Common IELTS Speaking Topics and How To Prepare For Them

Common IELTS Speaking Topics And How To Prepare For Them main pic

Introduction

So you are going to take the IELTS speaking test

But what kind of topics will the examiner ask you?

And how can you prepare for all of these topics?

I want to show you what the most common topics are.

And the best ways to prepare for them in the speaking test.

This will ensure that you breeze through the test, make a great impression on the examiner, and get a great score for your speaking test.

Are you ready? Let’s dive right in…

Common IELTS Speaking Topics And How To Prepare For Them what is the ielts speaking test

What Is The IELTS Speaking Test?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) speaking test is a face-to-face interview with a certified examiner that assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate in spoken English.

It is an important component of the IELTS exam, along with other tests for reading, writing and listening, to test your English level and ability.

The IELTS test is used by many schools and universities in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The speaking test evaluates your ability to express ideas clearly and coherently, using appropriate grammar and vocabulary, and responding to questions effectively.

A good score on the IELTS speaking test can ensure that you can enter the school or university of your dreams in the country of your choosing.

Common IELTS Speaking Topics And How To Prepare For Them common ielts speaking topics

Common IELTS Speaking Topics

There are literally hundreds of topics in the IELTS speaking test.

The test is designed in a way so that no one can cheat the system. Some students believe that there is a way to find out what questions are currently being asked by examiners.

But there is no way to determine this.

However, there are some main kinds of topics that always come up.

These are:

Personal Information

You will most definitely be asked to talk about yourself, your family, your friends, your education, your hobbies, and your interests.

Study and Work

You may be asked about your job, your workplace, your future career plans, or your academic background.

These are two very common topics!

If you are a student, the examiner may want to know all about your school or university.

He might ask you what subjects you like to study — or why you chose your college major.

But if you are already working, he will ask you about your job and what you do there.

Free Time Activities

Talking about the things you like to do in your free time is a very common topic in the IELTS test.

Be prepared to talk about your interests, any sport you like to participate in, and any hobbies you may have.

You will have to talk about this in detail. For example, if you say you like reading, then the examiner is most likely to ask you about a book you have read recently.

Then you have to talk about it and describe it. Give your feelings about it.

Travelling

Most people like to travel. And most people have travelled to other places in their own country — or even abroad.

The examiner could ask you about this. And you are expected to give your opinions on places you have travelled to and favourite places you have seen.

Society and Culture

These are common topics that could appear in Part Two or Part Three of the IELTS speaking test.

The modern world changes at a rapid rate — and as such, many places are experiencing a lot of social change.

These can be very common things to talk about in the IELTS speaking test.

And also he might want to ask you about the culture of your country. Some customs and traditions that take place.

He might ask you about special holidays and what happens during these times.

Technology

Technology is another aspect of the world that is under great and rapid change.

And as such, the examiner might ask you about technological changes that are taking place.

This could be about smartphones, social media and its influence or AI.

The Environment

The environment — and the protection of it — is a huge subject in the world right now.

The examiner might raise questions about this in Part Two or Part Three.

Be prepared to talk about this in the test.

Health

And health is another very popular topic in the IELTS test.

Your own personal health, the general health of the people in your country, and things you do to stay healthy.

This could cover food, exercise, or mindfulness.

All the topics in the IELTS test are designed to let you speak at length.

You should be able to talk about your own personal experiences of these subjects — while at the same time talking about the topics in a more general way too.

Common IELTS Speaking Topics And How To Prepare For Them common questions for each topic

Common Questions For Each Topic

Let’s have a look at some common questions for all the topics above.

You can use these for reference and to help you practice.

Personal Information

Can you tell me something about yourself?

Can you introduce your family?

Do you have many friends? Talk about them for a little.

Are you a student? Tell me about your school/university.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Where is your hometown? Can you introduce this place to me?

Study and Work

What do you do?

 

Where do you go to school?

What are your favourite subjects? What subjects do you dislike? Why?

Do you hope to go to university? What major would you like to study? Why?

 

Where do you work?

Do you like your job?

Why did you choose this job?

What aspects of your job do you like or dislike?

Free Time Activities

What do you like to do in your free time?

Do you like music/reading/sports?

Do you have any hobbies?

 

Tell me about a book you have read?

Why do you like this kind of sport?

What attracted you to this hobby?

