IELTS Speaking Topics

IELTS Speaking Topics

‘IELTS speaking topics’ is one of the most searched for IELTS terms on Google and one of the biggest concerns students have in my own classes. Many students are worried about being asked about a topic they are not familiar with and would like to do some background research before the test. Others think they can cheat the test, learn the common speaking topics and prepare memorized answers. One of these approaches is good and one of them can get you a band 0 in the speaking test.

In order to satisfy my students’ curiosity I decided to research IELTS speaking topics over the last few years and establish if there are any patterns or if it is as random as I think.

I looked at all 9 of the Official Cambridge IELTS Examination Papers, the Official Cambridge Guide and spoke to 20 candidates who remembered which topics they were asked. All in all I analysed around 60 past paper and over 200 topics.

I will list them below according to which part of the paper they were on.

IELTS Speaking Topics

Speaking Topics- Part 1

IELTS Speaking Topics (1)

Games

Giving Gifts

Telephones

Bikes

Neighbours

Newspapers

Flowers

Television x 3

Keeping in Contact

Laughing

Cold Weather

Commuting

Dancing

Musical Instruments

Traffic

Friends x 2

Your Country x 2

Colours

Entertainment

Clothes x 2

Food

Free Time x 2

Your Favourite Place

Family x 4

Festivals

Visitors x 2

Daily Routine

School Days

Hometown x 5

Films x 2

Work x 5

Study x 3

Buildings

Sport

Shopping

Writing
Reading x 2

Your Home

Restaurants

Emails

Text Messages

Older People

Speaking Topics Part 2

IELTS Speaking Topics (3)

Markets

New Experiences

A Journey

Helping Other People

Surveys

Restaurants x 2

Meetings

Childhood Friends

Parties

Ideas at Work

Competitions

Electronic Devices

A Family Member

Keeping Fit and Healthy

Sports

Choices

A Celebrity

A Friend

Festivals

Historic Places

A Hobby

Bodies of Water

Websites

A Teacher

Films

A Memorable Event

Something You Own

An Interesting Story

A Special Event

A Popular Teacher

A TV Programme

A Time You Helped Someone

Photos

Cooking

School

Historical Buildings

A Song

Celebrity Culture

A Surprise

Schools Subject

Leadership

A Disagreement

A Short Trip

Something You Would Like To Buy

Speaking Topics Part 3

IELTS Speaking Topics (5)

Learning New Things

Travel

Community Service

Questions

Producing Food

International Meetings

Influence of Friends

National Celebrations

Ideas and Education

Sporting Competitions

Technology at Home

Genetic Research

Health and Modern Lifestyles

Games and Competition

Choices in Everyday Life

Celebrities x 2

Relationship

Media

Teaching of History

Leisure Time

Water-Based Leisure Activities

The Internet x 2

Education x 2

Censorship

Marriage

Consumerism

Family Celebrations

Education

Healthy Food x 2

Advertising

Helping Other People

Being Polite

Parenting

History

Art Classes

Music x 2

Leadership

Travelling

Happiness

Shopping

Conclusions

I think the biggest conclusion we can make is that it is impossible to predict what topic you will get in the IELTS speaking test. There might be common topics for the writing test, but there are certainly no common topics for the speaking test. You should therefore never try to memorise answers and I think it would take you a very long time to try and do this anyway.

You should also notice that there are very few, if any, very difficult topics and I think everyone would have no problem with these questions. Remember that it is a test of your English skills, not a test of knowledge. IELTS is an international test and these topics are chosen so that anyone in the world can give a reasonable answer.

Finally, it was interesting to notice that nearly every topic on this list has come up in my General English class in the last last 6 months. All of these topics are covered in most text books in some way and if you have been learning English for a while, there should be no surprises in the speaking test.

Next Steps

Although you can’t memorise answers you should be aware of the different question types that come up in the speaking test. For example, you will always be asked to give your opinion, talk about the past, future and present, explain a viewpoint and compare and contrast. Knowing the grammar and functional language used for these is essential if you want to do well. Please check out my article on 7 common part 3 question types for more help with this.

If you are worried about part 2 of the speaking test, I have a step-by-step strategy that has helped lots of students do well in this part of the exam.

I also have a sample of part 1 questions and answers that you might find useful.

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any comments or questions please let me know below.

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Comments:

3 Comments

  1. Andrew says

    On the 13th of June I passed my IELTS 2nd time with overall band 6.5, and I achieved 6.5 in speaking part, in particular. I was so struck that I had been asked about topic ‘ambitions’.

    In the second part I supposed to talk about the ambition which I haven’t attained yet. And in the 3d part of the test I had to answer the questions about ambitions which children are facing in different situations. So, it was totally unexpected, I didn’t prepare at all about the latter. Yes, of course, I could explain my goals, how I’ve been achieving them, and the obstacles which I’ve been overcoming as well, but to talk about children’s ones, that’s really perplexing. Honestly, I was talking through my hat, it was so terrible. That’s why the score fell down significantly in my case I presume.

    My advice is that you never can predict a topic that you have to talk, just be well-rounded and have an opinion on simple things.

  2. Ryan Vars says

    As always, super helpful. The way you summarized at the end says it all. Don’t memorize, jog your memory, practice the functional grammar for part 3.

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