IELTS Speaking part 3 – Six common question types

In the IELTS Speaking test part 3, you will need to give your opinion and talk at length about a particular topic. This part of IELTS is not formal and you can talk in a casual conversational way. The marking criteria is assessing you on your grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and fluency. The questions in part 3 are linked to Part 2 of the Speaking test. This part of the speaking test lasts for about 5 minutes.

Many students are worried about speaking part 3, however, If you know some of the common patterns to the questions that come up, then you will feel much more confident in this part of the test.

One point I must make however is to never memorise answers, just speak in a natural way and do not self correct, focus on fluency. Yes grammar is important because it’s in the marking criteria, but I have coached many IELTS students and they worry far too much about being very grammatically correct.

ielts speaking part 3

 There is a simple structure for all question types in speaking part 3. first state your topic or opinion, explain then give an example.

 

1. Language to use for giving an opinion

Giving your own opinion:

Most people will introduce their opinion with ‘I think….’ However, you need to give more variation in the way you express an opinion. The examiner will be looking for this. Here are some expression you can use for introducing your opinion.

  • As far as I’m concerned…..
  • If you ask me I think….
  • To be honest I think….
  • I reckon…..

Note that you should not use these in the writing part of the test as they are too informal.

Giving a general or public opinion:

In some cases we may want to contrast our opinion with the public opinion so you can use these expressions.

  • Many people would say that…
  • It is often said that….
  • It is widely believed that…

Saying you don’t know:

If you are not sure or don’t have a clear opinion never just say ‘I don’t know’ , use these expressions below they sound much better.

  • I haven’t really thought about it, but I reckon….
  • It is not something I have considered, but I guess….
  • To be honest, I don’t really know, however I would say….

In the examples above, you state that you do not know but you can still give some kind of opinion.

Giving a strong opinion:

If you want to make your opinion sound stronger you can use these expressions.

  • I am firmly convinced that…
  • I strongly believe that….
  • I am absolutely certain that….

Example question and response:

Question: What do think about the way languages are taught in schools?

Response: As far as I’m concerned the methods used to teach foreign languages in schools are in need of improvement. Teachers need to engage students more with interesting materials and fun activities with real life conversations in that language. It is widely believed that teaching just grammar or lecture based lessons are not effective and I agree with this. For example, when I was in school I didn’t like French class as the teacher just lectured and there were no fun group activities.

The main part of giving a good response is to make sure you give detail in your answer and most importantly an example.

 

2. How to make a prediction

When presented with a question about the future we should respond with ‘will + verb’ or ‘will be + gerund’ but there are other patterns that you can use to show your ability with language.

    • The way I see it is that…
    • There is a strong possibility that…
    • It is highly likely /unlikely that….
    • Most probably, I would say that…
    • It has long been predicted that…
    • It is not very likely that….
    • I can definitely see….

Also using conditional sentences are a good idea when explaining, such as:

If technology continues to progress at this pace, then it is highly likely that teachers in the classroom will be replaced by computers or robots in the future.’

Example question and response:

Question: Will computers and robots replace teachers in the future?

Response: I reckon it’s highly likely that robots and computers will be used in schools rather than teachers. If technology continues to progress at this pace, then I can definitely see that teachers in the classroom will not be needed in the future. For instance, I recently read a report in the Guardian newspaper that Japan is planning to put robots in English classrooms to help pupils with their pronunciation, so yes there is a strong possibility that robots will be doing the job of a teacher within 10 years.

 

3. Talking about other people

Often you will be presented with a question where you will be asked about other people. It is a common mistake to just talk about your own experiences or someone in your family or friends.. This kind of question is asking for your ideas about people in society.

Some possible sentences you can use are below, notice I have used the word ‘people’ in all of them

  • The majority of people in my country…
  • Most people would prefer to…
  • A lot of people feel that…
  • People in the past used to….
  • In general most people tend to…

Example question and response:

Question: Do people in your country spend a lot of money on their education?

