The IELTS speaking test is a one on one interview between the candidate and the examiner. The test is the same for both General and Academic candidates and it takes between 11 and 14 minutes. The examiner records the test so that it can be double checked by a different examiner if necessary.
Listen to a model part 1 speaking answer and try it yourself, with interactive follow up activities:
To hear a recorded IELTS speaking practice test with feedback, and to try it yourself click here:
And try these other speaking activities:
Other useful lessons
The test has 3 different parts.
In Part 1 the examiner will ask the candidate about general topics such as hobbies, lifestyle or where they live. The examiner will ask questions about 3 different topics. Part 1 will not take longer than 5 minutes.
In Part 2 the candidate must talk about a topic for up to 2 minutes. Before the candidate talks they have 1 minute to plan what they are going to say and can make some notes. There are a very wide variety of topics which the candidate can be asked to talk about but they generally relate to the candidate’s personal experience or opinions, such as talking about a trip they have been on or a person who they like.
In Part 3 the examiner will ask the candidate more general questions related to the topic of the long turn (part 2). For example, if the candidate had to talk about a holiday they had been on is section 2, then in section 3 the questions would be more generally about tourism such as its benefits for local people or its effect on the environment. Part 3 takes around 5 minutes.
The examiner decides on a band score for fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation. You can see the public IELTS speaking band descriptors below.
Fluency and coherence is connected to speaking at length, organizing ideas logically, and appropriately signposting to indicate the direction of your thoughts. A sign of bad fluency is frequent pausing and repeating.
Lexical Resource is the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. The wider the range of vocabulary a candidate uses to accurately express themselves, then the higher their band score will be.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy will receive a high band score if the candidate uses lots of complex sentences with few errors. Complex sentences are sentences that have subordinate clauses such as relative clauses.
Pronunciation is the sound of the language. Some of the things that are important are the individual sounds within words, word stress, sentence stress, intonation and chunking. Accent is NOT important as long as it doesn’t make it difficult to understand what the candidate says.
What do the band scores mean?
Click below to find out.
has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
Very good user
has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Extremely limited user
conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
Did not attempt the test
No assessable information provided.