IELTS speaking

About the IELTS speaking test

IELTS speaking test format

Timing and requirements

IELTS-speaking*Note that the listening test is the same for the General Training and Academic Module test

There are three parts to the IELTS speaking test, with the whole test taking between 11 and 14 minutes. The test is recorded. At the beginning of the test (before the official test has begun) the examiner will read some details into the recorder (date, name of test centre, candidates name etc). Then the real test begins. Note, however, that it is human nature for the examiner to begin the assessment from the time you meet, so a brief ‘Hello’ or ‘Are you having a busy day?’ as you are walking to the test room will give a good first impression.

Part 1 of the IELTS speaking test

In Part 1 of the test, your examiner will ask you questions about yourself. Topics include your hometown, newspaper, music, shopping etc. Within part three, the examiner will ask you questions related to three random topics – for example, the first topic could be about where you work, the second could be about holidays and the third could be about relaxing. Within each of the three categories, the examiner will ask you up to four questions.

In Part 1 of the speaking test, you can speak quite informally, but remember that if you are feeling nervous it can often help to say things that aren’t true for you. For example, if you are asked ‘Do you often read newspapers?‘ but in fact you never do, then think of someone you know who does read a newspaper and answer as though you that person.

Part 2 of the IELTS speaking test

In Part 2 of the test, you will be given a topic card and will be expected to talk about it for two minutes. Note that the examiner will say ‘one to two minutes’, but higher scores are awarded if you can keep going. In an ideal part 2, the examiner will interrupt you and change the subject, which means you have reached the two minutes. Before you talk you will have one minute to prepare what you are going to say. The examiner will give you a paper and pencil to make notes during your preparation time. Remember that when you do start the two minute speech, you can refer to your notes, but don’t keep your head down and simply ‘read’.

Here’s an example speaking topic card:

Describe a childhood friend

You should say:

  • how you first met
  • how long you were friends
  • what you used to do together

and explain why you liked this person.


Part 3 of the IELTS speaking test

In Part 3 of the test, the examiner will ask you to respond on a number of different topics that will be related to the topic card you spoken about in part 2. At this stage, it is important tat your level of vocabulary is raised so you are speaking more formally.

During the test, the examiner is marking your performance based on four scales:

  1. Fluency and coherence
  2. Lexical resource
  3. Grammatical range and accuracy
  4. Pronunciation
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