IELTS Speaking Part 3 - Format, Topics, Questions & Tips
Table of Contents
The Speaking section of IELTS tests your ability to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively, and it’s split into 3 increasingly difficult sections. Part 1 involves simple questions about everyday topics like your job, your family, or the city you’re from. In Part 2, you talk about a single topic, usually by telling a story about an experience you’ve had. This article looks at some of the kinds of questions you might have to answer in Speaking Part 3 and some of the things you can do to improve your score.
Part 3 Format
Unlike the rest of the Speaking test, Part 3 is a back-and-forth discussion with your examiner. It will take about 5 minutes, and the examiner will ask you somewhere between 4 to 8 questions about topics connected with your answer from Part 2. You could be asked to:
- give and justify opinions,
- compare different options,
- or even speculate on the causes of a situation or what might happen in the future.
Your conversation will cover more abstract ideas than Part 2, and you’ll want to give detailed answers without too many pauses in your speech. It’s not an easy thing to do well, but using a wide range of grammar and vocabulary to produce a well-organized answer can really boost your test score.
Part 3 Questions
So, what kinds of questions will you encounter? If your task in Part 2 was to talk about an excellent restaurant you’ve been to in the past, your Part 3 questions might include any of the following:
- What kinds of restaurants have become more popular in the past ten years?
- Do you prefer to eat in a restaurant or get the food to go?
- Why do some people feel uncomfortable going to restaurants by themselves?
- What can a restaurant owner do to make their business more attractive to people in your city?
While you are answering those questions, your examiner might ask you to clarify your answer in some way. Maybe they’ll want you to explain when Turkish restaurants became popular in your city, or why that change happened. If you’ve said that a restaurant should promote itself on social media, they might ask you if that is an effective tactic with customers of all ages.
Here are two other possible sets of Speaking Part 3 questions:
- Part 2: Describe the classmate you admired most as a child.
- Possible Part 3 questions:
- Do most children enjoy going to school?
- What subjects are most important for students these days?
- How common is it to stay in touch with former classmates as people get older?
- What traits do you think are most important in a good friend?
- Part 2: Describe a website that you enjoy.
- Possible Part 3 questions:
- What kinds of media are most popular in your country?
- Should websites be free to publish any type of content?
- Why do you think people get so much of their news online these days?
- Is it important for everyone to be comfortable with technology?
4 Tips for Success in Part 3
Now, how can you make your answers to these questions as effective as possible? Here are a few tips that can help you push your score up into a higher band.
Tip 1: Expand your answers.
Your IELTS examiner isn’t interested in how much you know about a topic; they want to hear how well you can express your ideas. If your answer is too short, it’s really hard to give you a good score. Try to answer each question with at least 4 to 5 sentences; a really detailed answer could be as long as 8 to 10. To do that, give some examples from your own experiences or talk about how a situation has changed during your lifetime. (This is a great opportunity to use a variety of verb tenses, too, which is something your examiner looks for.)
Tip 2: Make some lists.
One easy way of making your answer long enough to get a high score is to include several examples or suggestions. Furthermore, using the correct phrases to make that list easy to understand can boost your score even further. Here are just a few you might want to use:
- First item on the list: “First of all”, “To begin with”, “One interesting example is…”
- Middle item(s): “Second”, “Additionally”, “Another thing that comes to mind is…”
- Last item: “And finally”, “And don’t forget…”, “Most important of all is…”
Tip 3: Be careful with contrasts.
One phrase that is often misused (or simply used too much) by English students is “on the other hand”. It’s great when you’re describing a second possible explanation for a situation. (For example: “Perhaps basketball is popular because people really like exciting, competitive sports; on the other hand, it could be that they appreciate watching graceful athletes doing amazing things.”).
However, it doesn’t really fit when you’re just talking about a second example of a popular place to go shopping in your city. (For that, “One other place where a lot of people like to buy souvenirs is Chinatown” works much better.)
Tip 4: Give some personal opinions.
Most Part 3 questions leave some room for you to express how you feel about the topic while you’re speaking. If you’re talking about the kinds of people who tend to succeed in business, for example, adding your own impressions (“Unfortunately, people who are so ambitious that they don’t always follow the rules often come out on top”) can make your answer feel a bit more complete.
Finally, there are plenty of recorded examples of what a good Speaking Part 3 answer sounds like online. Pay attention to how the best speakers develop their answers, what phrases they use to connect their ideas, and what kinds of questions the examiners ask as follow-ups. That information should help you to produce much better answers and get much better scores as a result.
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