Speaking – Question Types

Speaking Test

The speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the test taker and an examiner. One of the most common questions about topics is what are the most common topics in the speaking part of the test. This is because there is very little information on this subject, and in contrast to the writing part of the test, there seems to be no “common topics”. The speaking test contains three sections.

Rather than common topics, the speaking tests follow common formats. To start with, Part 1 is likely to follow a very familiar topic and then expand out into a wide range of topics.

Part 2 and 3 are impossible to predict the topics that you might be given to discuss. It is, however, reasonable to believe the topics chosen are general in nature, and often social in the sense of a current affair type topics. So, the topics are something you have probably discussed in your own language at some time.

Section 1: Introduction and interview (4–5 minutes). Section1 follows a fairly familiar format of small talk. After checking your ID and other things, the first question will probably to ask; something along the lines of “Are you a student or do you work?”. Once they have established this, it will allow the examiner to direct questions to you. The first topic is often about your home, your hometown, your study, or your work.

The next 2 topics may be questions about family, hobbies, interests, friends, reasons for taking IELTS exam, as well as other general topics such as clothing, food, computers holidays, and the internet. Questions may relate to:

  • your job
  • your studies;
  • your hometown;
  • your family;
  • the place you live
  • hobbies;
  • likes and dislikes.

Having asked you a couple of small questions the examiner will then do what is unexpected to most people and ask about a topic which there is no preparation.

Test takers are asked questions about 3 topics. Each topic may have 3 to 7 questions each. Even though some of the questions are easily answered with one word, the examiner is always looking at how you expand those questions. Questions will be fairly straightforward single sentence questions such as:

  1. What are you studying?
  2. How long have you been studying?
  3. Why did you choose that particular course?
  4. What job would you like when you have completed all your studies?

Section 2: Long Turn (1 minute of preparing and 2 minutes of speaking). Test format will be in the form of a cue card, or task card, where you will tell a story.  Once you have the task card, you will be given 1 minute to prepare, and then asked to speak for 2 minutes. The task card will look something like this;

The cue card states the points that should be included in the talk and one aspect of the topic which must be explained during the talk. The examiner may ask one or two other questions.

Questions are more complex than Section 1 and

Section 3: Discussions (4–5 minutes). the format is about Big Impressions.  This is generally shorter than task 2, but there is no preparation. So, you need to impress the examiner by thinking on your feet in English.

The third section involves a discussion between the examiner and the test taker, At times they are on the same theme discussed in Section 2, however, the topic may change. Questions will be more complex and generally go along the following format:


  1. What is your opinion on the way students are taught in schools?
  2. How are education priorities today different from those in the past?
  3. How can the type of school you go to affect career success?
  4. What technological changes do you think will affect the classroom in the near future?

Knowing all this, how do you get your required band score if you don’t know what the topics will be. This is where a good strategy will assist you in the speaking section of the test. In fact, in the speaking section, you’ll need at least 3 strategies, as well as maybe another strategy just in case your strategy does not align with the topic.

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