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IELTS Speaking Exam – How to Do Part Three – Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 31 October, 2016 , No comments

The IELTS speaking exam has three parts. In this lesson, you can learn about part three of the IELTS speaking exam, and how to improve your score. You can learn how to make your answers better by adding details and supporting ideas, how to deal with difficult IELTS speaking questions, and how to interact with the examiner in part three of the IELTS speaking test.

Make sure to watch our other video lessons on IELTS Speaking Part 1 and IELTS Speaking Part 2 if you haven’t already!

First, let’s review what happens in part three of the IELTS speaking test.

The examiner will ask you some open-ended questions about a topic. The topic is often related to the topic you spoke about in part two.

For example, if your topic in part two was “Talk about a sport you enjoy playing,” the topic in part three will be related to sports.

In part three, the examiners want to see if you can express your opinions clearly. They also want to see if you can talk about more abstract topics, not just about your own life.

Also, in part three, the examiner can respond to what you say and take the conversation in different directions. That means it’s more like a natural conversation than the other parts of the IELTS speaking exam, which follow a script.

The questions in part three are generally quite simple. However, you need to be careful; just because the questions are simple, that doesn’t mean your answers should be simple. The questions give you an opportunity to speak. You need to use that opportunity.

So how can you do that?

Let’s take some sample questions on the topic of sports:

  • Do you think that children do less sport and exercise than in the past?

Let’s see how you can answer this question effectively.

1. Support Your Opinions

The worst answer in part three is a very short answer. Don’t say something like,

  • Yes, I agree.

You don’t just need to give your opinion; you also need to support your opinion.

How can you do this?

First, try to give a reason. For example:

  • Yes, I agree. Children have more homework and are under more pressure at school, so they have less time to play sports or do something outside.

Secondly, try to add an example from your life. For example:

  • Yes, I agree. Children have more homework and are under more pressure at school, so they have less time to play sports or do something outside. For example, when I was younger, I played outside with my friends every day after school. Nowadays, I never see children playing outside.

But, you say, what if I can’t think of a reason and an example?

No problem—just add one or the other.

But, you say, what if I can’t think of examples from my life?

No problem—just make one up! For example:

  • My friend Sam and his wife have an 8-year-old daughter. She has to do around two hours of homework every day after school. Of course, this means she’s too tired to go outside or do anything in the evening. When I was eight years old, I hardly had any homework.

Guess what—I don’t have a friend called Sam! I just made it up. It’s a complete lie, and that doesn’t matter at all. The examiner doesn’t care if you’re telling the truth or not. Using an imaginary friend as an example can be a very useful idea.

  • In a recent survey, researchers discovered that children 30 years ago did five hours of exercise or physical activity every week. Now, the average is just one hour of activity a week.

Again, there was no survey. I just made it up, and again: no one cares. You can do this too. The examiner is not going to stop the exam to check your examples.

However, remember that this is only for emergencies, if you can’t think of anything to say—don’t overuse it! It’s always better to use real examples if you can.

Now it’s your turn. Think about the question:

  • Do you think that children do less sport and exercise than in the past?

First of all, do you agree or not? Secondly, why do you agree or disagree? Thirdly, can you think of examples from your life, or from people you know? Think about how you would answer this question.

2. Speculate—Talk About Possibilities

IELTS Speaking Exam - How to Do Part Three - woman speculating image

You can make your answers better in part three of your IELTS speaking test by speculating.

What does ‘speculate’ mean?

Speculating means talking about something you aren’t sure about.

For example, for our sample question, if you answer:

  • Children definitely do less sport and exercise nowadays, but I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because they spend more time online, playing video games and so on.

By saying, “I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because…” you are speculating. You’re talking about something which you don’t know about, and you’re saying what could be true. You’re talking about possibilities.

Speculating is a really useful tool. It lets you extend your answer. It lets you use advanced language. It also lets you talk about something you don’t know about.

Many students complain that they don’t know what to say in part three of the IELTS speaking exam. This is your answer. You can talk about ideas and things you don’t know about; you don’t just have to talk about facts.

How can you speculate? There are many simple phrases and structures you can use.

First, use a verb like might, may, or could. For example:

  • I think children might have less free time than in the past.
  • Parents may not be willing to let children play outside nowadays, especially in big cities.

Secondly, you can use a phrase like it’s possible that… or one possible reason is that… For example:

  • It’s possible that there aren’t so many parks and other places where children can play sport.
  • One possible reason is that parents aren’t interested in sport, so they don’t encourage their children to play sport and be active.

Thirdly, you can use an if-sentence. For example,

  • If children have more homework nowadays, of course it’ll be more difficult for them to play sport.
  • Obviously, if children spend lots of time in front of a screen, they won’t go outside and do something active.

Speculate as much as possible during part three of the IELTS speaking exam. It will help you to give longer answers and get a better score.

3. Show the Other Side of the Argument

A lot of IELTS advice sounds the same. “Develop your answers.” “Add details.” “Make your answers longer.” But how?

Here’s the simplest way: don’t just give your opinion; discuss the opposite opinion too.

Let’s stay with our sample question and answer. To review, you want to agree with the idea that children do less sport now than before.

You start your answer, you give reasons and examples, and you speculate.

Next, discuss the other side of the argument. For example:

  • …On the other hand, many of my friends’ children are very active, often more active than their parents. It isn’t true that all children are less active than in the past.
  • …However, spending time online can also help to get children interested in new sports and activities. It’s much easier to find sports clubs and activities in your local area nowadays, thanks to technology.

This lets you use linking words like on the other hand or however, and again, this is all making your answer longer and more detailed.

