After the Short Talk: Speaking Part 3

July 12, 2017 by Andrea Castro

 If you’ve read our previous posts on the IELTS Speaking test, you probably have a good understanding of the Speaking test overall. You’re probably aware that the Speaking test takes the form of a one-to-one interview and that it is divided into three parts: 

  • Part 1: Introduction and interview
  • Part 2: Long turn
  • Part 3: Two-way discussion

You may have also come across posts focusing on specific parts of the Speaking test, such as Did You Say 2 minutes? Planning and Delivering a Short Talk During Your Speaking Test, which examines Speaking Part 2, also known as the ‘long turn’. As part of a series of posts on the different parts of the Speaking test, today we’ll be looking at Speaking Part 3 in more detail and will discuss the best ways to approach the last (but not least) part of the Speaking exam.

An Overview on Speaking Part 3

Speaking Part 3 takes 4-5 minutes. In this part, you will be asked more abstract and analytical questions related to the topic introduced in Part 2. The examiner will ask you a variety of questions designed to give you an opportunity to discuss the topic in a more general way and, where appropriate, they will encourage you to discuss the issues in greater depth.

Given that this part of the interview is a two-way discussion, Part 3 allows for more flexibility in terms of examiner-candidate interaction. This means that examiners can ask follow-up questions and can clarify what has been asked when necessary.

Understanding Part 3 Questions

Imagine the examiner has asked you the following question after a Part 2 talk about something that is valuable to you. Take a minute to think of a possible answer.

‘What kind of things give status to people in your country?’

As you may have realized, the answer to this question is significantly different to a reply from a question in Part 1, such as ‘Tell me about the kind of accommodation you live in.’ While Part 1 deals with simple and straightforward questions about yourself and about familiar topics, in Part 3 you’re expected to shift your focus away from yourself.

Due to the nature of the questions asked in Part 3, this is where you can demonstrate range and control of language, your ability to express abstract ideas and to support your opinions effectively. Because you will be expected and encouraged to discuss the questions in Part 3 more fully, you should aim to give longer replies than you did to the Part 1 questions, while exploring the issue(s) discussed.

Exploring the Theme: Common Approaches

Even strong candidates can lose marks if they're not prepared to provide long, discursive answers in Part 3. To achieve this, there are a variety of useful approaches to consider when discussing the Part 3 topics:

  • Expressing Your Opinion

Even though Part 3 questions are no longer about yourself, it's important that you express your own opinions during the discussion. Make sure you can give reasons for your opinions, which in turn will help you give a more extended and supported answer.

The table below presents some of the phrases you can use to introduce your opinion and to then give reasons for that view.

Introducing your opinion

Giving reasons

  • “In my view…”
  • “In my opinion…”
  • “I think/believe that…”
  • “It seems to me that…”
  • “This is because..”
  • “This is due to (the fact that)…”
  • “One reason is…”
  • “For one thing…”


  • Giving Two Sides of an Argument

Generally, when you consider opposing arguments, you strengthen your own point of view. For example, in the question ‘Do you think advertising influences what people buy?’, you may decide to focus exclusively on whether you agree or disagree with the statement. However, if you choose to consider why some people think advertising influences what people buy and why others think it doesn’t, followed by your own opinion, your argument will be better supported. Moreover, discussing both sides of the argument will allow you to explore the topic further, hence giving a fuller answer.

Some of the phrases you can use to give two sides of an argument are the following:

  • “While some people may think that…, others/I believe that…”
  • “It is true that…, but on the other hand…”
  • “Some people think that… However,…”

  • Speculating

While the examiner may ask you to talk about the future and consider possibilities, speculating is an approach that you can try whenever you consider appropriate. Speculating can help you to give a more elaborate response, even when you have no experience or strong views on the topic. For this, you can use phrases such as the following:

  • “I suppose…”
  • “I would imagine that…”
  • “I’d say…”


During the interview, listen carefully to each question and take a few seconds to think about what you are being asked to do: give an explanation, compare, speculate, etc. If necessary, rephrase the question in your mind, so that you know what the examiner expects. And remember, no matter how many ideas you have on the topic, make sure you can support and justify your opinions. Stay focused and enjoy the discussion!

Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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