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Speaking Part 3 Overview and Tips



This article will give an overview of Speaking Part 3 and some useful tips to help you get the score you deserve!


In this class we are going to do 4 things:


  1. 🔎 Give an overview of the Speaking Part 3 Format

  2. 📑 Look at some Common Types of Speaking Part 3 Question

  3. Compare Speaking Part 3 to a 'Real Life' activity

  4. 🏗️ Discuss how to Structure your Speaking Part 3 answers

  5. Go through some Speaking Part 3 Pro-Tips


In a future post, we will look at how to practise Speaking Part 3 questions.


1. 🔎 Speaking Part 3 Format


Time


Speaking Part 3 lasts 4 - 5 minutes.


Format


You will be asked a series of questions (loosely) based on the topic you talked about in Part 2.


For example, if your speaking Part 2 topic is about a tourist attraction you enjoyed visiting, your speaking Part 3 questions might be about tourism.


Here’s an example:


If this is your Part 2 topic:



Your Part 3 discussion questions will be something like this:





The format is comparable to Speaking Part 1, but the questions will be a bit deeper, more abstract, or more socio-political. The questions will be less about you and your life, and more about the world, common topics of academic debate, your opinions and arguments, etc.


Compare:


Part 1 type question.

Part 3 type question.

  • Do you enjoy cooking?

  • Do you think that schools should teach cooking lessons to their students?

  • What’s your favourite mode of transport?

  • What measures could be taken to reduce pollution in cities?

  • Do you play any sports?

  • Why do some people prefer certain hobbies such as practising sports, while others prefer more artistic pursuits such as painting?

The examiner is testing the ability to give opinions about topics in a slightly more abstract way, moving away from personal experiences and towards talking about society in general.


However, it is important to remember that the examiner is only evaluating your spoken language and not your opinions!



2. 📑 Common Types of Speaking Part 3 Question


Most IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions follow formats such as these:


  • What are popular ... in your country? What are the most popular types of childrens’ books in your country?

  • Why do some people … ? Why do some people not like staying in hotels?

  • How important … / is it important … ? How important is it for everyone to have a goal in life?

  • Comparing the past to present Do you think that customers are more likely to complain nowadays?

  • Speculating about the future Do you think homes will look different in the future?

  • What are the advantages / disadvantages of … ? What are some possible disadvantages of buying things from online shops?

  • Do you agree that … ? Do you agree that money does not necessarily bring happiness?

  • What could be done to help society … ? In what ways could famous people use their influence to do good things in the world?

  • Questions comparing generations (young(er) people / old(er) people) How do the types of tourist attractions that younger people like to visit compare with those that older people like to visit?

  • Speculating about aspects of jobs What do you think it might be like to work in a customer service job?

  • Talking about cost / value / if things should be free Do you agree that some tourist attractions (e.g. national museums/galleries) should be free to visit?

  • Educating young people / parenting / raising children Should parents always let their children choose the books they read?



3. What 'Real Life' activity is this like?


Speaking part 3 is a bit like when a friend asks your opinion about something they’ve read in the news.


Friend: [I just read that in London, all of the major museums are free] Do you agree that some tourist attractions (e.g. national museums/galleries) should be free to visit?
You: I think that's a good idea, as it would attract more international tourists which would be good for the economy in the long term. Even though taxpayers would probably have to subsidise the free tourist attractions, a country can make a lot of money from tourism, which would then eventually offset that cost. This is 'cause tourists spend a lot on things like food, accomodation and souvenirs while visiting a country. So, yeah, despite the initial cost of making tourist sites free to visit, I think it could actually end up being profitable for the society as a whole.

You have to give your opinion, then explain and justify it.





4. 🏗️ How to Structure your Speaking Part 3 Answers


Compare the following 2 answers. Which do you think is more effective and why?


Why do some people not like staying in hotels?

Candidate 1:

I think some people don't like staying in hotels because they might think they're uncomfortable ... Uh, also they might think they're too expensive, and also they might prefer to stay with locals by contacting them through couch surfing or looking for an AirBnb ... And err, some people might think that hotels are dirty because they once had a bad experience, or err ... So yeah, these people might prefer other options like hostels or, uhh, something like that.

Candidate 2:

Hmm ... I think the main reason that some people don't like staying in hotels is because of the cost. Going on holiday can be really expensive and so after saving up a lot of money for flights and spending money, paying for a hotel, where you're only gonna go and sleep, might not be the best use of money. These people would probably prefer to stay somewhere cheaper like a hostel and spend their money on local food or souvenir shopping rather than waste their money on a fancy hotel.

You may notice that Candidate 1's answer is a rambling incoherent list of several disparate ideas, whereas Candidate 2's answer is one idea, well developed.



The trick is: Develop, don’t list.



Students often answer SP3 questions by providing a rambling list of answers - rather than focusing on one idea and developing it effectively. If you give one clear idea, then develop it with a detailed explanation and detailed examples, then you will communicate more clearly, fluently and with better language.


You can think of your SP3 answers as being a bit like WT2 paragraphs with a POINT, EXPLANATION, and EXAMPLE.



You can of course make multiple points in your answers, and if you’re going to do that, you should try to make it clear.


Compare the following 2 answers to the same question. Which answer is easier to follow?



What are the benefits of parents reading books to their children?

Candidate 1:

It can help children become more literate, which means that the kids themselves will be better readers themselves. My parents always read to me, and so when I was about 4 or 5, I didn’t need much encouragement to start reading myself … Errm, also, it can help parents and children bond. Having a bedtime story as part of a nightly routine can be a great way to spend quality family time, as both parents and children can both enjoy the stories. My parents and I still talk about books they read to me when I was a little boy.

Candidate 2:

I think there are two main reasons why parents should read to their kids. The first is that it can help them to become more literate, meaning that they themselves will be better readers in the future. My parents always read to me, and so when I was about 4 or 5, I didn’t need much encouragement to start reading myself. The second is that it can help parents and children bond. Having a bedtime story as part of a nightly routine can be a great way to spend quality family time, as both parents and children can both enjoy the stories. In fact, my parents and I still talk about books they read to me when I was a little boy.

Candidate 2's answer starts with a brief introduction, telling the examiner that they're going to explain 2 points, then contains useful 'signpost language' introducing the first point and then the second point.



5. 💡 Pro-Tips


⭐ Develop, don’t list.


⭐ If you are going to give an answer with multiple points, you should enumerate them 1) to make it easier for the examiner to follow your ideas and 2) so you know when you’ve finished making your point and can stop without ‘rambling’.


⭐ It’s Ok to give yourself a moment of thinking time before you answer. You can use phrases like the following before you give your answer: ‘That’s a difficult question, let me think …’ / ‘Hmm … Good question … It might be because …’ / ‘Honestly, I don’t really know … But I’d probably say …’


⭐ Don’t speak too fast.


⭐ Remember to breathe! Pause briefly between ideas to catch your breath, and control your breathing.


⭐ Try not to make too many audible pauses (err, umm, uhh). Doing this occasionally is fine, and it's a natural part of speech, but if you do it constantly, it'll make your fluency score go down.

⭐ The exam is not an intelligence test. The examiner isn’t evaluating your ideas, only your English. They are not expecting you to be an expert on each subject, just for you to offer an opinion.


⭐ If you can’t think of ideas relating to the topic, you can be honest and adapt what you want to say, or you can lie, embellish, and make things up; however, always keep your talk relevant to the topic.



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