Number one for English language teachers

IELTS: Speaking test: Preparation for part 3


The following activities are aimed at preparing students for what kind of questions to expect in part 3 of the speaking test and giving them lots of opportunity to practise answering questions on a range of topics as well as discussing more abstract issues.

Digging deeper

What kind of questions should students expect in part 3 of the speaking test? Basically deeper, more abstract questions based on the topic given in part 2. The point of this is that the examiner is now trying to push the student to their linguistic limit in order to finally determine their grade. A candidate’s ability to speculate, give opinion, demonstrate reasoning, etc will be crucial in this part of the test. Again, a brainstorming exercise is useful in raising awareness of question topics.Take a topic: for example, describe a TV programme that you enjoy.

Get the group (or possibly on their own or in pairs) thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of watching TV. They could make notes in a table, e.g.:



possibly educational


something done with family

form of escapism



time wasting, could be doing something else


lack of exercise, bad for health?

bad for eyesight?

not communicating with other people





Now you have class ideas on the given topic. Use those issues to elicit possible questions that may be asked. For example:

How can TV be beneficial to young people?
Do you think people spend too much time watching TV?
Do you think parents should control what their children watch on TV?
What do you think makes a successful TV programme?

Practise question and answer work based on the questions elicited; this is particularly suitable for small group work. If working in small discussion groups, after the exercise ask the groups to summarise what they discussed and feedback to the class.

The bigger picture

Questions in part 3 may not be directly related to the part 2 topic but still linked in some way. I use the following exercise with students to get them thinking about related topics:

  1. Watching TV is relaxing, something you do in your free-time in other words it is……..(elicit – a leisure activity)
    Watching TV can sometimes be good for learning in other words it is…(elicit - educational)
  2. I prefer watching TV to reading a newspaper or listening to the radio. Radio, TV and newspapers are forms of….(elicit - media / communication)
  3. Some people say watching TV is bad for your….(health)

Clearly then, part 3 questions related to watching TV could be about  leisure, education, media and health. Under the headings leisure, education, media and health, elicit and give possible questions and then follow up with question and answer work.


Do you think people spend too much of their free time watching TV?


Why do you think watching TV is such a popular leisure activity?

How can TV help learning?

Would you rather see a film on TV or go to the cinema and why?

Do you think TV should be censored at all?


Do parents have the right to control what their children watch on TV?

It is said that watching TV is possibly bad for your health. Why is this so and what can be done to overcome such problems?


How can children be encouraged to do more exercise?

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