IELTS Speaking Part 2: 15 Ways to Better Your Score

If you don’t have a plan or a strategy for IELTS Speaking Part 2, then every question you get asked is new. If you have a plan, then you can practise certain parts. That doesn’t mean you have to memorise answers (the examiners hate that!), it means that you should know certain parts of stories. It’s the same in real life. Most people will use the same language to describe similar events, people or places. They have their favourite phrases and their favourite vocabulary. If you use them, then you will become much more confident. If you become more confident, you will speak more fluently. If you speak more fluently, you will get a higher score. If you get a higher score, you will reach your goal!!!! One way to leverage your chances is to practice using topics that are supposed to be current (with some sample answers) and other recent practice questions 1, 2, 3. This often works, but not always, and also adds a layer of confidence that you know how to answer real IELTS Speaking Part 2 topics.

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1 – IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topic Card Prompts

The topic card prompts are there to help you. You don’t need to use them, you don’t need to use them all, you don’t need to use any of them, but it seems a waste if you don’t. You get these prompts free, they are there to help you, so use them.

The problem is, however, many of the prompts can be answered in one or two words. This means they don’t really help you much at all.

You get one minute to make some notes. Many teachers recommend you use the time to think of synonyms, better grammar or vocabulary. Although this seems a good idea, when you are taking your IELTS speaking test, you will be really stressed and under extreme pressure. I even had a student who couldn’t open his mouth in the test, he was so nervous!

A more realistic goal is to make additional points that you can talk about. This will at least give you a chance to keep talking for the two minutes. Even if you get stuck, you can just move on to your next point.

Let me give you an example. Let’s use the topic card I usually use in trial lessons. It seems like an easy topic because everyone has a family of some kind.


Describe a member of the your family you get on well with.

You should say:

■ who it is

■ what relationship you have to that person

■ what that person is like

■ what you do together

■ and explain why you get on so well.


Imagine I want to talk about my mum.

There are five points

I’d like to talk about my mum.

That answers the first two points

What is she like?

She is short, has grey hair and is very patient.

What do you do together?

We usually go for long walks  / we usually go shopping / we usually watch TV.

Explain why you get on so well.

We get on well because we are really alike. We have the same sense of humour and outlook on life. ……

Doing it this way means you have to talk about the last point for A LONG LONG TIME!

The examiner also knows nothing about your mum!

Now let’s look at adding some points so you can add more information, give the examiner someone to imagine and give them a sense of what this person is really like.

Describe a member of the your family you get on well with.

You should say:

■ who it is –

her name – Jean

her job (or previous job) – a retired primary school teacher

what she looks like ( a brief description only) – she’s quite tall and thin and always wears her glasses. She’d be blind without them.

■ what relationship you have to that person –

My mum

We have a very close relationship (in a question like this, you can’t really say that you don’t have a good relationship with them, because the question is about someone you get on well with)

She is the one person in my life who I can trust with absolutely anything

I know she will always be there for me if anything goes wrong

■ what that person is like –

She’s always very kind with me now, but when I was growing up, she was really strict with me and my big brother.(for example …)

She is also a member of the drama society and also sings in the church choir.

She like to think she’s good at cooking, and her meals are good, but not nearly as good as she thinks they are.

She goes on holiday about once a year with my friend’s mum.(for example …)

■ what you do together

We used to go for long walks along the beach,where we would talk through all the problems we had. (for example…)

These days though, we normally sit at home chatting about the family,playing a game or watching TV. (for example…)

■ and explain why you get on so well.

We love each other’s company because we have the same kind of personality,the same sense of humour and look at life in the same way. (for example …)

All of this may be too difficult to think of and write in one minute, but you don’t need to write it out perfectly, you can use your own shorthand, such as:

Before – long walks – beach – probs – ex

Now – tv, chat, game – ex

Same personality, humour, outlook

For the last two points.

Remember, if you don’t get on well with ANYONE in your family,you could also talk about someone in your friend’s family or something like that, but explain that first,saying something like –

I don’t really get on with anyone in my family because of various reasons, but I’d like to talk about my friend’s uncle, who has been great to me over the years.

