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IELTS Speaking Part 2 - Format, Topics, Questions & Tips

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by Hiral Joshi

by Hiral Joshi

IELTS Expert


IELTS Speaking can be fun and nerve-racking at the same time as it involves talking with an IELTS examiner in person. It takes 11 to 14 minutes and has three parts.

  • Part 1: The first part involves informal interview questions about your personal life, loved ones, job, studies, or interests. 
  • Part 2: You will be given a topic card with three speaking points. You will have one minute to organize your speaking points. Then, you’ll get one to two minutes where you’ll speak continuously, covering all three speaking points.
  • Part 3: You will have a more extended discussion on the topic. The examiner will ask you more questions connected to the topic in Part 2.

(This blog is about Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test. Click here if you’re looking for our Part 1 blog!)

Part 2 Format

To achieve your dream score in IELTS Speaking, it is necessary to understand the most challenging task of the test: Speaking Part 2.

What happens in Part 2?
  1. First, the examiner will read the instructions, and provide you with a task card or booklet, a pen, and some paper.
  2. After that, you will have one minute to plan your answer by reading the material and taking notes.
  3. You should then speak for two minutes (or until instructed to stop). The examiner will tell you when to start.  The examiner keeps a record of your time.
Do I need to make notes before I speak?

You should practice Speaking Part 2 as often as possible before the test. Since you are expected to speak for two minutes, making notes when the examiner gives you time is crucial. Remember, you can read from the notes that you have made. 

How is this test marked?

The Speaking examiner will mark you on the four main criteria: 

  • Your ability to speak fluently and at length
  • Your pronunciation
  • Your vocabulary
  • Your grammar

Sample Topic Cards

On the Part 2 topic cards, you can expect to see various subjects including housing, hobbies, work, study, animals, holidays, shopping, transport, family, environment, and more.

Let’s look at 3 sample topic cards from Speaking Part 2: 

Describe a change that could make your neighbourhood better. You should say: 

  • what the change would be;
  • how this change could be made;
  • what problems are causing the need for this change;
  • and explain how this change would improve your local area. 

Describe a family party that you attended. You should say: 

  • where this party was held;
  • why it was held;
  • what you did at the event;
  • and explain what you enjoyed about the party. 

Describe a subject you enjoyed studying at your school. You should say:  

  • when and where you started studying it;
  • what the lessons were like;
  • what made it different from other subjects; 
  • and explain why you enjoyed the subject. 

In Speaking Part 2, pay attention to topic cards that use words like ‘describe a…’, ‘talk about…’, and ‘share a time…’. It is also important to identify the main topic of the question (neighbourhoods, parties, schools etc.) and use relevant language that’s usually associated with that topic.

In the first sample above, the test taker would be expected to talk about a change they want in their neighbourhood. While it can be tricky to think on the spot, you are free to make your own stories even if they are untrue (as long as it is relevant to the context and rich in language).

Please remember that all the bullet points in the question need to be addressed to score better 

5 Tips for Success in Part 2

Tip 1: Don't underestimate your 1-minute preparation time.

Read the question carefully and make sure you understand the task before answering. Once you start speaking, the idea is not to stop. Therefore, take some time, understand what is being asked and make your notes accordingly. Don’t feel shy to look through your notes while speaking. 

Tip 2: Don't memorize answers.

Memorizing answers can be easy and convenient, but that would be the biggest mistake you can make in your IELTS Speaking test. Examiners can easily spot a memorized answer, and you may lose a lot of marks. Instead of memorizing answers, try to create stories, imagine the situation, and speak what you know best! 

Tip 3: Don't worry about your accent.

Our accent makes us unique and genuine. There is no need to change your accent to sound English. It is important to work on clear pronunciation but faking an accent won’t help, especially because your mind would be distracted by the accent instead of focusing on the speaking task.   

Tip 4: It's OK to pause before answering.

While fluency is important, pausing is necessary too. It is natural to take a very small pause before answering. One can think for a while and use phrases like “Oh! Let me think…”, “This is a brainstormer…”, and “Let me reflect on this thing/place/person…” Remember, it should be a natural pause, not a long silence.

Tip 5: Practice common topics.

There are several online resources where you can find sample questions and answers for Part 2. Practice common IELTS Speaking topics such as tourism and travel, education, transport, the environment, family life, sport and recreation, crime and punishment, and the internet. While you practice these topics, try to record yourself. This will help you keep track of time, pronunciation, fluency, and content. Self-reflection will help you gain confidence and clarity before appearing for exams 

Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test is the most engaging task where you can flaunt your language skills. If you are well prepared, you will be able to score well and succeed in your IELTS exams. After all, speaking is fun! Isn’t it?

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