IELTS speaking part 2 tips

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In this tutorial, you will find out:

  • what to expect in part two of the IELTS speaking test 
  • how to get a ‘band 9’ score in this part of the test..!
  • some great tips for IELTS speaking

The speaking test is the same for both IELTS academic and IELTS general training and it always involves a face-to-face interview with a certified IELTS examiner – regardless of whether you take the paper-based or computer-based version of the test.

Today, we’re going to focus on the second part of the test, which lasts between three and four minutes. Part two is an ‘individual long turn’.

The examiner will say: I’m going to give you a topic and I’d like you to talk about it for one to two minutes. Before you talk, you’ll have one minute to think about what you’re going to say. You can make some notes if you wish. Do you understand?  Here’s some paper and a pencil for making notes – and here’s your topic. Please don’t write anything on the booklet. I’d like you to describe…’ Here is an example of a speaking part 2 cue card:

Describe a time when you gave advice to others. You should say: - who you gave advice to - what the advice was - why you gave this advice - and explain how you felt about the advice

Here is a sample answer that will get a band 9 score:

I would like to talk about an experience I had when I was at university.  When I was a student, I had a part-time job at a local florist’s shop. The customers who came into the shop would often ask me for advice. At first, I was quite hesitant about making suggestions - I’m not exactly sure why. Partly I guess because I was only 19, but also because I didn’t feel very sure of myself - I was certainly no expert.

However, I quickly came to realise that most of my customers really didn’t have a clue about flowers! Soon I was giving tips about everything – from which types of flowers to choose at different times of year - so daffodils and tulips in the spring - or to how to put different colour schemes together. I was even making recommendations about which flowers or arrangements might be more suitable for different recipients or occasions.

On top of that, I started explaining how to look after cut flowers once you’ve bought them. I was shocked to find that most people didn’t know that they should cut the stems at an angle to make the flowers last longer for example – or add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to the water. I thought everyone knew that!

Once I got the hang of it, I loved giving advice to the customers. They were very appreciative, and they used to come back into the shop to tell me how much their mother or girlfriend – or husband or boyfriend – had liked the flowers, and to thank me for my help. I hadn’t expected a job in a flower shop to be so rewarding!

Why would this answer deserve a ‘band 9’?

The candidate will be assessed ont he following criteria: You spoke ‘fluently and coherently’ and ‘developed the topic fully’. There was an excellent range of vocabulary, and you ‘used idiomatic language naturally and accurately’, together with ‘a full range of grammatical structures’. Finally, you were ‘effortless to understand’.

Right. So that’s all you need to do..! Whether you are really trying to get a ‘band 9’ score – or you simply want to improve your score in the speaking section, here is some good advice:

  • First, when you look at the topic, don’t panic. Sometimes you will get a topic which makes you think – ‘OK, great. This is a piece of cake!’ – but on other occasions it can be very difficult to think of something to say.
  • Remember that you are not being tested on your honesty(!). The experience you talk about could be something that happened to a friend of yours, it could be from a movie, or you could even make the whole thing up..! Be careful though because you could “come a cropper” (fail badly).
  • Second, if you have several ideas, don’t procrastinate. Don’t spend too much time thinking about which one might be the best. Just make a decision and stick to it!
  • Then, once you have decided what you’re going to talk about, get organised. One way to do this is to use the keywords from the question to help you make coherent notes. Some people prefer to do this as a list…
who – customers / florist’s shop what – unsure to begin with / then everything – which flowers – different seasons - colours, occasions why – didn’t have a clue / looking after cut flowers – stems, sugar how I felt – appreciated / It was very rewarding


… whereas others use a mind-map or a diagram. If you feel more comfortable jotting down random ideas, allow enough time to put them in order before you have to start speaking. You don’t need to follow the order on the card, but do you need to arrange your ideas coherently.

In the speaking confidence course we have a tutorial about making mind maps, and numbering each point you will talk about, this makes for a more coherent presentation.  It’s a good idea to experiment with different ways of making notes so that you can find out what suits you best.

It’s also important to learn and practise some key phrases to help you begin your talk more confidently, such as: ‘I’d like to talk about an experience I had… / which happened to me…’.

Now it’s your turn. Have a look back at the task and take a minute to brainstorm some notes. Then see if you can speak about the topic for two minutes. You could also try recording yourself. When you listen, try to identify your strengths and weaknesses.

For lots more speaking tips to help you prepare for part two of the speaking course – including suggestions to help you expand your IELTS vocabulary, please check out our online course.

Audio tutorial

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