Great tips for the IELTS Speaking Test Part One

Get tips and tricks for the IELTS speaking test part one.
Learn:
– how part one of the IELTS speaking test works
– the kinds of questions the examiner will ask
– how you can predict the first topic
– how long your answers should be
– how to extend them with reasons and examples
– what to do if you don’t understand
And best of all, see candidates in action and learn from their good and bad model answers.

IELTS speaking test part one tips

Hi I’m Keith.
And I’m Vicki and in this video we have some great tips for part one of the IELTS speaking test.
Part one of the test lasts four or five minutes and it’s a Q & A – question and answer.

In the first part of the test I’m going to ask you some questions about yourself.

The examiner will usually ask questions about three different topics – familiar topics
So what are familiar topics? They’re questions that are related to you and your day-to-day life.
These are just some of the different things examiners can ask about. They’ll often ask questions about your experiences and things you like and dislike. And sometimes they’ll ask about people in your country or town, or about your culture.
But normally the questions are about you and your experiences. There are many different topics so they’re hard to predict.
But here’s some good news. You CAN predict the first topic. It’ll be about one of two things: where you live or what you do. The first topic is always about one of these things.
If it’s where you live, they will ask about your hometown or about your home.

What’s your favourite room in your home?
My bedroom.
And why’s that?
I like it.
And is it a large room?
No.

Jay’s answers are too short here. One way to extend your answers is to give reasons.

I like my bedroom because it’s where I keep my pet spider.
Oh!

That’s better. Jay gave a reason and explained why he liked the room.

Where are you from?
Sviyazhsk in Russia. It’s on the Volga and Sviyaga Rivers.
And is it a good place for children to live?
Yes, because it’s a tightly-knit community so everybody knows one another. And also, it has a lot of parks where they can play.

Ksenia’s answers were a good length. She added extra detail about her hometown and gave two good reasons why it’s a good place for children to live.
Now where you live is one possible first topic. The other one is what you do.

So let’s talk about what you do. Do you work or are you a student?
I’m a student.
Do you work or study?
I work.

A short answer is fine for this question. The examiner just wants to know so they can choose the best follow up questions. If you say you’re a student they’ll ask questions about your studies. If you say you work, they’ll ask about your job.
Do you work or study?

I work for a large telecommunications company. It has 100,000 employees in 60 countries. Our revenue’s been declining for the last four years so I think they’re about to cut back. We restructured a couple of years ago and I have a new boss. I don’t think she likes me. She says I have to listen more …
Thank you. Now I’d like to talk about recycling.

This time, Jay’s answer was too long. Think about it like this. Part one lasts 4 to 5 minutes and the examiner wants to ask about 10 questions. That’s just under half a minute per question. So you need to extend your answers a little, but not too much.

Do you work or are you a student?
I’m a student.
And what are you studying at the moment?
Animal sciences. I’m taking a three-year course at the community college. I started last September.
Uhuh. And why did you choose this course?
I’ve loved animals ever since I was a child and one day I hope to become a vet.

Ksenia’s answers were a good length and she added the right amount of information – a little, but not too much.
After one or two minutes on the first topic, the examiner will move on to another one, but you can’t predict what it will be.

Now I’d like to talk about recycling. What kinds of things do you recycle?
Recycling. Recycling is important because waste has a negative impact on the natural environment. Recycling conserves raw materials and saves energy.

Jay’s English is correct here, but he sounds formal and academic. And he’s not answering the question. The examiner asked what HE recycles, and he talked about recycling in general.

Do you often recycle?
Yes, I separate my rubbish at home into plastics and paper, and oh yes, I also use recycled paper for writing whenever possible.

This is better. Ksenia is answering the question directly and she sounds more natural and conversational. The examiner isn’t going to ask about abstract theories or concepts in this part of the test, so stick to your experiences.
Now let’s look at another topic.

When did you start to learn maths?
I think it was in primary school. Like most children we had to learn addition, subtraction and the times tables at school.

Another good answer. Ksenia added detail and shows she knows some good vocabulary about maths.

Did you enjoy learning maths at school?
No, I hated it. I didn’t like my teacher because she didn’t explain things very well.

Jay said ‘no’ here and that’s fine, because he extended his answer and gave a reason. The examiner will score the quality of his English, not his opinions.

Is maths important?
Yes, because we use it in our daily lives.

This isn’t a bad answer, but it would be so much better with an example.

Is maths important?
Yes, because we use it a lot in our daily lives. For instance, when we go shopping, we need to know addition, so we can check the receipt and make sure we get the right change.

Ksenia extended her answer with an example. Giving reasons is one way to extend your answer. Giving examples is another.
Another thing to understand is this part of the exam is more like an interview than a real conversation. The examiner is following a script and each topic is separate from the last.

Is maths difficult for you to learn?
Oh no, not at all. Math is beautiful. Numbers are much easier to understand than people.
Now let’s talk about the sky. Do you like the sky?
The sky? You want to talk about the sky?

Most of the time the examiner’s questions will flow naturally, but sometimes, when they change topic, they may seem strange. If you listen to the examiner, you’ll hear signals like this.

Let’s talk about fruit and vegetables….
Now I’d like to talk about smiling…
Let’s move on and talk about music…

It’s OK to ask the examiner to repeat a question. In part one, they won’t explain words, but they will repeat the question.

Sorry, could you say that again?
Could you repeat that?

And that’s how part one of the IELTS exam works!
Make sure you’ve subscribed to both our channels so you don’t miss our videos on parts two and three.
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We’ve made this video in collaboration with our friend Keith from IELTS Speaking Success and you can check out his website here.

And on this website you’ll find hundreds of videos on our channel to help you with your listening, speaking, grammar and vocabulary before your exam. Check some out here.

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