A cartoon of the earth at night sits on a background of stars to represent how it is important to think in general in IELTS Speaking Part 3.

In Part 3 of the IELTS Speaking test, you move from the personal to the general. While Part 1 and Part 2 ask you to answer questions based on your life experiences, in Part 3 you are asked to comment about abstract topics. And for me, this this is the part of the test where the examiner really gets to test your language and academic skills.

Now, there are many things that you might be asked to do in IELTS Speaking Part 3. You may be asked to agree or disagree with a statement, or to evaluate or assess the importance of an action; or to compare two items; or to give a reason or explanation for a current phenomenon; or to identify or describe a trend; or predict or speculate about future habits; or to suggest a solution to a problem; or simply to identify examples of something in your culture.

However, WHATEVER you are asked to do, you have to

THINK IN GLOBAL TERMS 🌎

This means that you should never talk about yourself 🛑Never give personal examples.🛑 It’s OK to use your own life as a guide for your answer, but don’t talk about what you do, talk about what people do in GENERAL. For example, if the examiner asks “What are some of the reasons why people travel abroad to study?” and you answer

Well, I want to better my chances of employment by getting a degree in another country.

The examiner will interrupt you and ask you why people travel abroad to study IN GENERAL. If you aren’t expecting this, it can be a shock! 🤯 However, all you had to do to answer the question correctly was think about your own experience, and then talk about it in GENERAL TERMS

Well, many people feel that they will have a better chance of employment if they get a degree in another country.

Boom 💥. Now our answer is talking about people in general, so is appropriate for Part 3 (of course, this is only ONE reason why people want to study abroad, in the exam you would have to add at least one more to fully address the examiner’s question)

Also, remember, that Academic IELTS is supposed to test if a student would be able to function in a university environment. So, the more “academic” you can make your responses the better. In fact, this goes for General Training students too (although maybe it’s better for you to imagine that you are in a business meeting during the speaking exam – imagine speaking in a way that would impress your boss!) For example, if the examiner asks you “How can governments help people feel less lonely?”, an OK answer would be:

Well, they could start social clubs for people

Here the test-taker has given a relevant answer, but they have only given an example – it’s the most basic and specific way of answering this question. However, a GREAT answer would be:

Well, I think the key is finding ways that will help people interact more on a day to day basis. For example, they could start social clubs for the elderly, or…….

Now, we have a global reason behind our answer not just a specific example of a way. This elevates your response to a much higher level, and even though many IELTS books say that your ideas are not important, THIS IS NOT TRUE in the speaking exam. Here, the examiner wants to know if you can handle discussing abstract ideas, and to do that, you must be able to give good, relevant answers.


👉 Other points to remember about IELTS Speaking Part 3 👈

  1. You don’t need to summarise your points at the end of each question – this is a waste of time. The examiner has heard your arguments and ideas, so just wait for the next question.
  2. You don’t need to always give 3 ideas for each question. If you only have tow, THAT IS FINE. It is better to give good extended answers than to try to “create” a third. Part 3 is not a lecture!
  3. Don’t panic if the examiner interrupts you. This can actually be a good thing. in section 3, the examiner wants to push you as much as possible to discover what you are capable of. If they interrupt you it could be that you are speaking on a personal level OR it could be that they feel you have answered the question sufficiently and it’s time to move on OR it could be that they want you to give more details about something you said OR it could be something totally different! DO NOT PANIC. Just listen to the new question and answer it as best you can.

So, to recap students who do best in Part 3 are those who can take it from the person to the global. And don’t worry if the examiner interrupts you – it probably means that they want to challenge you! Good luck! 🚀

If you would like a one-to-one lesson to learn how to give global answers to IELTS Speaking Part 3 questions, then book a Skype lesson with me today ⚡

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