IELTS Speaking FAQs

IELTS Speaking FAQ Section aims to answer all the questions you might have regarding the IELTS speaking test. Some of the FAQs are designed to give you as much information as possible to eliminate any doubt you might have.
Read carefully the questions and answers listed here as they will better prepare you for your speaking test. Some answers would even guide you to prepare well for this test.  

Q. How long does the IELTS speaking test take?

A. The IELTS Speaking test will take around 11-14 minutes.

Q. How many sections are there in the IELTS speaking test?

A. There are three sections in total in the IELTS speaking test. The first section is called “Introduction and interview” and it will last about 4-5 minutes. The second part or section lasts for 3-4 minutes and in this part, you will have a topic with supporting questions. This is known as “Cue Card”. The final part will take around 4-5 minutes and it is called ‘Two-way discussion”.

Q. How many questions will I be asked?

A. In part 1 you will be asked 12 questions. In part 2 you will be given a Cue card and it will have 2 additional round-of questions. In part three you will be asked 5 or more questions.

Q. Who will take my IELTS speaking exam?

A. A certified IELTS examiner will talk to you in your IELTS speaking exam. Your conversation will be recorded and that would be assessed by another examiner.

Q. Who owns IELTS test and who write questions of IELTS test?

A. IELTS is jointly owned and managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge English Language Assessment. This test is managed, maintained and reviewed by these three organisations. Skilled international writers from different English-speaking countries who are approved by the IELTS authority contribute to the IELTS test materials. Ongoing research makes sure that the standard of IELTS is maintained and it remains fair and unbiased. The questions you will be asked in your speaking test are thus were written and prepared by those professional international team of writers. However, these questions reflect the real-life situations and that’s why you should be able to answer them all.

Q. What do I need to bring with me for the speaking test?

A. You must bring the same identification documents you supplied on your IELTS Application Form and continue to use the same ID for each part of the test. Your ID will be checked by the authority before you enter the interview room for the speaking test.

Q. Will I have the speaking test on the same day I sit for my Listening, Reading and Writing tests? A. Your Listening, Reading and Writing tests will be on the same day. However, the Speaking test could be on the same day of your other tests or can be on a different date. If it’s not on the same day, it would be on a different date up to seven days before or after the other tests. You will be properly notified about your exam date after your registration for the IELTS test.

Q. I am taking General Training IELTS. Will I have the same type of questions in my IELTS speaking section as the Academic IELTS test takers do?

A. The questions and assessment of the IELTS Speaking test are the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training test takers.

Q. Will I be asked any technical and specialised questions in my IELTS speaking test?

A. IELTS Speaking test is a real life test and you would not be asked any specialised question or any specific question related to IELTS. Think about a real life conversation you might have with a relative who might ask you questions to know more about you. Questions in IELTS speaking test will comprise real-life situations as any exam of the similar kind could have been.

Q. What things will be assessed in my IELTS speaking test?
A. The IELTS examiner will assess you how well you can:

  • Communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions.
  • Speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language.
  • Organise your ideas coherently.
  • Express and justify your opinions.
  • Analyse, discuss and speculate about issues.

Q. What type of questions can I expect to be asked in Speaking Part one?

A. The part one of your IELTS speaking test is known as ‘introduction and interview’. As the name of this section implies, in this part the examiner will introduce himself/ herself. Then s/he will ask to introduce yourself and show your identity. Then s/he will ask you very common and familiar questions like your study, your job, your family, your hobbies, your interest etc. Every question asked in this section is pretty common in our real-life conversations. You should talk very naturally and relax to show that you have a natural fluency and command in speaking English.

Q. What does part two of the IELTS Speaking test consist of?

A. The part two (also known as Cue Card or Individual long turn) consists of a Topic with 3-4 questions. You will have 1 minute to plan and take notes and then you need to talk about the topic for 1-2 minutes. The examiner will not interrupt you during this time and you are expected to talk fluently and continuously in this section. At the end of your speaking, the examiner will ask 1-2 relevant questions based on the topic you were given.

Q. What type of questions will I be asked in the part three (Two-way discussion) of IELTS test?

A. Part three questions would be related and connected to the Cue card topic you were given in the section 2. You will be asked 5-6 abstract and details questions and you should talk more in this section to effectively present your ideas on the questions.

Q. What are the main criteria on which my band score would be determined?

A. In IELTS speaking test you would be marked based on main 4 criteria. Those are

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

Q. Will I lose marks if I don’t have a British Accent?

A. No. You should talk naturally and you won’t lose marks for your natural accent.

Q. Will I get poor marks for my native accent?

A. No, you should speak naturally and clearly. You won’t get a poor score just because of your accent.

Q. What should I wear in my speaking exam?

A. It is always better to wear comfortable and formal dresses for your IELTS speaking exam. You can wear casual dresses as well and that would not create any negative impression.

Q. How many questions are there in a cue card?

A. The IELTS Cue card has a main topic and 3-4 connected questions. At the end of your speaking, you will be asked 1-2 rounding off questions on the same topic you had for the IELTS cue card. An example of a cue card and the rounding questions are given below to make it clear.  

Q. Can I use body language in my speaking test?

A. The examiner is only interested in hearing your English language. It is your choice if you want to use body language or not. Most people find it natural to use body language while talking so feel free to use it. It is important that you are relaxed and talk naturally during your test.

IELTS Speaking Part 2- Candidate Task Card / IELTS Cue Card:

Describe something you own which is very important to you.

