50 Useful Phrases for the IELTS Speaking Test

Taking the IELTS Speaking test is not difficult and in fact, you can even get a band score of 8 to 9…if you know what you are doing. However, if you don’t and you come to the interview unprepared, chances are you will not meet the band score you are aiming for. 

We know how much you are working hard to ace this section of the IELTS test. This article has prepared the most useful and common phrases you can use during the IELTS speaking test. Start using them in your practices and mock tests and get ready to impress the examiner with your speaking skills!


Overview of the IELTS Speaking Test

The IELTS speaking test is one of the four tests in the IELTS exam, the other three being Listening, Reading, and Writing. Like the Listening test, the Speaking test is also the same for both the Academic and General Training modules. 

The IELTS Speaking test lasts for about 11-14 minutes. It is designed to assess your pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and vocabulary. It is divided into three parts. The IELTS speaking test is in an (informal) interview format between the examiner and the candidate. 

When taking the IELTS Speaking test, you have to keep in mind that using effective phrases will help you get a high band score. Vocabulary and grammar are two of the criteria in this part of the IELTS test. Being proficient in the use of effective phrases and expressions in IELTS indicates that you are proficient in English. 

Being familiar with a lot of phrasal verbs will also improve your chance of getting a high IELTS band score. They are one of the most natural features of natural and native English. When the examiner notices that you use them quite often, it will make them think that you are well-versed, and have a strong chance of scoring high. It will also help you communicate with native speakers better and more effectively.


What are Some Useful IELTS Interview Expressions?

Are you worried about having a mental block during your IELTS Speaking test? It happens when we are worried and anxious. We know what to say, but for some reason, our brain just goes blank. 

Some candidates have experienced having a mental block during the speaking test. One of the reasons behind this is that they are attempting to think and talk simultaneously. Some even try to think in their native language while translating their thoughts into English, making the IELTS speaking test extremely challenging. 

Here are the different phrases you can use while preparing and practicing so that by the time you take the test, you have familiarized yourself with them. This way, thinking of what and how to answer will be easier, and you can formulate your sentences faster. 

1. Opening Statements

How you open your statements is your first opportunity to impress the examiner. Making a good first impression will boost your chance of getting a high band score. 

Examples:

  • Today, I’d like to share with you about…
  • In this talk, I’m going to tell you how…
  • I want to tell you about…
  • Today, I would like to discuss…
  • Today, I want to give you a short talk on…

2. Closing statements

The manner in how you end your statements plays a vital role in the IELTS speaking test too. It shows how fluent you are and how coherent your responses are. 

Examples:

  • In conclusion…
  • To sum up…
  • To summarize…
  • To conclude… 
  • As a whole… 
  • So all in all… 

3. Beginning the Main Body of Your Speech 

Once you are asked a question or given a topic to talk about, be creative and use phrases and expressions that the examiner will find appealing. 

Examples:

  •  First and foremost….
  • And why do I find it so appealing? It is, after all….
  • To begin with… 
  • One of the most intriguing aspects about….
  • This is the most significant day/opportunity of my life because…

4. Building on Your Idea

When you have started talking about your topic, you would want to include some background information and some explanations and examples to help develop your topic. 

Examples:

  • Another reason why I like…
  • One of the main advantages…
  • One of the consequences…
  • This appeals to me because…
  • Another unusual fact about…
  • I like … more than anything else because…

5. Expressing Your Opinions

You should change your words while presenting your viewpoint on a subject, just as you should when adding personal experiences, rather than repeating the phrase ‘I think’.

Examples:

  • In my opinion…
  • I firmly believe that…
  • From my point of view…
  • It seems to me that…
  • From my viewpoint…
  • From my perspective…
  • It appears to me that…
  • I realize that…
  • I understand that…

6. Speculating and Expressing Possibilities

The examiner may ask you to imagine a different setting from the one you are in or discuss the future and weigh options in Part 2 and Part 3 of the Speaking test. Even if you have little knowledge or strong opinions on the subject, speculating can help you deliver a more thorough response.

