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Speaking Test Part 1 Exercise 1: Food

 

Speaking Practice Part 1

Food

In the IELTS speaking test, you will be face to face with the examiner. The examiner will ask you a series of questions that you must respond to. The test is broken up into three parts. Part 1 consists of 12 questions based around 3 different topics and this part of the test will last for no more than 5 minutes. Your answers to these questions should be short but should also contain enough detail and language to show off your English language skills. I recommend you aim for 3-4 sentences per question response.

To help you to prepare for this part of the test, I recommend using the audio recording below. Play the recording and pause it after each question. Give your answer (remember to aim for 3-4 good sentences!) and then press play to proceed to the next question. Alternatively, you could ask a family member or friend to ask you the questions – this will give you good experience of having to give your answers face to face.

TOP TIP #1

One good method to check if you are giving enough detail in your answers is to use a timer on your phone or watch to time the length of this part of the test. The whole of part one (12 questions) should fill approximately 5 minutes. So, for these 4 questions, you should aim to speak for around 1 minute 40 seconds.  Start the timer when I begin asking the first question and stop the timer once you have finished answering the final question. If the timer shows a time less than 1 minute 30 seconds, you need to work on giving longer answers. If the time shows a time over 2 minutes, then you will need to work on giving slightly more concise answers.

TOP TIP #2

Another good way to improve your speaking ability is to record yourself giving your answers. Listen back to it at the end of the test and consider these questions:

  • Did you answer the question?
  • Were your answers grammatically correct?
  • Did you use a good range of vocabulary?
  • Did you speak clearly?
  • Did you use correct intonation when talking?

Play the audio recording, start your timer and answer the questions. After the test, you may wish to have a look at the model answers written out below.

 

Audio Clip

Listen to the audio file by clicking on the play button:

 

Questions

  1. What is your favourite food?
  2. What food do you dislike?
  3. What food is popular in your country?
  4. Do you think you have a healthy diet?

 

MODEL ANSWERS

  1. What is your favourite food?

My favourite food is probably pizza. I like pizza because it is a combination of two foods I really enjoy eating, which are bread and cheese. My favourite flavour of pizza is hawaiian. Not everybody likes that flavour as some people think putting fruit on savoury dishes is wrong, but I think it is delicious!

 

  1. What food do you dislike?

I am very fortunate in that I enjoy eating most foods. However, the one food that I really hate is olives. I find the taste very overpowering. A few years ago, I bought a loaf of ciabatta bread and heated it up in the oven. I was so excited to eat it but, when I bit into it, I realised it contained small pieces of olives so I had to throw it away!

 

  1. What food is popular in your country?

I live in Hong Kong so Chinese food is very popular here. Dishes such as peking duck and sweet and sour can be found very easily in the city. However, I particularly enjoy Chinese dim sum. It consists of foods such as dumplings and BBQ pork buns that are both crispy and sweet. They really melt in your mouth!

 

  1. Do you think you have a healthy diet?

Overall, my diet is quite healthy. I try to eat a balanced mix of protein, carbohydrates and dairy every day. Like most people, I do have my bad days but I try to make it up by being even healthier the following day. I like to keep fit and do exercise so living a healthy lifestyle is important to me.

The IELTS Speaking Test

The IELTS speaking test is the only face-to-face test. You will take this test with an examiner. There is no option for this test to be taken online.

The test generally lasts for between 11 and 14 minutes and consists of three parts. The three parts of the test are an interview (that lasts 4-5 minutes), a talk (that lasts 3-4 minutes) and a discussion (that lasts 4-5 minutes).

All of these are completed with the examiner. This test is the same for both the ‘Academic’ and the ‘General’ path.

There are four areas in the marking criteria – fluency, grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary – which are each worth 25% of the overall score.

In part 1, the examiner will ask you 12 questions linked to three different topic areas. In part 3, you could be asked up to 5 questions, but this will depend on the length and depth of the answers you provide.

Top Tips for Succeeding in the IELTS Speaking Test

To help you to prepare well and achieve well in the IELTS speaking test, we have developed a list of recommended strategies.

