The speaking test is assessed by four criteria: Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resources, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Pronunciation. It is interesting to note that there is no scoring component for Task Accomplishment.

Some former examiners claim you should follow a template to ensure you cover all the necessary aspects (Coherence and Cohesion, for example) in your answers. Some tips on this topic can be seen here. This seems a little excessive to me, however, since I believe the examiners would prefer to hear you speaking spontaneously, rather than reading from an inner script. In any case, do try to use "connective" phrases like "in particular". You need to show an ability to paraphrase and an understanding of slang. Also, be careful not to talk too fast.

Advanced grammatical structures, such as adjective clauses, are necessary if you hope to get a high score. Having a strong or noticeable accent might be an impediment to reaching higher scores (such as 8.0).


THE SPEAKING test often takes place at a small table. The examiner will read the name of the center as well as the name and number of the candidate. The examiner might ask to see your passport. After that, the test begins.

Part 1 of the test comprises from 6 to 12 questions, about familiar everyday topics. The first few questions are always the same: "What is your name?" and "Do you work or study?" Based on your answer to the latter question, the examiner might move on to ask about your job or education, as the case may be.

My students sometimes have trouble extending their answers. You should try to speak several sentences per answer (IELTS Materials has some good vocabulary and sample questions to help you prepare, or you book a lesson with me of course!) That said, it is best not to say more than three sentences for Part 1 questions. Instead of giving simple answers to questions, you can describe your feelings, say, about the place where you live, or discuss your future plans.


Topics covered are wide, but often predictable: work, career, food, entertainment, etc are common topics (for the full list, see my Personal Study Plan below.)

There are four different types of questions: describing; identifying; giving an opinion; and speculating. Speculating questions require use of the second conditional when answering. Therefore, it is perfectly possible that you could be asked to give your opinion of a particular food.

Anyway, some possible Part 1 questions and suggested answers are as follows:

Let's talk about your home town or village. What kind of place is it? ("It is an industrial city, but it also many nice beaches, and some historic buildings...")
What's the most interesting part of your town/village? ("Many pilgrims come to visit the Shiva temple in the outskirts of town...")
What kind of jobs do the people in your town/village do? ("This is a mining region, so many people work in the mining industry...")
Would you say itís a good place to live? (Why?)
Let's move on to talk about accommodation. Tell me about the kind of accommodation you live in?
How long have you lived there?
What do you like about living there?
What sort of accommodation would you most like to live in?

For some questions with model answers, click here, or here.

Personal study plan (can be adapted depending on time):

1. Family/childhood.
2. Country/hometown.
3. Home/Room (neighbourhood).
4. Education/Study.
5. Work and career.
6. Friends/workmates/colleagues/supervisors.
7. Hobbies/Interests/Going Out.
8. Dreams/ambitions/free time.
8. Weather.
9. Environment.
10. Globalization.
11. War/Guns and Weapons.
12. Policy (crime/governance/laws/rules).
13. Money/consumerism.
14. Science and ICT.
15. Media/Social Media/News & Fake News.
16. Entertainment/Books/Films.
17. Boredom/Inspiration.
18. Water.

To increase competency in collocations and intensifying adjectives, click here! Also reference my "99 Top IELTS Collocations" PDF.

There are a lot of flashcards with good vocabulary on Quizlet.

See here!

Danger of using linking words in IELTS Speaking test.


PART 2 OF IELTS is often called the "Cue Card" question because you will be given a card containing a cue or topic to talk about. It is also called the "Long Turn" question because you will need to speak at length, for between 90 seconds to two minutes.

One misconception is that it is necessary to answer all the bullet points in the question... it is not necessarily so. As a matter of fact, there are no scores for task completion in the speaking test. Therefore, you can create your own structure which can be used in all Part 2 questions! Jay recommends the PPF Method for structuring the Part 2 speech. PPF stands for "Past, Present, Future". In other words, you should tell three stories in each test: one regarding the past, one regarding the present, and one regarding the future.

Part 2 questions can be broken into six categories: people, places, objects, likes or dislikes, places and experiences.

Describing a person is one of most challenging tasks. Here is some advice:

When planning what to say, it is a good idea to use one idea per sentence. Use keywords from the question in these answers.

Thus, you could structure your Part 2 question like this:
"So, I would like to talk about ... [three subjects of speech]. When I was a child I used to ... [past story]. Recently I ... [present story]... In the future I would like to... [future story]."


THE FINAL part of the IELTS Speaking Test, the "Discussion" is like Part 1, with a series of questions requiring short answers.

Part 3 answers give you a chance to showcase your grammar skills. When giving an answer, try to expand it using explanations and examples. This will give you extra points for Coherence and Cohesion.

Different parts of the IELTS test require different vocabulary. Academic English is necessary for writing, for example, while idioms are good for speaking. See this site for more.

If you get asked difficult or challenging questions in Part 3, this could be a good sign.

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