IELTS Speaking Part 3 lasts 4-5 minutes. You will have to answer more complex questions related to the topic that you talked about in Part 2. Unlike Part 1, these questions are not personal – they are not about you. They are about people in general or people in your culture.
Part 3 is the time to show off your English ability. Really try your best to give full answers to each question including reasons. However, don’t over complicate it. First, answer each question simply and directly – then give reasons.
When we speak, we generally have a reason for doing so – we have something we want to communicate. We may want to give a suggestion, make a comparison, agree or disagree with someone or speculate on something. These are known as functions, and you are tested on your ability to do these things in Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test.
The most important functions for Part 3 are:
However, you are never told the function in the question. So, if the question requires you to compare how older and younger people feel about technology, you will not be asked ‘Can you compare how older and younger people feel about technology?’, you will just be asked ‘How do older and younger people feel about technology?’ and be expected to understand that you have to make comparisons. Make sure you can give and support your opinions, make comparisons between different groups of people and between the past and now and speculate about the future. Let’s look at some example questions for the most common functions:
Suggest / Give Reasons
Agree / Disagree
Identify / Outline
Assess / Evaluate
Compare / Contrast
Speculate / Predict
General Useful Phrases
First, you need a range of different ways of saying ‘I think’ when you begin an answer. Remember, you are marked on your range of vocabulary so try not to repeat anything more than once or twice:
Then, you can extend these to make different ways of starting each answer.
Here are some more useful phrases for Part 3 if you need time to think, or if you don’t hear the question clearly or don’t understand the question:
Time to think
Don’t overuse these – it will sound unnatural. Only use 1 or 2 in the whole of Part 3. Do not repeat any of them:
Didn’t hear the question
Again, do not overuse these – only when you really didn’t hear the question:
Didn’t understand the question
If you don’t understand a question, try to rephrase it in your own words:
Now let’s look at some useful phrases for each type of Part 3 question:
Suggest / Give Reasons
These are usually phrased as ‘why’ questions. Try to give more than one possible reason for each answer.
Agree / Disagree
These are usually phrased as yes/no questions. Start your answer by saying whether you agree or not, and then say why. You can also agree to some extent because …. And disagree to some extent because ….
Identify / Outline
These are usually phrases as ‘what’ or ‘which’ questions. Try to give two or three ideas for each answer.
Assess / Evaluate
These are usually phrased as ‘how’ questions. It’s difficult to give useful language that will apply to all assess / evaluate questions because they tend to vary quite a lot. Here are some examples for the questions given above:
Compare / Contrast
For these questions, the language you use will be different depending on whether you are comparing groups of people or comparing the past to now:
Speculate / Predict
It’s difficult to predict exactly what questions we will get asked in the third part of the exam, but usually they will have a close connection to the topic we discussed in part 2 of the exam. In addition the following functions may be tested.
What are some of the different kinds of shops in your country?
What sort of people are celebrities in your country
Do you think people were smarter in the past?
What is the difference between learning skills and knowledge?
Do you think people will be more intelligent in the future?
Do you think technology can replace teachers in the future?
What are the main advantages of studying online?
What are the main advantages of studying abroad?
What are the main disadvantages of studying online?
What are the main disadvantages of studying abroad?
What are some of the main problems that students often encounter with learning English?
What problems do students often have with their classmates?
[for above “how could we solve these problems”]
Why do you think some people enjoy learning new things?
What are some useful ways to remember things?
This is very often the very first q1 in this part of the test. You should try to describe at least two different types. Many people only give one which is not ideal because you are not asked to only give one you’re asked what the different types.
Well, there are a few different types.
There is a range of different options.
The main type:
Off the top of my head the most common is…
The first one that springs to mind is…
Another one that pops into my head is…
As well is this we can often see…
Try to use language of comparison (cheaper, more expensive, more/less than)
Well, obviously, there are a variety of possible differences here.
Well, undoubtedly, they are like chalk and cheese.
The First difference:
However, I (guess/ suppose) that the most striking difference is ~; whereas in contrast…
But I would say the most fundamental would be that (S+V). On the contrary,
The second difference:
In addition, a subsequent contrast could be that (S+V). Conversely,
Moreover, a further distinction might be that (S+V). While on the other hand,
Try to use future tense (will, going to + verb)
I am sure that in years to come we will see a number of changes related to this.
I imagine that in the near future, we will witness some major changes with regard to (N).
