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How to get a high IELTS speaking score

IELTS speaking Practice: Free IELTS speaking Samples

In this guide you will find free IELTS speaking samples, IELTS speaking practice questions, and IELTS speaking exam tips. If you're looking for IELTS exam preparation and need a high IELTS speaking score, this page contains everything you'll need to get started.

IELTS speaking practice questions - Part 1

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IELTS speaking practice questions - Part 2

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IELTS speaking practice questions - Part 3

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Table Of Contents

IELTS Speaking Test Introduction

The IELTS speaking exam can be a little intimidating at first, especially because you'll be tested live in front of your examiner. Due to this live format, finding free IELTS speaking samples with answers can be difficult, but don't worry we have you covered. Before starting the IELTS speaking questions, let's take a quick look at the IELTS speaking test. Later on in this post, We will look at each part in depth and examine common IELTS speaking topics.

The speaking test lasts about 11 - 15 minutes, consisting of 4 parts:

IELTS Speaking Test - Greeting

When you take the IELTS Speaking test, you'll enter a room where your examiner will be waiting to greet you. Before the IELTS speaking test starts, the examiner will ask you a few questions. You will be judged on how you answer these questions, so it's important you're prepared to answer them, well.

  1. The examiner will introduce themselves and ask what your name is. You'll reply "My name's _______".
  2. Next, you'll be asked "What can I call you?", in which you can reply "You can call me_______". You may use your English name here, if you have one. This may sound odd, but some people cannot pronounce their own English name. This is NOT ACCEPTABLE. If you cannot pronounce it, you're better off not using it.
  3. Following your name, they ask where you're from. Just say "I'm from_____". That's enough. You don't need to give any extra information about your answers at this stage.
  4. Finally, you'll be asked for identification. After showing it, you'll begin the test.

IELTS Speaking Test - Part 1

Speaking Part 1 lasts between 4-5 minutes and you will be asked 8-10 questions about 2-3 familiar topics, such as your job, your studies, your family, your hometown, your accommodation, etc. There are a variety of IELTS Speaking Part 1 topics. We'll cover them later in this post. Usually the examiner will ask you 8 questions on 2 topics. For example, here is what the examiner could ask you:

Let's talk about your hometown:

Where is your hometown?
What do you like about it?
What do you not like about it?
How important is your hometown to you?

Let's move on to talk about accommodation:

Tell me about the kind of accommodation you live in?
Does the place you live in have many amenities?
Is there anything you would like to change about the place you live in?
Do you plan to live there for a long time?

In Part 1, the questions are simpler than the ones in Parts 2 and 3. In fact, Part 1 questions might best be described as questions that imitate "small talk" between two strangers or acquaintances. They are not very personal or in-depth. But, don't let these questions simplicity fool you into thinking that you don't need to prepare for Part 1! A little preparation can go a long way. You'll find some of our tips on how to prepare for Part 1 questions later in this post.

IELTS Speaking Test - Part 2

In part 2, you'll talk about a particular topic. The topic is selected for you and will be given to you on a card (Candidate Task Card). You will then have 1 minute to prepare your answer and then a maximum of 2 minutes to speak. A pencil and paper will be provided for you to make notes. Below is an example question:

Candidate Task Card
Describe a useful electronic device you would like to own.

You should say:
 - What it is
 - How it would help your life
 - If it would be expensive to buy
And explain why you would like it.

Once your two minutes of speaking time is finished, it's possible the test examiner will conclude this part of the test by asking you a couple of simple questions related to your Part 2 answer. These are sometimes known as rounding off questions, since they help "round off," or complete your conversation. For instance, perhaps the topic you discussed in Part 2 was "Describe your favorite form of public transport" The examiner might round off your conversation by asking:

- Are the buses cheap in your city?
- Did you travel to the test today by bus?

Typically, these rounding off questions themselves are simple, so it will only be necessary for you to respond with simple answers. Long, complex answers are not required here, as the examiner will likely be ready to transition into Part 3. For example, you can answer a rounding off question with short response like this:

- Yes, about 2 dollars for a single journey.
- No, actually I came by taxi.

On the other hand, there are also instances when the examiner might skip the rounding off questions altogether and will instead proceed directly to Part 3. If this turns out to be the case during your test, do not worry. This indicates that your Part 2 answer was long enough, and that your 3 minutes speaking time for Part 2 has already run out.

