IELTS Speaking Test

The info-graphic below shows the details of the different parts of the IELTS speaking test. The test is exactly the same for both General and Academic formats.


IELTS Speaking Test Overview

(Click image to enlarge)


IELTS Speaking Part 1 Example:

Notice in this video the topics covered are: hometown, learning English and family.

For a full article describing How To Do IELTS Speaking Part 1 click the link.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Example:

Notice how the examiner asks the candidate to keep speaking until they are asked to stop, do not just stop on your own, keep going!

For a full article describing How To Do IELTS Speaking Part 2 click the link.

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Example:

Notice how the examiner links the topic from part 2 to the topic in part 3.

Read a full guide to this part of the test here: How To Do IELTS Speaking Part 3


How Is The Speaking Test Assessed?

The speaking test is strictly assessed by fully qualified and experienced examiners. You can see the mark scheme grid that they use here to determine your band score.

Full band score mark scheme available here.

This may look complicated but basically your speaking will be assessed on four different areas:

1. Fluency and Coherence – Can you speak on your own for an extended period of time and be understood?

2. Vocabulary (Lexical Resource) – Can you show that you know a variety of different and less well known vocabulary so that you do no need to keep repeating the same words and phrases?

3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy – Can you use a range of different tenses and create simple and complex sentences with few mistakes?

4. Pronunciation – Can you be understood clearly and easily? Do you sound natural or native like?

The examiner will give you a band score for each of these criterion and then work out your average score.

 IELTS Speaking Strategies For A High Band Score

Having an overall plan or strategy to tackle the IELTS speaking test with will help give you confidence and stop nerves from affecting your performance. Here are some key strategies:

1. Avoid giving short one word answers, always try to expand on your answer. Here’s an example from a part 1 of the speaking test:

a) Where do you live? I live in Bangkok.

b) Where do you live? I have been living in Bangkok since I was 3 years old in a large town house in the suburbs. (Higher level response)

See how in the second response the candidate has shown off a more advanced tense (present perfect continuous) and a wider range of vocabulary (town house/suburbs) just from adding a bit more information to their response.

2. Know the format of the test and make sure you have practiced it a lot. Use the sample material on the links below and get a friend, teacher or family member to be the examiner. Knowing what you will be expected to do will reduce your nerves on test day.

3. Record yourself. Even if you don’t have a tutor to help, listening to yourself speak can reveal some obvious mistakes that you could easily correct yourself, for example, perhaps you are missing the ‘s’ sound off plural words. You can spot this and correct yourself!

4. To improve pronunciation, listen to native speakers and repeat what they say using the same tones. Use videos that have the script attached so you know what they are saying!

5. Focus your vocabulary learning on the most common IELTS topics (listed here, near the bottom of the page) and learn the words in context, so that you get the meaning and usage of the word correct.

Showing a range of vocabulary is essential, this means avoid using the same word over and over again and paraphrase sentences if you need to.

‘Paraphrasing’ just means saying a sentence or phrase in a different way with different words, rather than repeating the words/questions that the examiner uses.

For example:

♦ One of the main problems facing the world today is pollution.

♦ A major concern for the planet right now is the release of harmful gasses into the environment.

6. Be aware of common problems that native speakers of your own language have and focus on improving them.

For example, the Thai language does not have articles (a, an and the) so they are often missed out whilst speaking. If you are aware of this you can then see if you make this mistake and focus on improving it.

Specific tips and strategies for each part of the IELTS speaking test will be discussed in much further detail in the near future so stay posted for updates coming soon!