If your relative doesn’t do anything except play with their phone or watch TV, then you can always use your imagination and make them more interesting than they are in real life.

This is an English test, not a family test or a truth test!

As you work your way through your added points, if you can’t think of the right word, or can’t think how to continue that part of the story. Stop, say  


Then move on to the next point. Doing that will keep you speaking for longer. No one ever passed an English speaking test by not speaking!

The more you practice using this method, the easier it will become. There is some really useful vocabulary for people here. Give it a try!


2 – If You Were Perfect, You Would Get IELTS Band 9

You will not be perfect, so don’t obsess about it

Sometimes I make videos about English or about my teaching, and after I have recorded myself I need to edit out all of my mistakes. Yes, I am a native speaker, and I make mistakes! What makes it worse is that I read a script so I include everything I need. So I make lots of mistakes when I’m reading!!! Think about that.

So when you take any kind of speaking test and you worry about saying the wrong word, or you worry about not saying the best word, or you worry that your grammar isn’t perfect. STOP!

You are not perfect. If you were perfect, you would get a band 9 in your IELTS speaking test. You would be classed as a native speaker if you were perfect. You will make mistakes in your test, and the more you worry about them, the worse your fluency will be. The more you try to think of the right word, the worse your hesitation will be. With all this, your Fluency & Coherence score will decrease steadily, just because you want to be perfect.

There is another post somewhere on my page about what the Mexican football team manager said after they beat Germany in the World Cup. He said ‘Play for the joy of winning, not for the fear of losing’. Think about that.

If you go into your speaking test and speak because it gives you the chance to study at the world’s best universities, to give your best, you have to fly.

You have to push and push and push to keep your hopes alive. What’s the point of studying for your speaking test, only to keep stopping and worrying about your mistakes? Push the words out and do your best!

If you keep holding on to your worries, you will fall because they are too heavy. Leave them outside when you go into the examination room. Focus on your goals, focus on your strengths, and fly towards your dream. You don’t need to be perfect to do that.

As Nike say, Just Do It!


3 – Put Pictures in Their Mind

Put the pictures in your mind into the examiner’s mind. 

You may think what you say is clear, but what is clear in your head is unimportant, it must be clear in the examiner’s head.

Describe or tell the story, but it needs to be in logical steps so they understand. If you are describing somewhere, describe a picture.

If you need to describe an event or tell a story, then describe a series of pictures such as in a comic or graphic novel, so the pictures tell the story.

For example:

She has a lovely bright kitchen, it is very neat and tidy and has blue grey coloured units in a kind of old American style. There is an island in the middle for breakfast, wooden roller blinds on the windows and glass jars for just about everything.

I really enjoy having breakfast at the island in my beautiful new kitchen, but we had to eat it as fast as we could because we were late. We ran out to the car, I didn’t even put my jacket on, but our old car took ages to start. It didn’t really matter, though. When we got to the main road, the traffic was terrible and we could hardly move for about 15 minutes. There were buses and taxis everywhere peeping and honking their horns. We got to school about 5 minutes late. The old brick building looked quiet, even though we knew lessons had started. My kids were terrified they would get punished again because they had Mr. Smith for Maths in their first class.

Doing it like this is great because it helps you have a logical sequence of events for a story. This also really helps your Coherence score.

It also gives the examiner something to imagine so if you make a little mistake, then he still knows what you mean.

There are a couple of dangers about using this method, though.

1/ If you describe one place too much, you don’t have time to say what you want/need to say.

2/ If you miss out a step,it can be REALLY confusing!

Practice makes perfect, so keep telling stories. They could be about your day, what your friend did, something that happened at university or something that happened a few years ago. Once you get the sequence right, then any description becomes much easier.

4 – Breaking the IELTS Speaking Part 2 Block

You may be asked about a historical building you visited, your favourite river, or an area of science you are interested in.

Describe an interesting historic place.

Describe a river, lake or sea which you like.

Describe an area of science (physics, biology, psychology, etc.) that interests you

If this happens, then even after a minute, it is impossible for most examinees to think what to say.

If you don’t know about something, say so. As soon as possible, it helps to break down the block in your mind and helps you to speak.

There are various phrases you can use to do this, but the important point is that you make it clear to the examiner that you are guessing.

