A Guide to Common Themes in IELTS Speaking Part 3 

 March 25, 2024

By  Jonathan

The final part of the IELTS Speaking test transitions from personal experiences to a broader discussion, focusing on abstract concepts and issues related to the topic introduced in Part 2. Familiarising yourself with typical IELTS Speaking Part 3 topics allows for better preparation, enabling you to craft clear and logical responses.

The Purpose of Part 3

While Part 2 assesses your descriptive abilities, Part 3 focuses on:

  • Expressing and Justifying Opinions: Articulating your viewpoints on broader social issues and trends.
  • Comparing and Contrasting: Considering different perspectives and potential implications.
  • Speculation and Evaluation: Discussing future possibilities and the significance of various issues.
  • Fluency and Coherence: Continuing to communicate clearly and with smooth transitions.

Common Themes in Part 3

Part 3 discussions generally connect to one of the following broad themes. Notice how they often reflect topics commonly seen in Parts 1 and 2:

  • Technology & Innovation: Impact on society, advantages and disadvantages, ethical considerations, future developments, the digital divide.
  • Education: Importance of education, different educational systems, access to education, trends in teaching and learning methodologies.
  • Globalization & Culture: Benefits and drawbacks of globalization, preservation of cultural traditions, homogenization vs. multiculturalism.
  • The Environment: Climate change, sustainability, pollution, responsibility (individuals, governments, corporations).
  • Social Trends: Changing family structures, urbanization, aging populations, consumerism, work-life balance.
  • Travel & Tourism: Economic and cultural impact, responsible tourism, the role of travel in cross-cultural understanding.

Types of Part 3 Questions

The examiner might ask:

  • Opinion-Based: “What is your opinion on…? “Do you think …?”
  • Comparison: “What are the advantages/disadvantages of…?” “How does … in your country compare to…?”
  • Speculative: “What might be the impact of … in the future?” “How can we solve the problem of…?”
  • Problem-Solution: “What are the causes of… and how can we address them?”

Preparation Strategies

  1. Expand Your Knowledge Base: Read news articles, watch documentaries, and listen to discussions on topics mentioned above.
  2. Develop a Balanced Perspective: Consider pros and cons, different viewpoints, and potential consequences of various issues.
  3. Build Relevant Vocabulary: Learn topic-specific terms related to technology, environment, social issues, etc.
  4. Practice Formulating Opinions: Choose a current event and practice voicing your opinion with supporting reasons.
  5. Use Transitional Phrases: Words and phrases like “on the other hand,” “therefore,” and “as a result” create cohesion in your argument.
  6. Be Open-Minded: Respect different perspectives and acknowledge the complexity of issues.

Sample Part 3 Questions

Let’s consider the Part 2 theme of travel, and some related Part 3 questions:

  • The Impact of Tourism: “What are some positive and negative effects of tourism on local communities and cultures?”
  • Responsible Travel: “In your opinion, what should individuals do to promote environmentally conscious travel?”
  • The Future of Tourism: “Do you think technology will significantly change the way people travel in the future?”

Important Note: Don’t try to memorize answers! Focus on understanding the question and articulating your ideas clearly.

Tips for Success in Part 3

  • Listen Attentively: Understanding the question is key to providing an on-topic response.
  • Stay on Track: Keep your answers focused on the question asked. Avoid tangential diversions.
  • Don’t Be Afraid of Complex Ideas: The examiner wants to see your ability to handle abstract topics.
  • Engage in a Two-Way Discussion: Be prepared to elaborate, explain, or clarify your positions.

Remember: Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test is an opportunity to showcase your critical thinking skills and fluency in discussing broader issues. With awareness of common themes and focused practice, you can approach this final section with confidence and successfully achieve your target score.

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.