IELTS Speaking Test - Part 3

In Part 3, you'll be asked about 4-8 more general questions which are connected to the topic discussed in Part 2. The examiner will also ask you a few questions based on your answers, so the entire Part 3 is a two-way discussion with the examiner, and will last 4 - 5 minutes. For example, here is what the examiner could ask you based on the above sample Part 2 question:

We've been talking about electronic devices. I'd like to discuss with you a few more general questions relating to this topic. First, let's consider what are the most popular electronic devices in your country at the moment?
What devices do you think will be popular in the future?
Do you think people spend too much money on electronic devices?
In what ways can electronic devices make our lives harder?
What would the world be like without computers?
Should children be taught to use computers at school?

IELTS Speaking Topics

There are a variety of IELTS Speaking Part 1 topics. Below is a list of IELTS Speaking Part 1 topics that showed up in the IELTS exam in the past:

Topics Frequency
Friends/Family/Housework/Children High
School majors/High School Medium
Hometown/Country/Accommodation High
TV/Reading/Music/Newspapers & Magazines/Films High
Sports/Outdoor Activities/Indoor Activities Medium
Travel/Lifestyle Medium
Technology/Computers/Internet High
Season/Rain/Sunny Days/Weather Medium
Work/Jobs/Career Planning/Volunteer Work High
Fashion/Shoes/Bags/Clothes Medium
Transportation/Boats/Buses/Taxis Medium
Photos/Photography/Colors/Art Low
Noise/Patience/Politeness Low
Celebrities/Advertisements/Media Medium
Mirrors/Gifts Low

In speaking part 3, the examiner will ask a broader range of more general questions based on the topic that you had in speaking part 2. Below is a list of IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3 topics that showed up in the IELTS exam in the past:

Broad Category IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3 Topics
People Teacher/Family/Friends/Influential People/Good Parents
Place City/Company/School/Museums/Party/Shopping Places
Object Art/Books/Clothing/Electronic Devices/Food/Furniture/Gifts
Machine/Money/Musical Instruments/Traditional Products/Vegetables
Events A change in life/Decision/Exciting Experiences/Holiday/Illness Experiences
Helping People/Memorable Experiences/An Experience of Being Late/Travel Experiences
Media Advertisements/Internet/News/TV
Society Environment/Traffic Rule/Society/Transportation
Others Leisure Activities/Language/Sports
IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3 Topics From 2015 to 2017

IELTS Speaking Questions - Demo

To get an idea of what the test is like for each part, you can watch the official IELTS YouTube videos below.

IELTS Speaking - Scoring

In the Speaking section of the IELTS test, your speaking ability will be scored based on four categories. These are known as Fluency and coherence, Lexical resource, Grammatical range and accuracy, and Pronunciation. Read on for an opportunity to get more familiar with each of these categories. For more information, you can also refer to these band descriptors which IELTS examiners use to score the Speaking section of the test. Now, let's look at these four categories in detail.

Fluency & Coherence

Can you discuss your thoughts in a clear, logical way? Fluency refers to your ability to get your ideas across rationally, and coherence refers to the extent to which others can understand your ideas. To get a Band 9 score in the Fluency and Coherence category, you should be able to speak continuously without stopping to remember words or grammar, while simultaneously developing a complete, practical response to questions.

If you are frequently hesitating to put a grammatically correct response together, your fluency will be negatively impacted. You should be focused on using English to effectively communicate the content of your message at all times, not on finding the right words themselves. To score well in the area of coherence, your ideas need to flow together sensibly to your listener. You can make use of cohesive features, like transitions, and common discourse markers to improve your cohesion, and also buy yourself a little more time to think of your best response.

Lexical Resource

Your lexical resource concerns your ability to effectively tap into your "mental dictionary," or lexicon. If you tend to speak with an expansive, varied vocabulary, you will surely do well in the lexical resource category. Note that both the appropriateness and accuracy of your vocabulary choices are considered here, so you must be sure to choose the correct word for both its meaning AND the context in which it appears.

On the other hand, if you have a limited vocabulary, or are inexperienced with finding the right context for some words, you may need some additional practice in this area. Remember, just knowing what an English word "means" does not ensure that you are using it correctly, as English words often have connotations which are not necessarily found in the dictionary. Repeating the same words that you are comfortable using again and again is another common mistake to avoid, as it will indicate to the examiner that your lexical resources are limited. Finally, the examiner will expect you to be able to correctly paraphrase questions by using your own words to repeat the question. That means listening and understanding the phrasing of questions is important, too.