In some other exams such as Cambridge Advanced and Cambridge Proficiency, this is called talking about an unfamiliar topic.

Two of the strategies you could use in cases like this are:

1/ make it clear you are talking about something slightly different. For example:

I’m not sure if it is classified as a historic building, but I’d like to talk about the ABC cinema in Manchester, which was built in the 1960s.

There aren’t really many rivers near where I live, but I remember one that I saw when I was on holiday in France. ….

I’m not really a science person and never have been, but we needed to take all the sciences in first year in a kind of general course.

You are saying to the examiner, LOOK! I have no idea about what I’m going to tell you about, but I’m going to try my best!

2/ Talk about things that you have heard about second hand or seen on TV.

Personally, I have never been to any historic places, but I did watch a very interesting documentary on Stonehenge a few months ago.

I’m not really a romantic kind of person, so I’ve never even thought about liking a river or anything like that.I did read about one in Africa, though. I think it was called the Wahheezi River and it was amazingly long although I can’t be sure exactly how long.

It’s been so long since I’ve taken any science subjects, I really couldn’t tell you if any of them interest me or not, however, I did read about something on a web-page a while ago. It was about …..

When you say

I don’t know

It makes it so much easier to continue to talk about something and lets you forget some things or be a bit inaccurate.

But you must relate what you are going to talk about to the question. If you don’t, then it will seem as if you have decided to talk about anything you like. Not good!

If you talk about something you have read or seen,then you can use phrases such as:

As far as I can remember …..

From what it said …..

I’m not sure, but I think …..

If my memory serves me correctly, …..

….. that’s why it sticks in my mind.

Use phrases such as these and you should be able to piece together an answer to a topic that the examiner knows is very difficult. Don’t worry!

5 – Signpost Your IELTS Speaking

Tell the examiner what you will talk about.

For example,

I would like to talk about the time I drove to London with my sister and the car broke down. 

I would like to tell you about the time my teacher gave me a prize.

Describe a photograph of you that you like

I’d like to tell you about a photograph that my sister took of me about 10 years ago.

Describe a tradition in your country

I’d like to tell you about a dance that couples do when they get married in my country.

Describe a person who often helps others

I’d like to tell you about my grandpa who was well known in our area for his charity work.

Describe a line (or a few words) that you remember from a poem or song

I’d like to tell you about some of the words to Your Attention Please, which is a song by the Scars, but also a poem by someone I can’t remember.

This tells the examiner what you are going to say, so if you don’t finish the story or the description, they still know what you are trying to do even if you make mistakes.

If you don’t do this, what you say can become confusing very quickly.

After this, start at the beginning and keep signposting your talk, especially with time phrases.

Time phrases help your listener know they are still following what you want to say. Here are some time phrases.

When I was about 7 years old, …..

When I was at high school, ……

About 6 years ago, ….

I can’t remember the year, I had just left school, ….

After that, in about 2004, …..

It must have been around 2 years ago, …..

I want to ….. in the next 5 to 10 years.

This will really improve your talk and also remind you of what you need to say.

If you have any questions, send me a message below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

6 – Use the Ingredients You Have for IELTS

Don’t memorise your answers, that’s one of the worst things you can do. It’s really easy for an examiner to know when IELTS takers are speaking from memory.

Think of ingredients instead.

Imagine you want something to eat at home. Usually, you can make something from the food you have in the fridge, say eggs, tomatoes, cheese, and then you may also need salt, pepper, or chilli or even milk. These are the ingredients of whatever you want to make.

You would like to make yourself a cheese omelette, but when you are cooking it, it tastes terrible. However, if you add some salt and some pepper, maybe even a little sauce of some kind, then the omelette will taste much much better.

Imagine if you had several ingredients in the fridge when you have to do your IELTS part 2. You could just add several ingredients together and cook your answer. These ingredients could include a person, a place, an object, an event, or even a journey.

A Person

In the part 1 in this article, we talked about my mum. So now I know some good vocabulary for my mum and can describe her quite well. Now she can really help me.

