What Is the IELTS Speaking Test?

The IELTS exam has four separate tests to judge your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Each of these four tests gives you twenty-five percent of your final IELTS score.

The speaking test judges your ability to express yourself verbally. It lasts from 11 to 14 minutes and is divided into three parts.

Speaking Part One

The first part of the speaking test lasts four to five minutes.

The examiner asks you 10 to 12 simple questions. These questions cover three different topics (three or four questions per topic). The questions are mostly about yourself and your life.

Part one is the easiest part of the test. Your answers can be simple and short, but you must try to speak confidently and fluently. You can use the three-step YES Method to help.

Read detailed advice for part one here.

Speaking Part Two

The second part of the speaking test is more difficult. It lasts three to four minutes.

The examiner gives you a piece of paper called a ‘cue card.’ This cue card has one detailed question written on it. It also gives you some ideas on what to talk about.

You have one minute to prepare your answer. Then you need to speak for one or two minutes without stopping.

In part two, you should focus on preparing many things to say, using interesting vocabulary. You can use stories and word groups to help. 

See detailed advice for part two here.

Speaking Part Three

The third part of the test lasts four to five minutes.

The examiner asks you three to six questions. These questions are all on one topic, which is the same as the topic in your part-two question.

In part three, the questions are more in-depth than the simpler part-one questions. You should give longer answers and explain your opinion clearly, offering examples.

So for part three, you should practice explaining your opinions well, using examples. You can use the three-step SEE Method to help. 

Read detailed advice for part three here.

Requirements for a Band-Seven Score

While you’re speaking in the test, the examiner is judging four aspects of your English: fluency, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

Here’s what you need to achieve a band-seven score for each one:

Band Seven Fluency

  • You can speak quite easily, without too much effort
  • You use connectors pretty well (words like: ‘but, so, because, however, even though, then, as a result…)
  • You might hesitate sometimes, but not too much
  • You might repeat yourself sometimes, but not too much

Band Seven Vocabulary

  • You can use a range of vocabulary to discuss various topics in a flexible way
  • You use some phrasal verbs and idioms well
  • You understand collocations quite well (words that usually go together, for example: make a mistake)
  • You can paraphrase (explain your meaning in more than one way, using different words and sentence structures)

Band Seven Grammar

  • You use some complex grammar (not always present simple or past simple tense)
  • You use some complex sentence structures (longer sentences with conjunctions and more than one clause)
  • Your sentences are mostly correct. You make some mistakes, but not too often

Band Seven Pronunciation

  • You are easy to understand most of the time
  • You can pronounce all the necessary sounds in English words well
  • You are connecting words together a lot of the time
  • Your intonation is correct and natural-sounding most of the time
  • You may have an accent, but it doesn’t prevent you from being understood

For general guidance on how to prepare for your IELTS Speaking test, go here.

Otherwise, you can find specific tips on part one here, part two here, and part three here.

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