Repeating the question: Find the answer to yesterday’s question

Hi guys,

I’ve posted answers and advice about asking the IELTS examiner to repeat the question in speaking. You can find details of the answers and tips on yesterday’s page. Click here: Asking to Repeat the Question


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Asking to Repeat the question in IELTS speaking

Some people ask if it is ok to ask the examiner to repeat the question in IELTS speaking. Can you ask for the question to be repeated? Will you get a lower mark if you ask for the question to be repeated?

Can I ask the IELTS examiner to repeat the question without it affecting my score?

The answer is simple:

  1. It’s fine to ask for the question to be repeated.
  2. It won’t affect your marks.
  3. You are not marked on your understanding in IELTS speaking. You are not marked down if you go off topic. It’s ok to go off topic in IELTS speaking. You are not marked for your ideas.
  4. Your IELTS speaking score is based on four criterion:
    1. Fluency
    2. Vocabulary
    3. Grammar
    4. Pronunciation
  5. This means only your language is marked in IELTS speaking.

What questions can you ask the examiner?

In part 1, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question. It is useful to give you time to think. In part 3, you can ask the examiner to explain what they mean. This means they can rephrase the question so you can understand it better. However, you can’t ask for a new topic.

Learn more about what questions you can and can’t ask: Asking the examiner questions


Getting Band 9 in Speaking

Get useful tips about how one student got Band Score 9 in IELTS Speaking:

Click here: How I got band score 9

Get all Liz’s Model Answers and Tips for IELTS Speaking

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IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics Summer 2017

Hi guys,

Below is a list of IELTS speaking part 2 topics which students have had so far this summer. These topics have been used this summer and will continue to be used in August 2017.

Of course, examiners have other topics as well but you should definitely prepare ideas for the topics below. It is common for speaking topics to be repeated in IELTS speaking.

Speaking Part 2 Topics Summer 2017

Students have reported the following topics this summer in their test:

  1. A TV show
  2. A special cake
  3. A time you arrive early for something
  4. A well paid job you would be good at
  5. Good news you received
  6. A future plan
  7. A useful website
  8. A book you know
  9. A time when you changed your house or school
  10. A special thing you have which you had to wait for
  11. Your favourite sport
  12. An event where there were people smiling
  13. A quiet place you often visit
  14. An invention that changed people’s lives
  15. A plan in your life that is not related to work
  16. Your favourite season/weather
  17. A time when you ate food from a foreign country
  18. An interesting conversation with someone you did not know
  19. Historical event in your country
  20. Describe a crowded place you went to
  21. Describe about a person whom you worked with and helped
  22. A polite person
  23. Describe a place where you want to go on a trip in future
  24. Talk about a time you have spend time with a young child
  25. The most polite person you have come across in your life
  26. A personal goal which you have not been able to achieve
  27. A recent inspirational talk or speech you have heard
  28. Describe a famous person
  29. Describe a happy experience from your childhood
  30. A time you had good service from a hotel or restaurant
  31. A place you can swim
  32. Describe a trip to the countryside
  33. Talk about an occasion when you received a good service from a person
  34. Describe a new shop that recently opened in your city
  35. An item of clothing
  36. A clever child
  37. A free item you received
  38. A family member who made you proud
  39. An English lesson
  40. A house that you visited before
  41. An occasion you arrived early
  42. Two people who are related
  43. A time you felt excited

Useful IELTS Speaking Link

See my Tips, Model Answers for IELTS Speaking

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Student Tips for Getting IELTS Band 8.5 Overall

My Tips for IELTS Overall 8.5

This page gives you my tips for how I got IELTS band score 8.5 overall in 3 steps. And also my tips for getting band 8 in IELTS writing and band score 9 in IELTS speaking.

by Deeksha

My IELTS Test Results

24th June; United States; First Attempt. I just received my IELTS score:

  • Listening – 7.5
  • Reading – 8.5
  • Writing – 8.0
  • Speaking – 9.0
  • Overall – 8.5

I barely had 5 days to prepare. 70% of my preparation included watching the videos on your blog, answering your sample questions, and going through your tips! For the rest 30%, I printed some of the full-fledged tests and
sample answer sheets from the Cambridge IELTS books and just practised using those.

For anyone of you who has a very little time to prepare, I hope that the process I followed can help you lay out a basic schedule.

My 3 Step Tips for IELTS Band Score 8.5

See my 3 steps:

Step -1 (Know the test)

– Go through the test format.
– Spend some time and understand the question patterns in each segment.
– Keep in mind the time limit for every segment.
– Do an initial sample test (download from IELTS official website) just to see where you stand.


Step-2 (Prepare using Liz’s blog)

– Go through every one of the 4 segments (L, R, W, S) in this blog, one after the other. Links: Listening Tips, /Reading / Writing T1 /  Writing T2 / Speaking
– In each segment, read every tip and watch every video.
– Make notes of the points that you would like to keep in mind.
– Try and answer every sample question that Liz has laid out there. She has specified at least one sample question for every possible pattern that could appear on the test.
– Look at the answers and compare with yours. Figure out what you got wrong and more importantly, “analyze why you got them wrong.” This helps you understand how you approached the question, and how you should have.