Examples:

  • I suppose…
  • It is possible…
  • I would imagine that…
  • I would say…
  • Perhaps…
  • I think it is likely/unlikely…

7. Agreeing and Disagreeing 

You will be asked for your thoughts and given the option to agree or disagree in Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test. This is an excellent opportunity to show your conversational skills in a group setting. 

Examples: 

  • I totally agree.
  • I couldn’t agree with you more.
  • You are absolutely right.
  • No doubt about it.
  • Definitely / Absolutely / Precisely
  • I’m afraid I disagree.
  • I see your point, but…
  • That’s not always true.
  • Not necessarily.
  • That’s one way of looking at it. However…

8. Comparing and Contrasting 

You will also be asked questions throughout the IELTS Speaking test that will demand you to compare experiences, people, places, or things. It is crucial to know how to employ comparative structures effectively for this. If you are comfortable with this language and want to take it a step further, try utilizing adverbs to make your descriptions more detailed.

Examples:

  • Similar to…
  • Much the same…
  • As (adjective) as …

“as fun as traveling alone”, “as enjoyable as playing the guitar”

  • Same (noun) as… 

“the same age as me”, “same school as my brother”

  • In contrast to…
  • Compared to…

9. Clarifying the Questions 

Keep in mind that asking the examiner for clarification if you do not understand a question is entirely natural and acceptable 

Examples:

  • I’m sorry, I didn’t get the question.
  • I’m sorry, I’m afraid I didn’t catch that.
  • I’m sorry, could you rephrase that?
  • Could you repeat the question, please?
  • Could you say that again?
  • Could you explain what you mean by..?
  • Could you explain the question, please?

10. Transition Words 

If you want your speech to sound coherent, organized, and connected, you should use cohesive features of transition words. These aid in the organization of your response and the demonstration of clear connections between your ideas.

Examples:

  • Also, as well as…
  • Similarly, in the same way…
  • Even though, despite, yet… 
  • So that, so, for this reason… 
  • For example, for instance…
  • Because, since, thus, that is why…
  • Actually, I have to say…
  • On the other hand…

11. Conditionals

In the IELTS Speaking test Part 3, you are more likely to be asked conditional sentences. A conditional sentence is a sentence that states one situation as a condition for the occurrence of another situation. To put it simply, the basic structure underlying most conditional sentences can be expressed as, “If this, then that.”

The most common conditional sentences covered in the IELTS Speaking test are the zero, first, and second conditionals. 

i) Zero Conditionals 

They are used to describe factual situations. Both clauses are in the simple present tense. 

Examples: 

  • When it rains, I take the bus. 
  • If I work from home, I don’t get salary deductions.
  • I don’t eat breakfast if I am late for work. 

ii) First Conditionals 

They are used to express what will most likely happen in the future if a certain condition is met. The ‘if’ phrase is normally in the present tense, and the following clause frequently includes a verb such as ‘will,’ ‘can’, or ‘might,’

Examples: 

  • If I get the required band score for IELTS, I will migrate to Canada.
  • If I get promoted at work, I might buy myself a new car.
  • I can bring my family to the UK if I get the required band score in IELTS. 

iii) Second Conditionals

They are used to express an improbable circumstance. The ‘if’ phrase is in the past tense, whereas the following clause frequently includes a verb such as ‘would’ or ‘could’.

Examples:

  • If I were the mayor of our city, I would ban the use of plastics.
  • If I won the lottery, I could afford not to work.
  • I would give everyone a pay increase if I were rich.

12. Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are a combination of a verb and a preposition or adverb. It functions as a verb in which the meaning is entirely different from the combined meanings of the individual words.  

In the IELTS Speaking test, you are encouraged to use phrasal verbs to indicate that you are fluent and naturally know the language. 

Top 10 Phrasal Verbs to Use in the IELTS Speaking Test

Phrasal VerbsMeaningSentence
Bring up To raise a topic for discussion or consideration“I want to bring up the possibility of me changing profession in the future.”
Carry on To continue an activity or task“Please carry on with your question.” 
Come acrossTo meet someone and find something by chance “I was at a museum when I came across an old schoolmate of mine.”
End upTo reach or come to a place or condition“I was only planning to go window-shopping but ended up buying two pairs of sandals.”
Figure out To solve a problem or discover the answer to a question   “I need to figure out a way on how to make ends meet.”
Fill in To complete a form or an official document “Please fill in the registration form and give it to the receptionist.”
Give upTo stop exerting an effort; to resign oneself to failure“I won’t give up chasing my dreams of moving to Canada.”
Make out To understand a person or thing’s meaning or character“I am not sure what to make out of this piece of art.” 
Point outTo say something to make someone aware of a fact or a circumstance “I want to point out the fact that technology has changed the way people live.” 
Work outTo find a solution to a problem by considering the facts “If things work out for the best, I will be studying in Australia next year.”