She can become:

Describe a time when you told your friend an important truth

Describe a polite person you know

Describe a time you made a promise to someone

Describe a person who you think wears unusual clothes

Describe a time when you encouraged someone to do something that he/she didn’t want to do

Describe a time when you gave advice to others

Describe an interesting conversation

Describe an old friend that you got in contact with again

Describe an energetic person that you know

Describe a person who often helps others

Describe a conversation topic that you were not interested in

Describe a time when you received good news

Describe a family (not your own) which you like and are happy to know

Describe a person who shows his or her feelings openly

Describe an intelligent person you know

Describe one of your friends.

It doesn’t need to be your mum, it could be your friend, your brother, your father, your niece, your teacher, but you need to know them well.

This person can be involved in all your answers if you want. You are not remembering the answer, just about the person.

A Place

The same can be done with places. Personally, I prefer to have an outside place and an inside place.

I part 3 we talked about putting pictures in the examiner’s mind.

You can use somewhere like a park, a town square or a beach as an outside place. Maybe a cafe, a hotel or restaurant as an inside place.

I’m not going to list the questions they can help you with, because there are so many. Imagine your topic is something like

Describe a time when you shared something with others (or another person)

Describe a tall building in your city you like or dislike

Describe an argument two of your friends had

You could share something with someone in one of your places.

You could describe the building from your place looking at the building.

Your friends had their argument at one of your places.


So, you can add an object, a past event, maybe even a journey, but don’t have too many ingredients or it will become too difficult.

Putting them together

One student of mine had a park as his outside place and a cafe as his inside place.

He used his grandma, not his dad or brother, and in his test talked about how he and his grandma walked along the river in the park, then went to a cafe to relax before going home.

He knew what he could say about his grandma, about the park and about the cafe too.

He had certain vocabulary for each part, so he didn’t need to think of new words when he was speaking.

He practiced so when he didn’t have another answer, he could use one or several of his ingredients to give a good answer about most topics. He got a 7.5 for his speaking.

7 – IELTS Vocabulary

Try to add some better vocabulary. In the Lexical resource section of the IELTS speaking band descriptors, they talk about using ‘less common and idiomatic vocabulary’.

 band Lexical Resource 
    9uses vocabulary with full flexibility and precision in all topics
uses idiomatic language naturally and accurately
    8uses a wide vocabulary resource readily and flexibly to convey precise meaning
uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skilfully, with occasional inaccuracies
uses paraphrase effectively as required
    7uses vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics
uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices
uses paraphrase effectively
    6has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length and make meaning clear in spite of inappropriacies
generally paraphrases successfully
    5manages to talk about familiar and unfamiliar topics but uses vocabulary with limited flexibility
attempts to use paraphrase but with mixed success

Let’s start with some definitions:

Less common vocabulary = vocabulary that fits in naturally with what you are saying. It DOES NOT mean that you should use words that are rarely used in any situation.

For example:

Good = The doctor gave her some medicine to reduce the pain.

Better = The doctor gave her something to alleviate the pain.

Idiomatic language = phrasal verbs and idioms.

1/ phrasal verbs should be used so they sound natural and do not confuse meaning.

For example:

Good = We set out to pick up the kids, but the car broke down.

Good = It turned out the kids had messed up their room, so I made them tidy it up.

2/ Using idioms is good for your speaking score, but again, they must be used naturally! To do this, use shorter idioms, not long ones.

Using long idioms, such as:

The grass is always greener on the other side

Has the cat got your tongue?

It was raining cats and dogs

Make it sound like you are forcing them into your conversation, and unnatural!

If you use short idiom, such as:

On the fence

All of a sudden

Up in the air

For the best

Then they fit into the conversation easily and can only improve our score. They may not be as vivid and as so much fun as longer ones, but your aim is to get your target score, not have fun.

Collocation is also very important.

Collocation = a pair or group of words that are usually used together, such as:

Strong tea

A heavy drinker

Catch a cold

Collocating words is essential if you need more than a band 6 in speaking or writing.

Collocations, phrasal verbs, noun phrases, verb phrases and so on are much better than trying to use synonyms all the time.

If you want to try the ingredients strategy in part 6 of this article, you don’t need to use many, two or three good two- or three-word phrases for each ingredient is enough.