We haven’t finished yet, but let’s review these three points, because they’re all connected. In part three of the IELTS speaking test, you can improve your answer by:

  • Adding reasons to support your opinions
  • Using examples from your own life
  • Speculating (= talking about possibilities, and things you aren’t sure about)
  • Discussing the other side of the argument

If you do all this, you can turn a bad answer:

  • Yes, I agree.

Into this:

  • Yes, I agree. Children have more homework and are under more pressure at school, so they have less time to play sports or do something outside. For example, when I was younger, I played outside with my friends every day after school. Nowadays, I never see children playing outside. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because they spend more time online, playing video games and so on. However, spending time online can also help to get children interested in new sports and activities. It’s much easier to find sports clubs and activities in your local area now, thanks to technology.

You can see how following a few simple steps can help you to extend and develop your answer.

If you can produce answers like this in part three of your IELTS speaking exam, you’ll get a good score.

OK, I know what you’re thinking.

Firstly, you’re thinking: “Well, that’s easy for you, Mr Native Speaker! But how can I do it?”

I disagree—I think you can do it. Here’s why:

Most of the IELTS students I meet are around bands 5-6-7. Most students at these levels have the language to produce an answer like this.

Go back, look at the answer. It isn’t that complicated. I don’t use advanced vocabulary or grammar.

You can do it! Maybe with some mistakes, but if you can understand this video, you can make an answer like this. It just takes practice.

Secondly, maybe you’re thinking: “Thanks very much, Oli. Now I know how to answer one question. How does that help me? They’re going to ask different questions in my exam.”

You can use these ideas to answer any question in part three of the IELTS speaking test. You can’t possibly prepare for every question they might ask you. But you can remember to think of reasons, think of examples, and so on. This will make your answers better.

Next, let’s look at some different advice:

4. Use Filler Phrases to Give Yourself Thinking Time

IELTS Speaking Exam - How to Do Part Three - conversation image

Your answers in part three will often be longer and more complicated. Trying to give an answer like this without thinking first could be difficult. If you start speaking without thinking first, your answer may be disorganized and difficult to follow.

So what should you do?

If you need a few seconds to think and organize your thoughts, use a filler phrase. For example:

  • Let me think about that for a second.
  • That’s an interesting question.
  • What can I say about that?

You can also use filler phrases in the middle of your answer, if you need to pause and think. For example,

  • What else can I say?
  • Let me see—can I think of an example?
  • What other reasons could there be for this?

Filler phrases are natural—native speakers use them, so you can use them, too.

It’s much better to use a filler phrase than just to sit there in silence. Using filler phrases like this shows the examiner that you’re really thinking about the question, and that you have more to say.

On the other hand, don’t use filler phrases too much. You can’t use them for every question. Save them for the more complicated questions, when you really need some extra thinking time.

Filler phrases can give you more thinking time, but what if you really can’t think of anything to say?

5. Be Honest

I know we said before that it’s OK to lie or make up examples, but what if you really can’t think of anything to say, even a lie?

If you really have no ideas about something, say so.

For example, the examiner asks you:

  • Do you think that children do less sport and exercise than in the past?

You could say:

  • I really have no idea. I don’t have children, and none of my friends do either. I’m afraid it’s just not a topic I can say much about.

Be careful: you shouldn’t do this unless it’s absolutely necessary. You also need to give a reason why you don’t have anything to say.

You need to make it clear to the examiner that it’s not just your English skills which are stopping you from giving a full answer.

Secondly, if you do this, you can only really do it once.

Finally, even if you do this, you should still try to speculate. For example:

  • I really have no idea. I don’t have children, and none of my friends do either. I’m afraid it’s just not a topic I can say much about. I suppose that children might be less active than in the past, because they spend more time online and playing video games.

You need to put thought into your answer, and try to add details, even if your answer is basically “I don’t know.” Otherwise, it will affect your score.

However, this can save you if you get a question which you really don’t know how to answer. It won’t affect your score if you make your reasons clear, and if you put some thought into your answer.

The examiner wants you to speak. By saying something like this to the examiner, you’re saying, “I can’t say much about this, so give me a different question or topic.”

Being honest like this is much better than trying to answer the question when you have no idea what to say. Just remember, you should try not to use it unless it’s absolutely necessary.

This brings us to our last point:

6. Interact with the Examiner

Part three of the IELTS speaking test is different, because it’s the first time in the speaking exam that the examiner can actually talk to you. In parts one and two, the examiner is reading a script. He/she has very little freedom to respond to what you say.

However, part three is different. The examiner can respond to what you say, and take part in the conversation more.

What does this mean for you?

During part three of the IELTS speaking exam, you need to listen to what the examiner says, and think about what he/she wants you to do. For example:

  • Is the examiner responding to something you said, or asking a new question?
  • Is the examiner asking for more details about something you said?
  • Is the examiner asking you to give your opinion, or respond to someone else’s opinion?

This also means that you shouldn’t expect to just speak for as long as you want. The examiner can—and will—jump into the conversation to ask extra questions, or to change the direction.

You need to be flexible in part three. In parts one and two, you’re given questions and you can answer without being interrupted. In part three, you need to interact with the examiner. It should be more like a natural conversation, rather than a question-answer format.

That’s the end of the lesson. If you’ve watched all of our videos on the IELTS speaking exam, you should now have a good idea of what to expect and what to do in the IELTS speaking test. Good luck!

 

IELTS Speaking Part Three Quiz

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Oli RedmanIELTS Speaking Exam – How to Do Part Three – Video Lesson