Grammatical Range

Unsurprisingly to most, your grammar will also be considered as part of your speaking score. To do your best in this category, you should attempt to demonstrate your grammatical ability and range as naturally as possible. Avoiding mistakes will not be enough to get a high score in this area, as the examiner needs ample opportunities to hear you using more complex or difficult grammatical structures and features. Your goal should be to show off your grammatical knowledge while appearing comfortable using a variety of sentence constructions and verb tenses. However, as many second-language speakers know, this is easier said than done. If you're confused about how to use some grammar points, or you aren't sure whether you're making mistakes when speaking, consider recording your spoken responses next time you practice answering test questions. While listening, you may find that there are some mistakes you didn't even know you were making. Discovering these will allow you to figure out how to break bad habits BEFORE examiner hears you making them on the test. If possible, get a native speaker, instructor, or a friend with good English to help you correct your mistakes and explain grammar rules. Be sure to go back and review as well -- even the most basic grammar lessons.

Pronunciation

Last but not least, examiners will score your pronunciation. Those with the highest scores in this category will pronounce words well enough for native speakers to understand them perfectly at all times. Pronunciation problems which limit your ability to be understood when speaking will reduce your score.

It's important to remember that English pronunciation involves more than just the sounds of words. Native speakers will also be listening for proper tone, stress, and flow in your words as well as within sentences. When test-takers are unfamiliar with the natural rhythm and intonation patterns of English, the only surefire way to improve is to hear and use as much spoken English as possible throughout the day.

Realistically, doing this may not be possible for everyone. Even so, you can still make the most of your limited time by listening to recordings of native speakers. To practice improving your pronunciation, you'll need to channel your inner parrot. Try stopping the recording and repeating short portions exactly the way you heard them a few times. Listen for rising and falling tones, pauses, and even the speaker's emotion. Doing this will allow you to develop your own pronunciation within different contexts, as well as train yourself to hear and replicate the real sounds of native-like English.

How to Answer IELTS Speaking Exam Part 1 Questions

As noted before, the questions from Part 1 are almost exactly like daily conversations with native speakers. If you're comfortable having basic conversations with a native English speaker, part 1 should not be too much trouble, however, you should still prepare for it.

Think of it this way!

Even native-English speakers might make mistakes if they have not practiced specifics of each part, even part 1. You're not just answering questions, you are fully explaining your answers in a structured and cohesive way, so make sure to prepare yourself for all parts, no matter how easy it appears.

If you want to practice some free IELTS speaking practice questions from part 1, have a look at our long list of IELTS Speaking Sample Questions Part 1. It's a list of common questions examiners have asked people in the past. You can practice answering these questions in a mirror or with a friend.

IELTS Speaking Exam Part 1 Tips for Success

When answering questions in Part 1, your answer shouldn't be too short or too long.. For example, if you're asked "Do you like sports?" Saying "No. I don't like sports." is not a good enough answer. Always remember, you're here to prove you can speak English, so you need to give the examiner longer answers in order for them to grade you. An acceptable response would be "I understand the benefits of being in sports and the entertainment of watching it, but even as a child, I could never get into sports. I would prefer to sit down and read an engaging book.". As a general rule, a Part 1 answer should have about 3-4 sentences.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways for you to extend your IELTS speaking answers naturally, without running the risk of using any difficult or unfamiliar grammar. Here, you can find 6 easy ways, with provided examples, of how to effectively extend your answers when speaking on part 1 of the IELTS.

Method Examples
Reasons Reasons strengthen your answers and help explain your logic. If you've got an opinion or an idea, supporting it with a reason will make it much stronger, and make your answer longer, too. You can say things like: because, as, due to, since. Below is an example:

Q: Who do you get on best within your family?

A: It's hard to say, because we're all so close. I guess I probably get on best with my mother, as we are the most alike. We're both very chatty and warm people.
Examples Examples make everything in life a little easier to understand. You can give an example for almost anything, just make sure it's relevant to the question. To give an example, you can say: for example, for instance. Below is an example:

Q: How do you define volunteer work?

A: Volunteering means spending your free time to help others. For example, helping children to learn a useful new skill if their families don't have money to pay for classes.
Compare/Contrast When you compare and contrast, you show how things are similar and different from each other. You can do this by saying things like: on (the) one hand, similarly, on the other hand, at the same time, however. Below is an example:

Q: Do you enjoy your job?

A: My job is in customer-service, so it's interesting to meet plenty of new people each day. At the same time, it's also a little exhausting to be on my feet for hours.
Past/Future If you add in information about your past and future, it adds depth to your answer. People like to give background about themselves when speaking. You can do this in some of the following ways: back then, since then, from the time that, going forward, in the future, hopefully. Below are two examples:

Q: Do you get on well with your coworkers?

A: My coworkers and I aren't close, but we always work together in a professional way. However, they seem very likeable, and I'd be open to getting to know them better going forward.

Q: Who do you live with?