Choose the collocations and phrasal verbs you need before your test, then use them when you can.

Finally, another very good way is to have a supply of words that mean two words. Let me explain – 

For example

Light brown = tan

Very loud = deafening

Poor person = pauper

A little funny = amusing

Extremely big = huge

Not as good as expected = inferior

Gentle rain = drizzle

Smile widely = grin

Very boring = mundane

Learning words such as these is an excellent way to improve your vocabulary. Think of first words, such as very, big, small, light, dark and so on to give you direction. Practising them is important and something you can do with a vocabulary app, such as Quizlet, Anki or Memrise.

Saying that, though, a qualified native speaking teacher will be able to tell you very quickly if you are using them correctly.


8 – Speaking for longer by Using More Detail

In part 3 of this article, we talked about trying to put the picture in your mind into the mind of the examiner. We also said that if you want to develop a story, then that story is told picture by picture, step by step, the same as in a comic book or graphic novel.

I’d like to talk about my friend, she’s a teacher and she ..…

There is no picture, nothing. We don’t know if she is old, young, short, tall, what colour of hair she has or how old she is. We need more detail, not too much but enough to give your listener an image.

I’d like to talk about my friend Susie, who is quite tall, has red hair, and has a wonderful smile.

It doesn’t need to take long, it doesn’t need to be a full physical description, just enough to let your listener imagine this person in the rest of your story.

So, putting your picture in the examiner’s mind is useful if you want to be clear, but adding detail to that picture is a fantastic way to keep talking for longer.

Under the pressure of the speaking test, many students find it difficult to know what to say. If this is the case, then just make the description or story slower and add more detail.

You can do this for scenery, cars, weather, and so on.

Don’t say:

Our town is surrounded by mountains


The mountains around our town look dark and ominous even when the weather is good. I used to think they were really creepy when I was a kid, but now I think they look dramatic.

Don’t say:

My brother’s car.


My brother’s car is his pride and joy. He saved up for two years to buy it. It’s an Audi and he polishes it every single day.

Don’t say: 

It was a sunny day.


It was so hot and sunny that day, there was no one to be seen anywhere. It felt so hot you could have fried an egg on the road.

So, all this leads to topic vocabulary, noun phrases and collocations. They aren’t easy to remember, but if you can associate them with some of your stories, people or places, your speaking will be much more vivid and precise. What happens then?

9 – Zoom in For the Introduction (and other places if you want)

Imagine you are just starting to watch your favourite TV series. The theme music is playing, you see a view of a city, then a neighbourhood, then a street, then a house, the camera goes in the door, into a room, then just as the music stops, someone speaks.

You can use this to great effect at the beginning of part 2. If you need to talk about an event or a place, start with the city, then a few words about which part of the city, then something about the area and then the building. It’s an effective way to introduce a place.

I’d like to talk about my friend Richard, who lives in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is on an estuary on the east coast of Scotland, and Richard lives on top of one of the hills near the centre of town. It’s full of narrow streets and really old apartment blocks called tenements, but you get a marvellous view of the city and down to the coast. His house is …..…

I don’t know if you know, but Queenstown is in New Zealand’s South Island in the Southern Alps near the west coast and not too far from the south coast. There’s a huge lake there, and one day I ……..…

My sister Fiona lives in a really historic part of south London called Blackheath. I went to visit her at her very old, but very expensive cottage.

You can also do this when you are telling a story. Some parts of the story will be much more important than others. For example, you probably wouldn’t go into the same amount of detail describing a bus journey or eating breakfast as you would describing a party or a person (Unless, of course, the journey was really significant).

Zoom into the detail of the first thing, zoom out for the journey, then zoom in again for the next important part.

For example:

Describe a time when you got close to wild animals.

You should say:

Where you were

What the animals were doing

Who you were with

And what your reaction was

Zoom In

….…… One day, my mum and dad got us up much earlier than usual. We were a bit worried, but they said they had a surprise for us. My sister Julie and I were about 6 or 7 at the time. We crammed our breakfasts into our mouths and got ready as soon as possible. When we were checked and some small bags packed, off we went.

Zoom Out

I can’t remember much about the journey, except it was very slow.

