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IELTS Speaking, Part 2: Practice Questions with Sample Answers

Today we will look at three example questions from Part 2 of the Speaking module of IELTS. Each question deals with a different timeframe: one past, one regular and one hypothetical future event. Try answering these questions yourself first and then compare the sample answers below with your own. For each question, you have one minute to prepare your answer, and you should then speak for one to two minutes.

Question 1

Describe a major decision you have taken in your life.
You should say:
- What the decision was
- What other choices were available to you
- Why you made the decision you did
And explain if you think the decision was a good one.

Question 2

Describe something you do to forget about work or study.
You should say:
- What the activity is
- How often you do it
- How it helps you forget
And say whether you would recommend other people try the same thing.

Question 3

Describe a language you would like to learn.
You should say:
- What the language is
- Where it is spoken
- Why you are interested in this language
And say if you think you will ever actually have the chance to learn it.

See below for sample answers and analysis

Question 1: Sample answer and analysis

Describe a major decision you have taken in your life.
You should say:
- What the decision was
- What other choices were available to you
- Why you made the decision you did
And explain if you think the decision was a good one.

Like many questions in IELTS Speaking Part 2, this one deals with an event or action in the past. There is, however, a switch to the present when the candidate is required to reflect on the decision.

A really important decision I’ve made recently is to study abroad. No-one from my family has ever had the chance to do this before, and my parents were actually hoping I’d start working for the family textile business. I think it’s too soon to join the business though. I really want to study marketing – especially e-marketing – so I can contribute more to my parent’s firm in the future. If I study e-marketing in the UK, I can learn how to use the internet to sell our clothes all over the world. As for whether it was the right decision, I’m pretty confident it was and I can’t change my mind now anyway because my parents have borrowed money from my uncle to pay for my tuition. I really can’t wait to come back with new ideas that will help expand our business. All I need now is to get a good score in IELTS. So, anyway, that’s an important decision in my life.

This IELTS candidate scores highly by:

  • Getting straight to the point and saying what the decision was in the very first sentence
  • Paraphrasing the topic: A really important decision
  • Using a range of tenses – past simple, present simple and present perfect – with great accuracy
  • Using a wide range of grammatical forms such as a conditional sentence (If I…) and a cleft sentence (All I need now is…)
  • Answering all parts of the question
  • Signalling one part of the question: As for whether it was the right decision…
  • Avoiding over-formality and using expressions such as actually and pretty that are appropriate to conversational style
  • Providing a summarising sentence to wrap up the response

Question 2: Sample answer and analysis

Describe something you do to forget about work or study.
You should say:
- What the activity is
- How often you do it
- How it helps you forget
And say whether you would recommend other people try the same thing.

This is a much trickier question because the words work and study in the first sentence may lead some IELTS candidates to speak about either of those topics. In fact, you should speak about some kind or leisure activity or other form of relaxation that helps you forget about work or study.

OK, I’d like to talk about horse-riding. I’m actually the joint owner of a horse with two of my friends and we take turns looking after him, cleaning out the stable and so on. I don’t have a part-time job so I spend most of my weekends at the stable. Taking care of a horse is quite a dirty business so it’s obviously very different from studying at college. That means I can forget about my classes during the week when I’m at the stable on the weekend. There’s quite a large field next to the stable and I just get a wonderful sense of freedom when I’m riding around on my horse. College seems a million miles away! Do I think other people would enjoy horse-riding? Yes, absolutely. I think everyone should give it a try.

This IELTS candidate scores highly by:

  • Showing a clear understanding of the question
  • Getting straight to the point by mentioning the activity in the first sentence
  • Using present simple verbs throughout to show that this is a regular activity
  • Sticking to the question even though the topic might be a very enjoyable one to speak about
  • Showing awareness of hyperbole (a million miles), phrasal verbs (give it a try) and other forms common to spoken English
  • Using a rhetorical question to move from one part of the question to another: Do I think…?
  • Ending with a clear concluding sentence, in this case a recommendation

Question 3: Sample answer and analysis

Describe a language you would like to learn.
You should say:
- What the language is
- Where it is spoken
- Why you are interested in this language
And say if you think you will ever actually have the chance to learn it.

One problem IELTS candidates have with hypothetical questions such as this one is that they fail to recognise them as hypothetical. Since candidates are already learning English, they should talk about another language that is neither English nor their first language. This can be realistic (e.g. Spanish) or unrealistic (e.g. Ancient Greek). It doesn’t matter as long as the language is not one you are currently learning.

Let me tell you about a language I’ve always wanted to learn, which is Russian. It’s spoken in Russia, obviously, but also in many other countries which have been influenced by Russia including places like Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The reason I would like to learn Russian is that the energy industry is huge and there are lots of jobs. A lot of my country’s oil and gas comes from Russia so it’s really useful to be able to speak that language if you want to work in the energy field. And I know that a lot of Russians can’t speak English very well so there’s another reason to learn their language. The problem is I’m already in my thirties and I’ve spent more than ten years learning English. I don’t know if I would ever be able to study Russian because it uses a completely different alphabet and sounds really difficult. But it would be really nice to have the chance to learn it.

This IELTS candidate scores highly by:

  • Beginning with an impact sentence: Let me tell you about…
  • Using would to show that the response is hypothetical
  • Signalling parts of the question: The reason I would like to learn Russian is…
  • Using reference links to avoid overuse of the key topic word ‘Russian’: that language; their language; it
  • Giving more than one reason
  • Returning to the main point of the question in the final sentence

These three sample answers show that there are certain techniques that can be applied regardless of the topic in IELTS Speaking, Part 2. Perfecting a system for answering all parts of the question in a very short space of time is key.

There are also factors such as pronunciation (not mentioned here) as well as nonverbal communication which, although not included in the scoring criteria for IELTS Speaking, can certainly influence an examiner’s judgement of your ability.

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17 thoughts on “IELTS Speaking, Part 2: Practice Questions with Sample Answers”

    1. That was only 35 seconds spoken slowly. This would be penalized in the real IELTS exam. Theere was not enough content and support. Therefore, it would not score that highly.

    1. Correct pronunciation is very imntroapt if you want to sound native-like. That way, you will be understood faily well by both native speakers and all those non-natives but whose English is next to being perfect and fluent. In this connection, I would like to recommend the site that follows to all Russian learners of English, http:/ /беглый-английский.рф Yours good-luckily

  1. if we speak more about cue card and the examiner stop us is there any negative marking of speaking more then 2 minutes

  2. one of the major causes of traffic problems is the use of private vehicles. government should force people to use public transport systems.

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