning and develop good study habits.

The three important things you need to do in order to succeed in the IELTS Listening Test:

1. Firstly, you need to improve your overall English language level and reading skills in English. This includes understanding a wide range of vocabulary and grammar in context. Are you ready for the IELTS Test? Don’t take the IELTS Test before you are ready! Taking the test before you are ready is not useful and the IELTS Test is expensive. How can you improve your English language level and reading skills?

2. Secondly, you need to get to know the IELTS Test and learn how to prepare. What do you need to do in the IELTS Listening Test, and what are the best strategies for you to get a good score?

3. Finally, you need to practise. How can you practise the IELTS Listening Test?

Taking a look at points 1, 2 and 3 in detail:

Point 1 – Improve Your Skills

Firstly, you need to ask yourself an important question. Are you ready for the IELTS Test? How can you improve your overall English language level and speaking skills in English?

You must develop your general level of English and then your IELTS test techniques if you really want to improve your IELTS score.

Above all, speak a lot! To get better at any skill, you need to do it. You can take lessons at an English language school or individual tuition, but you can also teach yourself in your own time.

Collect vocabulary. Use a notebook for the new words that you can use. Use new words in different contexts and sentences. To see more detail on how you can do this, click here.

Use free online resources to improve the quality of your speaking in English, for example, the phonemic chart.

Listen frequently and carefully. Pay attention to how people speak and try to copy the way they speak, because listening can help your speaking.

Watch films. Notice how people speak to each other.

Resources:

Use internet resources, e.g. TED, YouTube. Where possible, use transcripts to read what people are saying when they speak.

Listen to the radio, especially talk-radio, e.g. BBC Radio 4 or the BBC World Service.  Listen and repeat, because this will improve your fluency and will also help you remember words and phrases.

Read aloud. Listen to your own voice. Talking to yourself is a good way to practise too. Taking to a mirror can make this more realistic. Record your own voice and listen to it. How do you sound?

Relax. Slow down the speed and take time to think before you speak. Make frequent eye contact because this will make you appear more confident.

Focus on fluency, not grammar because if you speak fluently you will appear confident. Grammar is important, but don’t worry too much about making some mistakes.

Pay attention to stressed sounds in words and sentences. With single words the grammar can be expressed in pronunciation. For example, if you say “record” it’s a verb and if you say “record” it’s a noun. Incorrect pronunciation stress can prevent clear understanding for the listener. Learn about word and sentence stress.
Learn how to say phrases and sentences, not just individual words. As a result, this will help your sentence stress and fluency, so practise saying common phrases. Click here for useful phrases.

Learn how to paraphrase. We often say the same thing by using different words. This is to make sure we are communicating messages fully or if we want to check understanding of something we’ve heard. It’s also useful to paraphrase when we can’t remember a word, so we use another one because this can help communication.

Look for opportunities to speak. Perhaps there is someone who would like to exchange English lessons for lessons in your own language. This kind of language exchange can be an effective and fun way of learning. There are a number of language exchange websites which you can use for this. For a list of these, click on this link.

Think in English. Look around you and think in English about what you can see. Maybe you are on a bus or train, or perhaps you are in your room at home. Think in English about what you did yesterday or the plans you have for tonight and tomorrow. Thinking in English a very useful habit and can be done in many situations. Therefore, take action!

Point 2 – The Best Strategies

Secondly, what do you need to do in the IELTS Speaking Test, and what are the best strategies for you to get a good score?

Part 1

Introduction and interview.

This includes short questions. You will need to give answers on familiar everyday topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and hobbies ( for 4-5 minutes). There will be about 12 questions.

  1. Firstly, relax. You may feel nervous so be natural. Make frequent eye contact from the beginning. This will give you confidence. Imagine you are talking to someone you know.
  2. Do not memorise answers because the examiner will notice this and you will get a lower score.
  3. Be prepared to answer basic questions about common everyday familiar topics: e.g. yourself, your studies, work, hometown, home and your interests. Therefore, practise talking about these and develop your answers.
  4. Speak more than the examiner. Use more than one word in your answers. Say more. However, your answers should not be too long.
  5. Give a quick answer and add some brief information to explain or give examples.

