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IELTS Speaking test: What all you should know

Updated on 17 April, 2024

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

ielts speaking test

The International English Language Testing System is one of the world's most widely accepted English language proficiency tests. It evaluates the candidate's familiarity with the language in four aspects: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening. 

IELTS Speaking is one of the essential sections of the IELTS exam that evaluates a candidate's ability to communicate in English. It follows the same format for both Academic and General Training modules. 


IELTS Speaking Format 

The IELTS Speaking section usually lasts for 11-14 minutes and is divided into three parts; 

  • Part 1: In this part, the examiner asks general questions about your regular life. It generally starts with familiar questions that are factual in manner. Some common topics in this section are family, friends, work/study, lifestyle, habits, hobbies & interests, and likes & dislikes. This part usually lasts for 4 to 5 minutes.  
  • Part 2: In the second part, candidates are given a cue card in which a topic will be written. They are allotted one minute to prepare their answer and speak for one to two minutes. Topics in these cue cards generally focus on tight areas such as your favorite painting, a memorable vacation/ event or incident, your school life, the person you are close with, and your most significant milestone. 
  • Part 3: In this part, the examiner will ask you cross-questions about the topic you spoke about in Part 2. These questions are more abstract. For example, if your cue card topic was to describe your favorite sport, The examiner could ask questions such as What are the advantages of playing sports? Do you think school children should be encouraged to play sports?

IELTS Speaking: Assessment Criteria

There are four primary assessment criteria for IELTS Speaking:

  • Fluency: Fluency describes your ability to speak for a lengthy period without hesitation, pauses, or repetition. To maintain fluency while answering questions, it is advisable to communicate your thoughts clearly and answer relevantly. 
  • Coherence: Coherence refers to the logical flow of ideas. It is an assessment criterion that evaluates how well the candidate can express his thoughts using appropriate words and phrases. 
  • Lexical Resource: Lexical Resource can define the candidate's vocabulary range while answering the questions. However, they must mindfully maintain the scope of the new words they use while speaking and avoid their overuse. 
  • Grammatical range and accuracy (GRA): As the name suggests, GRA refers to the proper use of the grammatical structures in the speaking test. To achieve a high test score, making correct sentences using a limited grammatical range is advisable to achieve a high test score. 
  • Pronunciation: Mostly, pronunciation is misinterpreted with 'accent.' However, candidates are not expected to speak in a particular accent. Instead, this assessment criteria analyzes the clarity.  

Tips for scoring good bands in IELTS Speaking 

  • Know the question's intent.

You can answer questions confidently once you know what the examiner expects and wants to know. Here you need to be mindful while answering. Avoid answering in haste if you don’t understand the question; instead, gently request the examiner to repeat the question. 

  • Keep eye contact while answering the questions.

Maintaining eye contact while speaking shows you're confident to share your thoughts. It creates a good impression in front of the examiner and helps you convincingly present your answers. 

  • Elaborate your answers. 

In the speaking test, the examiner evaluates your English communication skills and expects detailed answers. Therefore, make sure that you justify your answers correctly. Some ways you can do this are by giving examples and presenting facts and figures. This would not only substantiate your responses but also embellish your answers and make you more presentable in front of the examiner.

  • Expand your vocabulary 

Vocabulary works as a tool for showing your command over the language. A good vocabulary is a skill that adds up to 25% of your total score. So, make sure you learn new words every day before your speaking test. 

  • Practice every day to develop fluency 

Fluency comes with practice and consistency. An excellent way to start is by picking any topic and speaking in front of the mirror. This way, you'll learn about your mistakes and the areas for improvement. Make this a part of your daily routine, and you'll eventually start developing fluency. 

  • Know the examiner's accent 

Most of the time, Indian candidates get interviewed by foreign examiners whose accent turns out to be an issue. To ensure that you don't go through the same, begin watching English movies and web series with subtitles to understand how words are pronounced in different accents. 

Recommended Reads:

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How to Crack IELTS Exam in first Attempt

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How to Improve Vocabulary for IELTS

IELTS Common Speaking Topics With Answers




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IELTS Speaking Test Samples

The below table shows some of the common IELTS Speaking test samples with answers.

IELTS Speaking Sample 
Part 1 


Do you live in a house or a flat?