Zoom In

Eventually, we arrived at Bristol Wildlife Park. It was so exciting. Julie and I had seen the adverts on the TV and were desperate to go and see the wild animals. You could even touch a bear, if you were brave enough!

This also makes you concentrate on the important parts of the story and not waste time.

10 – Compare past, Present and Future

Compare the past to the present, and maybe even the future.

If you can’t think of what to say about something or somebody, compare them with the past or future. This is a great way to show your grammar range too.

For example: 

I never really got on with my brother when we were kids, but now we’re much closer.

I used to love Mrs Brown, our teacher in primary 5. She was beautiful compared to the other teachers and was like the Queen to us. She was very kind and always there if something went wrong. I don’t know what happened, but I saw her the other day. She’s much older, of course, but I heard her speaking to someone in a shop and she was very rude. It made me feel quite sad. It kind of ruined my memory of her.

I used to love going to that library. As a kid, it seemed it was just full of interesting books and people reading them. We could borrow a book by using our library card. These days, though, it seems to be much smaller and run down. The council must be running out of money for its upkeep, and with the internet, people don’t need so many books these days, I suppose. Saying that, I’ve heard there are big plans for its future.

My cousin Jenny is incredibly ambitious. She’s still at school, but studies really hard because she knows exactly what she wants to do in the future. If you ask her, she will tell you how she plans to start her own fashion business after she leaves college. She intends to start small with some of her own designs, then take other people on if things go well. I will help her as much as I can. I think it’s great when someone can see their future so clearly.

You can talk about the differences in a person, how well you used to do an activity compared to these days or how a place has changed. This is extremely useful in Part 1 and Part 3 too.

11 – Compare Opinions

Another way to have more to talk about in IELTS Part 2, is to compare what you think with other’s opinions.

These others could your person (part 3), the public, the media, anyone really.

I love South London, it’s vibrant, edgy and has just as much history as any other part of the city. I would always live there, if I had to move back. The only problem would be none of my friends like it at all. They say that it isn’t safe, that there is too much crime and that it’s impossible to get a taxi there when you need one.

I read in the newspaper that the new high rise building in the centre of our city was the work of an architectural genius and that it would be a defining landmark and sign of the times. To be absolutely honest, I think it’s one of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen and think that whoever wrote all these complimentary things about it was being paid by the builder.

Most people who live in our area would disagree with me if I said that I thought this place was the worst, dirtiest and most dangerous part of the city, but that’s how I feel. They say they feel at home here, but quite honestly, no one speaks to each other. I can’t wait t go home.

I went there with my mum. She thought it was wonderful, but quite frankly, I thought the performances were rubbish and that the whole thing was a waste of hard-earned money.


12 – When you don’t know anything about the topic

This goes hand in hand with number 4. If you know nothing about the topic, say so.


There is a slight chance the examiner will just change your topic card. They want to you to do well, but they have to do their job.

If you wait until after you have written your notes and tell them you know nothing, then you have waited too much time. EVERYTHING they do is recorded. They MUST be fair, so everyone must get the same time and be given the same chances. If you will only waste a few seconds hoping for a change in topic, then try. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.

When you MUST use the difficult topic card

You have to give an answer, but you also need to be clear and inform the examiner you are really not sure.

Here are some examples of how you can do that.

I may be totally wrong about this, but ……

I know absolutely nothing about this but in my mind ……..

I have no idea about this at all, but I imagine ………

I have never even thought about anything like this, but I in my mind if that happened then …………

I have never experienced anything like that, but from what I have heard ………….  

I’m really not sure about this, but from what I remember ……

I guess he could have been a xxxxx, but I’m not sure.

As far as I can remember he …….

If I remember correctly there is …….…

I think I saw a documentary that said ……

I think I read in a newspaper that ……

If I’m not mistaken, …..

For example:

Describe an interesting historic place.

As far as I know, there is an old castle about 5 miles from where I live. I may be totally wrong about this, but I think it dates from the time of the civil war. When that was exactly, I have no idea. Something like 300 years ago, I guess. I think I read somewhere that it was built to protect the main road through the country. It’s ruined now because it was burned down when the people inside tried to rule the local area. That’s what they say around here, anyway.

