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IELTS Speaking Part 1

Table of Contents

What happens in IELTS Speaking Part 1?

Many students struggle in IELTS Speaking Part 1 because they are not sure what to expect. The examiner may do or say things that can surprise the student and so make them more nervous than they already are. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you. 

Here is exactly what happens in Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test;

  • When you enter the speaking test room, the examiner greets you.
  • The examiner will start to record the interview (audio)
  • The examiner asks for your ID
  • They (he or she) asks your full name
  • They ask you two or three introduction or ‘warm up’ questions about either 
      • Your home
      • Your hometown
      • Your work 
      • Your study 

Common 'warm up' questions

Part 1 of the test begins with some ‘getting to know you’ questions.

The kind of questions you ask someone when you meet them for the first time.

So, you may get questions similar to these below. Note, these are not official IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions.


  • Do you like your hometown?
  • What’s a popular part of your hometown?
  • Are there many shops in your hometown?


Talking about your home

  • Do you live in a house or a flat?
  • What’s your favourite room?
  • Is there anything you want to change about your home?

Talking about your accommodation:

  • Tell me about the kind of accommodation you live in?
  • How long have you lived there?
  • What do you like about living there?


  • Do you work or are you a student?
  • What do you do everyday?
  • Do you enjoy your job?


  • What do you study?
  • What do you like most about your study?
  • Why did you choose to study that?

IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions

The ‘warm up’ is important, but the real evaluation begins after the warm up.

After the warm questions above, you will get around 3 to 4 questions on 2 different topics.

In Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking test, you will be asked a series of very similar questions, but on a wide range of different topics. The questions will be about you and your everyday life.

Types of Part 1 questions:

  • Do you like ______? Why?
  • Did you ____ as a child?
  • What are your favourite _____?
  • How often do you do ______
  • Is this important to you?
  • Is this common in your country?

Examples of IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions:

  • Do you cook? 
  • Do you like cooking?
  • Did you cook as a child?
  • What is your favourite kind of food?
  • How often do you cook?
  • What is a popular dish in your country? 

IELTS Speaking Part 1 topics

The topics for IELTS Speaking change on a regular basis, but there are some common topics that come up, and within these topics there are plenty of sub-topics that might apear.

Below, you will see the kind of topics that are common in IELTS Speaking Part 1.

Study as many topics as you can so you can speak and use vocabulary flexibly “to discuss a variety or topics (According to the offficial IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors

For each topic below, you will see some sub-topics. The sub-topics are useful areas to study in order to broaden your vocabulary and flexibility to talk confidently on that topic. They are also useful to study because any of these sub-topics cold also be a Part 1 topic.

Click on a topic below to get study materials to practice your speaking skills for IELTS Speaking Part 1.

Keeping pets, wild animals, zoos

Visual and performing arts, types of paintings, art galleries and exhibitions, studying art at school, art in your home, digital art

Genres of books, digital and audio books, books you have read, books made into films 

Hometown, location, local industry, tourism, activities to do, likes and dislikes 

Likes and dislikes, shopping for clothes, clothes at work / for leisure, clothes fashion, accessories (e.g. belts, hats, bags, jewellery, etc…) 

Different uses, learning how to use a computer, problems and challenges

Living in the coutryside, comparisons to city life, challenges, possible work or jobs 

Different members, their jobs, hobbies and personalities, your relationships, time you spend with family 

Picnics, cooking, eating habits, healthy eating, favourite dishes, snacks, fast food 

Describing friends, relationships, kinds of friends, activities with friends

Daily habits, good and bad habits, work routines, family habits, changing a habit

Staying healthy, keeping fit, sports, sport at school, public health and fitness facilities

Descriptions, location, types, rooms, furniture

Activities, types, challenges, ideal job, changing job

Uses of a mobile phone, apps, texting, social media 

Likes, different kinds, how and where you listen, creating or playing music, musical instruments

Taking photos, different kinds of photos, skill of taking photos, phones and cameras

Different kinds, habits, doing sport, watching sport, being a fan 

Ability, techniques, school, teachers, concentrating, exams, places to study

Means of transport, public and private transportation, sea, land and air transport  

Ways to travel, preferences, destinations, holidays 

Favourite weather, preferences (hot or cold), weather forecast, changes in weather and climate, weather and seasons

The topics in blue above have a link to either a full free lesson or a video.


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How to prepare for IELTS Speaking Part 1

Get familar with the common Part 1 question types

Don’t prepare answers to all the IELTS questions you find on the Internet.

  • Having prepared answers will make you sound unnatural
  • You may get different questions; don’t trust everything you read online! 
  • There are too many topics and questions to prepare.

Focus your preparation on learning how to speak on differernt topics, not how to answer lots of questions.

  • Look at the bigger picture, your life long learning of English is more important than passing IELTS
  • Learning the language you need to talk on many topics will make you better preapred for IELTS
  • Aim to talk flexibly about a range of sub-topics even within each topic. 

Don’t focus on technical vocabulary or dictionary definitions.

  • You don’t need to be an expert on topics like science, art, geography or history. It’s more important to speak naturally.

Part 1 strategies

The most important thing to remember is Part 1 questions are about you and your life. They are specific, not abstract. Save the abstract and general ideas for Part 3. 

  • Focus on spoken English. If you think you sound like an expert or an academic, then stop – you are probably using inappropriate, written vocabulary.
  • Get to the point – give simple direct answers.
  • Keep talking – even if you have to make something up, it is better to say something, rather than keep quiet.
  • Remember – you don’t have to tell the truth! The examiner marks your English, not your ideas or content.
  • You don’t need to be an expert on topics like science, art, geography or history. It’s more important to speak naturally.

Quick tips for Part 1

  • Imagine the examiner is a new friend you have just met at a party
  • Pause and think before answering
  • Keep your answers short and simple
  • Use collocations
  • Use some adjectives to add colour and interest

Useful phrases for Part 1 answers

One of the most common questions in IELTS Speaking Part 1 is about things you like, such as…

  • Do you like music?
  • Do you like coffee?
  • Do you like social media?

You could answer with these phrases

Yes, I’m a big fan of music, in particular, Jazz music

For sure, I’m really fond of coffee

Yes, I can’t get enough of it 

Answering in the negative

No, I’m not really one for coffee

No, I’m not really into music

No way, I can’t stand social media

Developing your answer

  • Do you like science?

Yes, I do. What I like most about it is ____

Add an adjective clause

What I like most about it is it’s so interesting

What I like most about it is it’s so useful

Give an example

What I like most about it is it’s so interesting, for example, last week I read an article about solar panels and how we can use them

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