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IELTS Speaking FAQ:
This 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 while others are brief answers to directly answer your questions without going into details. Read carefully the questions and answers listed here as they will better equip you for your speaking test. Some answers would even guide you to prepare well for this test.

Q.  Who owns the IELTS test?
A.  IELTS is jointly owned and managed by British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. 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 remains fair and unbiased.

Q.  Who write questions for the IELTS test?
A.  The questions you will be asked in your speaking test are were written and prepared by professional international teams of writers. However, these questions reflect real-life situations and that’s why you should be able to answer them all.

Q.  How many sections are there in the IELTS speaking test?
A.  IELTS speaking test has three sections. The first section is called "Introduction and interview", and it lasts for around 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 or Candidate Task Card". In this part, you need to talk about the topic for 1-2 minutes. The final part, also known as "Details discussion/ two-way discussion", takes around 4-5 minutes, and a candidate is asked comparatively complex questions in this section. 

Q.  How long does the IELTS speaking test take?
A.  The entire IELTS Speaking test will take around 11-14 minutes
[Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Speaking test might last a few minutes fewer than usual.]

Q.  Is IELTS Test conducted by a human or by a computer?
A.  IELTS speaking test is conducted face-face-face by a skilled human examiner. Even if you take a computer-delivered IELTS test, your speaking test will still be with a human examiner. 

Q.  How should I greet the examiner?
A.  You should greet the examiner by saying 'good morning', 'good afternoon' and so on. You can even greet him or her the way you do to your local people in your local language. If you think the examiner did not understand the meaning of your greeting, briefly explain it to him/her.

Q.  How many questions will I be asked?
A.  In part one of the test, you will be asked 4 to 5 short questions and you are expected to answer briefly those questions. In part two, you will be given a topic and it will have 2 additional round-off questions. In part three, you will be asked 5 to 6 questions. You are expected to talk in detail in the final section.

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.  What do I need to bring with me for the speaking test?
A.  You must bring the same identification documents that you supplied on your IELTS Application Form to take your speaking 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.  If you take a paper-based IELTS test, your Listening, Reading and Writing tests will be on the same day. However, the Speaking test could be on the same day as 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 you register for the IELTS test.

On the contrary, if you take the computer-delivered IELTS test, you can take all four modules of the IELTS test on the same day.

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 criteria of the IELTS Speaking test are exactly the same for the IELTS Academic and General Training test takers. There are no differences between the questions and assessment criteria for Academic or GT candidates when they take the Speaking test.

Q.  I will take the computer-delivered IELTS test. Will I take my speaking test on a computer?
A.  No, even if you take your IELTS on a computer (in a computer-delivered IELTS), you still need to talk to a human examiner. Computer-delivered or not, the Speaking exam is the same for all candidates, and it is conducted by a trained and expert human examiner.  

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

Q.  What things will be assessed in my IELTS speaking test?
A.  The IELTS examiner will assess 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.  Is paraphrasing important in the IELTS speaking test?
A.  Yes, if you can convey the same meaning of the question by paraphrasing or restructuring the sentence, it will show your mastery in using vocabulary, grammatical accuracy and fluency.

Q.  Do I need to use idioms to get a higher band score? 
A.  No, you don't need to use or push idioms in your sentences to get a higher band score in your IELTS Speaking Test. Learn about idioms and use them in your conversations daily. If you know the meaning and context of some important idioms, they will come naturally when you speak.

Q.  What type of questions can I expect to be asked in Speaking Part one?
A.  Part one of your IELTS speaking test is known as 'Introduction and interview'. As the name implies, in this part, the examiner will introduce himself/herself. Then he/she will ask you to introduce yourself and show your identity papers. Then he/she will ask you very common and familiar questions like your study, your job, your family, your hobbies, your interest and so on. 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. To find different types of questions that you might be asked in part one of the IELTS test browse Speaking Part 1.

Q. What does part two of the IELTS Speaking test consist of?
A.  Part two (also known as Cue Card, Candidate Task Card, or Individual long turn) consists of a topic that comes with 4 questions. You will have 1 minute to plan and take notes and then 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 - also known as rounding-off questions.

Q.  What type of questions will I be asked in part three (Two-way discussion) of the IELTS test? 
A.  The questions asked in the past three of the speaking test would be related and connected to the Cue card topic you were given in part 2. You will be asked 5 to 6 abstract and details questions and you should talk more in this section to effectively present your ideas on the questions. Find out a number of "Part 3 questions and their answers" from Speaking Part 3.

Q.  What are the main criteria on which my Speaking band score would be determined?   
A.  In the IELTS speaking test, you would be marked or scored based on the main 4 criteria. Those are: 
  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation
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.  Will I lose marks if I don't have a British Accent?
A.  No, you won't. You should talk naturally, and you won't lose marks for your natural accent. You can achieve band 9 without having a British accent.

Q.  What should I wear for my IELTS 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. Just avoid anything too flashy or offensive.

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

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

Describe something you own which is very important to you.

You should say:
  • where you got it from
  • for how long you have 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.]

Rounding off questions

Tell me:
  • Is it valuable in terms of money?
  • Would it be easy to replace?
Q.  Should I answer all the questions that come with the cue card topic?
A.  Yes, your answers would be more coherent if you speak about all the questions given in 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 the Cue Card topic in speaking part 2?
A.  No, you CAN NOT choose the Cue Card Topic in your IELTS Speaking exam. The examiner will give you a topic and you will have to talk about that 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.  You are not obliged to do so. But if your answer includes all the answers to the questions provided in the cue card topic, it would be much more organised and coherent. 

