In this tutorial, we look at IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions and answers.
Keep reading to find out what 10 topics we think you should be working on, what to do if you feel nervous in the test and the 4-step guide to better part 1 answers.
What is IELTS Speaking Part 1?
IELTS Speaking Part 1 is a part of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. It measures your ability to speak English for academic and immigration purposes.
In IELTS Speaking Part 1, the examiner will ask you some fairly simple questions relating to your background, home, work, studies, family, everyday life, interests and hobbies.
You’ll have to answer a total of 12 questions on 3 different topics in 4-5 minutes.
What you need to know before taking IELTS Speaking Part 1
1. What is the structure of the Speaking Test?
- The examiner will introduce themselves and give instructions on how the test will be conducted.
- In part 1, the examiner will first check your name and ask what they should call you. My full name is Sara Hassan Clarke. Please call me Sara.
- They will give you the topic for the first four questions: Let’s talk about where you live. Do you live in a city or a town? The next 3 questions will also be about the same topic (where you live).
- The examiner will introduce two more topics with 4 questions each.
- In part 2 the examiner will provide a pen and paper to each candidate, and a card with a speaking task written on it. Candidates are given one minute to prepare their answer and 1-2 minutes to speak on this particular topic.
- In part 3, the examiner will ask more questions related to the topic from part 2.
2. What do I need to prepare for the Speaking Test?
To prepare for the Speaking Test, you should:
- Look at the example test questions for all parts of the test as well as British Council IELTS official materials.
- Be ready to answer basic questions about who you are, where you are from, what you do, whether you work or are a student, or where you live.
- Read through the steps at the beginning of the test and tips and advice on how to perform.
3. What are some possible topics?
Some possible topics for IELTS Speaking Part 1 include:
Depending on your answer the examiner will ask you the appropriate set of questions.
- Do you work, or are you a student?
- What is your job?
- Where do you work?
- Why did you choose that job?
- Is it a popular job in your country?
- Do you like your job?
- Do you get on well with your colleagues?
- What was your first day like?
- What do you study?
- Where do you study that subject?
- Why did you choose that subject?
- Is it a popular subject in your country?
- Do you like that subject?
- Where is your hometown,
- Do you visit often?
- What is there for a visitor to do or see in your hometown?
- How has your hometown changed since your childhood?
- Is your hometown a good place to bring up children?
4. What do I need to bring to the test?
To prepare for your speaking test, you should bring your passport and any other identification documents that are required. Have your passport ready on the photo page, so it’s easy for you to hand it to the examiner when they ask for it.
Your centre will give you clear guidelines but generally, you can bring a bottle of water to the test. Everything else will be provided.
You may not bring a mobile phone or digital watch into the test room.
5. What language skills do I need?
Be aware of all the marking criteria: The band score for the IELTS speaking test is determined by 4 marking criteria – Fluency and coherence, lexical resource (vocabulary), grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation.
Read through these band descriptors for a further understanding of each criterion’s importance in scoring your performance during speaking part 1 of the IELTS exam.
- Grammar: The ability to use complex sentences and conditionals accurately.
- Vocabulary: The ability to use appropriate words in different contexts.
- Pronunciation: The ability to pronounce words correctly in spoken English.
- Fluency: The ability to speak smoothly without hesitation or repetition of words or phrases.
6. What do I need to know about the test environment?
For IELTS Speaking Part 1, you need to know what to expect from the test environment.
For an in-person test, you will sign in and wait in a waiting room until it is your turn for the speaking test. An assistant will bring you to the test room and you will wait outside until the examiner is ready.
The examiner will start the audio recording before you come into the room.
There will be one examiner in the room, and a chaperone if you are under 18.
The whole speaking test will be recorded.
7. What is a good strategy for the Speaking Test?
- Relax and treat the test as a conversation with a teacher that you know well.
- Prepare beforehand by researching common IELTS topics and practising your speaking techniques so that you feel confident when answering questions.
- Listen carefully to the examiner’s instructions and respond to their questions calmly while maintaining good eye contact..
