Commentary on the Example Speaking Recordings for the
General Training Practice Tests

Below you will find the report by an IELTS speaking examiner on the recording of example IELTS test interviews. The questions asked in the recordings are the questions in the Speaking Test sections of General Training Tests 1, 2, 3. While listening to the recordings, it would be helpful for you to have the question sheets with you to refer to.

The recordings are not real IELTS test recordings but the interviewer is a real IELTS examiner and  the recordings are conducted in the exact way that an IELTS Speaking Test is done. The students interviewed were IELTS students who were doing an IELTS preparation course in the UK. The reports on each interview were written by the IELTS examiner who conducted the interviews. The examiner has tried to analyse the strong and weak parts of each of the students and this will give
you a better understanding into how give a better performance in the IELTS Speaking Test.

To further help you, if you have not done so already, please look at the right hand side of the Home Page where you will find a series of free General Training Test Tutorials including Speaking. Here you will find advice on how to do and prepare for the IELTS Speaking Test.

Speaking Practice Test 3

Section 1

* Tell me about the job or studies that you are doing.

* Why did you choose this field?

* Do you think you will ever change this job or study? (Why/Why not?)

Topic 1 Schooldays

* What were the good parts and the bad parts about your schooldays?

* What was your favourite subject at school? (Why?)

* How did your school teach sports?

* How would you improve the school that you went to?

Topic 2 Rivers

* Describe a river in your country.

* What kinds of things are rivers used for in your country?

* Are there any pollution problems with rivers in your country? (What?)

* What kind of problems do people face if they live near a big river?

Section 2

Describe your favourite restaurant

You should say:

where the restaurant is and how you found it

what type of food it serves

how often you go there

and explain exactly why you like this restaurant so much.

Section 3

Topic 1 Fast Food

* Is fast food popular in your country? (Why?)

* Why has fast food become so popular over the last 30 years?

* Could you compare fast food with traditional meals?

* How can we stop young people eating so much fast food?

Topic 2 Food Problems

* What are some of the problems that some countries have with food production?

* Could you suggest any ways to solve these problems?

* What other problems can you predict happening in terms of food in the next 50 years?

* Could you compare methods of food production and distribution today with that of 50 years ago?


Examiners Commentary

The student interviewed was Tina, a Chinese female. The Speaking Test is in three sections. First of all lets look at the each of these sections in turn to identify the strong and weak parts of the interview.

Section 1

Tina was a bit nervous and hesitant at the start but she gave full answers that addressed the questions. She talked quite slowly but that is no problem. In fact talking slowly allowed Tina to consider what she was saying and so she was less likely to make grammar mistakes and lose control of her coherence. The fact that Tina did not need all the questions from Section 1 to finish the section shows how well and fully she answered the questions.

Section 2

Tina is lucky as she says she is interested in this topic and so she finds it easy to talk about. Candidates in IELTS are not allowed to ask for a change in topic so, if you are given a topic you know little about, you will just have to do the best you can. The topics are all of general interest and anyone should be able to talk about the topics for 2 minutes. The first important thing in this interview was that Tina took full advantage of the 1 minute preparation time. This allowed Tina to make notes on all parts of the question. At one point at the end of her talk Tina had finished a sentence and did not know how to continue. She checked her notes and saw that she had written something about how often she went to the restaurant. Therefore, after the short gap to check her notes (which is fine) she was able to continue confidently with her talk. This shows the value of using the 1 minute preparation time and making the notes on the paper provided. In Section 2 Tina again spoke quite slowly and, as pointed out above, there is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes though she was a bit overly hesitant and stopped in the middle of sentences which affected the fluency of the talk a little. On the other hand, Tina covered the areas required in the question and talked without any problems until the examiner asked her to stop.

Section 3

Tina continued to give reasonable answers in Section 3. Where she sometimes went wrong was in trying to say too much. Occasionally she finished a sentence but wanted to continue in order to make a better impression. This is good of course but only if you have more to say. If you have no further ideas and you try to carry on, there will most likely be a lot of hesitations and eventually repetition of ideas. This is what happened sometimes to Tina. If you have no further ideas, it is better to stop with the good things that you have already said and wait for a new question. Nevertheless Tina had a lot of good things to say though she was more hesitant and had more breakdowns in fluency and accuracy due to the more complicated nature of the questions. She often hesitated at the start of answering questions while she thought momentarily about her answer. This is fine. The examiner does not expect everyone to be able to answer every question instantly without thinking for a short time.


The Marking of the IELTS Speaking Test is done in 4 parts. Below is how the examiner evaluates this student.


Tinas pronunciation was fairly clear. Most of her speech was easily understood and, although she has a Chinese accent, this does not interfere too much with the listeners comprehension.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Tinas grammar was often good but there were basic errors as well. The errors became more frequent in Section 3 as the questions became more demanding and the language became more complicated to answer them.

Lexical Resource

Tina used quite a variety of vocabulary. It was easily sufficient to cope with familiar topics and some unfamiliar topics and, although sometimes she did not know the right word, she could come up with an acceptable alternative and attempted to paraphrase quite successfully.

Fluency and Coherence

Tinas fluency and coherence was fine in Section 1 and parts of Section 2 but as the questions and language became more demanding, her speech broke down from time to time and hesitancy came in. However, she showed the ability to talk at length and clearly answered the questions asked her.

Estimated IELTS Speaking Band: 6

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