You should say:

  1. Where you got it from?
  2. How long you have had it?
  3. What you use it for?
  4. 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. Rounding off questions Tell me:

  • is it valuable in terms of money?
  • would it be easy to replace?

Q. Should I finish my speaking in 1-2 minutes in part 2?

A. Yes, your answers would be more coherent if your speak about all the questions given io the cue card. You should finish your answer using sentences like, that is why, because of this, due to all these reasons, so, that is why at the end of your speaking to give an impression that you have answered all the questions accompanied with the cue card topic.

Q. Can I choose Cue Card topic in speaking part 2?

A. No, you cannot choose the Cue Card Topic in your IELTS Speaking exam. The examiner will give you a topic and you will have to talk about this topic.

Q. Will I lose marks if I can’t speak about the cue card topic for the whole 2 minutes?

A. If you can satisfactorily talk about your cue card topic for less than 2 minutes and can give an impression that you have finished speaking about the cue card, you should not get a poor score. Your fluency and ability to talk about a given topic would be accessed rather than how long you speak. However, it is generally suggested that you talk about just a little more than 2 minutes in the Cue card section.

Q. There are usually 4 questions in a cue card. Should I talk about all about them?

A. Yes, you are expected to answer all the questions provided in the cue card question. Though you should focus more on the last question which usually asks you to ‘explain why?’. This question carries more weights and hence you should spend more time talking about this. In case you speak really well and missed one question, you would not be negatively marked.

Q. Will the examiner ask questions at the end of Part 2?

A. After you finish your cue card section, you will be asked 2/3 round-off or follow-up questions related to the topic of the cue card. You need not give lengthy answers for the follow-up questions as the examiner through this will take the conversation to the part 3.

Q. Do I have time for preparing answer in the part 3 of the conversation?

A. No, unlike part 2, you are not given any time for preparation in part 3. Your answers should be prompt and lengthy in this section.

Q. Should I give longer answers in part 3?

A. Yes, you should always give longer answers in the part 3.

Q. Should I give longer answers or short answers?

A. You should always give longer answers. Your fluency is an important factor to get a high band score and to show that you can speak fluency, give as much details as possible. For example: If you are asked, ‘Do you like to watch television?’ NEVER say ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Yes, I do’. Rather say that, “Yes I love to watch television very often. On an average, I watch television programmes for 2-3 hours per day. I regularly follow some news channels as well as music channels that I like. Watching Television is one of my most favourite activities.

Q. What if I find the topic in Cue Card section very difficult and want to change it?

A. Be sure that you don’t have any option to change the Cue card topic. After the examiner gives you the topic, you should plan your answer promptly without giving any second thought to it.

Q. Can I ask the examiner to repeat the question if I don’t understand it?

A. If you can’t understand a question in Part 1, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question. In part 2, you should not ask questions as it is written in the Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card. In part three you can ask the examiner to explain the question if it not clear to you. However keep in mind that the examiner would not help you to answer it. S/he would restate the question to help you understand it. It is better to politely ask the examiner to repeat the question. You can say, ‘I am sorry, could you please repeat/ explain the question?”. However, don’t do it quite often and try to concentrate while the examiner asks you the questions.

Q. Will the examiner give his/ her opinion on part 3?

A. The examiner will not give his /her opinion in part three. S/he would expect you to describe your idea and would assess you based on your ability to communicate an idea effectively.

Q. What if I am asked a question in Part 3 that I know nothing about?

A. Remember that your ability to communicate an idea is tested in the part three, not the quality or intellectual level of your ideas. So even if you are confused about a particular idea of part three, use your natural conversation. State that ‘ you have little idea about it and you have not given enough thought on this particular issue before. Then state what you might have to speak about it. You can use others idea as if they are yours.

Q. Will I get a lower band score if I ask the examiner to explain or repeat questions?

A. No, you will not get a low score only because you asked the examiner to repeat or explain the questions you were asked. However, it would not be a good idea to ask him/ her to repeat more than twice.

Q. Should I correct any mistake I make in my speaking?

A. Yes, you should correct any mistake you make during the exam. But don’t do that very frequently as it would make your speaking less fluent.

Q. Should I ask for the examiner’s opinion for a question?

A. No, you are being tested and the examiner will give his /her own statement if required. You should not ask any personal questions as well as his/her opinion about an issue.

Q. Can I use examples and personal experiences to explain my answers?

A. It is always a good idea to include your own experience or example while you talk. That would make your speaking natural and coherent.

Q. What if one of my answers already includes the answer for the next question I might be asked?

A. The examiner has a long list of questions prepared for the interview. So do not worry about it. If you answer a question that you might have been asked next, the examiner will skip this question and ask you a different one. So don’t worry about the next question and give as much details as possible in your answer.

Q. How do I practise and prepare for my Speaking test?

A. You can use the materials available on this website and Google for more resources. Having a partner with whom you can practise speaking daily would be a good boost for your preparation. You can also find a speaking partner from different IELTS preparation websites and talk to them over a phone, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp etc. Purchasing a book dedicated to IELTS speaking books (either paperback or computer version) would help you to some extent. In a nutshell, you need to dedicate time, read resources available and speak a lot in order to prepare well for this test.  

Q. What score I need in speaking section to get admitted in a University?

A. That would vary greatly. While some universities require minimum 6.5 band score in speaking, others might expect as high as 8.0 or as low as 5.0. The required band score might vary in the same university based on the subject or level a student seek for admission. It is always better to contact the university for the individual band score they require for admission.