How Nilay Scored IELTS 8.5 Overall

Nilay scored 8.5 Overall in the IELTS Academic test this month. Below are his tips for his great score in IELTS.

Nilay’s Scores: Overall 8.5

  • Listening: 9
  • Reading: 9
  • Writing: 8
  • Speaking: 8

Nilay’s Tips for IELTS 8.5

Nilay here. I am an orthopedic surgeon from India and currently trying to specialize in spine surgery. I appeared for the IELTS to register with the Canadian medical boards for which I needed minimum 7 in each of the four categories. This was the academic version.

To summarize the prep, I gave it around 12-14 days part time. I had been aware of your videos and thought to just concentrate on that during last 3 to 4 days and I attribute a large part of my writing score to your tips. I didn’t opt for paid tutorials but I feel that the content you generously provide is more than enough in most cases. Having said that, I was planning to get your paid tutorials if I couldn’t cross the required threshold of 7/9 in writing; I was reasonably certain I would cross 7 in RW and S. My tips are summarized here.
Reading Tips- As a compulsive reader, I was a bit overconfident when I started out the prep and expected to score a perfect 9 each time. My behind was handed back to me promptly by the No/Not Given dilemma. Your tips on that cleared out the webs and I highly recommend that video to polish the reading score. One thing I realized in the exam is that the reading paragraphs can be difficult and must not be underestimated even if you are good at reading to begin with. I consider myself a very fast reader and still had only 8-10 mins left at the end. I would advise underlining key words and phrases as it makes it easier to fish out the answers.  I wrote in all caps as advised.
Listening Tips – Tricky proposition. I feel that IELTS listening section doesn’t evaluate your listening capability but rather evaluates your presence of mind and multi-tasking ability to listen, note and paraphrase at the same time. I am very well versed with major accents and still made mistakes in answers due to missing plurals, not catching the exact words and sometimes missing paraphrases at the end of tests. I would really advise going through Cambridge practice tests to refine this. They are the real counterparts to the exam. I can’t stress enough on scanning the questions in advance, predicting answers and using the 30 seconds given to go over your last batch of answers to scan the questions ahead instead.  Presence of mind is really important or you would make a mess of it. Also, all caps again.
Speaking Tips –  Didn’t prepare much for it except for going through your tips and speaking to a local instructor I knew. I am fluent but I speak too fast and maybe that reflected on what I consider a lower score on my speaking test. Also, this is a live interaction test and your score will depend upon your rapport with and impression upon the examiner even if they are trained to disregard those factors. I more or less had  a friendly conversation and was asked questions about skilled and unskilled jobs in last part. I think the trick here is to fill up the time allotted and keep on speaking. I attribute the shavings in my score to speed and my roundabout answer to a bizarre question about soft and hard skills. I could have done better here.
Writing Tips – Last but not the least. I have BAD handwriting which live up to all the cliches about illegibility of doctors. This was a big issue for me with IELTS being a written exam. I realized that all my writing skills would be for naught if it looked like someone dipped ants in ink pot and let them loose on the paper. So I ditched the cursive, zoomed in the fonts and increased the space between words and made several people go through it till their satisfaction. I was confident about my vocabulary and grammar, so that helped but this exam is all about sticking to the format.  I can not stress enough how helpful your writing section videos are. I stuck to the outline stressed upon by you for both the tasks and I was rewarded. I made sure to follow the cite-support-example format for body paragraphs on task two; it really eased the though organization process. Task one is straightforward but it’s important not to get mired into details and just focus on major trends and data points. I didn’t have problem with time and word count. But even if you do, I really suggest taking 2 minutes to read the task and then a minute or so to jot down writing points on paper; paragraph wise. Also keep a minute or two at the end to go over your writing. Do not try to correct or improve large sections of a sentence but concentrate on spell check, grammatical gaffes and punctuation marks.
  To conclude [the format ,the format!], I am satisfied with my result and would thank you for your generous online help. I really stress upon test takers to go through your videos which I consider the best resource available online for this test. I hope my experience helps future test takers. Best of luck to you all!
Message to Nilay: Thanks so much for sharing your tips! I know students will be inspired by your results and also grateful for the experiences you have shared. Well done again with your excellent score 🙂

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics Jan to Apr 2018

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics January to April 2018

Below you will find some IELTS speaking part 2 topics that students have posted so far this month. These topics will probably continue to be used for the next few months: January, February, March and possibly April.