Travelling

Introduce a place you have travelled to. What did you like about this place?

Do you prefer to travel with other people? Or alone? Why?

Do you think the tourist industry is bad for the planet? In what ways?

What has tourism had a positive effect on your hometown? Has it had any negative effects?

Society and Culture

What are some major social issues that we can see in society today?

What can we do about them?

Talk about a major social problem that is talked about in the news today.

Why are people talking about this?

 

Introduce a very popular cultural custom in your country.

What do people do during this time?

What kind of festivals are celebrated in your country?

Introduce one and talk about it.

Technology

What are some major significant changes you have seen in technology?

Does technology have a useful effect on your life? How so?

Does it have a negative effect?

What do you think is the most important technological change you have seen in the last few years? Why is this important?

What changes do you think AI could have in society in the future?

The Environment

What is the most urgent environmental issue that we are facing on earth today?

What can we do to solve this problem?

Do you make any efforts to reduce your carbon footprint in the world?

Can technology be used to solve any environmental issues? If so, how?

Health

Are you a healthy person? What do you do to maintain your physical health?

Do you think having regular daily exercise is very important for overall health?

What about the food we eat? Is this healthy?

What is the biggest health problem in the world today? How can we solve it?

Do you make healthy life choices regularly? Introduce your health routine.

What do you think of mindfulness? How is this important to our health?

You can practice these alone or with your classmates.

It is a good starting point to practice for the IELTS speaking test.

How to Prepare for IELTS Speaking Topics

There are a few things you can do to prepare for the IELTS speaking test.

Let’s look at some things you can do…

Speak English

Of course, the most important thing you can do is to open your mouth and speak English.

You must open your mouth and speak English!

And here’s the thing… The more you practice speaking English, the more confident you will become in speaking English.

By the time you do the IELTS speaking test, you will feel much more self-assured. You will not feel so nervous when speaking English on the test.

Key things you can do:

  • speak English with native speakers — if you can.

     

  • speak English with your classmates.

     

  • read English out loud. Stand up and read loudly from the pages you are reading!

  • speak English while looking into a mirror. This will help build your confidence. Trust me! It works.

Broaden Your Vocabulary

Another thing you absolutely must do is work on your vocabulary.

Make every effort to expand it, grow it, build it and broaden it.

I have said this many times before, but I think one of the best ways by far to build your English vocabulary is through reading English articles, news or stories.

I have many lesson plans that you can download for free to help you with reading English and learning lots more English words and phrases.

Check them out below:

Talking Points

Short Stories

Work On Your Pronunciation and Intonation

These are key parts of the IELTS speaking test.

Yes, the examiner is checking your use of grammar, your vocabulary, and your sentence structure.

But he also wants to know that you can use the right pronunciation and intonation too.

What is the difference?

Pronunciation is how a word is spoken. You must use the correct combination of sounds.

Intonation is the rising and falling tones when speaking. Using the correct emotions in your speaking to make it sound fluent and near-native.

Know The IELTS Test Format

I’ve said this before…

You must know the IELTS test format inside out to ensure a good score.

There is no excuse!

You can find the full format for every part of the IELTS test by clicking the link below…

The IELTS Test Format

Study this carefully.

Once you know exactly what is going to happen in the IELTS speaking test, this can help you greatly.

It is like a map showing you what direction you will take.

Ask Your Teacher For Feedback

I am assuming you have a teacher to talk to about your progress…

If you do, you should talk with them regularly and ask them for feedback about your English speaking.

Your teacher should be able to identify where your weaknesses lie and help you correct this.

They can tell you how to improve any areas in your English speaking — be it vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation or whatever it may be.

Do not be shy about talking to your teacher about this.

The teacher is there to help you!

Believe In Yourself!

This is very easy to say, but you must have some faith in your ability to speak English.

During the test, try to stay calm and relaxed.

Breathe.

Listen to each question carefully and try your best to answer it.

I wrote a guide on what to do the night before the IELTS test — you can check it out below…

What To Do On The Day Of The IELTS Test

General English, Not IELTS English!

And as you try to improve your English, make efforts to improve your General English, not your IELTS English.

There is no such thing as IELTS English…

Work on your General English. Make sure you raise the level of your English.

This will ensure that you get a better score on the IELTS speaking test.

