Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

What should your IELTS Speaking practice look like?

Is it possible that the way you are practicing is lowering your score?

Today we answer two recent listener questions about the speaking exam.

We’ll share details about recent timing changes to the IELTS exam.

You’ll also learn specifics about the best way to practice timing.

Question #1: Interruptions

I recently took my IELTS speaking exam, and I would say that I think the examiner didn’t take the full time and interrupted me a number of times during my answer. I am worried about my result.

Akash Sandhu

Students often report that their IELTS Speaking answers are interrupted.

This will happen more often now that IELTS has become more strict with timing.

The good news is that it doesn’t hurt your score for the examiner to interrupt you.

It shows you’re fluent and could keep talking.

They must ask a certain amount of questions so they have to interrupt you to fit in all the questions they’re required to ask.

Question #2: Clock

Will there be a clock in the room to watch during the speaking exam?

In short, no, there will not be a clock on the wall during your speaking exam.

You will not be able to track the time.

This is actually a benefit, as you should not allow yourself to be distracted by the time.

Instead, you need to focus on using high level vocabulary and showing your fluency.

Because of this, you must get a feel for how long your answers should be.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 timing

Part 1 lasts 4-5 minutes.

During this time, the examiner must ask 11 questions.

These answers should be between 40 seconds and 1 minute.

If too much time has elapsed and the examiner needs to ask more questions, they will need to interrupt you.

They will say, “Thank you,” and immediately ask the next question.

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IELTS Speaking Part 3 timing

Part 3 lasts 4-5 minutes.

During this time, the examiner must ask 6 questions.

Your answers should be no more than a minute.

For the final questions, it’s more important that you get to the answer right away.

If your earlier answers have taken longer, the examiner will have to cut these final answers short.

Tip #1: Use a timer

The examiner is required to ask you all the questions in 3 groups.

Set your timer for 40 seconds.

When the timer goes off, finish confidently and calmly.

The examiner will hold up a hand and say, “Thank you.”

You must stop speaking and can say:

  • “Oh, ok.”
  • “Great.”
  • “Sure.”

Tip #2: No time to think

It is a mistake to take time to think before answering practice Part 1 and Part 3 questions.

You will have no time to think about these and must begin speaking immediately.

This is why it is vital that you have filler phrases.

You need something to say while you are thinking if needed.

The only time you’ll have one minute to think about your answer is before your Part 2 question.

For every other question, do not give yourself time to pause and consider your answer before you speak.

#3: Speaking partners

The best IELTS speaking practice you can do is with a speaking partner.

You can take turns playing the role of examiner.

Time each other’s questions and give feedback afterward.

Do not give each other time to think before answering Part 1 and Part 3 questions.

You can find a speaking partner in the 3 Keys IELTS Facebook group!

We also provide mock IELTS Speaking exams with feedback for students in our online course.


It’s vital that you are preparing for IELTS Speaking the best way possible.

Be sure to time your answers to get used to how long they should be.

Prepare to be interrupted and know how to respond.

You do not want to be thrown off on test day.

Sign up for 3 Keys IELTS for all the strategies you need!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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