Though you should focus more on the last question which usually asks you to 'explain why?'. This question carries more weight and hence you should spend more time talking about this. In case you speak really well and miss answering one/two questions but give hints about them, you would not be negatively marked.

Q.  What if I find the topic in the Cue Card section very difficult and want to change it?
A.  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. If a topic is really difficult, try to make a story related to this topic and talk about it so that you can talk for 1-2 minutes without long pauses and interruptions.

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 moderately lengthy answers here. Give short answers but use full sentences.

Q.  Should I give longer answers in part 3?
A.  Yes, you should always give longer answers in part 3. Short answers in this part would affect your band score negatively.

Q.  Do I have time for preparing answers in 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 or short answers whenever I am asked a question in my speaking test? 
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 fluently. 

For example: If you are asked, 'Do you like to watch television?' NEVER say 'Yes', 'No', or 'Yes, I do'. Rather say - "Yes I love to watch television very often. On average, I watch different TV 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 favourite activities. 

Q.  Can I ask the examiner to repeat the question if I don’t understand it? 
A.  If you don'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 is not clear to you. However, keep in mind that the examiner would not help you to answer it. He or she would restate the question to help you understand it. Moreover, 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 the very first time.

Q.  Will the examiner give his/her opinion on part 3?
A.  The examiner will not give his/her opinion in part three of the test. He/she would expect you to describe your idea and would assess you based on your ability to communicate an idea effectively.

Q.  If I don't know the answer to a question that I'm asked in part three of the test, can I say "I don't know?"
A.  Never say "I don't know" and then expect that the examiner will forget it and move on to the next question. If you feel that you have been asked a really difficult question and you don't have much to say, use some expressions like - 

A) I really have not thought about it much, but I reckon that... Well, that is not much, but I can't think of much other information relating to this. 
B) To be honest, I don't know much about it. But I can say that ...
C) It's not something that I have considered much. But I will still try to say that...
D) That's a tough question and my knowledge and understanding about it are not much wide. Anyway, I think that...

Q.  Can I get time to think before I answer part three questions? 
A.  No, you will not get any additional time to think or make notes to answer your part three questions. You should answer immediately after the examiner asks you questions in this section.

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 part three, not the quality or intellectual level of your ideas. So even if you are confused about a particular idea of a part three question, use your natural conversation. Mention that you have very little idea about it and you have not given enough thought to this particular issue before. Then state what you might have to speak about it. You can use other people's ideas 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 so many times.

Q.  Which part of the test is more important - part 2 or part 3? 
A.  No single part of the IELTS speaking test carries more marks or weight than others. You will be assessed by your overall ability to answer all the questions in three parts. Your score will be based on four criteria in all three parts of the test, and they are -  fluency, grammatical accuracy, pronunciation, and vocabulary. So, every part of your speaking test is important.

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 the 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 the answer more natural and coherent. It would also give the impression that you know well what you are talking about.

Q.  Can I use contractions when I speak? 
A.  Yes, you can use contraction in your speaking test as IELTS speaking is not a formal test in which you need to use all formal expressions. 

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 includes an answer to the next 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 make your answer as detailed as possible.

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. A good number of resources are listed on the Useful Resources page. Having a partner with whom you can practise speaking regularly 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 do I need in the speaking section to get admitted to a University? 
A.  That would vary greatly. While some universities require a minimum of 6.5 band scores 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 seeking admission to; for example, undergraduate level or post-graduate level. It is always better to contact the university for the individual band score they require for admission. Generally speaking, you would need more than 7.0 to get admitted to a renowned and good university.  

Q.  Why do I need to expand my answers in my speaking test?
A.  You need to expand your answers and try to speak in detail so that the examiner can give you a higher band score in four marking criteria in the Speaking test. Unless you speak in detail, you can't show your fluency, vocabulary, grammatical range and punctuation skills. Short answers like, 'Yes, I do', 'No, I've never been there, 'Yes, I like it' do not show your real speaking skills.

Q.  Are body language and eye contact important for a high band score?
A.  No, you would not be given any score just because of your body language or eye contact. Rather you would be marked for the way you talk. However, positive body language and eye contact might help you boost your confidence to talk fluently.

Q.  Will I get a lower band score if I ask the examiner to repeat questions that I can't understand?
A.  You will not get a lower band score just by asking the examiner to repeat a question or a couple of questions. However, you need to pay attention and try to understand what the examiner is asking. If you ask to repeat the question too many times, it would give a negative impression.

Q.  Is the IELTS Speaking test formal?
A.  No, the IELTS Speaking test is not formal. It is rather a casual conversation between you and a trained examiner that demonstrates your ability to speak, convey information, express your opinion, and discuss different topics and issues. So you can use some informal words or expressions in your conversation. However, never use any offensive slang and curse words or phrases when you talk.

Q.  Is it now necessary to wear masks to take the IELTS Speaking test?
A.  Considering the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic situation and restrictions imposed by the authority, you may need to wear a mask on the exam premises. This also applies when taking the test.

During the identity check and photoshoot process, you will be asked to remove your mask for a little while, but the necessary physical distance will be maintained during this time.

Q.  What type of mask should I wear?
A.  There are no restrictions on the type of masks you can wear while taking the test. Just make sure the examiner can clearly understand your conversation even if you are wearing a mask. Talk a bit louder if necessary. 

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