IELTS Speaking Part 1

The IELTS speaking test is a one on one interview style test between the examiner and the test candidate. The test consists of three parts and lasts for about 11 – 13 minutes. Although there are different parts, there are no separate marks for each part. You will be graded based on your performance as a whole. There is no difference in testing between the Academic module and the General Training module and the test remains the same for the paper-based and the computer-based tests.

There are four criteria on which your scores are calculated:

  • Fluency (25 %)
  • Vocabulary (25%)
  • Grammar (25%)
  • Pronunciation (25 %)

My students in Singapore are often curious about what actually happens during the speaking test. In this article, we will take a detailed look at what happens during part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test as well as how you can score well during this part of the IELTS Speaking test.

Speaking Part One Format And Common Topics

This part of the test lasts for about 4 – 5 minutes. The examiner will ask questions based on personal information and everyday topics. These are all topics that you will be familiar with. For example, your hometown, the area you live in, travelling, studies, work, job experience, spare time, activities, family, and friends.  During this task, you should show that you can understand the questions and that you can answer and communicate accordingly. It will be relatively easy since you know what to expect, more or less.

How To Introduce Yourself

Before you actually begin with your speaking assessment, you will get the opportunity to meet and greet your examiner. Although this is not part of the speaking test, it’s a great chance to create a good impression. The examiner will check your ID and ask you a few introductory questions, such as:

  • What’s your name?
  • What can I call you?
  • Where are you from?
  • Can I see your identification, please?

You should make sure that you use contractions, as the use of contractions demonstrates natural speech. You should also extend your answer a bit, when asked “where are you from” in steading of simply stating the name of your town you could say something like, “I’m from a small town called Pahang, which is on the eastern coast of Malaysia”

Important Tips To Remember For Speaking Part 1

Although you should always focus on answering the question, you should not answer in with a simple yes or no form or with answers that are too short. You also must develop and extend your answers. You can do this by adding explanations in the form of additional details, background information and examples. This gives the examiner extra information to assess you on.

For example, if you come across a question like “Do you like music?” in the exam, then instead of answering with a simple yes or no, you could say something like “Most definitely, music has always played a significant role in my life, since my parents were both musicians.” 

Another important point to note is that it is pointless to memorize answers, as this will only count against you. Doing so makes you sound unnatural and the examiners are trained to detect scripted answers. Rather practice answering as many possible questions as possible. Become familiar with vocabulary and phrases related to the common topics for this particular part.

While we’re on the topic of vocabulary, I should mention that paraphrasing (rephrasing words by using synonyms) is also an important skill that the examiner will be listening out for. Avoid reusing the words from the question or repeating a particular word over and over again. This is something you can only do if you have a wide range of vocabulary, which is why learning topic-specific words is a vital part of the preparation for the IELTS Speaking test.



Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.