IELTS Speaking: Dealing with Tough Questions in Part 3

In today's highly competitive global job market, having strong English language skills is often a prerequisite for success. One of the most recognized English language proficiency exams worldwide is the International English Language Testing System, or IELTS. As candidates prepare for the IELTS examination, they encounter various challenges, one of which is navigating the demanding Part 3 of the Speaking test. In this article, We will delve into effective strategies for mastering the art of handling tough questions in IELTS Speaking Part 3.

Understanding the IELTS Speaking Test Structure

Before we dive into strategies for tackling difficult questions in Part 3, it's crucial to comprehend the structure of the IELTS Speaking test. The Speaking section is divided into three parts, with Part 3 being the most challenging:

Part 1: Introduction and Interview (4-5 minutes)
This section involves the examiner asking the candidate questions about themselves, their interests, and their daily life. It serves as an icebreaker and helps candidates ease into the speaking test.
Part 2: Long Turn (3-4 minutes)
In Part 2, candidates are given a task card with a topic and some prompts. They have one minute to prepare and then must speak for up to two minutes on the given topic. This section assesses the candidate's ability to speak at length on a subject.
Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)
Part 3 is the most challenging part of the IELTS Speaking test. It involves a discussion between the candidate and the examiner on a more abstract and complex topic related to the Part 2 theme. The questions in this section require candidates to express opinions, analyze ideas, and engage in a deeper conversation.
Strategies for Excelling in IELTS Speaking Part 3
Now that we've covered the basics, let's explore some effective strategies for dealing with tough questions in Part 3:

Also read: Perfecting Your Accent: Tips to Enhance Pronunciation for IELTS Speaking

  • Active Listening
Active listening is a foundational skill for success in Part 3. Pay close attention to the examiner's questions, as they often contain clues and keywords that can guide your response. Ensure you understand the question fully before formulating your answer.
  • Paraphrasing and Expanding
When you receive a challenging question, it's essential to paraphrase it in your own words to demonstrate your comprehension. Additionally, expand on your answers by providing detailed explanations, examples, and personal experiences. This showcases your ability to communicate effectively.
  • Balanced Responses
Avoid one-word answers or overly brief responses. Aim for balanced, well-structured answers that include an introduction, main points, and a conclusion. This demonstrates your ability to sustain a conversation.
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
Building a strong vocabulary is critical for Part 3. Utilize a wide range of vocabulary to express your ideas accurately. However, only use words you are comfortable with to avoid errors.
  • Practice with Mock Tests
To excel in Part 3, practice is key. Familiarize yourself with a variety of Part 3 questions by using official IELTS practice materials and mock tests. This will help you become more comfortable with the format and types of questions.
  • Stay Calm and Confident
Part 3 can be intimidating, but maintaining your composure is essential. Stay calm, take a moment to think before responding, and speak confidently. Confidence in your abilities will reflect positively on your overall performance.
  • Critical Thinking
Part 3 often involves discussing abstract and complex topics. Engage in critical thinking by examining different aspects of the issue, considering pros and cons, and forming well-reasoned opinions. This demonstrates your ability to analyze and evaluate ideas.
  • Transition Phrases
Use transition phrases to connect your ideas coherently. Phrases like "Furthermore," "In addition," and "On the contrary" can help you smoothly transition between points, making your speech more structured and easier to follow.
  • Expressing Uncertainty
It's okay to admit when you're uncertain about a topic. Instead of guessing or providing inaccurate information, politely express your uncertainty. You can say, "I'm not entirely sure about that, but I believe..." This shows honesty and can lead to a more productive discussion.
  • Cultural Awareness
Part 3 questions may touch on cultural or societal issues. Be culturally aware and sensitive when discussing such topics. Avoid making sweeping generalizations or judgments about cultures or communities.
  • Time Management
Part 3 discussions have a time limit, so manage your time effectively. Don't spend too long on one point; instead, aim to cover multiple aspects of the question within the allotted time.
  • Respond to Examiner's Cues
Examiners may provide cues or prompts to guide the discussion. Pay attention to these cues, as they can help structure your responses. For example, if the examiner says, "Tell me more about..." or "What are the implications of this?" use these prompts to elaborate on your answers.

  • Peer Feedback

Practice with a study partner or tutor who can provide constructive feedback. They can assess your fluency, coherence, and pronunciation and offer suggestions for improvement.

  • Record Yourself

Recording your practice sessions allows you to evaluate your performance objectively. Listen to your recordings to identify areas where you can enhance your speaking skills, such as reducing filler words (e.g., "uh," "um") or improving pronunciation.

  • Body Language

While the IELTS Speaking test primarily assesses verbal skills, your body language can still convey confidence. Maintain good posture, make eye contact (if practicing with a partner), and use hand gestures sparingly and naturally to emphasize points.

  • Mock Interviews

Simulate the actual test conditions by conducting mock interviews with a tutor or study partner. This replicates the pressure and format of the real test, helping you become more comfortable with the examination environment.

By incorporating these additional strategies into your IELTS Speaking Part 3 preparation, you can enhance your ability to handle challenging questions effectively and impress the examiners with your English language proficiency. Remember that consistent practice and a focused approach are the keys to success in this critical section of the IELTS exam.


In conclusion, IELTS Speaking Part 3 is undoubtedly a challenging segment of the examination, but with the right strategies and preparation, it can be conquered. Active listening, paraphrasing, balanced responses, vocabulary enhancement, practice, and confidence are key elements to excel in this section. By implementing these techniques, candidates can navigate tough questions with ease and increase their chances of achieving a high score on the IELTS Speaking test.

Remember that preparation is the key to success in any endeavor, and the IELTS exam is no exception. By honing your skills and practicing regularly, you can confidently tackle even the toughest questions in Part 3, ultimately achieving your desired IELTS score.

Here are some common IELTS Speaking Part 3 topics along with example questions:


  • How do you think the education system in your country could be improved?
  • What are the advantages of studying abroad?
  • Do you believe that formal education is essential for success in life?
  • How has technology changed the way people communicate with each other?
  • What are the positive and negative impacts of technology on society?
  • Do you think robots will replace humans in certain jobs in the future?
  • Environment
  • What steps can individuals take to protect the environment?
  • Should governments impose stricter regulations on industries to reduce pollution?
  • How can we raise awareness about climate change?

    Health and Well-being
  • What are some common health issues in your country, and how can they be addressed?
  • Is it important for people to follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly?
  • How can stress be managed effectively in today's fast-paced world?

    Culture and Traditions
  • How have traditional customs and celebrations changed over the years?
  • Is it important for young people to learn about their cultural heritage?
  • What role do festivals play in preserving cultural traditions?

Work and Careers
  •  What qualities make a person successful in their career?
  • Do you think people should pursue jobs they are passionate about, even if they earn less money?
  • How can employers promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees?

    Family and Relationships
  • How has the concept of family evolved in recent years?
  • What challenges do long-distance relationships pose, and how can they be overcome?
  • What are the benefits of spending quality time with family members?

    Travel and Tourism
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of mass tourism in popular destinations?
  • How can travelers be more responsible and sustainable when exploring other countries?
  • Do you think travel experiences enrich a person's life?

    These topics and questions are commonly used in IELTS Speaking Part 3 to assess a candidate's ability to engage in meaningful discussions, express opinions, and provide detailed responses. Practicing responses to these questions can help candidates prepare effectively for this section of the IELTS exam.

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