IELTS Practice Tests

IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 – Problems.

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IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 – Problems.

After completing Part One (usually after 4~5 minutes) the examiner will move onto Part Two of the speaking test.

In Part Two the examiner gives the candidate a topic card and the candidate has one minute to prepare and make notes. After the one minute preparation time the candidate is required to talk about the topic for between one and two minutes (as a rule you are expected to speak for at least I minute 30 seconds – anything less than this and your “Fluency” score may be reduced).

Candidates do not need to worry about “timing” in Part Two because the examiner will stop the candidate when the clock hits two minutes.

The best strategy in Part Two is to keep talking until the examiner says stop. Candidates are naturally nervous in this part of the test so it is not good to try to guess the time.

IELTS myth: most people believe that in the speaking test, Part One is the easiest. Part Two is more difficult and Part Three is the most difficult section. With regard to performance, this is not usually the case. Most candidates perform quite well in Parts One and Three but the Part Two performance is usually the worst part of the interview (i.e. the language quality is lower than other Parts).

IELTS Speaking Test Part Two Problems.

The biggest problem with Part Two is that candidates focus on content. Most people are so busy trying to think about “what to say” and as a result they forget about “language content” of their speech.

As we have already concluded, there are no marks for content, so a Part Two that focuses on content will score quite low on the marking system.

I think it is good time to repeat myself here: The examiner is NOT listening to what you say – he / she is only listening to how you say it!

In the past, many of my students have approached me with questions like:

In Part Two is it OK for me to describe a Chinese book?

In Part Two should I describe A or B?

In Part Two, what if the examiner isn‘t familiar with the thing that I describe?

All of the above questions are totally irrelevant. The examiner is not concerned with your choice of content (however it must be related to the topic.)

During Part Two, the examiner is focused on the marking system. Any features of the marking system that you produce in Part Two will influence your score: content will not affect your score.

So again we can see that content or ideas are irrelevant. It really does not matter what you choose to talk about as long as you are talking on the topic. ‘

A good Part Two is NOT focused on “telling the examiner something”.

In the same way as Part One, during Part Two you should be focused on the following features of language.


During a 2-minute talk it is essential to use linking words, linking phrases and fillers (redundant language).


Uncommon words and idioms will significantly increase your “Vocabulary” score. In Part Two try to find words that are directly related to your topic area (most of the Part One vocabulary from the previous chapter can be used in Part Two). Don’t forget to paraphrase.


Whatever you are saying in Part Two, say it with complex sentences and if necessary use a variety of tenses (see the detailed section on tenses in Part Two).

Part Two does NOT need to be:


Some of the best Part Two performances are actually quite boring! Here you must remember that the examiner has probably heard 1000’s of Part Two responses. Even if your content is genuinely interesting (e.g. you played football with the Chinese National Team), it will not influence your score in any way.


It does not matter if you describe the same movie that everyone else has described – the examiner is only listening to how you describe it. In some ways describing the same thing as other candidates can be work to your advantage – if you are focused on language, your 2-minute talk will be noticeably better than other candidates.


It does not matter if the examiner is not familiar with the thing that you are describing. In fact, if you describe something unusual or unfamiliar, then you will probably need to explain or paraphrase. Paraphrasing directly increases your score!


Some of the best Part Two performances are lies! Even if the examiner knows you are lying, this cannot affect your score. Obviously you should avoid outrageous lies, such as, “Last year I went to the moon with my classmates.”

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