13. Idioms

Idioms are phrases or expressions with a non-literal meaning that cannot be deduced by reading each word individually. They are used so frequently by native speakers in such a natural way that they often go unnoticed.

Top 30 Idioms to Use in the IELTS Speaking Test

IdiomsMeaningSentence
As sick as a dogExtremely sick“My cousin was sick as a dog on the day of the concert, so I went alone.”
Black and blueBadly bruised “I had a hiking accident last week, and my legs were black and blue.”
Blessing in disguiseAn apparent misfortune that turns out well “I injured my neck last year and found out when I had it checked that I have problems with my spinal cord, so in a way, the injury was a blessing in disguise.”
Blind as a batHaving very bad eyesight “I wear eyeglasses because I am blind as a bat.”
BookwormA person who loves to read “I am a bookworm, and I have hundreds of books at home.”
Break a legA phrase used to wish someone good luck “Before going to this interview, my sister told me to break a leg.”
Child’s playVery easy “I am an engineer, and anything including numbers is a piece of cake to me.”
Day and night(1) All day long 

(2) Complete opposite
(1) “I live in the city, and I have to work day and night to pay for my bills.”

(2) “I have a twin brother, and we are day and night when it comes to our hobbies.” 
Driving me up the wallMake someone annoyed or angry.“There’s an ongoing construction just beside my apartment, and the noise is driving me up the wall.”
Follow someone’s footstepsDo as another person did before “My parents are both nurses, and I have decided to follow in their footsteps.”
Get on my nervesIrritate or annoy someone “I used to live with a friend in the city, but the noise at night get on my nerves, so I decided to move back to the country.”
Golden opportunityAn excellent chance to do something valuable “Acing the IELTS test will be a golden opportunity for me to visit my friends and relatives in the UK.” 
Green lightPermission to do something“My parents have finally given me the green light to study in New Zealand.”
Green thumbNatural talent for growing plants “My mom has a green thumb, and I, unfortunately, did not inherit it, so I have diverted my hobbies to cooking instead.”
Hit the ceilingTo get extremely angry“One time, my sisters and I went to a movie and came home late; our parents hit the ceiling.”
Kick the bucketTo die “I am not fond of extreme sports because I am afraid to kick the bucket doing those kinds of activities.” 
Learn by heartTo learn something so well; to memorize something “Playing the guitar is something I have learned by heart since I was five.”
Like a kid in a candy storeTo be excited in one’s surroundings and act in a silly way “My first out-of-the-country trip was to Disneyland in Hongkong, and I remember being like a kid in a candy store.” 
Makes my blood boilTo get extremely angry “I always make it a point to arrive on time, and if someone is late, it makes my blood boil.” 
On the mendIn the process of recovering from something “I was on a ski trip two weeks ago and injured my knee, I am still on the mend.”
Once in a blue moonVery rarely “I am not into sweets, and I only eat them once in a blue moon.”
Out of the blueWithout warning; unexpectedly “I have an old friend I don’t have communication with anymore, and out of the blue, she called me.”
Over the moonExtremely happy “I would be over the moon if I got a band score of 7 or higher in the IELTS test.”
Piece of cakeVery easy“I think that if I review and prepare enough for the IELTS test, it would be a piece of cake.”
Run in the family Many members of the family have it“Playing a musical instrument runs in our family.”
To have a whale of a timeEnjoy oneself very much “I had a whale of a time when I first tried scuba diving.”
Under the weatherIn low spirits“My brother was supposed to accompany me today, but he is feeling under the weather.”
White lieA harmless lie“My friends told me my new haircut looks nice, but I know it was a white lie.”
With flying colorsComplete success“I hope to finish the IELTS test with flying colors.”
Working against the clock As fast as possible “I had papers due last night, and I had to work against the clock.”

