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IELTS Speaking


IELTS Speaking Duration and Format

The Speaking Module takes between 11 and 14 minutes and consists of an oral interview between the candidate and an examiner. All interviews are recorded on audio cassette. The overall structure of the test is summarized below.

Introduction and interview

Part 1: 
Examiner introduces him/herself and confirms candidate's identity. Examiner interviews candidate using verbal questions selected from familiar topic frames.

Time: 4-5 minutes

In Part 1 candidates answer general questions about themselves, their homes/families, their jobs/studies, their interests, and a range of familiar topic areas. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

Individual long  turn

Part 2:
Examiner asks candidate to speak for 1-2 minutes on a particular topic based on written input in the form of a candidate task card and content-focused prompts. Examiner asks one or two questions to round- off the long turn.

Time: 3-4 minutes

In Part 2 the candidate is given a verbal prompt on a card and is asked to talk on a particular topic. The candidate has one minute to prepare before speaking at length, for between one and two minutes. The examiner then asks one or two rounding-off questions.(incl. 1 minute preparation time)

Two-way discussion

Part 3:
Examiner invites candidate to participate in discussion of a more abstract nature, based on verbal questions thematically linked to Part 2 topic.

Time: 4-5 minutes

In Part 3 the examiner and candidate engage in a discussion of more abstract issues and concepts which are thematically linked to the topic prompt in Part 2. The discussion lasts between four and five minutes.

IELTS Speaking Task Types

 The Speaking Module assesses whether candidates can communicate effectively in English. Research has shown that the speech functions which occur regularly in a candidate's output during the Speaking Test are:

Providing personal information,  Providing non-personal information,  Expressing opinions, Explaining, Suggesting, Justifying opinions, Speculating, Expressing a preference, Comparing, Summarizing, Conversation repair, Contrasting, Narrating and paraphrasing, and Analyzing

Other speech functions may emerge during the test, but they are not forced by the test structure.

Marking and assessment

IELTS examiners are qualified teachers appointed as examiners by the test center and approved by British Councilor I ELTS Australia.Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe spoken performance at the nine IELTS bands, based on the following criteria. Scores are reported as whole bands only.

Fluency and Coherence

Fluency and Coherence refers to the ability to talk with normal levels of continuity, rate and effort and to link ideas and language together to form coherent, connected speech.

The key indicators of fluency are speech rate and speech continuity.

The key indicators of coherence are logical sequencing of sentences, clear marking of stages in a discussion, narration or argument, and the use of cohesive devices (e.g. connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) within and between sentences.

Lexical Resource

Lexical Resource refers to the range of vocabulary the candidate can use and the precision with which meanings and attitudes can be expressed.

The key indicators are the variety of words used, the adequacy and appropriacy of the words used and the ability to circumlocute (get round a vocabulary gap by using other words) with or without noticeable hesitation.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Grammatical Range and Accuracy refers to the range and the accurate and appropriate use of the candidate's grammatical resource.

The key indicators of grammatical range are the length and complexity of the spoken sentences, the appropriate use of subordinate clauses, and the range of sentence structures, especially to move elements around for information focus.

The key indicators of grammatical accuracy are the number of grammatical errors in a given amount of speech and the communicative effect of error.


Pronunciation refers to the ability to produce comprehensible speech to fulfil the speaking test requirements.

The key indicators will be the amount of strain caused to the listener, the amount of the speech which is unintelligible and the noticeability of L 1 influence.