The interview: Part 1

Task description
Part 1 of the interview starts with an introduction in which the interviewer
asks you basic questions about yourself and asks to see your
identification. The interviewer will then go on to ask you further questions
about yourself, your family/hometown, your job or studies and a range of
similar topics areas that are familiar to you.
This section of the test lasts 4-5 minutes and in it you may need to give
longer answers to questions to ensure you display your best ability.

What is being tested is your ability to:
♦ provide full answers to all questions
♦ give longer responses to some questions
♦ give information by describing and explaining

Sample questions
The interviewer will ask for general information about topics such as the
♦ Your country of origin
♦ Your hometown
♦ How long you have lived there
♦ What you do: work or study
♦ Your interests and future plans

It is not possible to predict what topics may be discussed at this point in
the interview; however, some familiar topics related to you or your country
could include:
♦ Family and family relationships
♦ Modern and traditional lifestyles
♦ Traditional or modern buildings
♦ Tourism and tourist sites
♦ Celebrations and cultural activities
♦ Schooling and the education system
♦ City and country living

The introductory section of the test will go something like this:
♦ The interviewer greets the candidate and introduces himself or herself.
♦ The interviewer asks the candidate to state his or her name clearly for
the cassette and confirms the candidate’s country of origin.
♦ The interviewer then asks to see the candidate’s identification.

The remainder of Part 1 of the test will follow this format:
• The interviewer will ask the candidate set questions about your
hometown or your occupation.
• The interviewer will then ask set questions about a familiar topic of
general interest.
• They could ask three to five questions which will extend or develop
this topic.
• The interviewer may ask the candidate about more than one topic.

Strategies for approaching the task

-Typical questions for this stage of the test might be:
-What’s your name?
-What country do you come from?
-Describe your hometown to me.
-Where do you live?
-Tell me about your family members
-What are you studying?
-What do you dislike most about your studies?
-Do you like eating in restaurants? Why?
-What type of transport do you use most? Why?
-Where would you like to go on holiday? Why?
-Tell me who you would most like to go on vacation with.

Carefully consider what you know about each of the topics above. Try to think of all the questions that someone who was trying to get to know you might ask, and make sure that you have all the vocabulary you need to discuss the topics in depth. Check and practise the pronunciation of any new vocabulary. Practice extending your answers to questions.

You will perform better in the IELTS interview if your speech is fluent. You are likely to be more fluent if you have already thought about the topic and have some ideas to express. Before the test, prepare the language you will need in order to discuss topics like these. This doesn’t mean memorising or rehearsing a speech because you can never be sure You should also be prepared to use the past, present and present perfect tenses to describe your current situation. For example, ‘I have been studying English for two years since I moved to the city’.

The interview: Part 2
Task description

Part 2 is the long turn. The examiner will give you a card with prompts relating to a particular topic. These prompts are to help you prepare a short talk of 1 to 2 minutes. You will be given a minute to organise your thoughts and you can make some notes.

The examiner will ask one or two follow up questions to finish this part of the test. Part 2 will take three to four minutes, including the one-minute preparation for your talk.


What is being tested is your ability to:
• talk at length on a topic
• develop your ideas into a talk
• use grammar correctly and speak clearly
Sample topic
The examiner tells you your topic and gives you a card like this:

Long turn card
Describe a person from your youth who had a great influence on you:
You should say:
   where you met them
   what relationship this person was to you
  what was special about them
   and explain how they influenced you so much.

  • Before the test, you need to practise talking about topics for one or two minutes, making notes appropriate to the topic beforehand, to help you.
  • Record yourself and then play back the recording listening to how clearly you are pronouncing and how well you select vocabulary.
  • You also need to practise making your notes in point-form, with abbreviations and symbols. There are many ways to do this.

