IELTS Speaking – A Complete Guide

Getting a great IELTS score is a key goal of all the people who wish to study or work abroad. There are two types of IELTS Exam – one for study purposes, called IELTS Academic and the other for work purposes called IELTS General.

The duration of an IELTS Speaking exam is around 11-14 minutes and will be taken in three parts. The three subsections – Listening, Reading and Writing are completed on the same day in a continuous manner. The Speaking section remains an exception as the candidate has a choice to take the speaking test up to a week either before or after the other three tests.

IELTS speaking

The IELTS Speaking subtest is conducted either offline or online, depending on whether you choose paper or computer mode. In 2021, IELTS has also extended the test pattern in an online mode.


IELTS Speaking test has 3 parts. Let’s look at each one in detail:

Part 1 –Also known as the ‘introduction round’

This part will be completely about the candidate. It is also known as the interview round. The examiner will ask you familiar questions of everyday context about your own life. This part generally lasts for 4-5 minutes.

The question can be from any particular area of your life. It is important that you neither give one-word answers nor overstretch the answers to unnecessary details. A sample question type that can be asked in part 1 is as follows –  

Q. Let’s talk about your home town or village.

  • What kind of place is it?
  • What’s the most interesting part of your town/village?
  • What kind of jobs do the people in your town/village do?
  • Would you say it’s a good place to live? (Why?)

Part 2 – Also known as the ‘long turn’

Part 2 of the speaking test lasts between one to three minutes. A cue card with task description and one minute will be given for preparing the answer. The candidate will then be asked to speak for 1-2 minutes on the same topic.

An example of a task card given to a candidate with some instructions is mentioned below: 

“Describe something you own which is very important to you. You should say: where you got it from how long you have had it what you use it for and explain why it is important to you. You will have to talk about the topic for 1 to 2 minutes. You have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. You can make some notes to help you if you wish.”

Some rounding-off questions may be put up by the examiner after the candidate has finished speaking, like –

Examples of rounding off questions:

  • Is it valuable in terms of money?
  • Would it be easy to replace?

Part 3 – Also known as ‘Two-way discussion’

In part 3 of the speaking test, the candidate will be asked to discuss ideas at length regarding the questions that have been posed by the examiner. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

An example of the question type that may be posed by the examiner is as follows –

“Let’s consider first of all how people’s values have changed.

  • What kind of things gives status to people in your country?
  • Have things changed since your parents’ time?
  •  Finally, let’s talk about the role of advertising. • Do you think advertising influences what people buy?”.


IELTS Speaking scores vary from 0 – 9, calculated on the basis of the number of questions answered correctly. In order to get admission to the top educational institutes and be hired by the top recruiters, a candidate must achieve an IELTS score of 7 or more on the overall test.

The candidate should consistently practice and try to achieve a 7+ score in each subsection in order to get a great overall score.


1. Fluency and coherence

By fluency and coherence, it is expected that the candidate is able to hold a conversation at a continuous stretch. The candidate has to use the English language with a full understanding of the question asked, and hence draw references and linkages wherever required. The candidate’s speech must be constant at a normal rate. The sentences must be sequenced in a logical manner and the flow should be continuous using various grammatical and vocabulary tools such as connecting words, linking words, etc.

2. Lexical resource

The candidate must have a good vocabulary base so that the right word can be used at the right occasion. This does not imply that a very sophisticated set of words are required to be spoken by the candidate but rather appropriate words must be used by the candidate.

3. Grammatical range and accuracy

The candidate must display accurate and suitable use of grammatical resources. The important things to keep in mind are the length and complexity of the spoken sentences, the correct use of tenses, and the correct speech and voice. The lower the number of grammatical errors in a given amount of speech, the better is the score.

4. Pronunciation

This means that the candidate must speak in a comprehensible manner and must exercise the right pronunciation of the English language words. You must ensure that you are aware of the correct positions in a word where stresses need to be put, and where tone and pitch must be adjusted accordingly.


Here are some tips to improve your IELTS speaking skills:

  1. Maintain an everyday cycle of speaking in English– If you will be in a daily habit to use the English language, you will face no difficulty on the final exam day to perform and give your best output.
  2. Create some sample answers for the most common questions asked – It is advisable that the candidates use resources available to check the most common question types and prepare well in advance for some sample answers to be given.
  3. Time management skills: In every exam, time management plays a very important role. In order to ensure that you give all answers in the stipulated time, make sure you give the speaking test by creating the actual exam scenarios and completing the answers within the given time period.
  4. Build familiarity with the different question types: Mere practice will not be enough to sail you through the examination. The contents of what you practice are equally important. Make sure you are practising from a good source that has a mix of all possible question types in order to avoid any type of surprises in the actual exam.

Can you take the IELTS speaking online?

Yes. It is possible for the candidates to take the IELTS test online. In a novel initiative, IELTS Online has been launched in 2021, to be executed in the 2022 cycle.

With the Coronavirus outbreak, the world saw great shifts in its way of workings. Consequently, the step of IELTS online was taken to make the candidate’s abroad journey smoother.

Under this initiative, the candidate will have the option to give the test online at their homes or at any other location that they may choose.


IELTS speaking is a general test of a candidate’s English Language skills and does not require any heavy specialization in the language. Yet, many aspirants fail to get a good score in the exam due to the following reasons –

  1. Lack of practice: If you have not increased your familiarity with various question types, and have not practised how you will manage your time well by giving an insufficient number of tests, it will lead to a low score in the exam.
  2. Grammatical errors: Grammar is a very important component of the IELTS exam. Although not directly used, wrong grammar usage can cause you to lose marks as you may misunderstand the question entirely.
  3. Low vocabulary: If you do not possess a good vocabulary base, you may face difficulty in anticipating as well as ensuring what the examiner might be asking. Hence, a good vocabulary base at your disposal is a must to ensure success in the exam.
  4. Inability to manage time while speaking: It is very important for a candidate to not overstretch or under speak while giving answers in an IELTS Speaking test. Make sure that you have enough practice up your sleeve with the timer in order to perform at your optimal level.


The IELTS speaking subtest is a test that can take your overall score really high if you put in the right effort at the right time. Make sure that you practice all the possible question types that have been asked and practice speaking tests with consistency. The more practice you will be put in, the more confident you will be on the day of the exam. Also, ensure that you get the right guidance and feedback on your mistakes. Be confident and maintain your calm in the examination hall. Definitely, you will achieve success and make your study/work abroad dream come true.

Abroad Skill

Abroad skill gives an overall idea about all the essential information and language skills one needs to acquire while planning to fly abroad. We provide useful resources on IELTS, OET, competitive exams and lot more

Recent Posts