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IELTS Speaking Test: Part 1

Check out our IELTS Speaking test Part 1 video lesson. 

When you come in the test room, the examiner will ask you to take a seat. The examiner will not ask…“How are you?” “Nice to meet you” etc. Candidates are often upset by this and take it as an indication of an unfriendly examiner. However, examiners must strictly stick to the script and are not allowed to ask personal questions.

All speaking tests are recorded for quality control and in case the candidate asks for an Enquiry on Results. The recorder is turned on before you enter the room and stopped after you leave.


Next, the examiner will read “This is the speaking test for the International English Language Testing System conducted on (date) at (test centre name). The candidate is (candidate’s name) and the examiner is (examiner name)” After this, the test begins.

Part 1 has three sections.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 Format

Part 1: Section 1

The questions are always the same for Part 1 section 1. The rational for fixed questions in Section 1 is to make the candidate feel at ease. For example…

Examiner: Good morning

Candidate: Good morning

Ex: My name is (examiner's name). Can you tell me your full name please?

Ca: Joanne Suh.

Ex: And what shall I call you? 

Ca: Please call me / You can call me Joanne

Ex: Where are you from?

Ca: I'm from Cebu city in the Philippines.

Ex: Can I see your identification please?

Part 1: Section 2

Section 2 begins after the examiner checks your identification and the topics for this section are always the same. That’s “Where you live” OR “Your work / studies”. You will be asked about one or the other, not both.

Example: The questions in the “examiner” columns may vary.

IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Sample Answer
IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Sample Answer
IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Sample Answer
IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Sample Answer

Part 1: Section 3

  • Section 3 lasts for a maximum of 3 minutes and you answer questions on “familiar” topics such as music, shopping, hobbies etc. There will be no controversial topics such as politics or religion. You don’t need any specialized knowledge to discuss the topics in Section 3 and you can be asked questions on a maximum of 2 topics depending on the timing.

For example…

IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Topic

The question words in brackets (why / why not?) are asked by the examiner if the candidate’s answer is short and the examiner believes they can say more.

For example…

IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 Sample Answer

Strategies & tips: Part 1

  • Because everyone knows the Section 1 questions, it’s tempting for candidates to memorize lengthy responses. For example…

  • This is an example of memorized language and will not be graded. It’s also an example of poor training. The candidate has been advised by the tutor to expand their answer by memorizing a short speech.

  • Memorized speeches are easy to spot for all examiners. If you try this, the examiner will most likely interrupt you by saying “thank you” and/or raise their hand to indicate you should stop.

  • This can have a demotivating effect on candidates because they’ve been trained to memorize a short speech probably with the advice that it will “impress” the examiner. In reality, it has the opposite effect. So keep your answers short and relevant in Section 1.

  • After the ID check… EXPAND your answers for the remainder of the test.

  • Because Section 2 has only two possible topics (work/studies and where you live) candidates are tempted to memorize their answers which is not a good strategy as explained above.

  • Don’t try to memorize answers as this can actually stress you because you are so focused on delivering the perfect answer.

  • Instead of memorizing, increase your vocabulary to describe where you live, your city/town and work or studies.

  • The answers to Section 2 questions are usually in the present and future tenses.


  • For Section 3 many sources suggest that you should learn vocabulary lists connected to a topic. While it’s always a good strategy to increase your vocabulary, trying to memorize vocabulary lists connected with particular topics, such as education, is questionable since the chances of those topics appearing in the test are very slim.

  • There are literally hundreds of possible topics and trying to predict which ones will be in section 3 is a risky strategy.

  • Closed questions. In Sections 2 and 3 you will be asked several closed questions which require a yes or no answer. For example, “Do/did you…” “Can you…” “Have you…”

  • Answer the question with a yes / no response.

  • Give reasons why you answered yes/no.

  • Give examples and talk about your experience.


Examiner: Do you play any sports?

Candidate: Play sports? Well… unfortunately not a lot these days because of my workload and… I also have a young family. But when I was at high school and college, I played a lot because I was lucky enough to get picked for the school… and college basketball team. So usually after school we practiced and were coached by some pretty coaches, actually. but… that was then.


Sample Mock Test: Part 1

Watch the IELTS Speaking mock test, part 1 with a band 8 student

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