In this tutorial, you will:
- find out what to expect in Part 1 of the IELTS speaking test
- learn tips to help you improve your performance in Part One
The speaking test is the same for both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training and it always involves a face-to-face interviews with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.
The speaking test lasts between eleven and fourteen minutes, and it is divided into three sections, with each section gradually becoming more challenging. There are four equally important assessment criteria:
- Fluency and coherence – the ability to speak at a good speed and link ideas together
- Lexical resource – the ability to use a range of vocabulary appropriately
- Grammatical range and accuracy – the ability to use a range of grammatical structures accurately
- Pronunciation – the ability to be understood easily
Part one lasts between four and five minutes and it is the easiest part of the IELTS speaking test.
The examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and familiar topics, such as your hometown, your work or studies, your family and your hobbies and interests.
After completing the introduction to the test, the examiner will begin part one by saying:
Now, in this first part, I’d like to ask you some questions about yourself.
| Let’s talk about your hometown or city.|
a) What do you like most about your hometown or city? (Why?)
b) Is your hometown or city a popular place for tourists to visit? (Why? / Why not?)
c) Would you say it’s a good place to live? (Why? / Why not?)
| Let’s talk about your job.|
a) What exactly do you do?
b) Do you like your job? (Why? / Why not?)
c) Why did you decide to do that job?
d) What responsibilities do you have at work?
In the boxes above there are some question words in brackets. Examiners have the option to use these prompts if necessary, to encourage (usually weaker) candidates to give a longer answer. Remember to show what you can do!
It’s an excellent idea to be well-prepared to answer questions about your home or hometown, your studies or your work. In fact, it would be crazy not to! Think through what you could say about these topics – and look up and learn some useful vocabulary to help you express yourself and answer the questions fully.
However, when you take the speaking test, it’s essential that you deliver your answers naturally. Remember that you are supposed to be having a conversation – so don’t try to memorise a speech!
How long should each answer be? Well, there is no ‘perfect length’, but one of the key criteria for a Band 7 is the ability to ‘speak at length without noticeable effort’, so don’t make them too short.
Here are some sample answers:
Where do you live?
I live in a small town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and one of the best things about living here is the beach. Between about May and November, there are great waves and it’s fun to go surfing. Then from November to May, the water is calm, and the visibility is superb, so you can swim or go snorkelling.
Do you like your job?
I love my job. It’s very tiring and it can be demanding at times, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I’ve been a teacher for about five years now and I really enjoy helping people to achieve their goals. It’s so rewarding to watch my students learning and progressing, and I get a real sense of satisfaction when they pass their exams.
Depending on how much you have to say, the examiner may ask you questions about one or two other topics in the first part of the speaking test. These topics may include food, shopping, free time activities, family, television, weather or sport – but nothing very complicated.
Taking the opportunity to practise speaking about any topic related to everyday life will help to prepare you for part one of the speaking test. Consider signing up for an online course with IELTS Podcast or find a friend who also needs to practise his or her speaking and arrange to get together – either face-to-face or online. Choose common topics such as those listed above, have a chat – and perhaps even give each other some feedback!
Alternatively, if you want to improve your IELTS vocabulary, you could agree on a topic beforehand and then both of you could look up three new words or phrases to teach each other when you meet. If you want to focus more specifically on practising for part one, you can search online for a list of typical questions and take it in turns to practise answering them.
| Let’s go on to talk about food.|
a) What is a typical food in your country? Do you like it? (Why? / Why not?)
b) What’s your favourite food?
c) Is there any food you really dislike? (Why?)
d) What do you think about fast food? (Why?)
Here is a sample answer:
Actually – yes. I grew up in the UK and English people have a reputation for over-cooking their vegetables. When I was a child, I used to have to eat soggy sprouts several times a week, and this experience has scarred me for life! I have a pretty healthy diet these days and I eat a wide variety of vegetables, but I steer clear of sprouts!
Hope that you found this information useful and that you now feel more confident about part one of the IELTS speaking test. Doing well in part one is a great way to make a good first impression on the examiner and can help build your confidence levels and set you up for success in the rest of the speaking test.
Have a look at more of our Speaking tutorials here.
You can download or listen to the audio version here: