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For all of your reassured confidence in the written portions of the IELTS test, you might find yourself lost for words when it comes to the Speaking section. After all, when writing down answers to a test, you have time to think and even rephrase your words before they leave your pen. But when it’s just you and the examiner in front of you, the smallest misspeaks can fill you with panic.

Yet, no matter how intimidating the IELTS Speaking section is, it’s still a section of the test you’ll have to overcome in order to achieve your desired score and pursue your dreams of studying abroad. To help you conquer your IELTS Speaking fears, we’ve compiled a list of strategies and tips to help you approach IELTS Speaking Part 1 with confidence, setting the stage for a successful overall performance in the Speaking section.

Understanding IELTS Speaking Part 1

The IELTS Speaking section is divided into two sections: Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1 lasts only around four to five minutes and comprises a friendly conversation between you and the examiner, typically revolving around familiar topics such as hobbies, work, studies, family, and personal experiences. This may take the form of up to two prompted questions such as “Do you like your job?” “Do you prefer to use a desktop or laptop computer?” “What is your daily routine when you wake up?” or “Do you have a hobby?”.

Some candidates may mistake this for a casual chat before the ‘real’ assessment starts but do not be mistaken as you are being evaluated by the examiner from the moment you greet each other.

During this short segment, you will be assessed on four key criteria:

  • Fluency and coherence: Are your ideas conveyed and discussed in a logical manner? Can you rationally convey your thoughts in a continuous way, with minimal stops and only natural pauses?

  • Lexical resource: Are you using appropriate vocabulary to convey your ideas? Are you using vocabulary that is relevant to the topic at hand and with the right level of formality?

  • Pronunciation: Are you pronouncing words correctly and with the right stress or intonation?

  • Grammatical range and accuracy: Are you using proper grammatical structures in your speech? Are you varying your sentence structures and verb tenses, where appropriate?

Understanding the format and assessment criteria of IELTS Speaking Part 1 is essential to navigate this segment effectively and leave the examiner with a good impression of your English proficiency skills.

Preparing for common questions

To excel in IELTS Speaking Part 1, familiarise yourself with common topics and questions that may arise. Practise crafting articulate responses to personal questions about your interests, daily routines, preferences, and experiences.

While these topics may sound familiar or ‘second nature’ to you, remember that you don’t usually talk at length about them in your day-to-day life. But you also don’t want to sound too robotic by memorising a rote script.

Practising key points to touch on will help you stay calm and collected rather than getting tongue-tied in panic as you find yourself struggling to remember what your hobbies or interests are. This will enhance your confidence and fluency during the test and set you up for success for IELTS Speaking Part 2 as well.

Vocabulary building

A rich vocabulary is indispensable for expressing yourself fluently and precisely in the IELTS Speaking section. Dedicate time to expand your lexical resource by actively learning new words and phrases related to various themes.

For the theme of photography, for example, this could include:

  • Technical terms like “exposure”, “aperture”, and “frame”.

  • Adjectives like “blurry” and “sharp”.

  • Vocabulary like “selfie” and “wefie”.

  • Idioms, metaphors, and similes related to photography like “photo finish”, “the camera doesn’t lie”, and “camera shy”.

Engage in reading, listening, and speaking activities to reinforce vocabulary acquisition and confidently discuss a wide range of topics during the test, such as watching popular or classic movies for exposure to everyday English language usage.

Fluency and confidence building


Building fluency and confidence in spoken English for IELTS requires consistent practice and exposure. Engage in regular speaking exercises, such as role-plays, discussions, and mock tests, to enhance your speaking skills. Embrace opportunities to converse in English with peers, tutors, or language exchange partners to refine your English speaking abilities and boost your confidence on exam day.

Self-reflection can also go a long way in helping improve your English proficiency. Record yourself speaking in English, listen to the recordings attentively, and take note of any hesitations or errors to work on before the next practice session. Over time, you’ll get familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to focus on areas that require further development.

Apart from English capabilities, confidence-building exercises will also help overcome nervousness and self-doubt. Practise deep breathing techniques, positive affirmations, and visualisation exercises to cultivate a confident mindset. Remember that confidence in English stems from preparation and practice, so embrace each speaking opportunity as a chance to improve and grow.

Pronunciation and accent

Clear pronunciation and intelligible speech are essential components of effective communication in both parts of the IELTS Speaking section. Focus on enunciating words accurately and minimising thicker accents that may hinder the assessor’s comprehension. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks can help improve your English by exposing you to a variety of native speakers and accents, and you should also tap on pronunciation exercises and resources to refine your speaking skills further.

Sample practice questions

To familiarise yourself with the format and types of questions in IELTS Speaking Part 1, engage in sample practice sessions. Utilise resources such as IDP’s sample IELTS Speaking Test Part 1 as an option that offers a variety of practice questions and prompts, simulating the test environment. Incorporate self-practice and peer practice sessions to refine your responses and identify areas for improvement.

Common mistakes to avoid

Identifying and avoiding common speaking mistakes is crucial for maximising your performance in IELTS Speaking Part 1. Be mindful of hesitations, grammatical errors, repetitions, and irrelevant responses that may detract from your overall fluency and coherence. Practise active listening, stay focused, and strive for clarity and coherence in your responses.

Ace the IELTS Speaking test with IDP

As you embark on your journey to ace IELTS Speaking Part 1, remember that consistent practice, preparation, and confidence are key. Apply the strategies outlined in this guide and explore IDP's comprehensive IELTS preparation classes and courses to enhance your speaking skills and achieve your desired score. You can even sign up for an IELTS practice test online and simulate exam conditions, to gauge your readiness for the test.

Book your IELTS test through IDP today and take the first step on your path to success.