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We have already shared some tips and advice to help you to perform at your best in part 1 and part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test. Read the third article in this series to see how to perform at your best in part 3, the final part of the Speaking test.

In part 3, you have the opportunity to discuss topic areas, related to part 2, in much more depth. This part of the test, focuses on your ability to express and justify opinions and to analyse, discuss and speculate about issues. The examiner will help you do this by asking you questions that explore the topic area in more depth. In our part 2 article, we looked at three topic areas. The long turn topic is always related to the part 3 topic area. For example, if your long turn is about your teacher, part 3 will be a general discussion about education.

Look at the possible part 3 discussion areas related to the long turns you practised in the part 2 article.

Part 2 long turn

Possible part 3 topic area

Something you own that is important to you

Belongings, shopping, advertising, values

A holiday that you really enjoyed

Tourism, holiday destinations, leisure time, travel

An item you would like to buy

Shopping, advertising, online shopping, consumerism, manufacturing, clothing

Notice how the topic area moves away from the personal and towards the general and abstract.

Speak about the topics in general

In part 3, you are expected to discuss all topics in a general manner. If you try and talk about yourself and your family, the examiner will steer you away from these familiar topics and will encourage you to speak in a general way. Remember that you have already talked about familiar topics in part 1 and part 2.

Part 3 is your chance to show the examiner that you can discuss general topics, giving your opinion and ideas on what is being discussed.

Rather than talking about yourself, you can use the following phrases to extend the discussion in a more general way:

  • In my country most people believe that...

  • If I compare my country to Australia, the way we [farm/travel/work/eat/celebrate] is quite different

  • The local communities in my country...

  • Thinking about this in general, the main reason why most people...

  • From my perspective, if I take my country as an example...

  • I have seen this happen in my city and it's a major issue. To deal with this problem, we should...

  • There are a lot of examples of this in my country.

Use linking words and phrases

As we mentioned in our article on discourse markers, we use words and phrases to connect ideas and to express how we feel about what we are saying. We also use them to organise and manage what we are saying and to help us think about what to say next using fillers correctly to sound natural in our delivery.

Try to avoid meaningless fillers [um, er, ah, eh] as they show that you cannot find the words or language needed to discuss the topic. Also, avoid repetitive use of fillers that we generally overuse [yeah, like, you know].

Depending on what you are asked, the following linking words and phrases can be used:

  • Sequencing - ordering information [to begin with, moving on to the next reason, secondly, thirdly, subsequently, on top of that, later, after this, finally]

  • Adding information [Another thing that comes to mind, also, and, besides, additionally, another good example of this is, another reason for this, and one more thing]

  • Indicating opinion & attitude [Unfortunately, however, actually, to be honest, definitely, essentially, frankly, basically, clearly, I'm afraid, if you ask me, sadly, thankfully, in fact, seriously, as a matter of fact]

  • Comparing and contrasting [Similarly, in the same way, equally, likewise, in a similar fashion, if I compare it to my country | However, although, instead of, despite, on one hand, on the other hand, in the opposite way, in contrast, whereas]

  • Giving examples [A great example of this is, for example, for instance, a personal example is, in other words, a striking example of this, a classic example is, a clear example of this can be seen, such as, illustrated by]

  • Stalling - thinking about what to say next [Let me think about that..., that's a difficult/interesting question, I haven't thought of that before, well..., actually, basically]

  • Generalising [Generally, broadly speaking, as a rule, on the whole, it is often said that..., in most cases, the vast majority of, a small minority of]

  • Result [As a result, because of this, therefore, consequently, so, then]

Be willing to extend your answers

In part 3, you have the opportunity to discuss the topic in more depth. It is important that you attempt to extend your responses as much as you can. The following speech functions may be used in the test:

  • expressing your opinion

  • agreeing or disagreeing with something

  • looking at the advantages and disadvantages of something

  • giving reasons for your opinion

  • giving examples to support your opinion

  • describing the situation in your country

  • thinking about the future

  • assessing the importance of something

  • asking the examiner for clarification or to explain something

  • suggesting solutions

  • comparing and contrasting

It is important to show the examiner that you are willing to discuss the topic, so preparing for the interview by studying a number of topic areas is very helpful. However, most topics are of a general nature and will suit all test taker levels. Your examiner will explain a term to you if you ask, so make sure to check the meaning of a word if you don't understand the question.