How To Prepare For The IELTS Speaking Test Topics

It’s all very well knowing what the most common topics are in the IELTS speaking test, but how can you prepare for them?

Let’s take a look at some great things you can do to prepare well.

Personal Information

This should be very simple. You just talk about yourself!

Think about your life — you as a person, your family, your friends, your school or place of work… This is what the examiner is going to ask you about.

If you have trouble collecting your thoughts about this, try making lists.

So, for example, make a list of your family.

Who are they?

  • Mum
  • Dad
  • Younger sister
  • Older brother

Now introduce each person. Describe what they look like — and their personalities.

  • What things do your family members like? What things do you both like?
  • What do you really like about each family member?
  • What things drive you crazy about each family member?

Keep making lists like this and then write out some ideas.

Now speak out loud. Use a mirror and talk into the mirror.

You can do this with all the personal things about your own life.

You can interview all your family members. The same with your friends. Talk to them and ask them lots of questions. Try to find out everything about them.

This will help you with the test.

Read articles about your hometown. For example, if you live in Mumbai, read articles about it in English. It will give you things to say in the test.

And check my article here about how to introduce yourself in the IELTS speaking test.

How To Introduce Yourself In English

Study and Work

In this part, you have to talk about your student life or working life.

School

If you are a student, think about your school and your teachers. Think about your classmates.

And as you did with family members and friends before, interview your teachers and classmates. Ask them about the school and their lives.

Make notes of everything they say, and you can use this in the test.

Write an introduction about your school. Get information about it from the school website or from the teachers.

 

  • How old is your school?

  • Why does it have the name it has?

 

Collect all of this information and it is all useful to you in the IELTS speaking test.

Work

And you can do the same thing with your place of work.

Talk to your colleagues and the other members of staff. Ask them about working at the company.

Go on the company website and read as much as you can about the company.

 

  • When was it established?

  • Who owns it?

  • What service or products does it provide?

Use all of this information!

Free Time Activities

Again, this is a very personal topic. It is mostly about you and your interests.

You can start by making a list of all the things you like to do in your free time.

  • Do you like reading?
  • Why?
  • What kind of books do you like to read?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • What did you like about it?
  • What did you not like about it?

You can do this with any of the interests you have. Ask yourself questions about it and make full answers each time.

But you can also talk about the kind of things people like to do in their free time in your country.

  • What are the interests of people in your country?
  • Why do they like to do these things?

So this can help you talk about free time activities in a personal way and a general way. You will talk for a longer time and the examiner is happy to hear you do this.

Travelling

Think about the places you have travelled to and write one of two paragraphs about this place.

  • Why did you decide to visit this place?
  • What did you like about this place?
  • What did you dislike about this place?
  • What things did you see there?
  • What food did you eat?

Another way to prepare for this topic is to think of the places you have visited and then read articles about them.

You can also find valuable information on the site TripAdvisor.

So, for example, let’s say you went to Hong Kong.

Now look up articles about Hong Kong and read them. This will help you think of things to say about Hong Kong during your speaking test.

You can also look up lots of valuable information about Hong Kong on TripAdvisor. There are many comments and reviews from people who have visited Hong Kong.

All of this can help you talk about the places you have visited.

The examiner might ask you to speak generally about travelling.

You will need to do adequate research for this….

Again, I strongly recommend reading articles about tourism and travelling.

You can also watch YouTube videos about travelling.

All of this will provide you with many things to talk about in the test.

Society and Culture

First, let’s talk about society.

Make a list of all the social problems in your country.

Every country has social problems of one kind or another.

Make a list and now think about each of the social problems.

  • How did they begin?
  • What can we do to solve them?
  • How do these social issues compare with other countries?

So, for example, maybe there is a homeless problem in your country. Is this worse than a country like America, for example?

Now think about the good things in your society.

Maybe there is a strong emphasis on education or family.

Think about each good social condition in your country and try to talk about it at length.

  • Why do these positive conditions exist in your country?
  • What caused it to happen?

Now let’s talk about culture.

Every country has strong cultural traditions and holidays.

I highly recommend that you talk about very popular traditions and holidays. This is much easier to do than talking about less well-known traditions and holidays.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to talk about Chinese New Year.

Think about the following questions to help you.

