Does thinking about the IELTS speaking questions make you anxious?

Sheldon from  big bang theory blowing into a paper bag, feeling nervous

Is it because you don't feel comfortable with the interview portion of the exam? Are you unsure about the format of the speaking questions? Or are you unfamiliar with the topics you might be asked about?

Learn more about the speaking section of the exam and develop some strategies to nail your IELTS speaking questions!

What Is the IELTS Exam Speaking Section?

The speaking section of the IELTS exam assesses your spoken English language skills.

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The speaking section is the same for the two types of the IELTS ExamIELTS academic and IELTS general training:

Stopwatch Icon It's the last part of the IETLS exam you need to complete. It takes 11-14 minutes.

Interview Icon In both in-person and online versions of the exam, you have an interview with an examiner. The interview is recorded.

Seven, eight, and nine signs Flaticon Icon You receive a score from 1 to 9.

Three sections Icon It's divided into 3 parts: Introduction and Interview, Long Turn, and Discussion.

Part 1: Introduction and Interview

The examiner asks you to introduce yourself and asks some general questions. The goal is to prove your ability to give your opinion and talk about general topics.

Woman saying,

What are some key considerations?

Sand clock Icon It takes 4-5 minutes.

Multiple questions Icon Be prepared to answer questions about topics such as work, hobbies, home, technology, movies, internet, cooking, etc.

Confidence Icon Speak with confidence but keep your answers short. Use a couple of sentences in your answers.

Asking questions Icon Be ready to answer follow-up questions such as "Why?" and "Why not?"

Part 2: Long Turn

You need to talk about a specific topic provided by the examiner in a task card. Its length is 3-4 minutes.

What are some key considerations?

Stopwach one minute Icon You have 1 minute to prepare for the topic.

Notebook and pencil Icon You can take some notes to organize your ideas.

Stopwatch Icon You have 2 minutes to talk about the topic.

Question Icon After 2 minutes, the examiner will ask 1 or 2 more questions about the topic.

Check your knowledge!

Woman Icon Meet Alex. She's about to answer the following task card in her IELTS speaking exam:

Task card for Part 2 - Adapted from To hear an audio explanation of the above image, press play on the audio player below:

Flaticon Icon

Alex doesn't like sports and doesn't admire any athletes. In this situation, should Alex:

A. Ask the examiner to provide a different topic for discussion.

B. Think of a famous athlete and why this athlete is a role model for people.

C. Discuss why she doesn't like sports.

D. Talk about somebody she admires in a different field, and make a connection with sports values.


What do you think Alex can do? Select all the answers that apply.

Part 3: Discussion

You need to answer a few more questions related to the topic from Part 2 in a more abstract way. It takes about 4-5 minutes.

Woman saying,

What are some key considerations?

Speaking Icon The examiner talks with you in more depth and asks you to justify your opinions.

Ideas Icon You need to show your ability to express your opinions, discuss, and speculate about issues.

How Are the IELTS Speaking Questions Marked?

It's important to consider the marking criteria to prepare for the IELTS speaking questions.

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There are 4 marking criteria. Each of them is 25% of the IELTS speaking score:

Flowchart Icon

Fluency and coherence

  • Speech rate and speech continuity

  • Logical sequencing of ideas, and use of connecting words

Dictionary Icon

Lexical resource

  • Variety of words used

  • Adequacy and correctness of the vocabulary you use

Attention to grammar Icon

Grammatical range and accuracy

  • Complexity of the grammar resources you use

  • Number of mistakes that interfere with communication

Pronunciation Icon


  • How your speech is understandable to the listener

  • How noticeable the influence of your first language is

Attention Icon The IELTS speaking part is scored on a scale of 1-9 points or "bands". For each of the above criteria, so you need to consider the scale's description and which band you're aiming to score.

What Else Should You Consider for the IELTS Speaking Questions?

Some key tips to keep in mind are:

10 tips to get an excellent band score in the IELTS speaking section To hear an audio explanation of the above image, press play on the audio player below:

Check your knowledge!

Woman Icon

Woman Icon

Alex achieved a great result in her IELTS exam. Because of that, her friend Jeang asked Alex to help her prepare for the IELTS speaking questions. What are good ways for them to prepare?

A. Practice with IELTS common topics and IELTS practice tests.

B. Learn about the marking criteria and IELTS 9-band scale.

C. Have Alex play the role of the examiner and follow the structure for the speaking questions with Jeang.

D. Time and record Jeang's speaking practice so she can listen to her performances and learn from them.


What options do you think are good to prepare for the exam? Select all the answers that apply.

Take Action

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Time to speak!


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