Step-3 (Practice)

– Download all the versions of Cambridge IELTS books (you can just google them out).
– From these books, print out the full-fledged tests and sample answer sheets.
– Take these tests using a clock and write your answers in the sample answer sheets.
– Grade your tests and find out your weak areas.
– Make notes of your analysis and try to keep it in mind during the following tests.

In addition, go through the comments in this blog and find out what the recent test takers said about their tests. Know about the tips that helped them, learn from their experiences and be prepared.

Writing Tips for Band Score 8

On my test:

  1. Write a letter to your friend who is going to stay in your apartment during the next month while you are away on vacation
  2. Tell your friend where to get the keys
  3. Tell your friend about the equipment in your apartment
  4. Tell your friend about some places to visit in the area
  5. Advancement of technology has obliterated libraries and hard copies of books. Do you agree or disagree?

–          Apart from your writing skills and the topic at hand, it may help to do this section in a way that encompasses all the elements that the examiner is looking for. Liz’s writing section mentions specific guidelines for content organization, format, tone, logical reasoning, titles, signatures and many other tips. Go through them and try to follow all those tips as you write. In other words, you will have a shell prepared in your mind even before you know what the questions are. Click here: IELTS GT Letter Tips 

–          I didn’t have time to practice this section at all so I had a bit of an issue managing time on the test. If you have very little time to prepare for IELTS, make sure you squeeze in at least a few writing tests and see where you stand with the time limit.

Speaking Tips for Band Score 9

On my test (to the best of my recollection):

  • –          Where are you from?
  • –          Do you work or study?
  • –          Is there anything significant about the place you were born in?
  • –          Do you enjoy it?
  • –          What is special about it?
  • –          Do you have any challenges at work/school? How do you resolve them?
  • –          Where do you live?
  • –          Where would you like to live in the future?
  • –          Do you usually shop online?
  • –          How is it better than shopping in the stores?
  • –          Is there any difference between living in rural and urban areas?
  • –          How do you cope up with the challenges of urban life?
  • –          What do you do on your birthdays?
  • –          Are your birthdays the same as they were when you were a child?
  • –          Is any specific birthday considered significant in your country?
  • –          Do you have a favorite rock star?
  • –          Would you enjoy meeting your favorite rock star?

Cue card:

  • –          Talk about a crowded place that you visited recently.
  • –          Did you or did you not like it? Why?
  • –          Would you revisit it again in the future?

Go through Liz’s list of sample topics, sample answers (Liz’s Speaking Page), comments from recent test takers (Recent Topics) on this blog and questions from IELTS Cambridge speaking tests. Try to answer them. These should be more than enough to help you familiarize with the test pattern and to understand what to expect on the test. From the comments, I also found out that most of these questions are being repeated so make sure you go through them. Almost all the questions that my examiner (whose name was coincidentally Liz) asked me were also from the above lot.

As Liz mentioned, they expect you to be casual and test you only for your language and not for your knowledge on the topic at hand. Think about this segment like you just bumped into a fan who would like to know some of your opinions and experiences. Well, you don’t simply meet a fan every day, so this is your chance – talk her ear off! J Be casual, funny, and confident and you’ll do just fine.

Try to book your test in a test center that does not use hallway speakers to play the audio in the listening section. There is a definite distinction in terms of quality compared to headphones. There is always a possibility of noise and distraction. I didn’t know about this while booking my test and I certainly experienced the difference.



Good Luck!

Liz – Thanks again for the effort you are putting in, to assist so many test-takers all over the world, each with their own questions and training needs. It must feel incredible to know that most of these people credit their success to you. Keep up the good work!


Message from Liz

Deeksha, you’ve done exceedingly well. Congratulations!! I love your tips! They are logical and very helpful for all IELTS students. Tackling IELTS methodically is essential and Deeksha has really hit the nail on the head !!! 🙂

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IELTS Cue Card: An Invention

Hi guys,

Yesterday, a student reported this IELTS cue card: Describe an Invention for speaking part 2. IELTS speaking topics can often be repeated so you should definitely prepare for this topic as well as other recent topics and common topics. I’ve provided links below.

An Invention: IELTS Cue Card 

Date: 26th July, 2017

Describe an invention that changed people’s lives.
You should say:
· What it is
· Who invent it
· When it was invented
And explain how it changed people’s life.

Ideas for An Invention Topic:

Tips: Don’t choose something impressive. The examiner will not give you a higher score because your ideas are impressive. Instead, choose something which is easy to talk about. Something which can have plenty of ideas for. If you don’t know who invented it or when – it doesn’t matter. It won’t affect your score at all.