Unlike an AI test, the advantage of a face-to-face IELTS Speaking test, means you have a human to interact with. The examiner will encourage you to keep talking and will try to see how much you can explore the topic.

Use a wider range of grammar

If you can keep speaking about a topic, this shows that you have access to a wider range of vocabulary and the grammatical structures needed to express yourself.

When you have to use some of the functions above, it is important that you can match the function with appropriate grammatical structures. For example,

  • describing the situation in your country - present, perfect, past

  • thinking about the future - conditionals (if), future (will/going to) modal verbs (may, might, should, could)

  • suggesting solutions - conditionals, modal verbs

  • comparing and contrasting - comparative structures

Look at the following script, taken from an IELTS Speaking test sample, where Anuradha, who comes from Malaysia, is answering questions about the topic, 'famous people'. Note the range of tenses she uses and the wider range of vocabulary to support her answers.

Examiner: Let’s consider first of all famous people in your country. In Malaysia, what kind of people become famous?

Anuradha: em.. in Malaysia, definitely the politicians and also some actors and actresses are very famous among…Malaysians.

Examiner: So, what about in the past, is that the same as in the past where politicians and actors always…?

Anuradha: I think definitely in the past if you’re talking about the fifties and sixties, um movies were the number one communication tool between villages or towns. So, the people definitely knew actors and actresses better than the politicians. Compared to now, you have TV and news where people follow politician’s personal life more than an actor or actress.

Use a wider range of vocabulary

Famous people a wider range of vocabulary

Being able to access more than one or two words on a topic is vital to a successful performance. For instance, Anuradha uses a wider range of vocabulary that has idiomatic meaning [number one | to follow someone] and correct collocation [communication tool | politician's personal life] to express herself more clearly.

Look at the Mindmap above, which shows vocabulary and phrases related to the topic Famous People. They are not difficult to make, and they are a wonderful way to prepare ideas and vocabulary on a range of topics.

Mind Maps work in the way your mind should work. Linking ideas and language to the topic, so you can naturally extend your answers. For example, when Anuradha is asked about how celebrities can negatively affect young people, she uses the following ideas and vocabulary, showing that she can choose precise language to express herself, extending her answers without effort.

Examiner: Now you’re talking about their influence on the consumer, what about on the young. Do celebrities, do you think, produce negative effects in our youth?

Anuradha: Definitely, I think they do. As you can see, like, lifestyle and health, celebrities are becoming thinner, models and celebrities, and when you open a magazine, young girls would be exposed to thin models and they think that that’s normal for them to be thin and that could cause them to go into anorexia or bulimia or unhealthy practices because they think being thin is the norm. Whereas being healthy, being normal-bodied is actually the norm.

Not only will you be able to discuss a range of topics with an examiner, but you will also be able to chat about topics to other people improving your ability to socialise and communicate with other English speakers.

Watch a part 3, Band 9 performance

Watch part 3 of the test where Anuradha discusses famous people with the examiner.

Before you watch it, think of how you would answer these questions:

  • What are the different kinds of famous people in your country?

  • Are the same kinds of people famous now as in the past?

  • Will these people be famous in the future, or will it change?

  • Why are famous people used in advertising?

  • Does this have a positive or negative effect on young people?

  • Can celebrities be used to influence public opinion?

Practice makes perfect

How did you go? Hopefully these tips will give you more confidence in preparing for all parts of the test. With targeted practice, you will become more fluent and will be able to achieve the goals you have set!