The first prediction:
To begin with, I would predict that we will most likely have (N).
Primarily, it looks quite possible that we are going to have (N).
The second prediction:
As well as this, some people claim that we will probably start to see (N).
Likewise, I would imagine that we may even be able to see (N).
The third prediction:
And who knows, there is even a chance that we will have (N).
And I know it is a bit of a crazy thought, but one day we may even have (N).
Clearly there are a number of obvious merits.
Obviously there are a number of positive features.
The main advantage:
But I would probably say that for the most part, the one thing that really stands out is that~. This is obviously favourable because (S+V).
However, I guess that the most evident would be that (S+V). This is surely a positive feature as (S+V).
The second advantages:
Besides this, a second plus point could be that (S+V). This is undoubtedly favourable because (S+V).
At the same time, a second bonus might be that (S+V). This is surely a positive feature as~
I am sure most people would agree that there are some drawbacks.
Of course there are a couple of shortcomings.
The main disadvantages:
I suppose the most unfavourable quality might be that (S+V). This is an obviously weakness because (S+V).
I guess the most impractical characteristic would be that (S+V). This is a clear limitation because (S+V).
The second disadvantages:
At the same time, another stumbling block might be that ~. And the trouble with this is that
Correspondingly, an additional weak point may be that (S+V). And this can be a hassle as~
Obviously we can say there are quite a lot of dangers with regard to this issue.
It is universally accepted that there are a few hazards involved with (N).
The main problem:
Essentially, one fundamental concern is probably that ~. This is clearly alarming because~.
The second problem:
Equally worrying is the suggestion that~. And the underlying repercussions of this are that.
In my view there are a few ways to tackle this problem.
The first solution:
When dealing with _________, the easiest way to solve it out would be ~.
The second solution:
I also think that we could ________________
Well in my opinion, there are undoubtedly a variety of justifications for this.
I suppose I would say that (S+V). There are probably a number of factors involved.
Well generally it is my belief that (S+V). There are obviously a number of motives surrounding this idea.
The first reason:
The chief cause might be that (S+V).
The key explanation is possibly because (S+V).
The second reason:
As well as this, a subsequent factor could be because (S+V).
At the same time, a secondary motive could be that (S+V).
First, the key facts about IELTS Speaking Part 3:
1) It is a two-way discussion with the examiner lasting for 4-5 minutes.
2) You will be asked more questions about your Part 2 topic.
3) It gives you the opportunity to show a greater range of speaking skills.
4) The examiner’s questions will encourage you to express your thoughts, feelings and opinions.
5) You will only be assessed on your English language skills, not on the content of what you actually say.
The questions in IELTS Speaking Part 3 will be more abstract than in Part 1, that is, they’ll be about ideas and concepts rather than about you. For example,
Part 1: What kind of things do you like to do with your friends?
Part 3: Why do you think children can make friends more easily than adults?
Part 1: Would you like to be rich someday?
Part 3:It is said that happiness cannot be bought with money. Do you agree?
Part 1: What is your favourite type of holiday?
Part 3: Do you think travelling to another country can change the way people think?Can travelling to another country change the way people think?
Expect some of the questions to be challenging. The purpose of this final part of the Speaking test is to push you to the limit of your ability. The examiner needs to do this in order to accurately assess the full extent of your English language skills.
You won’t be expected to give a long talk in answer to each question, but your answers will need to be longer than in Part 1. You can develop them with explanations and examples.
Their answers are too short
Know that you need to give extended answers. Don’t try to rush through this last part of the test because it’s challenging and you’re dying to get to the end. If you give short answers, the examiner will just keep asking you more questions until the time is up. It’s far better to answer each one properly and not have to answer so many of them.
They get stressed over difficult questions
Accept that you’ll be getting difficult questions and deal with them appropriately. I’ll be showing you how very soon.
They don’t listen carefully to the question
It’s so easy to just hear one or two key words in the question and think you know what’s being asked. Very often you’ll be wrong. In an exam, that’s a serious mistake to make because you probably won’t answer the question appropriately, so listen carefully before answering.
They don’t fully understand the question
If there’s just one key word in the question that you don’t understand, you aren’t going to be able to answer the question properly.
What most candidates don’t know is that you’re allowed to ask one or two questions during IELTS Speaking Part 3 if you really need to.