When to Use Phrases Effectively During the IELTS Speaking Test?

As a candidate, you must know the right time to use these phrases and expressions. Like native speakers, it should come naturally. 

For your responses to be more effective and to get a high band score in the IELTS Speaking test —  practice and prepare yourself by looking at the given examples below. 

Question: 

Is it better to make major life decisions on your own or to seek advice from others?

Answer: 

I believe there are solid arguments for both. It is, after all, your life, so I think you should make the choices yourself. However, because any decisions you make can impact the people around you, it seems only fair to consult with them first before making a decision. I’m afraid that, like many philosophical topics, there is no straightforward answer.


Question:

Does advertising provide accurate information, or do they urge people to buy goods they do not need?

Answer:

In my opinion, some do, and others do not. However, it is tough to determine who is providing us with accurate information. For example, I do not believe that skin whitening treatments work, but we see them everywhere, and we are pushed to buy them even though, from my perspective, they are not necessary. On the other hand, advertisements tell us that they are vital because they will improve our lives. As a result, this is an example of advertising that encourages people to purchase something they do not need. I believe that most countries now have procedures in place to ensure that advertisements provide accurate information and do not deceive consumers. I think that it is still possible for advertisers to overstate or mislead consumers without breaking the law.


Question:

Should coworkers spend their free time together as well?

Answer:

I completely disagree. People going out together after work might have an issue in that they gossip about particular people in the office or factory, which can’t be good for business, can it? Additionally, there’s always the danger that you will say something you might regret after a few drinks and have to face your coworkers the next day. In conclusion, I would strongly advise people to reconsider socializing with coworkers outside work.


Question: 

Is money always the most significant thing when selecting a job?

Answer:

From my point of view, I believe that money should be the most important factor to consider when choosing a career.  First and foremost, money, no matter how much of it we have, does not always buy ‘happiness’ or ‘work contentment’. For instance, if I am paid a lot of money, but my job is not considered important, despite my best intentions, I am unlikely to perform to my full ability. Another reason I think this way is because even though I could be earning a lot if I do not enjoy the company of the people I am working with, I would not enjoy my job. Money is vital for us to execute our jobs, but it is not the most important work component, in my perspective.


Question: 

What do you believe will happen to historic locations or structures in the future? Why?

Answer: 

I suppose it would all rely on future generations. The authorities will take action to protect them if they believe they are worth keeping. Otherwise, many of them, mainly those less well-known globally, would be demolished and replaced with ultramodern commercial structures. On the other hand, prominent landmarks would be conserved since they will draw many international tourists. Some will be rendered obsolete owing to a lack of maintenance. It is also possible that some historic sites and buildings will be lost because they are less popular and cannot sell tourist tickets. As a result, the authority or the owner wishes to adapt them for commercial purposes. 


The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Phrases in the IELTS Speaking Tests

Using these phrases and expressions can be quite tricky. You don’t use them just for the sake of using them. You have to sound as natural as it can be, just like how native speakers use them. Slide them in only when the conversation calls for it. 

Remember these things when using the different phrases and expressions mentioned above:

DO’s:

  • Use them naturally. Your goal is to let the examiner know that you can converse with a native speaker in real-life situations. 
  • Know when to use and apply the different phrases and expressions in your responses. Not using them properly will significantly affect the message you are trying to get across. 
  • Use variations of the different phrases and expressions. The examiner will think you don’t have enough knowledge of them if you only stick to less than four phrases and expressions. 
  • Practice using these phrases and expressions in your daily conversations so that by the time you have to take the IELTS Speaking test, you have become familiar and at ease with them. 

DON’Ts:

  • Don’t use formal phrases for simple questions about yourself and your life.
  • Don’t worry about repeating the exact phrases. The IELTS Speaking test is not the same as the IELTS Writing test. 
  • Don’t show off your grammar and vocabulary. Use only what is necessary to avoid losing control of your responses. 
  • Don’t use more than two phrases or expressions in one simple sentence. This will lose the coherence and meaning of your responses. 

