IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 7: The Speaking Test
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Hello, and welcome to Study English, IELTS Preparation. I'm Margot Politis.
Today we'll look at the IELTS Speaking Test.
There are three parts to the test. Each part has a particular purpose.
The examiner will record the interview to ensure the test is to standard and conducted
fairly for all candidates.
Let's watch someone begin their interview. Good morning, my name is Maria. What's your
name? My name's Sanjay.
Thankyou. Can I just check your ID please Sanjay. Thank you, that's fine. What are you
doing at the moment? Are you a student, or do you work?
I'm currently a student. And what are you studying?
I'm studying a Diploma in Business.
The purpose of Part One is to settle you down and get you used to the test situation. So
you will only be required to answer some general questions about yourself on some familiar
topics such as: studies, travel, sports, family, food and exercise.
Let's see how another candidate answers questions about exercise. The first question is designed
to test her skills at identifying:
What kind of exercise do you enjoy? I enjoy running, because I think it's easy,
and I think you should need, er, good shoes and you can run and I can run at morning,
it's really good I think.
The next question is to see how well she expresses an opinion:
Is it important to exercise regularly? Yes, I think it's really important, because
you can, um, keep your body healthy and you can keep fit, especially for girls' health,
keep fit. And it's good for your health as well.
This question tests comparing:
Do you think people are exercising more these days, compared to 50 years ago?
No, I don't think so. Because, you see, like me, they don't have enough time. I think it's,
a lot of people don't have enough time as well, so they don't have enough regular exercise.
Other skills that are assessed include: describing;
expressing preferences; and giving reasons
You are not expected to give in-depth answers at this stage of the interview but you can
extend your answer with a longer sentence.
To help prepare for this section you can develop vocabulary around the topic areas and make
sure you know the verb tense that is appropriate for answering the question.
For example the question 'What kind of exercise do you enjoy?' is in the simple present tense,
so she replies with the same tense: I enjoy running. Listen again:
What kind of exercise do you enjoy? I enjoy running.
In Part Two the examiner will give you a topic on a prompt card to talk about for one to
two minutes. You will be allowed one minute to make some notes. After your talk, the examiner
will ask you a follow up question.
The topics are of a general nature. You could be asked to talk about an object that is important
to you or a major festival in your country or to describe an interesting building.
Let's see how the interviewer introduces the second part of the interview and how the candidate
prepares for the talk.
Now, I'd like you to talk for one to two minutes on a topic that I'll give you.
Sure. You have one minute to prepare, and make some
notes to help you. Do you understand? Yes.
Okay. Well, here's a pencil and a paper for making notes, and here is your topic. I'd
like you to describe a holiday or vacation you took recently.
This is what was written on the prompt card she gave him:
Describe a holiday or a vacation you took recently.
You should say: where you went,
who you travelled with, what you did, and
explain why you enjoyed your vacation.
Think of 2 or 3 things to say about each prompt and write down words that will help remind
you of what to say.
Let's look at what he wrote.
Do the notes help him?
Let's listen to his talk.
Er, the holiday which I went on recently was in Thailand, Bangkok, Thailand. Um, we, we
planned this, I guess, two weeks, two weeks in advance, it was kind of a last minute planning
with, with my family, we decided to just go for a short holiday down to Bangkok. So, er,
we called, we called my travel agent, and, er, we got, we got tickets booked for me,
my Mum, my brother and my sister.
It is important to begin your talk by introducing the topic.
He is following the notes he made. For 'who' he tells us "we got tickets booked for me,
my Mum, my brother and my sister".
For 'what' he talks about shopping:
We went to two shopping malls. It was, one of the malls called Big C, Big C, yeah, that
was the mall. So, er, the mall was very clean and, er, I was surprised, it was very clean,
very big, very, very big, very clean and all. So that was just a normal shopping centre.
Then over the weekend we decided to go and visit this big weekend market in, Bangkok
itself. So it's called a big, a weekend market, er, it had like thousand over stalls, it was
this big, humungous place. So what we did, we spent our whole time there, shopping.
For 'why' he tells us what a wonderful experience it was:
But it was a wonderful experience, going to Bangkok, and, er, visiting the sights.
Your talk will be well organised if you follow the same order as the prompts on the card.
The interviewer ends this section with a follow up question. Let's listen to what the interviewer
Do you think you'll go back there again? Er, yeah, definitely, I mean, for shopping
is one thing, prices are really cheap and all but, er, it's just the place. The people,
they're all friendly and down to earth, and, um, it was a memorable experience.
He responds appropriately with two sentences. That's all that is required.
To help you prepare for this part, practise talking about a range of topics.
The final part of the interview is a discussion on issues related to the topic in Part Two.
The examiner will be assessing your ability to develop ideas in some depth.
Let's see what kind of questions he was asked and how the discussion is introduced.
Okay then. Well, you've described a holiday you've been on, and I'd like to ask you a
few more questions related to this. Sure.
Is it important to travel and take holidays in different places?
Yeah, I feel, I feel it is important, er, reason being you, you're exposed to different
cultures, you're exposed to different kind of people, how, how do they behave, and, er,
you get to see a lot of things. If you just take a holiday in your own country, or somewhere
nearby, er, you won't really get to see, er, the world I guess, see how people behave and
By asking him "Is it important to travel?" she is testing whether he can express an opinion.
Next, she sees if he can speculate:
Are people travelling more these days, do you think?
Er, yes, definitely. Er, as you can see nowadays there's budget airlines where airline prices
all become so cheap so that they can visit more places and go to other countries.
Then she asks a question designed to see how well he can compare:
Is it better to travel alone, or in a group? I believe it's better to travel in a group,
where you have a companion. Maybe not, not in such a big group, but, I guess, maybe two
to three people … where it's nice to have someone along to share your experiences
with and, you know, to visit places and, you know, have someone there for companionship
And finally she tests how well he can identify:
What kind of problems is travel and tourism causing?
Um, sometimes people don't know other people's culture, and they might offend them in a rude
way, they might not know its offensive, but, you know, not knowing the culture, and not
reading up about it, sometimes when you go to a foreign land, and you might do something
to maybe insult the host or insult someone there.
To answer questions well in this section you should watch programs on current affairs and
practise discussing topics and using a variety of language functions such as comparing, explaining
That's all for today
Good luck with your studies.