There are just three things you can ask:
These are the only questions you’re allowed to ask and only do so if absolutely necessary. Ask no more than two questions in total.
Asking the examiner a couple of questions won’t affect your score but do keep it to two and don’t ask them anything else.You can ask up to two questions.
Common types of question for IELTS Speaking Part 3:
3) Compare and Contrast
Being asked to give your opinion is one of the most straightforward question forms.
Read this question and answer. The words that I’ve underlined show that Mustafa is giving his opinion rather than stating facts?
Questions: Do you think people in your country are less healthy than they used to be?
Mustafa: Personally, I think that the health of many people is worse than it used to be. This is mainly due to obesity caused by an unhealthy diet. Being overweight can cause diabetes, heart problems and many other serious health issues. A high percentage of the population don’t take regular exercise which is another factor that contributes to poor health.
There have, of course, been major improvements in health care in recent years. This means that more illnesses and diseases can now be cured which has had a positive effect on health in general. However, in my opinion, many people in my country are less healthy these days because of unhealthy lifestyles.
There are many other phrases you could use to give your opinion, such as:
These are about ‘unreal’ or imaginary situations. For example:
Question: If tourists stopped visiting your area, what effect would it have on the economy?
To answer a hypothetical question, you’ll need to use the conditional. The clue is that little word ‘if’.
Read Yu Yan’s answer to the question. Can you identify the conditional clauses? I’ve underlined them to help you.
Yu Yan: If tourists stopped visiting the beautiful beaches where I live, it would have a terrible impact on our local economy. Tourism is our most important industry and many people run hotels and guest houses or work in popular restaurants and cafés. Lots of shops sell beachwear and souvenirs so these would soon go out of business. Also, there would not be enough other jobs in the area for all the people involved in tourism to find work.
So, I have to say that it would have a disastrous effect on the economy in my area if tourists no longer came here on holiday.
The third type of question common in IELTS Speaking Part 3 is ‘compare and contrast’. For example,
Question: What are the advantages of living in a city compared to living in the countryside?
In this answer, Jamilla uses three different words or phrases to show that she is comparing two things. I have underlined them so you can easily identify them.
Jamilla: One of the best things about living in a city is the wide range of leisure activities, from sports to theatres and museums, unlike rural areas where there are few facilities like this. City shops sell everything you could want whereas there is a limited choice in country markets and many goods are unavailable.
It’s also easier to find work and accommodation in cities and the public transport system is better so you can get around without any problems. In contrast, people living in the countryside often have to walk everywhere or get a bicycle as there are few buses and no taxis. The roads are also bad.
There are many other words and phrases that are appropriate to use for answering this type of question. Here are a few of them:
What are the advantages of living in a city?
Questions about change ask you to talk about the past and the present.
Question: How has education changed since your parents were children?
Read Kwame’s answer and notice the tenses he uses.
Kwame: The biggest difference is that education is now compulsory for all children up to the age of eleven and many stay on into senior school. My father only went to school for a few years as he had to work in the fields and look after the cattle full-time from the age of eight. My mother didn’t go to school at all as she was needed at home to help cook, clean and mind her younger brothers and sisters. Education wasn’t considered important for girls back then.
What is taught in schools hasn’t changed much but in towns and cities the children use computers and can learn all about the world via the internet. In small villages, like the one I come from, there are still very few teaching resources and certainly no computers. So some changes in education depend on where you live.
You may also get a question asking you to speculate about the future. For example,
Question: Do you think that everyone in the world will have access to clean water in the future?
Such questions are obviously designed to tests your ability to use future structures. This is another type of question asking for an opinion but this time you will need to answer using the future tense.
Read Cheung’s answer and note where he uses the future tense.
Cheung: That’s a really difficult question to answer because I believe that we will have the technology to provide clean water for everyone, wherever they live, but there are other factors to consider that are less easy to predict.
Cost is the biggest issue as it is mostly poor communities who lack clean water so it will be necessary for wealthier communities and nations to fund boreholes and other means of providing decontaminated drinking water.
Warfare is another huge problem in many areas. It destroys resources and livelihoods and keeps people poor and unable to improve basic facilities such as access to fresh water. Sadly I think this will always be an issue in one place or another.
Our sixth and final type of question common in IELTS Speaking Part 3 asks about benefits. It could be the benefits of a particular situation or the benefits of one thing over another. For example,
Question: What do you think are the benefits of hobbies?