A: I live with my parents and my older brother right now, but I used to live with my younger brother since we went to the same college.
Frequency You can add more details to your answer by mentioning the frequency of whatever you're talking about. Frequency words are usually adverbs, such as: sometimes, often, usually, from time to time, on occasion Below is an example:

Q: Do you lead an active life?

A: I'm not into playing sports much, but I go for walks with my family a few times a week to stay active. Since I'm usually busy with school and other things, I don't exercise often. I think my daily life keeps me active enough.
Opinions Even if the question doesn't ask what you think, it's natural to offer your opinion on the subject. There are a few ways to introduce your opinion: in my opinion, I think, I believe, as far as I'm concerned, if you ask me, I'd say Below is an example:

Q: How many people live in your hometown?

A: There are less than 1,000 people total who live in my hometown. If you ask me, it's more like a small village than a town.

Another key tip to keep in mind is to talk naturally like you were talking to a good friend. When you feel uncomfortable or stressed its natural to do the following

  • Look down when talking
  • Talk in a monotone voice
  • Talk quietly
  • Give one word answers ("No.")
  • Frown

The above list are things you MUST NOT DO! Let's look at a list of things you should do :)

  • Make eye natural contact with the examiner
  • Talk with passion. Be excited and happy to answer the questions.
  • Talk loud enough, so the examiner will have no problem hearing you.
  • Give descriptive answers.
  • SMILE :)

Finally, it can be very helpful to begin your response by paraphrasing a portion of the question. You can use synonyms where possible, but you can also rearrange the sentence structure of the question. This will show you have a better command of the English language.

How to Answer IELTS Speaking Exam Part 2 Questions

IELTS Speaking Part 2 is the individual part of the test. You'll be given a candidate task card, pen and paper and will be expected to speak a monologue for around 2 minutes. As you can see from the candidate task card example below, there is a topic that the examiner will expect you to talk about and and bullet points to help guide you, but are not requirements for your speech.

Candidate Task Card
Describe something you own which is very important to you.
  • Where you got it from
  • How long you have had it
  • What you use it for.
  • And explain why it is important to you.

You'll have 1 minute to prepare your speech. Use the pen and paper to write down your notes in point form. You can use your notes during your speech. The examiner will then start a timer and you will begin your 2 minute monologue.

IELTS Speaking Exam Part 2 Tips for Success

Due to IELTS speaking part 2 requiring you to speak for 2 minutes straight and potentially talk about an unfamiliar topic, many IELTS students get nervous and stress out during their speech and run out of things to say. In order to help you overcome these problems, we have come up with 5 tips that can help you feel confident and relaxed during your speech.

1. Don't let bullet points on the cue card limit your answer

A common misconception is that students have to talk about exactly what is written on the card, but that is not true. In the Official Marking Criteria for the Speaking Test there is nothing stating that you have to talk about every bullet point. Lots of IELTS examiners know this, but they don't tell students because they don't want to give them an unfair advantage. The bullet points are only there to help you, so if there are one or two that you don't like or you don't feel comfortable talking about, leave them out and talk about something else.

The rule is that you must talk about the general topic, but you don't have to talk about all of the bullet points. So what does this mean to you? It means you can choose to talk about some of the bullet points you are comfortable with and other things unrelated to the bullet points but related to the topic. This will help you give a better and a more fluent answer.

2. Plan your answer during the 1 minute preparation time

You will have one minute to prepare before you start talking. During this 1 minute, You should layout your speaking response's structure and put down some keywords to help you remember what you want to talk about during your speech. Remember! you need to speak for 2 minutes speech and that's a lot of time. If you don't plan well, you are not likely to do a great job. Maybe if you prepared yourself a structure, things would be a lot easier :)

3. Prepare a structure to plan out your speaking answer

There's nothing worse then having an idea in your mind, but failing to express it into words that's easy for the listening to follow and understand. This is typically the case when you aren't practiced in speaking with structure. It's recommended you have a structure in mind to answer any question. You can use the below structure as a reference.

Introduction

Here you can use one sentence to introduce what you will talk about. A simple introductory phrase like, "I'm going to talk about…" or "I' like to talk about .." will work just fine.

Main event

This is where you talk about the most important details about the event or problem. The details can be from the bullet points or other things relevant to the main topic. When you are practicing, a good way to come up with details is to use 'Who, what, why, where, how'. This will help you quickly and easily expand your answer.

A quick note on adjectives. If you describe something with an adjective, you're going to want to explain it with examples. Simply using a fancy word to describe something will not get you a high score, detailed explanations will.

Finally, if you can, make your speech about a life experience. It'll make it easier to talk about and will come out more naturally. However, if you have no experience with the topic, then you can just make it up. The examiner will not fact check, so have some fun with it. The examiner will, however, ask a follow-up question, so be prepared to answer it.