Describe a song or a piece of music you like.

I don’t really listen to much music these days, but if I did, I’d listen to something like soft rock.That’s what I think it’s called anyway, there are so many genres, it’s difficult to remember. I know the song I’d like to tell you about, but without humming the tune, I don’t really know what to say about it. As far as I know it’s by a band called the Creeps and I think it’s about someone who had a girlfriend that he loved very much but who left. It must be about 10 years old because I first heard it when I was at a school disc, and I was having a dance with a girl I fancied. I imagine she thought it was romantic in a way.


13 – Use of English for IELTS

One of the best ways to find out how difficult it is to get over an IELTS band 7, is by looking at textbooks for the Cambridge C2 Proficiency test.

The lowest score in this test is the equivalent of a band 7 in IELTS. It is difficult!

Cambridge C2 Proficiency, like the lower-level tests Cambridge B2 First and Cambridge C1 Advanced, has a section called Reading and Use of English (previously only called Use of English).

The questions in this section help you use different forms of words to say the same thing.

Being able to use the different forms of words easily makes a huge difference and usually stops the speaker from getting confused. Practice tests for the other Cambridge tests are great for practising.

For example –

You need to change the form of the word to fit into the sentence.

Educate – In an ………. context, the term ‘learner independence’ has gained increasing importance in recent years. 

Relevant – It is of particular …………. to language learning.

Instinct – Some people seem to have an almost ………. flair for languages. 

The answers are educational, relevance, instinctual

Now try these:

Answers at the bottom of the page

As we saw in part 7, paraphrasing play a big part in your Lexical Resource score (vocabulary). Using different forms of the same word not only makes it easier to think of words with the same meaning, but also ensures accuracy, which most synonyms don’t. 

14 – Use Conditional Sentences

A great way to add more advanced grammar is to use conditional sentences and talk about an alternative.

They can be used at the start of your talk:

If Jack didn’t live near the library, he would work somewhere else.

If wasn’t for my parents, I would be homeless.

They can be used to show how important something or someone is.

I would die if my girlfriend left me.

These go really well at the end of a talk to show how the situation would have been different if the topic hadn’t happened.

For example:

If Gina hadn’t lent me some money for my Excel course, I would still be working in a dead-end job.

Again, practice makes perfect. Keep trying to practice using previous test questions and you will soon find what works for you.

When you are ready, book some classes with a qualified teacher to make sure you are doing the right thing and increase your confidence.

15 – Concessions

Using concessions is just one of many ways to add some better grammar to your answer, and like conditional sentences, it is clear where they should go.

For example –

Even though it was raining, we walked home.

Despite loving her, I carried on my travels without her.

Although the club had changed its appearance, it still had a great atmosphere.

Using concessions makes your talk more concise, saying the same thing in less words. That makes the examiner pay attention to what you are saying, rather than starting to dream because ou are taking a few minutes just to make one point.

Finally (or maybe not!!!)

So, there you have it, 15 ways that will help you improve your IELTS, Speaking Part 2. Of course, there are other ways, other ways to improve your grammar, more grammar you can use and so on, but these ways work very well. You are lucky in that you have one more bonus method!

Here it is!

IELTS Speaking Part 2 BONUS!

If you have a job, or do a course where the technical language is in English, use it. Steer your answers to talking about your work.

I have had students who have been surgeons, programmers, researchers, and lawyers. As students who were trying to improve their IELTS speaking, they were ok, nothing special. But when they started to use language, such as:

Making an incision

Developing a procedure

Narrowing it down to an error in the script

Using C++ rather than Python to enable the parameters

Using emotion disregulation strategies

Being exposed to insurmountable affective obstacles

Assigned to the Creditors, their respective executors and the administrators

Exclusive jurisdiction to settle any dispute

It made an incredible difference to their confidence, and especially their language.

If you use English at work or in your studies, think about how you can bring some work-related language into your answers. Doing so will improve your vocabulary score and will probably improve other parts too due to the improvement in your confidence. Give it a

Answers from part 13 – Seasonal, scarcity, genetically, occurrence, sensitivity, spectacularly, advantageous, progressively, evolution

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