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IELTS Speaking Test: Part 3
Tips & Strategies

Check out our IELTS Speaking test Part 3 video lesson.    

Part 3 is 4 -5 minutes and is a discussion based on the topic from Part 2. The examiner has prompts (not scripted questions as in Parts 1 and 2) that they use to make questions.

Strategies & Tips

Examiners will ask questions based on their prompts but are free to follow the discussion wherever it leads, while staying on topic.

In part 3 the questions are more abstract and general and most of them ask for your opinion. You can be asked to...

Describe Something

Examiner: What are the most popular tourist destinations in your country?

Candidate: Well, we do get a huge number of tourists visiting our country every year... I have no idea as to how many, really. I guess most come here for the beaches and water sports... like snorkelling, diving, island hopping and such. So, the famous beach resorts are mega popular... a bit overcrowded in my opinion but that’s because it’s promoted all over the world


Examiner: How important is tourism to a country’s economy?


Candidate: Generally speaking, it can be very important specially to developing countries. I read somewhere that tourists are actually responsible for bringing in almost a billion dollars a year to our country... so, of course, that’s a huge plus for the economy... am talking about locally, the local economy, as well as nationally. I know, for example, that some undeveloped regions of this country have really benefitted from the influx of tourists.

Agree or Disagree

Examiner: Some people think tourism does more harm than good. What do you think?


Candidate: It’s hard to say... it depends on what you mean by harm. I suppose too many tourists can have a negative impact on some places... like it puts too much strain on the infrastructure and as we all know... some will try to cash in on the tourists and build too many hotels, bars and so on... without permission. So, we need to be careful but it can’t be denied that tourists do bring in much needed cash. It’s a difficult one.


Examiner: Why do large numbers of tourists have a negative impact on the environment?

Candidate: Why? Well, I think that’s pretty obvious. When there’s too many tourists going to the same place at the same time it’s inevitable there’s going to be damage to the environment. There’s that famous case here in my country when the government had to close a famous beach resort because of the damage to the environment, I mean, it was totally overcrowded and the place couldn’t cope but, at the same time, nobody tried to do anything about it.

Make Predictions

Examiner: Do you think that one day space tourism will be accessible to a lot of people?

Candidate: Space tourism... that’s a really interesting topic, please let me think about that... well, they’ve already started. These billionaires, I mean their companies, are now offering trips to space... very short trips by the way. But it’s only for the very wealthy. I’m not sure exactly how much it costs for a trip into space but it’s possible for ordinary people... the vast majority just can’t afford it. Maybe one day it’ll be cheaper but that’s a long way off, if ever.

Offer Solutions

Examiner: What can national and local governments do to minimize the negative impact of tourism?

Candidate: There’s a lot they can do and... at the end of the day, they are responsible. One thing they could do is limit the number of tourists to the most popular places... such as impose a quota and stick to it. And what’s more, they should be very strict on tourists who leave their rubbish behind. I’ve seen the amount of trash that tourists leave when they visit some place and it’s disgusting. They should be fined for this behaviour.

Make Comparisons

Examiner: What do you think the benefits are of a domestic holiday compared to a holiday abroad?

Candidate: There are a lot of positives for taking a vacation in your own country. Loads of people don’t really think about going on holiday in their own country because they associate holidays with going abroad but they should take time to consider it. I guess of you can afford it, a holiday abroad is preferable because it comes with the benefit of experiencing a different culture.

Strategies & Tips

Some students worry about the abstract nature of the questions but, in reality, they are deigned so anyone can answer. Read examples of Part 3 questions in Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers to familiarize yourself with the question types.

Giving Your Opinion

Since the majority of question in Part 3 ask for your ideas and opinion, don’t be afraid to express them and don’t worry about the examiner’s reaction.

The Speaking test is a language test and not a personality test. So, don’t give opinions that you feel will please the examiner.

When you are expressing yourself, you will always have more to say.

If I can’t think of any ideas in response to the question, be honest and tell the examiner. Use phrases such as...

“Excuse me but I don’t have any idea about this question.”

“Sorry, I don’t know much about this question.”


When you do this, the examiner will either try to rephrase the question or give you an example. If you still have no idea, the examiner will move on to another question.

You will not be “penalized” for this but try not to do this too much as you are expected to give an adequate sample of your English for the examiner to grade.

When you are not sure on how to answer the question, try to speculate about it. It’s better to try and answer rather than say nothing. Example...

Examiner: What can national and local governments do to minimize the negative impact of tourism?

Candidate: I’m not sure about this. I suppose there are some things local governments can do. Maybe, for example, they could limit the number of tourists... that might work or if it doesn’t, they could close the famous place altogether. I guess there are other things they can do but I can’t think of any more.

Expanding Your Answers

When you give your opinion about a question, support it with reasons, knowledge and always give examples.

Never think 1 or 2 sentence answers are enough. There is no limit to the amount of time you should spend answering the question.

If you follow advice such as “limit your answers to 2/3 sentences” you can find yourself giving short answers when you are able to expand more.

When you feel you have answered the question sufficiently... stop. There are no extra points for the longest answer ever recorded in the history of IELTS.

When giving examples or quoting your knowledge, you don’t have to be 100% honest. The examiner is not going to check your facts.

You can use phrases such as...

“I read an online article...”

“I saw, on the TV news...”

Answering the Question

When answering the questions, stay on topic. You will NOT be penalized (receive a lower score) if you go off topic but the examiner may stop you and ask another question on the topic.

In Part 3 the questions are often quite long and it’s easy to lose the thread of what the examiner is asking. If you don’t understand the question, ask the examiner to repeat it or ask questions to clarify what the question was.

Unlike Parts 1 and 2, the examiner can and will reword the question, and even give you an example. Remember, the examiner is there to help you.

Always tell the examiner if you don’t understand the question. Do this by using phrases such as...

Examiner: “What do you think the benefits are of a domestic holiday compared to a holiday abroad?”

Candidate: “Excuse me, can you repeat that please?”

“Sorry, I don’t understand”

“Do you mean compare holidays in your own country and going abroad?”

If you are having difficulty answering a question because you need to think about it, tell the examiner... don’t sit in silence. Use a phrase like...

“That's a really interesting topic, please let me think about that...”

Using “fillers” like this buys you some time to focus your thoughts. However, don’t use this strategy with every question as it can sound unnatural and lead to too much hesitation which will have a negative impact on your Fluency and coherence score.

Avoid repeating or paraphrasing the question. This strategy will sound unnatural. For example...

Examiner: “Do you think that one day space tourism will be accessible to a lot of people?”

Candidate: “Do I think space tourism will be accessible to a lot of people?”


Candidate: “So, you’re asking if a lot of citizens will be able to take a holiday in space”

Sample Mock Test: Part 3


Watch the IELTS Speaking mock test, part 3 with a band 9 student.

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