THINGS TO REMEMBER BEFORE YOU SPEAK
(1) Aim for THREE sentences. The questions are made for answers of this length. If you say less than this, the examiner cannot rate your speaking ability accurately.
(2) Try to use synonyms for the words you hear in the questions and also add some topic-specific vocabulary. For example, in the sample answers below, words like “drowsy” and “nap” are used to show specific vocabulary about sleep.
(3) Part One gives you a chance to show your speaking ability with some “getting-to-know-you” questions. Try to be relaxed and not too formal, but also pay attention to your grammar and pronunciation.
NOTE – The following questions are taken from a real IELTS test. Each question contains two sample answers: a simple one and an advanced one. Both answers contain useful linking vocabulary in italics and advanced/topic-specific vocabulary in bold as well as some tips. The advanced answers are written at a Band 9 level.
QUESTION ONE – How many hours do you sleep a day?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “I normally sleep for about six hours every night. I go to bed about midnight and I have to get up at 6am. I know you’re supposed to sleep for eight hours, but I find it hard to sleep for that long.”
COMMENT – Notice how “sleep a day” in the question is changed to “every night” in the answer. This is a good way to show your vocabulary.
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “I try to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep every night, but my sleep habits are not great. I tend to use my phone in bed and the bright screen makes it difficult for me to fall asleep. On an average night, I probably only get about 6 hours of sleep.”
QUESTION TWO – Do you think it is enough? Why?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “Um, no, I don’t think so. Like I said, we’re supposed to sleep for eight hours every night, but I only sleep for around six. Often in the mornings I’m tired and normally drink some coffee to wake up, so I don’t think I sleep as much as I should.”
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “No, I don’t. In the mornings, I often feel lethargic and my head is cloudy. I don’t fully wake up until I’ve had a cup of coffee and moved around for a bit. So, I definitely need to get more, but staying up late is a hard habit to break.”
COMMENT – Notice how in both answers, the first sentence is short, simple, and answers the question directly. After that, you can give some more complex details to support your main idea.
QUESTION THREE – What do you do to improve sleep quality?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “At the moment, I don’t think I do anything. But, I know that not using a phone or laptop before going to bed can help you sleep better. Also, not drinking too much coffee and getting regular exercise might help me to sleep better.”
COMMENT – Linking your ideas with simple words like “also” makes a big difference to how clear your answer is.
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Recently, I’ve been trying to avoid using my phone or any other device an hour before I go to bed. This helps my brain to switch off and I wake feeling more refreshed. I do drink a lot of coffee though, and caffeine is one of the things that make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, so I should probably cut back on that too.”
QUESTION FOUR – Do you like sleeping during the day? Why?
SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Simple) – “Not really. Often in the afternoon I feel sleepy and take a short nap, but normally when I wake up I feel even worse, so normally I just have a cup of coffee after lunch and keep going.”
SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced) – “Sometimes, I feel so drowsy in the early afternoon that I can’t help but take a nap. Although, normally when I wake up I feel groggy and even more tired than I did before, so I don’t really like it and try to only sleep after the sun has gone down.”
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