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How to answer IELTS Speaking Part 1

How should I answer IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions?!

Planning to take the IELTS test and not sure what to expect on your speaking test? In this article, I will discuss what your IELTS examiner will be looking for while you are answering the questions, and then give you a written sample of a great response.

Part 1 of the IELTS speaking test consists of 3 to 5 questions about you, your personal life and preferences, your country and culture, etc. From your childhood memories to your career choices as an adult, there are almost no topics that are excluded (obviously except sensitive topics such as sex, religion and politics). In this part of the speaking test, the examiner aims to determine what basic linguistic capabilities you have by asking both Yes/No and WH questions, making use of simple and continuous forms of past and present tenses. This allows the examiner to get a better view of how accurate and fluent you are while speaking English and assign a more clear Cambridge Proficiency Band to you (See this article to learn more about Band Scores).
This is exactly why some people spend up to 30 minutes at their speaking test sessions while few others are done within 10 to 15, as the examiner can quickly realize that the examinee is much better than average and asking basic questions from them is virtually a waste of time.
During part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test, you should be able to show your ability to:

✅ Make use of simple, continuous and perfect tenses
✅ Use basic grammatical structures correctly (correct use of articles, parts of speech, prepositions, etc.)
✅ Use a variety of basic vocabulary to express attitude, memories and other aspects of your personality
✅ Apply correct stress patterns to the words you use
✅ Make use of intonation to express emotions
✅ Expand your basic answer with examples, memories and reasons
✅ AND OF COURSE! Understand basic questions and react to them in a suitable manner

Now! I know that just having a list of requirements doesn’t clarify what the perfect IELTS Speaking Answer sounds like, so here are a few examples of what you can say during the part 1 of the test to cover all the bases and prompt the examiner to carry on the Part 2 (since you are the master of everything and he/she is wasting your time with their silly questions!)

Q: Do you like to live near a beach or a mountain? Why?

A: Well! I grew up in Western India and I have spent almost all of my life near a beach, listening to the sound of waves hitting the rocks. I guess I have had enough of that, so it would not be a bad idea to live near the mountains for a change.

Q: What do you like about the place you currently live in?

A: That’s a very good question! I’m currently staying in an apartment building in Vancouver. I actually have a great view of the ocean and the park that leads to it, and I have to say that it makes me feel alive! I guess, for me, it is all about nature, and the quiet I feel every time I look out of my window! It’s pretty fascinating!

In these two examples, you can see that the examiner goes from the first YES/NO question that asks for a reason to the second question (WH) whose job is mainly to elicit Descriptive language from the examinee. While responding, the examinee has used a variety of tenses, adjectives, adverbs and somewhat a figurative language. This has helped the examiner to realize that the student is definitely of the Cambridge Proficiency band B or higher, so the follow up questions can be slightly more challenging.

Want to learn more about what to say on your IELTS Speaking Test in order to get a high score? Follow our posts to get first-hand access to the transcripts of very successful responses. We release them every week!
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