I live in a house that is located in Jaipur, Rajasthan. I have recently shifted there. 

Which is your favorite place in your home?

My favorite place in my house is the balcony of my room. I enjoy sitting there in the mornings and evenings. 

Can you describe it?

Well, it’s not particularly large but quite spacious. There are several plants on the balcony that my mom waters every day. We have kept two chairs and a small table in it. 

If you could change one thing in your house, what would it be?

One thing I would like to change about my house is the design of my washroom. Though it is spacious and beautiful. But there are two doors in it. The entrance of the other door opens from the hall and my room. I would want my washroom only to have a single entry from my room.

Part 2 


Describe a book you have recently read.

You can talk about 

  • What is the genre of the book
  • Who is the author 
  • Did you find it interesting? 
  • What sort of people would enjoy it? 
Part 3 

Do you think books help in improving vocabulary? 

Do you enjoy reading books or watching movies? 

What are the different types of genres you know?

Who is your favorite author? 


Everything that you need to know about the IELTS speaking section

  1. The IELTS Speaking section is the same for both IELTS Academic and General Training.

2. The scores in the speaking section are awarded on the basis of four skills. They are fluency and coherence, lexical resources, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation.

3. There is no right or wrong in the speaking section. Applicants will not be negatively marked for any response. The answers will be evaluated by experienced and trained examiners.

4. There will not be any writing involved in this section. Applicants only need to answer and discuss the questions orally.

5. The IELTS speaking section is the shortest one. It is conducted within a maximum of 15 minutes.

6. The speaking section will comprise three sub-sections. Each subsection will be 3-4 minutes long.

7. As a part of the first subsection, the questions will be related to the applicant. There can be questions about his/her interests, family background, hobbies, and reasons for choosing a particular course or educational institution. This segment usually contains predictable questions and is pretty easy to deal with.

8. In the second subsection, applicants will be given a topic and they will need to speak on it for 2-3 minutes.

9. The third subsection is a conceptual one where you will get an opportunity to answer the issues raised by the examiner.

10. Even if you are taking a computer-based IELTS test, you still need to appear for the face-to-face speaking test.

11. The interview is recorded. And the applicants can take the recordings home too if they are eager to mark themselves on their performance.

12. The examiner of the speaking test is the one who decides the results after the interview ends. Therefore, only reputed, trained, and certified examiners give the test.

13. Fluency, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation all earn equal marks in the speaking test. To do well, applicants need to work on all these skills.

How is the IELTS speaking test different from other IELTS sections?

  1. IELTSSpeaking does not involve any writing tasks. It is only a face-to-face formal interview. On the other hand, reading, writing, and listening sections include writing tasks.

2. The IELTS speaking section is conducted within 11-15 minutes, which is much less as compared to all the other sections of the test. It is the shortest section.

3. All the sections of IELTS can be taken in either offline or online mode. The speaking test is conducted offline only. 

4. The speaking section is the only IELTS section where the band is based on four factors that have already been stated. 

5. IELTS speaking results are declared right after the test by the examiner. For other sections, the test results are declared later.

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Read more: IELTS Speaking Test Format | IELTS Speaking Preparation | IELTS Speaking Topics: Know, Practice & Prepare | IELTS Speaking Band Score


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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it difficult to score good bands in the IELTS Speaking test?

IELTS Speaking may seem like a peculiar task, but it isn't. With the help of the right tips, you can score a good band score on the test. 

What is the duration of the IELTS Speaking test?

The IELTS Speaking test lasts up to 11 to 14 minutes. 

What are some common questions in IELTS Speaking Part 1?

Some general questions the examiner asks in IELTS Speaking Part 1 are based on topics such as family, friends, work/study, lifestyle, habits, hobbies & interests, and likes & dislikes. 

What are some cue card topics for IELTS Speaking Part 2?

Some general cue card topics are art, book, family, friends, place or event, daily routine, exercise, hobby, journey, and language. 

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Mrinal Mandal is a study abroad expert with a passion for guiding students towards their international education goals. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, earned in 2018. Since 2021, Mrinal has been working with upGrad Abroad, where he assists aspiring students in realizing their dreams of studying abroad. With his expertise and dedication, he empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of international education, making their aspirations a reality.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.