Which Types Of Questions Should I Practice For The IELTS Speaking Test?

The IELTS speaking test consists of 3 parts and lasts for around 11 – 13 minutes. During this time you will have a face to face interview with the examiner.  In this article, we will take a look at the different types of questions that you should practice for the IELTS speaking test in order to prepare well.This article is useful for students from Singapore and international IELTS test-takers as well.

IELTS Speaking Test Part 1

In part 1 of the speaking test you will find the following kinds of questions:

  • Types of’ question
  • Description questions
  • Habits question
  • Likes/dislikes questions
  • Future/hypothetical questions

‘Types of’ question

In this type of question, you will be asked to mention the names of different details related to a particular topic. The examiner will not be interested in the actual content of your answer, so avoid merely listing different types of things. They will actually be listening out to check your ability to describe things that you are familiar with. For this kind of question, it’s important to use sequential linking words, as these indicate that you will be speaking about more than one ‘type’ for example firstly, secondly lastly etc.

This question is often worded as

  • Which kinds of articles do you most like?
  • What games are popular in your own country?
  • What sort(s) of food do you like to eat?

Description Questions

In this type of question, you will be asked to describe people, places or things that are often from your personal experiences or childhood. For these particular questions its important to mention the most significant or ‘stand out’ feature of the thing you are asked to describe first.

This question is often worded as:

  • Tell me about your hometown.
  • Describe your hometown.
  • Tell me about your best friend at school.
  • Tell me about your secondary/high school.
  • Tell me something about the people you work with.

Likes and Dislikes Question

In this type of question, you will be asked to talk about your preferences. Remember the tense that you use depends heavily on the wording of the question. For example, if you are asked about something you like right now, then you would use the present tense. If you are asked about your likes or dislikes in the past, then you would use the past tense.

This question is often worded as:

  • Do you enjoy travelling?
  • Do you like to have flowers in your home?
  • Do you enjoy buying gifts for others?
  • Do you enjoy the advertisements on television?
  • What do you dislike about your school?

Habits Question

In this type of question, you will be asked to talk about your routines or habits. It is useful to talk about the frequency with which you perform certain activities.

This question is often worded as:

  • How do you usually spend your weekends?
  • Who normally does the cooking at home?
  • How often do you watch TV?
  • How often do you go out with your friends?

Future / Hypothetical Question

In this type of question, you usually will be asked to talk about events or activities that you might experience or do, in the future. The examiner is listening out in particular for the use of modal verbs (would, could, might) and the use of conditionals.

This question is often worded as:

  • Would you like to live in another neighbourhood, town or city?
  • Do you think you will watch more TV or fewer TV programmes in the future?
  • How much travelling do you hope to do in the future?

IELTS Speaking Test Part 2

In part 2 of the speaking test you will find the following kinds of questions:

  • Describing people questions
  • Describing places
  • Describing events and activities
  • Describing objects

Describing people

In part two of the speaking test, students are often asked to describe a person such as friends, family members, or even historical figures and celebrities. These people can be from your past, present and in some cases in a future hypothetical situation. Use the wording of the question to determine which tense you need to use during your talk.

For this type of question, you need to mention who the person is, how you met them and why they meet the criteria mentioned within the question. You can also add a physical and character description of the person. To extend your answer you can tell a story about the person that further supports why they are unique, as in why you have chosen them.

Sample Describing People Question:

Describe a friend of your family you remember from childhood.

You should say:

  • who was the person?
  • how your family knew this person.
  • how often this person visited your family

and explain why you remember this person.

Describing Places

In this question type, you will be asked about a particular place which meets the conditions laid out in the main part of the cue card. Some questions ask you to talk about a place from the past, some ask you to talk about a place that you visit regularly in the present. o     If you are talking about a place that you’ve only been to once in the past, then you should mention when you went there and why (the reason you travelled there). If you are talking about a place that you visit regularly or often, then you should mention when you usually go there and why. In either case, you also should mention how you get there.

You should start off by mentioning the name of the place and why you have chosen to talk about it. Once you have done that, move on to describing the features of this place, mention its location and anything in particular that is significant about it, for example, great restaurants, or historical sites etc. For a place like a building, you would start from the outer appearance and then describe the interior. To extend your answers for the describing places questions, you could add personal examples in story form, about incidents that happened at a particular place.

Sample Describing Places Question:

Describe a restaurant you enjoyed going to.

You should say:

  • where the restaurant was
  • who you went with
  • what type of food you ate in this restaurant

Describing Objects

In this type of question, you will be asked to describe objects or items you own, such as electronic gadgets, clothes, or gifts. This question is an opportunity for you to showcase your wide range of descriptive vocabulary.

You should mention what the object is and what you use the object for. It’s important to be quite clear about why you chose this object. When you talk about what you do with this object you must be as descriptive as possible. Back up whatever you say by adding examples of what can be done with this object. For example, my friends like coming over and having movie-parties, where we watch films on the big TV screen, eat snacks and enjoy the film.

Sample Describing Objects Question:

Describe a special gift or present you gave to someone

You should say:

  • who you gave the gift to
  • what the gift was
  • where you got it from

and explain why this gift was special

Describing Events

These questions usually deal with events that have already occurred in the past like holidays, trips or special occasions. For this type of question, it’s best to tell a story about your experience with a beginning, middle and end. you have to mention three things in particular i.e. who was with you during this event/experience as well as where and when it occurred. It is also important to show how you felt during this event/experience.

Descibing Events Sample Question

You should say:

  • who you visited
  • where this person worked
  • why you visited this person’s workplace

and explain how you felt about visiting this person’s workplace?

IELTS Speaking Test Part 3

In part 3 of the speaking test you will find the following kinds of questions:

  • Opinion Question
  • Types of Question
  • Compare and Contrast Question
  • Future Question

Questions that ask for your opinion or preferences

In this question, you will be asked to opinions and ideas. This can include your opinion and other people’s opinions too. Remember don’t just give your opinion, justify your views as well by explaining further and/or giving an example.

For example:

  • Do you generally read a lot of books or do you prefer watching TV? Or What kind of books are considered good reads in your opinion?
  • Which are more popular in your country: fast food restaurants or traditional restaurants?
  • Do you think it’s best to do new things on your own or with other people? Why?

Questions that ask you to compare and contrast

This kind of question asks you to talk about the differences or similarities between two or more things. To do this you have to use comparative adjectives (to compare two things) or superlative adjectives (to compare more than two things)

For example:

  • Do you think that people read nowadays as they did in the past? Or Between books or movies which one, in your opinion, is better? Why is so?
  • Do you agree that the older people are, the more patient they are?
  • Do you agree that the kinds of homes people prefer change as they get older?
  • Have relationships between parents and children changed in recent years? Why do you think that is?

‘Types of’ question

In this type of question, you will be asked to mention the names of different details related to a particular topic. Remember that the examiner will not be interested in the actual content of your answer, but they will be listening out to check your ability to describe the items mentioned in your list.

For example:

  • Which kinds of jobs have the highest salaries in your country? Why is this?
  • What types of local businesses are there in your neighbourhood?
  • What are the most important qualities that a good businessperson needs? Why is that?

Questions that ask you to talk about the future

In this type of question, the examiner will ask you to talk about what you think will happen in the future or how things will change in the future. Such questions are designed to tests your ability to use future structures.

For example:

  • Do you think books in hard copy form will still have a place in society in the future?
  • Do you think there will be a greater choice of food available in shops in the future, or will there be less choice?
  • Do you think that meetings between international leaders will become more frequent in the future? Or will there be less need for world leaders to meet?

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