1. For example: If you are preparing the talk shown in the example above: ‘Describe a person from your youth who had a great influence on you’ and you are thinking about your grandmother who was a musician and who looked after you when you were a child, taught you to play the piano, talked to you often about music and musicians and encouraged you to express your feelings through many forms of music, then your notes may look like this:

• g/mother
• musician
• taught me piano
• intro. me -> many music forms
• encouraged feelings thru music
• major influence

2. When you are giving your talk, take each point you have written and expand it into full sentences, but also add more new information. For example:

• g/mother (or grandmother)
could become:
“The person who had most influence on me was actually my
father’s mother, my grandmother; she grew up in the country
and moved to the city in 1965 to get a better education.”
• intro. me -> many forms of music
could become:
“She opened up my life to music in its many different forms.
We would make music by clapping our hands, using bottles,
jars, pots and pans, anything we could use, as well as the
piano. My life was full of music.”

It is very important that you use examples from your own life. These you can speak about more easily than stories you have made up or read somewhere else.

Try to relax and enjoy the experience of telling the interviewer as much interesting information about yourself as you can.


The interview: Part 3

Task description

After asking one or two follow-up questions the interviewer will lead you
into in an extended conversation discussing issues related to the Part 2
topic you spoke on. The interviewer will enlarge on things which were
discussed in the second part of the test, possibly starting by asking you to
describe something, then asking you to attempt something a little more
difficult like comparing, evaluating or speculating; the questions will
become a little more difficult as Part 3 proceeds.
Finally, the interviewer will conclude the Speaking test by simply saying
something like:
“Thank you, that is the end of the Speaking test.”

What is being tested is your ability to:

♦ give in-depth answers to questions about the topic
♦ use the language of description, comparison and speculation
♦ explain and justify your opinions, assumptions, predictions, reasons etc

Sample questions

It is not possible to predict what questions will come up at this point in the
test except that you can be sure that the topic will be related to your long
turn topic. Some questions will arise naturally from the discussion and the
information you are giving as this section progresses.
For example, consider the following sample topic:

Describe a piece of music that has had a big effect on you.

Possible related topics may be:

• Music in society
• Cultural aspects of music
• Commercialisation of music

Thus, the interviewer may start the discussion on the first related topic (Music in society) by asking you to describe how music is important to everyday life in your country. After you have talked about this, the
interviewer may ask you to compare the importance of music now with how it was when your grandparents were young; and then may even go on to ask what you think will be the effects of music on future societies.

Strategies for approaching the task
Expose yourself to everyday topics as often discussed in newspapers or on radio and TV programs. Make it your habit to read newspaper and magazine articles, particularly those that discuss issues and contain arguments and opinions. Also, listen to radio discussions like talk-back and watch interviews on current affairs programs on the television.

Not only does this give you some excellent listening practice, but it will build your background knowledge for the issues that may come up in both the Speaking and the Writing tests.

Choose an issue. Record all the vocabulary you will need to discuss that issue – note words raised in the news article or program (TV, radio,
newspapers). Try to do one of these every day. When you consider an issue, decide what would be your position on the issue, especially the steps you will need to take to reach your desired position and how you would overcome any possible problems in discussing it.

Be prepared to use descriptive and comparative language, for example, in
respect to the Music in society example given earlier:

“In my country, traditional music plays a more important role in
society than it seems to here, in Australia. It is played at important
events like festivals and official ceremonies, as well as at special
occasions such as weddings and funerals.”

Practice using conditional sentences to discuss, for instance, hypothetical
issues from abroad or worldview; for example:

“If the world economy becomes more global, all nations will lose their
cultural independence.”
“If the leaders of the world were to spend more money on the poor,
many of the problems of global conflict would be resolved.”

Be ready to use a good range of tenses and a variety of grammar, for
instance, to speculate on what may be possible in the future. For example:
Interviewer: What future role do you see for music in society?
Candidate: Well, I’d (or I’ve) always hoped that all the peoples of
the world could benefit by sharing their common experience of
music. In the past, there have been many examples of musicians
joining forces to raise awareness of global issues that result from
famine or human rights abuses.
Candidate: If different cultures could see the common features of
music in other countries, they may be less fearful of each other
and understand one another’s cultures better.

Be prepared to speculate about the future:
I hope that …
It’s possible that…
I can see that …
If possible, I’d like to see …
We should plan to …
It might be that …
We can assume that …
Probably, …
I expect that …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × two =