Additional Helpful Tips and Tricks to Improve Your English Speaking Skills

If you are wondering if you can get a band score of 8-9 in the IELTS Speaking test, the answer is YES. It is indeed not impossible. Many test-takers have achieved it, and there is no way you can’t reach it as well. 

Here are some tips and tricks on how to improve your speaking skills to help you achieve a high IELTS band score. 

  • Learn New Words Every Day: This is an excellent method to expand your vocabulary. Set a reasonable goal for yourself, whether it is three or six words per day. Depending on your daily routine, news, songs, and TV shows are great sources for learning new terms. 
  • Improve Your Pronunciation: Some people are hesitant and afraid to speak because they are conscious of how they pronounce the words. You can improve your pronunciation by downloading an app or an online dictionary. If you aren’t sure how a particular word is pronounced, you can refer to those. 
  • Attend Public Speaking Events: This might seem a bad idea, especially if you have stage fright. But as they say, the only way to overcome your fear to face it. Speaking in front of an audience will give you the confidence you need to be at ease with the interviewer on the day of the IELTS Speaking test. 
  • Chat with Siri and Google Assistant: This might seem funny, but come to think of it, if you don’t want to talk with people while preparing for your speaking test, Siri is the way to go. Because Siri is a machine, you can’t rely on ambient cues or facial expressions to convey your message. Your words are the sole means by which you can communicate with others. As a result, you must speak as clearly and precisely as possible.
  • Have an English-Speaking Partner: Learning from a native speaker is one of the most effective ways to be proficient in English. The IELTS Speaking Test is intended to assess how proficient you are in using English in your daily activities. If you practice with a native speaker, your ears will be familiar with how they talk, and eventually, you will imitate them. 
  • Read and Proofread out Loud: Our brain completes the gaps of missing details when we re-read pieces we have written. Reading what you have written out loud, preferably to someone else, is an excellent approach to check whether you have used proper grammar. When you read the information aloud rather than silently to yourself, you are more likely to discover your mistakes.
  • Record Yourself: Even if you do not like listening to how you speak, this is a beneficial practice to comprehend better how you pronounce your words and determine the rhythm of your sentences. It might be impossible to expect you to sound exactly like a native speaker, but you can always improve by knowing the areas you need to improve. 
  • Be Consistent : Speaking in another language is a skill that can be acquired and perfected if you use it every day and consistently. No one can master it overnight, not even the native speakers. It takes time, and to have everything you will need for the test; you need to practice and prepare as often as possible. 

Additional FAQs on the IELTS Speaking Test?

Can I Ask for a Remark of the IELTS Speaking Test? 

Yes, you can ask for a remark on the IELTS Speaking test. Candidates asking for a remark is one of the reasons why the IELTS Speaking test is recorded. If you think you deserved a higher mark or received an incorrect mark, you may appeal for a remark. Requesting for a remark should be done within four weeks after you have received your results. An IELTS senior examiner will then remark your Speaking test. They will not be aware of your previous band score. 

Can I Choose the Topics in the IELTS Speaking Test?

No, you cannot choose the topics in the IELTS Speaking test. It is up to IELTS what topics will be given to the candidates. You will only know the topics of the actual interview. Since the IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess how proficient in speaking English you are, being aware of the test topics before the test will make it invalid. 

Who Marks My IELTS Speaking Test?

Your IELTS Speaking test will be marked by the examiner who conducted your interview. They have clearly defined criteria to assess your speaking test. They listen to the recorded interview and evaluate your level by comparing your performance to descriptors. The descriptors will be based on these four criteria: fluency, grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. In case you would want a remark, a senior IELTS examiner will remark. They will not be aware of your previous band score. 

Which Part of the IELTS Speaking Test is the Most Difficult? 

Most candidates who have taken the IELTS Speaking test say that the third part is the most difficult. It is because this part of the test requires critical thinking. You will be asked to express your opinions, weigh options, evaluate a specific issue, and compare and contrast certain ideas. Your judgment will also be required most of the time, and you need to justify and defend your responses. But this is not to say that you have to focus only on this part of the test. The first and the second parts of the IELTS Speaking test are equally marked as the third part, and you should practice and prepare for all three parts to get a high band score.

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