IELTS Speaking. Part 1. Summary
The Part 1 questions are from the examiner’s «Question Book». He must use the exact wording as it is written in the Question Book. Even an American examiner must sometimes use a British word or expression in those instances when Americans have a different word or expression, because the questions are written in basically British English.
Each Part 1 topic in the Question Book has six or seven questions, and usually two of them are more difficult than the others. Those questions are like Part 3 questions. The examiner has a choice about what questions to ask, choosing 3 or 4 of them.
Part 1 begins when the examiner says something like, «Now I’d like to ask you are few more questions about your life», introduces a topic (Topic 1), and asks you a few questions on that topic. Topic 1 is one of the following: your home (= house or flat; your home street; your hometown; your home province; or your home country); or your work or your studies.
Then the examiner introduces another topic (Topic 2) and asks you a few questions on that topic.
Finally, the examiner introduces the third and last topic for Part 1, (Topic 3) and asks you a few questions on that topic.
The topics in Part 1 are about your everyday life, and about everyday life in your country. The topics especially apply to the lives of typical IELTS candidates. Typical topics are «Food», «Sport», «Music», «Free time activities», «Films», «Transport», etc. Sometimes more abstract (therefore more difficult) topics are available for the examiner to choose, such as «Patience». The examiner is more likely to choose one of the more abstract topics if the candidate appears to be quite strong in English up to this point in the test.
Each topic will have about 4 questions, so that Part 1 has a total of about 12 questions. These 12 questions are to be answered in just under 5 minutes. Assuming the examiner uses an average of two seconds to ask each question, the average answer in Part 1 should be about 22 seconds long. Therefore, your general strategy in Part 1 is to speak quite a lot, giving the examiner more than just minimal answers, but at the same time, controlling the average length of your answers to allow the examiner enough time to ask you about 4 questions for each of the 3 Part 1 topics. The examiner must strictly stay within the 4 to 5 minute time limit for Part 1.
Some answers in Part 1 are summaries. You can think of the questions as being rather open ended. For example, if the question is, “What kind of place is your hometown?”, you have to describe your hometown in just a few (e.g., 4 to 6) sentences. This is a summary, because in fact you possibly could answer this question in detail by speaking for 10 minutes! These summary types of questions require you to give slightly longer answers than for other questions.
The examiner will (normally) not make any comments in Parts 1 or 2. He will simply introduce each new topic, ask you questions, and listen to your answers. However, most examiners do occasionally say very short things after an answer such as «OK», «Thanks» or makes sounds such as «mmm!», sounds that communicate meaning.
Be prepared to be asked many questions in a short period of time, i.e., quickly!
The examiner can give you a little help with the meaning of any word that you don’t understand in Part 1 but you should be very careful about revealing any vocabulary weaknesses in Part 1. This is because the words used in the questions in Part 1 are generally considered to be understandable to candidates who are a Band 5 standard and above.
You will know when Part 1 is over when the examiner tells you that he or she is going to give you a topic for you to talk about. This is the beginning of Part 2.