How to succeed in the IELTS Speaking Test part 3

picture on London with English bus

For more than two decades, the IELTS test has been evaluating the English level of people learning English worldwide in the four communicative skills, namely Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing. Though all four skills are important, many employers and universities consider the Speaking test as the more crucial part as communicating verbally is essential if you want to work or study in an English speaking country. Hence, performing well in the Speaking test is very important.

In this article, you will learn more about the IELTS Speaking Test Part 3 including common topics and questions the examiner could ask and helpful IELTS speaking tips so that you can do well in the exam.

The IELTS Speaking Test

The full IELTS speaking test is about 15-minute long and has three parts – the Introduction, the Long Turn, and the Discussion. As the test progresses, the questions become a little more challenging. While the interview is not as academically difficult as the Reading or Writing exams, IELTS Speaking can be difficult for students due to lack of practice speaking or unfamiliarity with the IELTS Speaking topics that could be asked.

Learn about part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test: the Discussion

The IELTS Speaking part 3 is the last and most important part of the Speaking exam.  In this portion, more difficult questions are asked as the examiner aims to fully gauge the test taker’s fluency in English, vocabulary, and grammar.  Although the answers required are not as long as the Long Turn (Part 2), the questions are broader in scope and usually more in depth.

The questions asked in part 3 of the speaking test are usually related to part 2 of the exam, the the Long Turn.  So, if in part 2 you talked about clothing, then one can expect to receive Discussion questions about clothes, fashion, or beauty.  However, the examiner can also choose to redirect the questions as needed.

One scary part of the IELTS Speaking part 3 is that whatever you say can be challenged or questioned further as the examiner has more leeway to inquire about what a person knows in the Discussion.  Therefore, you should not just blurt out whatever comes to mind. Make sure that what you say is logical based on what you believe to be right.

What is the IELTS Examiner Looking for?

In the IELTS Speaking test part 3, there are some key things the examiner is looking for: the ability to discuss more complex topics; the ability to defend one’s answer; and good vocabulary and grammar.

  • Discussing Complex Topics

As earlier mentioned, the questions in the Discussion become broader in scope and usually requires the test taker to compare and contrast more abstract topics.  The questions are no longer about YOU, they are about the world around you.

For example:  

How different is transport today compared to transport 20 years ago?

What can government do to improve public transport in your area?

Do you think media has done enough to shed light on the transportation issues?

How are transportation problems affecting the environment?

So what can you do to prepare for this part of the speaking exam?

Practice, practice, practice!  

There is no other way but to try to answer such complicated questions, especially if you need a 7.0 or above.

  • Defending One’s Answer

In IELTS Speaking part 3, the examiner is able to “interrogate” you.  This means they can challenge what you say, which is something quite normal in a regular conversation.

For example:

        Interviewer: In some countries, smoking is banned in public places.  Is this okay?

Test taker:    Yes. I think it is alright.  They say that second-hand smoke is actually more dangerous to those who do not smoke, so banning smoking will protect people’s health and rights.

        Interviewer: But doesn’t the smoker have the “right” to smoke too?

If the examiner asks this question, the test taker may be thinking, “Did I choose the wrong side?!” The answer to this is “No.” Regardless of what side you choose or what the examiner personally thinks, the IELTS test is meant to test your fluency in English, so that is exactly what the examiner is doing.

Therefore, you should answer the best way you can to defend what you say, such as:

Test taker: Though a person has the right to choose or not choose to smoke, if his or her actions negatively affect others, like through second-hand smoke, then the person loses the right.

A good speaker will be able to reply appropriately.  A lower level candidate may end up tongue tied or confused.

  • Wide Vocabulary and Good Grammar

Similar to Part 2 of the test, IELTS Speaking part 3 requires much better vocabulary and grammar to do well.  Since the questions are more complicated, the test taker is really asked to use a variety of words. Proper comparison and contrast also means usage of the different tenses (past, present, future) and a host of other complex sentences.

The solution again is to practice, practice, and practice!

Now let’s look at some of the common IELTS Speaking topics and questions that are asked in the IELTS Speaking part 3.