- Be prepared for possible unexpected questions that could be asked during the session, such as personal or opinion-based ones. If you’re not sure, try to give an example.
- Make sure you don’t start speaking before the examiner finishes their sentence, as this will show them that you are actively listening to what they have to say.
- Finally, if you didn’t catch the question, it’s important to ask “Could you repeat that please?” (You can ask “What does _____ mean?” in parts 2 and 3 or the test but not in part 1).
How to prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1
Choose IELTS Speaking Part 1 topics to practice
The IELTS Speaking Part 1 topic and questions have not changed much over the last several years, and the list provided by the IELTS podcast website is a good starting point.
For example, if you are preparing for your test in 2023, you can use our lists of topics to help you prepare for what might be asked on the day. Try to focus on topics that are relevant to your life experience to make it easier for you to develop ideas and practice answering questions.
Of course, you don’t get to choose any topics during the test but there is some flexibility in how you answer the questions.
Make sure that your answers are relevant, coherent and well-structured
- Try your best to understand what the examiner is asking you, and make sure that you can answer it clearly. If necessary, ask them to repeat the question.
- Get to the point: Make sure that your answer is concise and focused on the main topic of discussion; don’t stray off-topic or provide unnecessary details unless they are relevant to the question asked
- You have about 15 seconds to answer each question. 2-3 sentences is a good length for your answer – the first sentence answers the question and the second provides further information.
- Use collocations: Familiarize yourself with common collocations in English so that you can use them naturally in your answers; this will help make your speech more natural sounding while still being accurate.
Practice your speech before taking the test to help you stay calm
- It is important to practice speaking in English daily to improve fluency.
- Avoid Technical Vocabulary: Don’t focus too much on technical vocabulary or dictionary definitions as it is not essential for success in the test.
- Listen to fluent Speakers: Listen to native speakers speaking naturally in order to understand how they use appropriate language mechanics in everyday conversations.
- By practising your speech, you will be more confident when taking the test as it allows you to become familiar with the format of the questions and answers required.
- Practice using cohesive devices and linking words/phrases in order to speak clearly at a good pace with intonation and rhythm.
Topics, questions and sample answers for IELTS Speaking Part 1 test
What topics should I be working on for IELTS Speaking Part 1?
There is a range of topics but some of the most common ones that come up again and again in IELTS Speaking Part 1 are:
- People & Relationships,
- Health & body,
- Work & studies,
- Nature & the environment,
- Communication Technology
- Books and movies
- Home (where you live)
- Culture and national celebrations in your country
- Travel and holidays
So we recommend being able to talk about these 10 topics to start with.
Sample Questions and Answers for IELTS Speaking Part 1
- What is your full name? My full name is [Your Name].
- Can I see your identification? Sure, here it is.
- Where are you from? I am from [Your Country].
- Do you work or study? I am currently [working/studying].
- What do you do for work/study? I am a [Your Occupation].
- Do you like your job? Yes, I really enjoy my job. It is very [interesting/rewarding/etc.].
- Do you have any hobbies? Yes, I have a few hobbies. I enjoy [hobby 1], [hobby 2], and [hobby 3]
- How do you spend your weekends? On weekends, I like to relax and unwind. I usually spend time with my family and friends, and we often go out to do something fun like go to the park or see a movie.
- Do you live in a house or an apartment? I currently live in a [house/apartment].
- Do you prefer living in a city or in the countryside? Why? I prefer living in a [city/countryside]. I think that [reason for preference].
- Do you have any pets? Yes, I have a dog. I love spending time with him and taking him for walks.
- What is your favourite type of music? My favourite type of music is classical. I enjoy listening to it because it makes me feel very calm and focused.
How can I improve my IELTS Speaking Part 1 answers? – Use the 4-step guide.
For each question, try to answer it 4 times and keep raising the level of challenge. The more you practice the better your answers will sound.
Try the questions above using the following technique.