Response: I would say that the majority of people spend a lot on education. Traditionally in my country, studying hard to get into  a good university is considered to be very important. For instance, most people want to get a job as a Doctor or some other high paying profession, therefore, many people tend to see investing in their education as a big priority.

 

4. Comparing and Contrasting

In this type of question we will need to use comparatives and superlatives to compare two or three things.

  • We use comparatives to compare two things or two people.
  • Superlatives are used to compare or show the difference between more than two things or more than two people

Click here for is a grammar lesson on this

  • A is better than B
  • A is more interesting than B
  • A and B are good but C is the best
  • A and B are interesting but C is the most interesting
  • A is more effective than B

Another pattern to compare things is using as (adjective) as

  • A is not as cheap as B
  • A is not as interesting as B
  • A is as good as B
  • A doesn’t cost as much as B
  • A isn’t as tasty as B

Example question and response:

Question: What is the difference between studying online and studying at a school?

Response: Studying on the internet such as an online course is more effective than studying at school, because we can focus more without the distractions of being in a class. We can also study at our own pace and with recent advances in technology, it is often much cheaper to study online than at a school. For instance if you want to learn English it will be more expensive to enroll in a school than studying through Youtube videos or taking a Skype lesson.

 

5. Making comparisons with the past.

When comparing the past we can use comparatives and superlatives with the past simple, past continuous, used to, present perfect continuous or the present perfect.

Some example sentences about education using this grammar.

  • Used to: Universities used to be free in the UK but now students are getting into debt
  • Present perfect: The quality of teaching has become much better compared to 50 years ago
  • Present perfect continuous: Education has been getting more expensive over the past 20 years
  • Past simple: Teaching was a well paid profession in the past, but nowadays it has one of the lowest salaries
  • Past continuous: Truancy was becoming a big problem when I was school, although these days it seems to not be such an issue.

Example question and response:

Question: How are education priorities today different than those in the past?

Response: Many years ago teaching was about rote learning and the pupils used to listen to the teacher in a lecture format. In recent years in the western world especially, there has been more of a focus on individualism and critical thinking skills. For example, when I was in high school I remember the teacher was writing up stuff on the blackboard with no group discussion among the class. These days the classroom is a very different place.

 

6. Talking about cause and effect

In this type of question you will talk about what the causes are for something and the effect it has.

Example sentences:

  • Pollution and smog are a result of coal fired power stations and Co2 from vehicles.
  • Global warming is partly due to the burning of fossil fuels in developing countries, consequently, weather patterns have been changing worldwide.
  • Many school children are doing badly at school. This is down to various issues, bullying, boredom and poor teaching methods. As a result, the pupils are not getting the grades they need to go to University.
  • ….because of…
  • ….owing to…
  • ….due to…
  • ….is/was caused by…
  • ….is /was down to…
  • This can be attributed to….
  • This means that….
  • Consequently…..
  • As a result of this…

Example question and response:

Question: What are some of the reasons for students doing badly in school?

Response: I feel that this is down to a number of issues, among these are poor teaching methods, boredom and lack of motivation. This means that many students are not getting the grades they need to enter University. For instance, when I was at school I had to study geography and science but I had no interest in those subjects. Also I realised that the teaching methods in my school were not so good. Due to this I completely lost interest in those subjects and got poor grades too.

 

Important tips

You have to be able to talk at length and most importantly explain why you feel the way you do about a particular topic. You also need to give an example in each case. In all my model responses above I have stated the topic, explained and given an example. The example that you give does not have to be statistically accurate and it can be a personal example from your own experience.

Note that the IELTS speaking test is in informal tone, some of my examples are a little bit formal but they don’t have to be.

3 Steps to a good response.

  • State the topic sentence or opinion
  • Explain in detail
  • Give an Example

Developing your ideas with good fluency will go toward getting a high band score. There are many cases of students with good grammar and vocabulary who go into the IELTS exam and end up getting Band 6, all becasue they lost confidence and couldn’t develop their answers.

Develop your confidence and have some kind of strategy to deal with your stress levels in the exam.


ielts speaking