Are you preparing for the IELTS test? If so, you’ll need to do the speaking section. While many people find speaking the most nerve-wracking part of the exam, it doesn’t have to be for you. In fact, we think the speaking section is one of the best parts of the test to do – it’s short, covers interesting topics and gives you the opportunity to really show off your English skills!

In this short guide, we’ll explain how to get top marks in the IELTS speaking section, as well as offer useful language and some top tips for test day.


The IELTS test


If you want to travel, study or work abroad, then you’ll need to prove your English language level. The answer – the IELTS test! This English test provides you with a certificate that is recognised by employers and universities around the world.

There are two types of IELTS tests – Academic and General. While the Academic test is ideal for students who want to study in an English-speaking country, the General test is more suitable for those looking for work opportunities. Both consist of four parts – reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Yet, the speaking part of the exam is the same for both General and Academic, so whichever one you’re doing, this guide will help you to succeed.


The IELTS speaking section


The IELTS Speaking test takes around 11 to 14 minutes and is divided into three different sections. In this test you’re being assessed on your ability to:

  • communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences.
  • speak at length on a particular topic using appropriate language while organising ideas coherently.
  • express and justify opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate.

Let’s take a closer look at each part now.

Speaking part 1‍

The IELTS Speaking Part 1 section is the introduction and short interview which lasts for around 4 to 5 minutes. Here, the examiner introduces themselves to you and asks you to introduce yourself and to confirm your identity.

Next, they’ll ask you a few general questions on familiar topics such as home, family, work, studies and your interests. Here are some examples of what questions might be asked at this stage:

Tips for IELTS speaking section_Speaking part 1

IELTS Sample Speaking Test

TIP: Don’t memorise answers to a few specific questions – you could be asked a whole range of questions so practise as many as possible.

Speaking part 2

The IELTS Speaking Part 2 is the individual long turn task which lasts for around 3 to 4 minutes. In this section, the examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. This card also includes points you can cover as part of the talk if you wish.

You will be given one minute to prepare your talk – you can use a pencil and piece of paper to note down ideas. Then, you’ll talk for 1 to 2 minutes about the topic. Finally, the examiner may then ask you one or two questions about the same topic for you to discuss.

Here is an example of a task card.

Tips for IELTS speaking section_Speaking part 2

IELTS Sample Speaking Test

TIP: Organise your talk into a numbered list when preparing – this will stop you getting lost halfway through.

Speaking part 3

The IELTS Speaking Part 3 is a two-way discussion and lasts for around 4 to 5 minutes. For this part, the examiner may ask you further questions about the topic you talked about in Part 2.

These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas. Here you can really show off your vocabulary and grammatical structures. See the types of questions you may get asked in this part below.

Tips for IELTS speaking section_Speaking part 3

IELTS Sample Speaking Test

TIP: If you need a little time to think about how to answer something, then pause. Use an expression like ‘Let me see’ or ‘I’ve never thought about that, but…’. It’ll help fill the time while you decide what you want to say.


Useful language


If you want to ace the speaking test, it’s important to show that you can use a wide variety of vocabulary. To help, here are some examples of useful language you can use.

Tips for IELTS speaking section_Useful language

As well as these useful phrases, try and use other expressive language such as phrasal verbs and idioms. If you do this, you’ll be on track to get a good band score.


Tips to get top marks


Read the task card carefully: Before you do part 2, it’s vital that you use your minute of preparation to read the task card carefully. This is to make sure that there are no misunderstandings when you start speaking!

Use a variety of language: In all parts, you’re being tested on your ability to use a variety of language and grammatical structures. Make sure you show off your language skills to the examiner by including language such as phrasal verbs, idioms, linking phrases, comparisons and contrasts etc.

Practice makes perfect: Practise as much as you possibly can before test day! Whether it’s with family, friends or even in front of the mirror, you’ll feel more confident and prepared.

Time yourself: While practising, make sure that you time yourself according to the section you’re working on. It’ll help you know what to expect on test day.


More IELTS resources


Now you know all you need to pass the IELTS Speaking test with flying colours! If you’re interested in learning how to get top marks in the writing sections, check out our other posts.

IELTS: Writing Part 1 – How to Write a Descriptive Report

IELTS: Writing Part 2 – How To Write A Discursive Essay

Interested in taking an IELTS preparation course at Oxford House Barcelona? Check out the different intensive IELTS preparation courses on offer. We have IELTS intensives during the summer too!

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

nerve-wracking (adj): causing stress or anxiety.

prove (v): demonstrate the truth of something with evidence.

note down (pv): take notes.

show off (pv): show your abilities.

ace (v): achieve very high marks in a test or exam.

be on track (exp): following a course which is likely to succeed.

with flying colours (exp): to do a test or exam very well.


exp = expression

v = verb

pv = phrasal verb

adj = adjective

Pass your IELTS Exam with Oxford House Barcelona

Interested in taking an IELTS preparation course at Oxford House Barcelona? Check the intensive IELTS preparation course we can offer you during the school year or during Summer.

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