Your feelings

This is like a conclusion of your story. Saying how you felt will add an important layer to your story. If you are talking about a memorable journey you have made, you can say something like this "Overall, the trip was the happiest moment of my life. I really had a great time with my family."

Future

Finally, discussing what you might do in the future is a great way to end finish your speech. It will help you gain extra marks because you'll show an ability to use future tense. Some useful language expressions are 'With regards to the future, I will ..' or "I think when I am get older, I will .."


4. Don't Worry About Making Mistakes

Everybody taking an IELTS speaking exam makes both grammar and vocabulary mistakes. The examiners are actually expecting you to make some mistakes. What's important is getting the message across; making a few small mistakes will not hurt your overall message. What will hurt your message is thinking about the mistake. Losing your train of thought is dangerous. If you can correct it immediately without losing your train of thought, then it's fine to correct it, but if you struggle or it takes a little bit of time to think of the correction, then please forget it and move on.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Questions

Reading this guide won't help you unless you put the ideas into practice. Every part 2 question is different and therefore requires a different response. There is no magic formula, so you need to find some example questions and practice. Luckily, we have gathered 101 part 2 questions for you to practice with. Try to answer it as naturally as possible and use the techniques above to extend your answer if needed. Here are all 101 part 2 questions.

How to Answer IELTS Speaking Exam Part 3 Questions

In part 3 of the Speaking test, the examiner will ask a broader range of questions which are based on the topics discussed in part 2. These questions are more general and require you to develop your answer further with explanations and examples. It is going to be a discussion with the examiner that will last for about 4-5 minutes. The examiner wants to see that you can fluently express your opinions and that you are able to justify them by giving reasons and examples.

Ok, let's just say that the question in Part 2 is "Describe a book that you read recently". In Part 3, the questions you are going to be asked are related to the topic "book". So, here are some general and abstract questions that could be asked in Part 3 based on this topic:

  • What kind of books are considered good reads in your opinion?
  • Why do you think so many people read on tablets nowadays?
  • Do you think that traditional books will be replaced by tablet reading in the future?

If you have done some research on IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions, you might think they are unpredictable, making them challenging to prepare for. However, if you look at them closely, you can see patterns among the questions. Generally speaking, questions in IELTS speaking part 3 ask you to

  1. give your opinion or preference on a topic
  2. compare and contrast two things
  3. make a prediction on something in the future
  4. make a comparison with the past 
  5. talk about a hypothetical situation
  6. talk about your ideas about people in society
  7. talk about causes and effects
  8. provide solutions to a problem

Do you see the pattern? Let's have a look some more example questions.

Give your opinion on a topic
  • What do think about the way languages are taught in schools?
  • What is your opinion on companies checking job applicants' online profiles?
  • Do you think the education system in your country influences young people’s behavior?
  • Is using the Internet a social or solitary activity?
  • Is food safety becoming an increasing serious problem in our lives?
  • What do you think of betting on sports events?
  • Do you regard famous writers as good role models?
Express your preference
  • What do think is better for you? home cooking or eating out?
  • Do you generally read a lot of books or do you prefer watching T.V?
  • Do you prefer to live in a big city or in a small town?
Talk about people or things in your country
  • Do people in your country spend a lot of money on their education?
  • How do most people travel long distances in your country?
  • How popular is watching television in your country?
  • How healthy is your country’s food?
Talk about causes and effects
  • What are some of the causes of water pollution?
  • How does advertising influence what people choose to buy?
  • What causes climate change?
  • Why do you think so many people read on tablets nowadays?
  • Why do people like watching television?
  • What effects can watching television have on children?
Compare and contrast two things
  • What are the differences between living in the city and the countryside
  • What is the difference between studying online and studying at a school
  • What is the difference between clothes that young people and old people like to wear?
Make a prediction on something in the future
  • What do you think cities will be like in 50 years time? 
  • Some people say that working from home will be quite common in the future. Do you agree with this statement?
  • Will computers and robots replace teachers in the future?
Make a comparison with the past
  • How are education priorities today different from those in the past?
  • How are the eating habits now different from eating habits in the past
  • How has teaching changed in your country over the past few decades?
  • Are TV programmes nowadays the same as TV programmes in the past?
Talk about a hypothetical situation
  • If you could choose a city to live in, where would you choose? 
  • If you could influence or had the power to change the world with your writings what would you want to change?
Provide solutions to a problem
  • How can traffic be reduced in a city?
  • how can we stop violence on TV?
  • What can we do to slow down global warming?

All information on this page was referenced from the official IELTS website: www.ielts.org

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