IELTS Speaking Exam

Which part of IELTS speaking is most important?

Video Ielts speaking test marking sheet

Are all the parts of the IELTS speaking test equally important?

The IELTS speaking test is graded by your performance in all parts of the test. The examiner will check your English language using the 4 marking criteria for each part of the test.

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Speaking Part 1

If you are strong in speaking part 1 but not in the other parts, then you will not get a good score. You must do well in all parts to get a good score.

Most of the questions are quite easy in part 1 and are about yourself or your country. So, doing well in this part is expected for high level students. If you give very short answers, for example “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t”, you are not providing the examiner with a good range of language to assess. So, that means your potential score is not high when you enter part 2 and it will affect your overall score.

Speaking Part 2

In speaking part 2, the examiner has a chance to sit and listen to your English without interrupting. So, giving a short speech of only 1 minute gives you less chance to demonstrate the level of your English and less chance to show fluency. It is still possible to get a good score with only 1 mins or 1.5 mins speech but only if the language you use is very good and your fluency is very strong during that time.

By the end of speaking part 2, the examiner has a rough idea of your band score. Adding more information and details to each prompt is a way of offering the examiner a broader range of your language ability. Description offers the examiner more vocabulary and fluency. Talking with feeling can offer better intonation. Explaining in detail can offer better sentence structures and grammar. Giving examples of the past and ideas for the future can offer more grammar tenses. Try to find ways to showcase your English in part 2.

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Speaking Part 3

In speaking part 3, it is a chance for the examiner to ask more in depth questions which will require more skill in English to answer. The questions are abstract and about the world rather than yourself. This requires a better level of English to answer well.

This is a chance for you to boost your score by providing the examiner with a better range of vocabulary, grammar, fluency and pronunciation. Giving examples and detailed explanations of your ideas naturally produces better language which will help your score.

Will the examiner decide my score in the test or later on?

Your score will be decided by the examiner who conducts the test and the score will be given at the end of the test. By the end of speaking part 3, the examiner will have decided your score.

Does the examiner have model answers?

No, there are no model answers used for assessing you in the IELTS speaking test. Each student will use different English and give different answers. Your score is only calculated on the English language you produce – the level and range of your English and the accuracy of your English.

If I don’t answer one question, will it affect my score?

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If you perform well and produce good English in the other questions, you can still get a good score. Struggling with only one question while the others are fine, should not affect your score adversely.

Will I get a low score if I can’t think of many ideas?

The IELTS speaking test only assess your English language, not your ideas. This is very different to the IELTS writing test. IELTS writing assesses your ideas, your answers, how you develop the ideas and how you present them. IELTS speaking only tests your vocabulary, grammar, fluency and pronunciation. See below for the band score descriptors.

Recommended for IELTS Speaking

  • IELTS Speaking Band Score Descriptors
  • Frequently Asked Questions about IELTS Speaking
  • All IELTS speaking lessons, tips and videos
  • Practice speaking test video with band 9 model answers
  • How can I develop my IELTS speaking at home: video lesson


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