  • When does it take place?
  • What do people do?
  • What food do people eat?
  • Do people wear special clothes during this time?
  • Do people say certain phrases or things at this time?
  • Are there any special stories about this festival?

Do other research too.

There are many many articles to read and videos to watch about all the well-known festivals in the world.

Do you do due research and this can help you with many things to say in the test.

Technology

I keep emphasising reading.

But reading can really help you with speaking in the IELTS test.

It can help build vocabulary — and then you can express yourself more clearly.

In terms of technology, there are so many resources for you to read.

Try the following sites for a good start:

https://techcrunch.com/

https://gizmodo.com/

https://www.wired.com/

https://www.engadget.com/

By reading these kinds of sites and the articles you find there, you will find more interesting things to talk about in technology.

But also, you will know how to talk about technology.

All the right terms, words and modern phrases.

This will make the examiner very happy…

But there are also many videos you can watch on YouTube too.

Do the right research and you can’t go wrong.

The Environment

More reading!

Take a look at the following websites to help you learn about the environment. Learn the phrases and vocabulary that the articles use.

Peoples Planet Project

UN Climate Change news

Treehugger

Leafy Green

Take a look at these YouTube channels to help with listening and speaking.

Trash is for Tossers

Robin Greenfield

 

Our Changing Climate

BBC Earth

 

And when you meet with your classmates or friends, try to talk about the environment.

Use the following discussion questions to help you talk about it.

Health

Health is a very common topic in all three parts of the IELTS speaking test. You could be asked to talk about your own health, but also to talk about health as a general topic.

Think about the things you do to stay healthy.

  • What do you do?
  • What kind of exercise do you do?
  • What kind of food do you eat?

But also think about things you do that are unhealthy.

  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you play phone games for too long?
  • Do you eat too much junk food?

You should also do the right research on health as a general topic in itself.

Check out the following articles I found online to help you.

How To Be Healthy

Healthy Living

 

Also, watch these videos on YouTube.

How To Stay Healthy

Ways To Be Healthy

 

Make notes of any new words you find and try to use them yourself when talking about health.

Common IELTS Speaking Topics And How To Prepare For Them general tips for talking about common topics

General Tips For Talking About Common Topics

There are some other things you can do to help yourself.

Make A Presentation

Try to make a presentation about each of the common topics. Try to talk for two minutes each time.

This is great practice for Part Two of the IELTS speaking test!

You can do your presentation in front of a mirror. Or you can record a video of yourself and watch it afterwards.

Or you can do the presentation in front of your friends or classmates.

Group Discussions

Another thing you can try is group discussions.

Get together with your classmates and discuss ONE TOPIC in as much detail as possible. Ask each other questions, and try to answer them as completely as you can.

I mentioned this earlier, but get together with your classmates, find a topic to talk about and then discuss it.

Keep talking about the topic until you feel you cannot talk about it anymore or you have exhausted all aspects of it.

This is something you should also do regularly.

Reading

As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of reading.

The more you read about all the common topics, the more it can prepare you for the IELTS speaking test.

Reading will help you learn:

  • New vocabulary
  • Sentence structure
  • Useful collocations or phrases

Watching Videos

I also think watching videos is a good way to prepare.

Good for listening and you can also practice your pronunciation.

Listening To Podcasts

And there are quite literally THOUSANDS of podcasts online to help you learn English.

Find the right podcast on any of the common topics and this can help you with listening and speaking.

You have to make a great effort in preparation. Just try to improve your General English ability and you should be in good shape for the IELTS speaking test.

Practice Activities

It is a good idea to practise every day.

I want to outline below some activities that you can do by yourself or with others.

Let’s take a look…

Mock Tests

One thing that you can definitely do is mock tests.

You can do this with your teacher or private tutor. Or with one of your classmates or a study partner.

But I highly recommend doing this.

This will help you prepare for the structure of the IELTS speaking test and its timing.

You can practice answering questions and talking about the different topics in real-time and in a realistic situation.

If you need some practice tests, you can find them at the links below.

British Council

IELTS Online Tests

Mini-IELTS

Role Plays

This is another way you can practice speaking.

You can set up role plays for all kinds of situations.

  • in a restaurant
  • in the park
  • at the gym
  • in the supermarket

But this is another way that you can practice speaking English in a real-life situation.

Find role play exercises by clicking the links below.