  • Don’t say too little! To achieve high marks for fluency in the speaking test, you need to demonstrate to the examiner that you can sustain long periods of speech and provide longer responses.
  • Don’t say too much! Even though you need to provide longer answers, don’t fall into the trap of waffling or losing focus. Make sure you say enough, but not too much!
  • Practise speaking for at least 1 minute without stopping. For part 2 of the speaking test, you must talk continuously for 1-2 minutes about a topic the examiner gives you. This is not always easy, and so you need to spend lots of time gradually extending the length of time you can sustain speech for. Ideally, aim for 1.5 minutes by the time you take the test.
  • Practise talking about lots of different topics. You can’t know which topic the examiner will give you on the test day so be sure to have practised speaking around many different topics. There are often overlaps between topics, so even if the topic you are given isn’t exactly the same as those you practised, you can probably adapt some ideas.
  • Use the prompts on the topic card to help to structure your answer. The fluency criteria awards point for structure, so these prompts may help you to secure more marks.
  • Give more to get less. In part 3, the examiner is looking for depth in the answers you provide. If you answer the examiner’s questions with short responses, the examiner will need to ask you more questions, and you are likely going to be awarded a lower grade. Instead, try to give more detailed, in-depth responses. You can also use examples to ‘pad out’ your answers.
  • Take some thinking time. Once you have been asked a question, instead of jumping into the answer straight away, take a breath and think about what you want to say to answer the question, then start responding. Taking a short time to think will help you to be more focused in your response.
  • If you’re not sure, ask. In part 1, the examiner can repeat the question to you if you misheard or forgot what was asked. In part 3, the examiner can explain the question to you if you are unsure of what they mean. This won’t affect your score, so it is much better to ask the examiner to repeat or explain, instead of risking answering the wrong question or panicking with your response.
  • Don’t think you have to have all the answers. In part 3, you may be asked a question for which you have no understanding or response to give. In that case, make a detailed answer out of it – explain why you don’t have any thoughts/opinions about that topic. For instance, if you were asked a question linked to ‘green energy’ but didn’t know anything about it, you could explain “I haven’t had any experience of green energy, so I am not sure how to answer that question. In my country, we mostly use non-renewable energy sources such as coal.” You’ve still answered the question really well!
  • Make sure the examiner understands you. It is fine to have an accent, as long as that accent is not so strong that the examiner cannot understand you. As you prepare for the speaking test, be sure to work on your clear pronunciation of words.
  • It’s not really a conversation. As much as part 3 is a discussion, it is actually very one-sided. The examiner only wants to hear your thoughts and knowledge about the subject, so there is no need to ask the examiner what he/she thinks or feels.
  • If you make a mistake, carry on. As mentioned above, fluency is essential in the speaking test. If you keep stopping to correct yourself, this will have a significant impact on your fluency so try to keep going if you can.
  • Relax! This test often causes more anxiety as it is a face-to-face test. Try to think of it like any other test and remain calm. Wear comfortable clothes to help you relax and try to act as naturally as possible.

The Four Tests of IELTS

The Four Tests of IELTS

There are four separate tests that make up the IELTS: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

IELTS test format: You will always take all parts of listening, reading and writing one after the other, with no breaks between them. Your speaking test is usually scheduled at noon on the day of the test; However, it can be scheduled seven days before or after.

Reading

The IELTS reading test: The reading test in IELTS is one hour long. During this time, you will read three passages and answer 40 questions. The paper you will be given for this test will differ depending on whether you have chosen the ‘Academic’ or ‘General’ IELTS path.

For those taking the ‘Academic’ path, the reading test will feature long passages that are often taken from books, newspapers and magazines.

The passages used in this paper are authentic pieces of writing. Usually, these will contain academic language, more complex vocabulary and some form of chart/diagram/map.

For those taking the ‘General’ path, the reading test features three texts, which become progressively harder.

  • The first reading will link to daily life and could be factual information about something familiar, such as a school or hotel.
  • The second reading will be focused on the workplace and could include a text about a training course, information related to pay or the process of application for a job.
  • The final reading will be longer and more complex and is likely to focus on an area of more general interest.

Writing

The IELTS writing test also lasts for one hour. In this test, you will be given two writing tasks to complete. The tasks you are expected to complete again depend on the path you have chosen.

In task 1 for the ‘Academic’ path, you will be asked to write a short report on a stimulus (such as a chart, table, graph or map) that you have been provided. In task 1 for the ‘General’ path, you will need to write a letter. Task 2 for both paths is to write a formal essay on a given topic.

Generally, it is recommended to spend 20 minutes on writing task 1 and 40 minutes on writing task 2. For task 1, it is recommended to write a minimum of 150 words, and for task 2 a minimum of 250 words.

Speaking

The IELTS speaking test is the only face-to-face test. You will take this test with an examiner. The test generally lasts for between 11 and 14 minutes and consists of three parts.

The three parts of the test are an interview (that lasts 4-5 minutes), a talk (that lasts 3-4 minutes) and a discussion (that lasts 4-5 minutes).

All of these are completed with the examiner. This test is the same for both the ‘Academic’ and the ‘General’ path.

Listening

The IELTS listening test is 40 minutes in duration. For 30 minutes of this time, you will listen to an audio recording and answer the 40 questions. After that, you will have another ten minutes of time available to transfer your answers onto the test answer sheet.

The listening test is split into four sections, with ten questions in each section. Sections 1 and 2 are focused on listening in social situations, whereas sections 3 and 4 are focused on listening in more academic situations. Therefore, this test is the same for both the ‘Academic’ and the ‘General’ path.

The Four Tests of IELTS