IELTS Speaking Section - Part 1: Examiner Introduction & Interview

Instructor: Bill Sands
The IELTS is an assessment used to evaluate an individual's command of the English language, and it includes a Speaking portion that is divided into three parts. Read on to find out more about the content, structure, and grading system used in Part 1 of this section.

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Introduction & Interview

The IELTS has two versions, one for students and one for professionals, but the Speaking section for both exams is structured the same way. It begins with Part 1, an Introduction and Interview subsection, one of three making up this portion of the exam. It is followed by the Long Turn and Discussion subsections.


Part 1 tests a candidate's ability to discuss common, everyday events and experiences. Candidates will be expected to process information before offering an appropriate response.

This part of the exam is used along with other subsections to assess the speaking skills of students seeking higher education, professionals looking for a new job, or anyone who would like to live and work in an English-speaking country that requires acceptable test scores for migration.


To begin this section, the examiner first introduces him or herself and then performs one final identification check with the candidate, after which the test officially begins.

Much as this subsection's name would suggest, this part of the exam is similar to an interview. The examiner asks several general knowledge questions about the candidate's work, family, home life, hobbies, and interests. Both the examiner questions and examinee responses are recorded.

The number of questions changes on a regular basis. To ensure fairness and consistency, questions are read off a script, meaning all candidates are asked the same questions.


Part 1 lasts for 4-5 minutes, depending on the length of a candidate's responses. This is about one-third of the 14 minutes allotted for the entire speaking section.


Examiners for the IELTS Speaking test evaluate student responses in four categories:

  • Coherence & Fluency: This category relates to a candidate's ability to maintain a consistent rate of speech. Examiners will also be looking for a logical flow of ideas and cohesive devices (pronouns, transition words, conjunctions) to tie sentences together.
  • Lexical Resource: Candidates taking the IELTS should have an extensive vocabulary, as they will be graded on their ability to use a variety of words. Students will also receive credit for circumlocution, or using words to describe a term that they cannot name.
  • Grammatical Accuracy: In addition to knowing plenty of words, candidates will also need to know how to piece them together correctly. Proper sentence structure and the use of subordinate clauses to form lengthy and complex sentences will earn high marks. However, students will also be penalized for making extensive mistakes.
  • Pronunciation: As candidates sitting for the IELTS are not expected to be native speakers, an accent is understandable and even to be expected. A candidate's speech, however, must be intelligible and comprehensible, and points will be deducted if the examiner must strain to listen or cannot understand at all.

Preparing for Part 1

The best preparation for Part 1 (and the entire speaking section) is to practice. Find a friend to ask you questions, or simply ask them yourself. You can practice speaking just about anywhere, so there's no excuse to not be ready.

If you prefer more structured studying, this IELTS Practice & Study Guide can help you prepare for the Speaking section as well as the Listening, Writing and Reading test sections. You can also check out these Grammar Resources to review grammar basics and common conversational phrases or build your vocabulary with these flashcards:

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