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IELTS Speaking - Helpful Tips

To get a great score on the IELTS Speaking communicating the basics well in English isn't enough.

IELTS examiners want you to speak confidently about a range of topics - topics which you may never actually think about in your day to day life. Therefore, when you are studying for your IELTS you need to practice talking about a variety of different subjects.

The Tips

How to have ideas and what vocabulary to learn

How to have ideas

So, how do you give detailed answers to questions you have never thought about? Well, you need to practice answering the questions before you do the test. Find IELTS questions about different topics and create answers at home, or in your class. The more questions you do on a specific topic the better you will be able to talk about that topic. However, please note that the idea is that you become confident talking about different subjects, not that you memorise mini speeches - it's very clear to an examiner the difference between a confident well practiced speaker and someone who is reading a script. 


By practicing questions and answers beforehand means you will learn important advanced vocabulary as well as grammatical structures specific to different subjects, this will help you speak more fluently. It will also show the examiner you are confident talking about any topic.


Another way to get ideas and vocabulary is to read and listen to different magazines, documentaries or podcasts that discuss different subjects in the world today. 

Here is a list of topics that you may have to talk about. The more abstract topics are more commonly used in Speaking Part 3. 


Your hometown

Your work

Work in general

The stresses of modern life

Living in a big/small city

Your commute

The best way to get around your city/country

Places you would like to visit


Your house/apartment


Free time activities

Entertainment in your city

Your last holiday

The environment

Renewable and non renewable energy

Saving energy

Saving the planet

National parks

Eating habits

Healthy food

Junk food


Eating out




Supermarket shopping

A shop you like

Someone who has influenced your life

Your Education/school

Education in general

Your future plans

Taking photos


Smart phones







There are more topics, but I can't list everything it's impossible.

How do I answer the IELTS Speaking

How do I answer the IELTS Speaking questions?

Follow these 3 steps and you will be on the right path to a great score. 


1. Be calm and confident.


2. Make sure you answer the question.


If the question is


How often do you cook?


You can't only speak about what you cooked last Saturday. You must make sure you answer the question, which means you should pay close attention to what the examiner is saying.


A better start to your answer for the question above would be.


I don't cook very often to be honest.


3. Give details in your answer. 


You can do this in a number of ways, for instance, by explaining the situation more, giving a description or giving an example.


Here is an example of giving more details to an answer and, therefore, making it a complete answer. How often do you cook?


I don't cook very often to be honest, but I do help prepare food every week. You see my partner cooks every Sunday, she cooks our lunch for the week. So, I help by chopping the onions and the garlic. But I don't actually cook the food.


Answer 2


I cook at the weekends. I don't have time during the week because of work, so I can only cook at the weekends. It's a shame because I love cooking and I would like to do it more often.


Answer 3 


I never cook. The most I do is put a pizza in the oven. I find cooking really boring. I prefer to eat a ready meal or eat out.


What I did for these answers was explain the situation and the answer to the examiner. I did this by answering other questions, such as, Why do I cook at weekends? Do I like cooking? If I don't cook who does?


In the IELTS speaking test it's important your answers sound natural. This means if you get a feeling to say something related to the question you should say it. Don't limit yourself. If something to say comes to your mind, say it!


To answer the questions just remember three things.


1. Be calm and confident.

2. Answer the question.

3. Give details.

Must know vocabulary

Must know vocabulary

Here is a list of phrases that will help you link and structure your answers. It's important to know that the speaking test is informal so formal linking words are not always appropriate.


The Essentials






Like (tipo, not gostar)

For example


Expressing frequency



... all the time




Not very often

hardly ever





Really: really happy.

Very: he's very tall.

Absolutely: absolutely amazing.

Quite: quite good. 

Pretty: pretty good. 


Giving more information



Another reason/ problem/ benefit/ good thing



Giving examples


For example


Such as

For instance


Time phrases


At the moment



Last week/month/year

10 years ago

In 10 years time


Saying something depends


Well, I think that depends on what kind of person you are.

It depends. If you like...


Well, I think it's very subjective. What I like in art may be completely different to what you like. So for me I like art that is...




A lot

A lot of

There aren't a lot of

There isn't a lot of

There are plenty of

There is plenty of

A few


There aren't enough

There isn't enough

There are hardly any

There is hardly any


Phrases to answer the question How important is it to have holidays?


I think holidays are very important because...

In my opinion it's really important...

I believe having time to go on holiday is a necessity.

I don't think it's very important...


Phrases to Answer the questions Do you prefer to spend your free time at home or outside?

And Would you rather spend your free time at home or outside?


I prefer to spend my free time outside...

I prefer spending my free time at home...


I much prefer to spend my free time outside...

I much prefer spending my free time at home...


To be honest, I don't mind. It depends on how I'm feeling. Sometimes I like to....


I'd rather spend my free time at home...

I'd rather spend my free time outside...


I'd much rather spend my free time outside.


Phrases to answer the question How often do you go to the beach?


I go to the beach every weekend...

I go to the beach about once a month...

I hardly ever go to the beach...

IELTS speaking criteria

IELTS Speaking Criteria

It's very important to know what you are being assessed on before you take your IELTS Speaking test. 

The IELTS Speaking Test is marked on 4 different points:


  • fluency and coherence. This means, did the candidate answer the question? Does his answer make sense? (very important). Does his answer flow naturally or does he repeat his ideas or words a lot? Is he using linking words to link his ideas?

  • Lexical resource. This means, is the candidate using a wide range of appropriate words in his answer, is he using natural sounding words that a native speaker would use? 

  • Grammatical range and accuracy. This means, is the candidate using more complex grammar structures, such as, present perfect, past perfect, passive voice and used to? 

  • Pronunciation. Accent in itself is not a problem. The problem is when you stress the wrong syllable of a word, or you pronounce the word incorrectly. For example, the word ‘worked’, if you voice the E of the word and say workid then you have pronounced the word incorrectly and will lose points in your test - correct pronunciation workt. 


Marking Criteria - IELTS Speaking Test - British Council. 

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