What type of words does Gabriele use to give her answer structure?
Gabriele: I believe that there are many great benefits to be gained from having a hobby. First, taking up a leisure activity is an excellent way of making new friends, especially when you move to a new area, as you meet like-minded people who share your interest.
Second, having an interesting pastime is good for mental health as it can help to relieve stress and often improves work-life balance.
Finally, many leisure pursuits bring new challenges and the chance to learn new skills, which are both added benefits.
Gabriele uses sequence words to structure her answer – first, second, finally. Well structured answers get high scores and this is a simple but effective way of organising your ideas.
There are many other words that you could use to answer this type of question. Here are a few common ones:
then next furthermore in addition also likewise last
Where appropriate, give examples in your answers. It can be an easy way to develop IELTS Speaking Part 3 answers. You can do this for many different types of question.
Giving an illustration can also be a simple way of introducing a different tense into your answer, as it could be something that happened in the past, is a current situation, or something that will happen in the future, although you won’t have time to go into much detail.
Read Aisha’s answer to the following question, to see how she builds her answer around the example.
Question: How do you think children can be encouraged to read more?
Aisha: Giving children easy access to exciting books in their schools and in local libraries is perhaps the most obvious thing to do. However, I believe that the best way to motivate them to read more is to invite well-known children’s authors into schools to discuss their stories and read to the kids.
This is what turned my daughter into an eager reader. A lady called Jacqueline Wilson recently came to her school and read one of her fun stories about growing up and facing childhood challenges. My daughter talked about it for days and is now reading all of Jacqueline Wilson’s books and is even writing her own stories.
I know from talking to other parents that the visit encouraged other children in the school to read more as well. I think more schools should do this.
Click on the topic title to get a IELTS Speaking lesson to help you prepare for the test.
Wild animals, hunting and extinction, zoos, pets, animals in research
Exhibitions, modern art, role of art at school, museums, digital art, art at home, graffiti
Reading for pleasure, novels, digital books, online book shops, books and learning
Public buildings, historical buildings, conservation, architecture, smart buildings
Play, games, toys, behaviour, obeying parents, study
Traffic, city planning, city versus countryside, advantages, pollution, noise pollution, green spaces
Fashion, buying online clothes, clothes industry, brand names
TV shows, comedians, telling jokes, humour in different countries
Local versus multinational, starting a business, entrepreneurs, market research, customers, selling, company culture
Important decisions in life, decisions at work, delegation, deadlines, leadership
Global warming, pollution, animals becoming extinct, wildlife protection, deforestation, companies responsibility, individual versus government role
Family structure and size, role of grandparents, care of the elderly, relationships, extended family
Restaurants, diets, fast food, healthy eating, obesity, food and children, GM food, supermarkets
Friendship, relationships, men and women, friends versus family, making friends, online friends
Exercise, diet, gyms, routines, obesity, disease, corona virus, stress
Helping others, charities, fund-raising, skills needed, helping poor countries, international aid
Ancient versus modern, lessons learnt, education, historical buildings, historical people
Buying and renting homes, types of accommodation, children leaving home, decorating homes, local community
Popular jobs, future jobs, atmosphere at work, motivation, training
Modern versus traditional, national anthems, style and genres, live concerts, listening to music, being a musician
Local versus international, online news, newspapers, reliability, fake news, getting news, family news, journalism
Taking photos, storing photos, photos as an art form, photos at home, professional photos, selfies
Teachers, learning, online learning, preparing for work, skills, universities, sciences versus humanities
Branches of science, science in everyday life, disease, research, food science, nuclear power, space exploration, the planet
Real shops versus online shopping, payments, men and women shopping, habits, fashion, local shops versus shopping malls
Preparing for work, soft skills, hard skills, teaching and coaching, life skills
Fitness, gyms, benefits, equipment, extreme sports, Olympic Games, international competitions
Artificial Intelligence, the Internet, safety, computers, mobile phones, stress, robots, social media
Benefits, challenges, competition, children, teamwork at work, international competition in trade
Benefits, marriage, festivals, generation gap, change, attitudes
Public versus private, advantages and disadvantages, transport in the future, electric cars,
Forms of transport, global warming, holidays, tourism, eco-tourism, travel abroad versus domestic, safety
Global warming, seasons, extreme weather, impact on life, weather forecasts
Popular jobs, jobs for the future, robots, salaries, men-women equality, work-life balance