We’ve used the example question, ‘Do you enjoy reading books?‘
- Answer the question in 2 sentences. The first sentence responds to the question, the next one gives more detail. Yes, I really do enjoy reading books. I usually get through one or two books every month.
- Paraphrase one or two keywords from the question. Yes, I absolutely love reading books, especially novels. I usually get through one or two books every month.
- Double tense (try to add an extra tense. The easiest way to do this is to use yesterday/last week… or tomorrow/next week… Yes, I absolutely love reading books, especially novels. I usually get through one or two books every month and I will start a new one at the weekend.
- Use a signposting phrase. “To be honest and Well, in my opinion” are great because they show off more complex pronunciation strategies. Yes, as a matter of fact, I have been an avid reader ever since I learned to read! I usually get through several books every month and I’m looking forward to starting my new book next weekend.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Some of these questions were already covered in this blog post but I will still list them here (because not everyone carefully reads every paragraph) so here’s the TL;DR version.
What if I feel really stressed going into the test?
It’s normal to be nervous, and remember that examiners meet lots of nervous students every day!
Breathe in and get ready, smile and appear at ease when meeting with the examiner. Everybody gets nervous sometimes. Fake it until you make it!!
Listen carefully to their questions and make sure your answers match their tone/tense/pacing.
Use cohesive devices such as linking words/phrases when speaking clearly at a good pace.
Stress important words with intonation or rhythm if necessary;
Ask for clarification if needed.
Are there any practice tests available for IELTS speaking part 1?
Yes, of course! Check out all the examples on our IELTS podcast pages as well as free official British Council materials.
What questions will the examiner ask in IELTS speaking part 1?
The examiner in IELTS speaking part 1 will first introduce himself/herself and then ask you about your full name, what they should call you (first name) and to see your ID. They may ask where you are from.
He/she will then ask you questions relating to everyday topics such as your background, home, work, studies, family, interests and hobbies.
What kind of vocabulary should I use in IELTS Speaking Part 1?
In IELTS Speaking Part 1, test-takers should use vocabulary related to the topic, and to score band 7+, some slightly less common words and phrases.
For example, if you are asked about your hometown, band 7 vocabulary would include native country/home country/homeland, metropolis; local neighbourhood/ tight-knit community; rental property; housekeeper /home assistant; landlord /property owner, relaxed pace of life, high levels of pollution.
How is the IELTS Speaking Part 1 test graded?
The IELTS Speaking Part 1 test is graded based on four criteria: pronunciation, lexical resource, fluency and coherence, and grammatical range and accuracy. Each criterion is scored 25%.
Each section is scored in whole band scores (bands 1-9). These 4 band scores are averaged and the final score can be a half band score.
For example, you may score band 6 for fluency, band 7 for lexis (vocabulary), band 7 for grammar and band 6 for pronunciation.
Your final score will be (6 + 7 + 7 + 6) divided by 4 which is 6.5.
Are there any online resources to help me prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1?
There are many online resources that can help you prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1. Google Speech-to-Text is actually a great tool to teach yourself to speak at a good pace and pronounce phrases correctly.
YouTube has tons of free resources related to IELTS speaking test practice, including sample videos with answers. The Google Play Store offers lots of free fluency apps that can help improve your speaking skills.
The only disadvantage is that these resources are not tailored specifically for the IELTS exam, so they may not provide as much targeted practice as you need.
Therefore, it’s best to stick with IELTS podcast resources as well as official British Council and Cambridge IELTS material.
More IELTS Speaking Tutorials
- Full guide to IELTS Speaking Part 1
- Tips to answer IELTS Speaking Part 1 Questions
- IELTS Speaking Test Format and Sample Questions
- What to expect on your IELTS speaking exam
- IELTS speaking idioms
- How to give your opinion in the speaking exam
- Making notes for speaking part 2
- How to speak about your hobbies in part 1
- How to get band 9 in your IELTS speaking
- Tips for IELTS speaking part 1
- IELTS speaking vocabulary to help you prepare
- How to improve your pronunciation in IELTS speaking