Look at these 3 examples:

  • Examiner: “What do you like doing in your free time?”

Student: “I like cooking because it helps me relax and people enjoy eating my food. Last week I cooked a Chinese meal for three friends.”

  • Examiner: “Do you live in a flat or a house?”

Student: “At the moment I live in a house, but soon I’m going to move into a flat. This is so I can be nearer the city centre”.

  • Examiner: “What do you study?”

Student: “At the moment I’m studying Maths, but in the future I’d like to study Accounting and Finance so I can get a career with a multinational company. All in all, I really enjoy working with numbers.

To sum up, you can see in these three examples how useful it is to give an answer and then continue by using words like because and but. This is a good technique to extend your answers and get a better score.

Part 2

Long turn.

You need to speak on a topic for about 3 minutes. The examiner will give you a topic on a card, including things to talk about. You will have 1 minute to prepare what you are going to say, so you can make some notes.

  1. Practise speaking for two minutes. This is an opportunity for you to prove how fluent you are at speaking. You need to describe and give a lot of information.
  2. Don’t memorise answers or whole sentences.
  3. Use the time the examiner gives you to prepare what you’re going to say.
  4. Use the bullet points or keywords below the topic in your notes as a guide.
  5. Make sure you keep to the topic.
  6. Start and finish your 2 minutes by referring directly to the topic on the card.

Part 3

Discussion.

You will be asked to discuss topics in part 2 in more detail (4-5 minutes).

  1. In this section you need to talk more about things in the world and not just about you. Be prepared to discuss everyday world topics, for example: education, pollution or globalisation.
  2. Practise giving your opinion about things and talking about other people’s opinions. To what extent do you agree with them?
  3. Practise talking about the future.
  4. You need to be able to give long answers, so learn how to develop what you’re saying.
  5. If the examiner says something you don’t understand, take control and ask for clarification, because this will show good communication skills.
  6. Relax and speak naturally. Although this is easier said than done, act confidently and smile a lot!

Point 3 – How can you practise the IELTS Speaking Test?

Finally, you can access examples of IELTS Test questions and answers on the IELTS web pages.
There is a wide range of IELTS preparation resources and materials available on the British Council web pages.
There are numerous websites with materials to find out about and practise for the IELTS Test so you can get the score you need and achieve your goals.

Summary

How can you improve your score?
There are three important things you need to do in order to succeed in the IELTS Speaking Test:
1. You need to improve your overall English language level

  • develop your general level of English
  • speak a lot
  • collect vocabulary
  • listen frequently and carefully
  • watch films, use online resources, listen to the radio
  • listen and repeat
  • read aloud
  • record your own voice and listen
  • relax, make regular eye contact and look confident
  • focus on fluency
  • pay attention to stressed sounds
  • learn how to say phrases and sentences
  • look for opportunities to speak
  • think in English

2. You need to know the best strategies for you to get a good score

before the test

  • you need to practise all the different kinds of questions
  • practise listening, reading and writing at the same time
  • practise complete authentic IELTS tests

during the test

  • know what you are going to listen to
  • make sure you’re ready for the next question
  • predict what type of answers you will need
  • see how the information is organised
  • use the time you have between sections
  • read carefully and understand the questions
  • pay close attention to the instructions
  • be attentive when you listen
  • don’t worry about writing on the exam question paper
  • don’t spend too much time on one question
  • listen for synonyms
  • remember that you don’t need to understanding everything
  • answers will sometimes come together quickly
  • be careful with spelling
  • be careful with grammar
  • don’t give an answer too quickly
  • in the multiple choice section, don’t reread the options
  • capitals or lowercase letters
  • concentrate
  • transfer all your answers at the end of the test

3. You need to find materials and resources to practise