This post will help you prepare for the IELTS speaking test by learning 7 common question types and the language we use to talk about them.
IELTS speaking part 3 lasts 4-5 minutes and allows the examiner to ask you questions related to part 2. The conversation is more general, abstract and, you will be expected to give answers in greater depth than in part 1.
Many students fear part 3 because they don’t know what to expect. It is this supposed unpredictability that can cause students to not do as well as they should. Luckily, a quick analysis of the questions reveals that there common question types and this allows students to practice the grammatical structures and phrases used to talk about them.
This post will look at:
- the 7 common question types;
- the grammatical structures used to answer each question type;
- example answers.
7 Common Question Types
The seven common question types that appear in IELTS speaking part 3 are:
- Opinion– What do you think about ‘this’? Remember to say why you think that way and give examples.
- Evaluate– What do you think about someone else’s opinion?
- Future– What do you think will happen in the future?
- Cause and Effect– What caused ‘this’ and/or what effects has ‘it’ had?
- Hypothetical– Talk about imaginary or unreal situations.
- Compare and Contrast– Talk about the difference and/or similarities between two things.
- Past– How were things different in the past and how have they changed?
One thing you should not do is start every sentence with ‘I think…’ or ‘In my opinion…’ The IELTS examiner will be looking for how you vary your language. Below are a number of ways you could do that:
- As I see it,
- For me,
If you feel very strongly about something you could use:
- I’m convinced that….
- I’m certain that….
- I’m sure that….
If you are less sure about your opinion you could give a weaker opinion by using:
- I guess that…
- I suppose that….
- I’d say that…..
Please have a look at my IELTS speaking part 3 guide for more information on how to extend your answers.
What are some of the ways people can help others in the community?
As I see it, there are many ways one can help the needy, but the best way is by making charitable donations. People can choose a charity and simply donate a sum of money and leave it to them to help others in need. For instance, I recently gave money to an orphanage. I don’t have time to help them personally, so I’ll leave it up to them to use the money as they see fit.
In these kinds of questions you will be asked what you think about someone else’s opinion. We will therefore need to use expressions that allow us to agree or disagree.
For agreement we can use:
- I couldn’t agree with you more.
- That’s so true.
- That’s for sure.
- That’s exactly how I feel.
- No doubt about it.
- I suppose so./I guess so.
- You/they have a point there.
For disagreement we can use:
- I don’t think so.
- I’m afraid I disagree.
- I totally disagree.
- I beg to differ.
- I’d say the exact opposite.
- Not necessarily.
- That’s not always true.
- That’s not always the case.
Remember that you will have to extend your answers with explanations and examples.
Some people say that people helped others more in the past than they do now. Do you agree or disagree?
I don’t think so. When it comes to my parent’s generation I think they are quite sceptical about helping other people in the community, but my generation are regularly doing things to improve it, such as volunteering for various environmental and charitable organisations. Young people are actively encouraged to help out in the community and I don’t think this happened in the past, so I’m afraid I’d disagree.
You are often asked to predict how a certain topic will change in the future.
For making future predictions we normally use ‘will + verb’, however this is quite simple and the examiner will be looking for your ability to use more complex structures to predict the future. More complex structures could include:
- X plans to…..
- It is predicted that….
- X intends to….
- I foresee…..
- It is foreseeable….
- Conditionals- If X + verb…..
- It is likely that…
- It is probable that….
- It is unforeseeable that….
- I envisage….
As always you will have to explain why you think this will occur in the future. You may also want to use future conditionals to extend your answer.
Some people say that working from home will be quite common in the future. Do you agree?
It is foreseeable that more people will work from home in the future. If the internet becomes faster and there are more programs, such as Skype, that allow people to work from home more easily, I’d predict that more people will stay at home. If you think about it, most people don’t need to be physically present to do their jobs and I envisage that face to face meetings will be a thing of the past.
Cause and Effect
You may also be asked to discuss what has caused a certain situation and what effects this has. This language will also help you in IELTS writing task 2.
To talk about cause and effect you can use:
- …as a result….
- …resulted in…
- …as a consequence…
- …due to….
- …led to….
- …means that….
These are just some examples and the form of the words may change depending on the words around them in the sentence. Only use them if you are sure your sentences are grammatically correct.
How does advertising influence what people choose to buy?
I think advertising has a big influence on what people purchase and often leads to them always sticking with the same brand. For example, I always drink Coca Cola and I believe this is because I grew up watching all those ads on TV and I instinctively buy it as a result. I mean, why would companies spend so much money on adverts, unless it led to more sales?
The second conditional is used to talk about ‘unreal’, ‘unlikely’ or ‘impossible’ situations. You might get asked a question about an ‘unreal’ situation, for example ‘If you were mayor of your city, what would you do to improve it?’
The grammar we use for this is:
If + (subject 1) + past participle, then (subject 2) + would + verb
If you could choose any country to live in, where would you choose?
If I could live in any country, I would probably choose Australia. The weather is great; the people are super friendly and just imagine living beside all those beaches. If I could choose another country, it would have to be Italy, for the architecture, the culture and its fascinating history.
Compare and Contrast
To compare two things, use a comparative adjective + than e.g. He’s taller than his sister.
Some comparative adjectives are irregular:
For short adjectives, add –(e)r. If they end in –y change to –ier. For example:
For longer adjectives, use more. For example:
Do you think primary school children should learn a second language or should they wait until secondary school?
It’s obvious that the earlier children start a language the easier it becomes in later life. However, some parents might think that subjects like maths are more important than languages at primary level. They may also think that a foreign language is less important than their first language and this should be prioritised.
- We may use the present perfect continuous to talk about something that started in the past and continues up until the present. Example: They have been developing the city centre for the past five years. For this tense we use the structure has/have + been + present participle (verb-ing).
- Used to + infinitive to talk about past habits or states that are now finished.
- Would + infinitive to describe past habits.
- Past simple to talk about things you did in the past that you no longer do or are no longer true.
- Past continuous to talk about the background of a story or how you felt at a particular time.
- Past perfect to say something happened before something else in the past.
How has teaching changed in your country over the past few decades?
In the past, teachers simply lectured students and the students just listened to what they said. We were given lots of facts to learn and there was no room for creativity or freedom of expression. I remember learning lots of things without thinking about the theory behind it. Now, there’s been a movement towards students thinking for themselves.
For more information on how to answer IELTS part 3 questions please read our IELTS part 3 guide.