Common IELTS Speaking Topics for Part 3

The following are some questions you can practice on:


  •         Do you think artists are better paid today than in the past?
  •         How important are artists to society?
  •         Do you think photography is an art?
  •         What kind of person appreciates abstract art?


  •         Do the people in your community prefer smaller or taller buildings?
  •         How different are the buildings in your area now compared to 20 years ago?
  •         What do people consider when they construct a building?
  •         Should government control the appearance of buildings?

Communication Technology

  •         How has communication technology affected personal relationships?
  •         Is it good that communication technology is improving almost every year?
  •         Is it better to have a cell phone or a tablet?
  •         What kind of communication devices do you think we will have in the next decade?

Exercise and Sports

  •         How different are the sports now to the sports of the past?
  •         How can the working adults be encouraged to exercise more?
  •         Why do some people choose to enroll in a gym while others exercise elsewhere?
  •         How can sports be improved in your country?

Family Life

  •         How different is family life now to family life 20 years ago?
  •         What do you think are the biggest challenges to families today?
  •         How can government better improve family life?
  •         How has the media affected family life?


  •         How popular is history with young people in your country?
  •         How can history class be made more interesting?
  •         Is it more important to know local history or international history?
  •         How does knowledge of history affect people’s daily lives?


  •         Are politicians well respected in your area?
  •         What are the characteristics of a good politician?
  •         Is it easy to get into politics where you live?
  •         Is it easier to be a mayor or a senator?

School and Studies

  •         In your country, is it better to be in a public school or a private school?
  •         How useful is the library to the youth today in your country?
  •         Is it fair to have courses where only a select few can get in?
  •         How can the public education in your country be improved?


  •         Do most people in your area believe that taxes are important?
  •         How can taxes be improved in your area?
  •         Why do you think that different countries have different tax laws?
  •         Do you think nations will have the same tax rules in the future?


  •         How have television programs changed over the years in your country?
  •         Are young adults more interested in television or the internet?
  •         How can the local TV stations be improved in your area?
  •         Why do many people dream of being on TV?

5 Tips for the IELTS Speaking Test Part 3

1. Practice the Different Topics

– Of the three sections of the IELTS Speaking test, Part 3 has the widest scope.  You need to practice a variety of topics, especially the ones you are not so familiar with.  Ask a friend or your English teacher to help you so he or she can challenge you and give you good feedback.

2. Do NOT Memorize Complete Answers

– Since so many things may come out in Part 3, it is not a good strategy to try to memorize answers to questions.  Practicing on a variety of questions is better than memorizing a select few. However, it is a good idea to memorise a few phrases which help you express or defend an opinion.


I believe that…..

My own feeling on the subject is that …

I hold the opinion that…..

From my point of view, ….

3. Be Yourself as You Answer

– Since it is expected that the examiner will challenge a lot of what you say in Part 3, just be yourself as you answer.  If you believe something, then defend it, but also take note of the conversation flow. If you realize that you are mistaken, then it is okay to correct yourself as needed.  Even in normal conversations with friends, opinions are shared and challenged so don’t take it negatively in Part 3.

4. Clarify if Needed

– Since the questions in Part 3 are complex, there may be times when you get confused by the question.  If needed, ask for a clarification: “Can you please rephrase the question?  I’m not quite sure what you mean by that.”  But only do this is you are really confused.  If you keep doing it, especially if you just plan on having more time to think, you might hurt your vocabulary score.

5. Be Conscious of Your Tenses

– Many times the Part 3 will require you to compare past, present, or future events.  Be conscious of your needed tenses if you want a high score. Again, practice with a friend who can listen to your usage of tenses and grammar structures.

The IELTS Speaking Test Part 3 is challenging but it can also be a fun conversation, especially if you are doing well and feel confident. Again, it is important to be yourself and talk about what you know. If you are unsure of questions, remember to clarify. But most importantly, practice, practice, and practice a lot with a multitude of topics so that you are prepared for exam day. If you follow these tips and strategies in this article you should do very well in part 3 of the IELTS speaking test.