IELTS Speaking – Tips for Part 1

Howick Beach

Part 1 is the Introduction and Interview and lasts for about 4 – 5 minutes. The examiner will ask you a few questions about familiar and general topics such as your family, interests/hobbies, your country or city, studies or working life.

Here is a sample prompt (questions) and the audio recording for it from

Take a look at the transcript too and analyze how the candidate answered. Notice that there are areas where he could have expanded on his answer to give more details.

Now, I’m going to give my response to those 4 questions that the examiner asked. I’ll put up a recording later on this so you can hear the flow of my voice and intonation.

Advice for part 1:

  • Focus on giving full responses. To do this, add details, details, details! Describe things or give your impressions about them (how you feel about them) and use vocabulary to show off your ability to describe and express your feelings.
  • Link your ideas so that they complete one full response.
  • Think of useful vocabulary that you can associate with the topic asked.
  • Be careful of your verb tenses. If you’re describing something – you most likely use the present simple tense as it’s a statement of fact.

Here’s my example of how I would answer these same questions:

Question: “Let’s talk about your hometown or village.  What kind of place is it?”

I live in Howick, which is about 25 km east of Auckland. Although it’s part of Auckland city, it has a quaint seaside village feel to it. There’s a small main street full of cafes and antique shops along with old churches and historical buildings. Every Saturday morning there’s a farmer’s market and craft fair. So it’s really quaint and charming.

But the best part is that you can see amazing views from most parts of Howick. You can see  Rangitoto, which is a volcanic island, and Waiheke island in the Hauraki Gulf.  In fact, there are probably about 4 or 5 beautiful beaches within 5 to 10 minutes from the main street.

And even though it feels like a small village, it’s actually really convenient. It’s close to a lot of big shopping centers and to the ferry that can take you straight to downtown Auckland in about 30 minutes.

Question: “What’s the most interesting part of this place . . . village?”

I would say the most interesting part is Stockade Hill, which is a big grassy hill  surrounded by a big trench, with a memorial in the center. This hill sits at the top of Picton Street, the main street I was just talking about. It’s a historical site dedicated to the English settlers who defended the Howick area from Maori tribes in the 1800’s. There’s also a fantastic view of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf from there too.

Question: ” What kind of jobs do the people in your village do?”

They do all sorts of jobs. There are a lot of local shopkeepers, but a lot of people commute to downtown Auckland, so there are a lot of business professionals, like software developers, managers, bankers, lawyers and council employees.

Question: “Would you say it’s a good place to live?”

I absolutely love it, so yes, I would say it’s definitely a good place to live. There are amazing views, it has a lot of character and it’s a relaxing place, but there’s still the convenience of being near big shopping centers and downtown Auckland by ferry.

Notes about what I say:

Notice the words in bold – these are cohesive devices that I used to link all these different ideas about Howick together. In my first answer, I have all these ideas about what to say about Howick:

  • close to Auckland city but has a small town feel
  • beautiful views of Rangitoto & Waiheke Island in the Hauraki Gulf
  • beaches nearby
  • has cafes, antique shops, churches
  • farmer’s market on Saturday
  • near big shopping centres
  • ferry to downtown Auckland

I don’t want to just ramble, so I combine ideas about the village – shops, farmer’s market together. Then I combine the ideas about the views & beaches together. And finally, I add the convenience of being close to shops and the ferry. This makes it easier for the listener/examiner to follow.

Also – vocabulary that I use: “a quaint seaside village feel”, “historical buildings”, “antique shops” (rather than just “shops”), “farmer’s market” – are very descriptive and specific.

I add A LOT of details  – so it keeps me talking about the topic, which is what the examiner needs to hear. It’s important to have an idea of how to organize your ideas though.

Sometimes I repeat the question in my introduction to the answer. For example, in response to “What would you say is the most interesting part of this place . . . village?”, I answer, “I would say that the most important part is …. ”

Practice for you:

Think about how you would answer some familiar questions and think of key ideas and vocabulary. You can talk about:

  • family
  • friends
  • hometown or current town
  • country
  • hobbies/interests
  • studies/job



I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

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