Common topics and model responses for IELTS speaking part 1.
In part one of the speaking test, you will be asked questions on 3 different topics. There could be up to 12 questions. It lasts about 4 to 5 minutes.
The topics are pretty general and are mainly about you. The aim of this part of the test is to get you to speak in a natural way without hesitation. If you are memorising answers or scripts, the examiner will notice that and you could lose points. Make sure you speak naturally.
Don’t give one word answers or simple basic answers, however, it’s not necessary to go into too much detail with very long answers as this part of the test is only 5 minutes long. The examiner won’t lower your score for very long answers but it’s overkill for part 1. Part 3 is where you ought to be giving more details.
It really depends on the question you are asked. In some cases, you may need to go into a little more detail (4 or 5 sentences), but in other questions, one sentence answers might be enough. Use your common sense and give a natural full response to the questions.
Here are some common topics that could come up.
Can you ‘um’ and ‘ah’ in the speaking test?.
No this is not good in IELTS speaking. When native English speakers talk they often use sounds like um and ahh but it tends to interrupt fluency in the IELTS speaking exam. The examiner wants to hear language instead.
These fillers below help you to think of your next point if you need a little thinking time with a tough question.
- ‘Let me see… well.. I think…..’
- Actually it’s not something I’ve really thought about before, but I reckon….’
- Let me think about that for a second….. yes well I would say…..’
- Well .. yes It’s an interesting question, I’d say…
One or two ums and ahhs here and there are ok but overdoing this tends to cause people problems even if their English level is quite high.
Fillers help to make the conversation more natural and less robotic… but you have to make sure they are natural to you otherwise it sounds like you are just memorising everything.
- Directly answer the question: Most part 1 topics are about you and your experience.
- Paraphrase the question: Try not to copy the words the examiner uses, reword the question with synonyms. For more detail about this click here for the lesson on paraphrasing in speaking.
- Relax: I know it sounds obvious but your mind will go blank if you are too anxious. Control your stress levels
- Talk naturally: The speaking test in IELTS is not a formal talk, you can use everyday informal language.
- Pronunciation: Intonation, word stress and linked sounds are very important, make sure you can get someone to give you feedback on your pronunciation if this is a problem because this is marked in the exam.
- Record yourself: Get your smartphone and record yourself answering the questions, then playback the recording paying attention to grammar, vocabulary, hesitation issues, pronunciation and intonation.
- Keep your answers concise: In part 1 you don’t need to go into too much detail, but don’t give short answers either. Part 3 is where you can go into detail and give longer examples.
Example questions and answers (part 1 speaking)
Do not overuse the ‘umm ahh’ sounds in your talk as it will affect your fluency, you must keep the pace and keep talking naturally. Hesitation is noted by the examiner and will affect your score.
Work and Studies
Do you work or study?
- Answer: well, I have a part-time job in the evenings, I’m a cashier at a convenience store. I work 4 days a week and have Friday and the weekend off. I’m also a student at an English school here.. so I’m keeping myself pretty busy .
Do you like your job/studies?
- Answer: Not really, most of the time it’s so busy that when I get home I’m just completely exhausted. But , ..you know, it’s part-time and I get perks such as free groceries, so, I suppose it’s not really that bad and the pay is rather good. As for my studies, I quite like my English school, I get on well with my classmates.
Is that a popular job in your country?
- Answer: A cashier? well, I’d say for university students it is as it helps them to earn some income while studying. Working in a bar or restaurant is a common job for students in my country to do also, like being a waiter or kitchen staff. In terms of a career, being a Doctor or Lawyer is what most people aspire to.
What kind of job would you like to do in the future?
- Answer: Well, I hope I can study at University overseas for a few years, I want to go to the USA and study Engineering , and when I graduate I would like to work in an Engineering company back in my home country.
What do you like doing in your free time?
- Answer: When I have time off I prefer to either watch TV or chat with my friends online. I’m not an active person to be honest, so I’m not really into sports… and I’m just too tired for exercise or going to the gym.
What is a common free time activity in your country?
- Answer: Well I’d say that shopping or going to the movies are popular. Also, some people like to play team sports like football or tennis. so. you know It depends on the person I guess.
Do people in your country have enough free time?
- Answer: In my view, I don’t think people have time to relax and enjoy themselves because so many people work overtime these days, and you know.. they are worried about losing their jobs so they don’t ask their boss for a day off..a lot of people I know work on weekends too.
What did you use to do in your free time as a child?
- Answer: When I was a kid I often used to go to the park with my dad, yeah, I loved playing at the park after school. Also, I would go to the beach with my family every Sunday because we lived not far from the seaside. I remember learning how to surf when I was 8, but I wasn’t very good.
What do you use your computer for?
- Answer: I always use my laptop when doing my studies, especially for studying English. I often go on Youtube or English websites. I also use WhatsApp and Facebook to contact friends. I spend most of the time online.
How often do you go online?
- Answer: I’m on the internet everyday, sometimes too much, I spend hours online chatting or browsing the web and using Facebook and instagram.. er..maybe I’m an internet addict.
What do you dislike about using a computer?
- Answer: I really can’t stand a slow computer, My desktop PC is really slow because it’s about 8 years old now..so yeah, I think it’s time to get a new one actually. That’s why I’m always on my laptop or smartphone.
Do you prefer to use a smartphone or a laptop?
- Answer: I would have to say that I’d rather use a smartphone or an iPad, they are faster and more convenient. I can’t take my Laptop everywhere because it’s old and cumbersome, and I like to be online a lot..so I think a smartphone or tablet is much better for me.