Fluentu

ESL Flow

Enchanted ESL

Part Two Speaking Test Topics

One part of the IELTS speaking test which seems to fill students with dread is Part Two.

You can practice speaking out loud on many of these topics.

You can do this alone or with others.

Check out the Part Two speaking topics below.

IELTS Liz

Magoosh

IELTS Material

 

Debates

Debates are great to help you talk about IELTS topics.

You can also see the different sides of the topic from the two opposing teams.

So maybe you are talking about the advantages and disadvantages of online shopping.

If you discuss this in a debate, you can clearly see both sides of the discussion.

This is great practice for you in the IELTS speaking test.

Find debate topics below.

English Post

100 ESL Debates

 

Record Yourself!

Another useful thing you can do is record yourself.

Try talking about a topic at length while recording a video of yourself using your smartphone.

Now play it back and watch yourself. Listen to how you talk about things.

This can give you some useful feedback on how you talk about different topics in English.

Check Out My Free Lesson Plans Too!

You can also use all my free lesson plans.

These are great for reading, vocabulary and talking about different topics.

There are also role plays and debate activities.

Check them all out at the links below!

Talking Points

Short Stories

But you must use a wide variety of practice techniques to help you in speaking English.

Practice something every single day and you will see improvements in your speaking skills, your vocabulary and your overall fluency in English.

IELTS Test Strategies

There are certain ways that you can give a better performance in the IELTS speaking test.

Apart from studying and learning English, you can also be aware of the following things to help you get a better score on the IELTS test.

Let’s look at some of them now.

Pace Yourself

The IELTS test is a timed test.

But there is no need to rush through everything.

Any time the examiner asks you a question, give yourself a moment to think about what to say.

You can also pause for a second or two as you think about what you want to say.

In the test, speak at a reasonable speed.

I have seen many students speak English far too quickly on the IELTS test. This will not help you at all.

Pace yourself.

Use Correct Grammar and Vocabulary

You are being tested for these two aspects in English throughout the IELTS speaking test.

Be aware that you are using the correct grammar for the right situation.

Use appropriate vocabulary and try to a variety of English words and phrases in the test.

Go Into Details

You can’t just answer each question in a basic form.

You have to go into details.

You need to provide more information, and this could include giving examples or small stories in your responses.

Think about using the following conjunctions when answering questions.

  • But
  • So
  • Because
  • And

So you might say you like to play football.

But why do you like playing it?

Are there things you don’t like about football?

Using conjunctions can help you provide more details in your answers.

Check out my great article below about using conjunctions.

How To Talk About Anything In English Using BECAUSE, BUT, AND And SO

Listen To The Questions

Many students simply don’t listen to what questions the examiner is asking.

You must listen to the exact questions in the test.

Then answer that appropriately.

You will lose points if you start giving the examiner unrelated information or going off on tangents.

If you don’t know what the examiner is asking you, you can ask him to clarify.

Use The Correct Intonation And Stress On English Words

And you should pay attention to the way you use intonation and stress in English.

This is essential to ensure you convey the right meaning in what you are saying.

As I mentioned before, you can practice listening by watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts.

This can help you practice intonation.

Prepare In Advance

I have seen so many students try to prepare for the IELTS test in just one month or so.

You must prepare well in advance!

Preparing for the IELTS speaking test is very similar to doing weight training.

You cannot get very strong and build muscles in just one month.

And you cannot prepare for the IELTS test in the same way.

Take your time. Prepare months in advance.

And practice every single day.

Then you will be big and strong for the day of your test!

Learn To Relax

I understand that you may be feeling under a great deal of stress.

This is perfectly understandable.

But you can do things to help you relax on the day of the test too.

Deep breathing exercises and meditation can have very positive effects on your well-being.

I really recommend doing this.

Be Positive!

And try to have a positive attitude.

Tell yourself that you are doing well. Congratulate yourself for trying to do something that is a real challenge.

Remind yourself of all the hard work you have put in and you will be able to see light at the end of the tunnel.

You are doing well.

You deserve to do well in the IELTS speaking test!

Conclusion

The most essential thing you can do to prepare for the IELTS speaking test is to prepare well.

Practice every single day.

Try all the methods I have outlined above.

As long as you do this and make great efforts to improve your overall General English, you will be fine.

I wish you all the best for your IELTS speaking test. And all the best for your future.

Good luck!

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