  1. Smart Phones
    1. This is a great topic to choose because there are somany features of a mobile phone that you can talk forever about this. You can also talk about which features you use and why they are useful to you: camera, video, texting, calendar, weather, music player, GPS, web browser (shopping online, online banking etc)
    2. The cue card mentions who invented it – you don’t need to know this information. You can say “I do not know who invented it but some of the top selling brands are “Apple” etc. If you don’t know when it was invented, you can say “I’m not exactly sure when it was invented but most people have been using them for the last decade at least.”
  2. Internet
    1. Another great topic which allows you to take your talk in any direction you want: international business, social media (Facebook, Youtube, Twitter), globalisation, online education etc
  3. TV
    1. You can talk about: news, weather reports, films, soap operas, documentaries and education programs, escapism, relaxation, reality TV, chat shows etc
  4. Modern Transportation
    1. Cars, aeroplanes, trains. You can talk about each type as well as globalisation and tourism

Don’t forget that IELTS speaking part 2 is mostly about you, so add your own details. Tell a story about yourself or someone you know.

If you have any other ideas, please post them in the comments box below.

Useful Links

Click below to open links:

Recently Posted IELTS Speaking Topics

How to Start your IELTS Speaking Part 2 Talk

 All Common IELTS Speaking Topics, Model Answers & Tips

For information and tips about other parts of the IELTS test, click on the relevant links on the Red Bar at the top of my website 🙂

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Look at your Notes in IELTS Speaking Part 2

Many students ask me if it is ok to look at your notes during your IELTS speaking part 2 talk. Let me explain…

Looking at your Notes

It is important to look at your notes during your talk. You can’t remember everything and this is the reason why you have 1 mins to plan and write notes.

Checking your notes will make sure you keep a logical order and also make sure you don’t forget to talk about something.

Does it lower my score to look at my notes a lot?

No, it doesn’t. You will not get a lower score if you look at your notes a lot.

Of course, it is good to have eye contact with the examiner because it shows confidence. But it won’t affect your score. Your score is based only on your level of English language: fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

Liz’s Advice

Keep checking your notes during your talk. But also look at the examiner. When students talk with their head in their notes, they often lose intonation and don’t speak naturally. So, try to aim for a balance – look at your notes as often as you need but also make sure you speak naturally by looking up at the examiner.

IELTS Speaking Tips & Answers

See my page of speaking tips and model answers for IELTS speaking: IELTS Speaking Main Page

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Question about Speaking Part 2 Notes

Hi guys,

I would like to know how much you understand about IELTS speaking part 2 and using your notes.

Please answer these questions:

  1. Is it ok to look at your notes in IELTS speaking part 2?
  2. Will you get a lower score if you look at your notes frequently during your talk?


Post your answers below in the comments box.

I’ll post my response with tips tomorrow.

All the best


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Dreams Topic for IELTS Speaking Part 1

See the model answers for current topic used in IELTS speaking part 1. I’ve written a few model answers for each question so you can see the usual length of answers.

I’ve also written a list of useful words below.


  1. Do you often have dreams?
  2. Do you usually remember your dreams?
  3. Do you think we can learn something from dreams?

Model Answers

  1. Do you often have dreams?
    1. Yes, I do. I have quite vivid dreams about things that are going on in my life at the time and I even have nightmares sometimes.
    2. No. I usually sleep very deeply and so I don’t dream at all.
    3. I used to dream all the time but in the last few years I’ve hardly had any dreams at all.
    4. I usually have dreams when I’m upset about something. I guess it’s my subconscious trying to work things out. But other than that, I don’t often dream.
  2.  Do you usually remember your dreams?
    1.  No, they’re usually very vague and I only remember the odd thing or image. But I can never remember the entire dream as they are too abstract.
    2. No, luckily I don’t remember them as they are almost always nightmares.
    3. Yes, I do. I remember almost every dream I have. I keep a dream diary so that I can analyse them later.
  3. Do you think we can learn something from dreams?
    1. No, I don’t. I think dreams are nonsense and not based in reality so I don’t think people should waste their time trying to find a meaning in them.
    2. No, I don’t. I think most people dream because they are not relaxed enough and are not able to enter deep sleep. I don’t think there’s any meaning in what people dream.
    3. Yes, I do. I think our subconscious is trying to figure things out and we can find clues by analysing our dreams.
    4. Yes, I do. I think dreams can reveal hidden messages if we know how to interpret them correctly.
    5. Yes, I do. I know dreaming of a snake means that enemies are close. And if you dream of your teeth falling out, it means a big change will happen in your life. I think dreams are very symbolic.


  • disturbed sleep
  • deep sleep
  • peaceful sleep
  • nightmare
  • daydream
  • vivid dreams
  • vague dreams
  • abstract dreams
  • subconscious thinking / subconscious mind
  • symbolic
  • analyse our dreams
  • nonsense
  • dream diary
  • reveal messages
  • interpret dreams

See all my IELTS Speaking Tips & Model Answers

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