Notice for all students using

  1. I do NOT offer a question/answer service on this website. I sometimes answer questions when I have time – you can’t demand this service. Most questions will NOT be answered.
  2. Most questions have been answered before, read the comments boxes.
  3. There are over 300 pages of tips on this site – all tips accessed through the RED BAR at the top of the website (or in the right hand side column)
  4. I will be on holiday for Feb, Mar and Apr. I will post a notice when I start my hols 🙂

Using IELTS Speaking Topics

This topics are not predictions – they are reported topics. I will continue to up-date this page over the next few months as students report their topics to me.

  1. Will you get one of these topics?
    1. It is not possible to predict topics. However, current topics are frequently repeated in the IELTS speaking test. You need to prepare both current topics and common topics for IELTS speaking. It is not possible to do more. Below are current topics and here is a link to common topics: IELTS Speaking Page
  2. How can I use this list of topics?
    1. You can use the list to prepare ideas for your talk. DO NOT MEMORISE A FULL TALK OR A FULL ANSWER. If the examiner thinks you have actually memorised a talk, line by line, you will be given a different topic. IELTS do not accept memorised answers. So, use this list to develop your ideas and plan some words to use but not to memorise full sentences and answers.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics List Jan-Apr 2018

  1. A recreational center that could be started in your town
  2. A day that cost you nothing (think of activities that are free to do)
  3. Something you bought recently that made you very happy
  4. An activity for health living
  5. A, interesting school subject
  6. A difficult decision
  7. A car journey
  8. A country you would like to work or live in
  9. A historical event
  10. A exciting book
  11. A good parent
  12. A good service from a shop or company
  13. Furniture you like
  14. A useful device (not a computer)
  15. Traditional clothing in your country
  16. A public place you visited
  17. An interesting foreign person
  18. A time when you helped an old person
  19. A time you taught someone something
  20. An unusual meal
  21. A school rule you didn’t like
  22. A season you enjoy
  23. A facility you would like to have in your town
  24. A time you saved money
  25. An occasion a visitor came to your house
  26. A popular person you know
  27. A time someone took a nice photo of you (see model answer link below)
  28. An area of water in your country (lake, river etc)
  29. A perfect holiday
  30. A traditional product of your country
  31. A toy from your childhood
  32. A time you had to be polite
  33. A good story you have been told
  34. A time you were glad you had your mobile phone
  35. An important letter
  36. Your biggest achievement
  37. A time you went out with friends
  38. A TV show
  39. A recent development in the place where you live
  40. A successful business person
  41. A special occasion in your life


You can find a model answer for topic number 27: Model Answer Nice Photo of you

For IELTS speaking tips, model answers and free videos, click here: MAIN IELTS SPEAKING PAGE. Use the RED BAR at the top of the website to find your tips and lessons 🙂

All the best


IELTS Speaking Part 2 Answer for January 2018

An IELTS speaking model answer for a Jan 2018 speaking part 2 topic. The IELTS speaking part 2 topic was reported on January 3rd, 2018. Below you will find a sample answer for this topic. On this page you will find:

  1. a part 2 topic for Jan 2018
  2. a sample answer
  3. audio of sample answer (improve your pronunciation)
  4. review questions to analyse the content of the answer
  5. useful links for speaking part 2

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topic

Describe a time when someone took a nice photograph of you.

  • when it was taken
  • who took it
  • what was happening
  • why you like the photo


IELTS Speaking Part 2 Sample Answer January 2018

I’d like to tell you about a photograph that was taken of me which I’ve always liked. It was taken about 10 years ago when I was still living with my parents. I remember that year very well because it was the year before I left home. It was taken during a family get-together. My uncle Andy took the photo while I wasn’t looking. I didn’t know it had been taken until he sent me it a few months later. That’s very typical of him. He’s quite impulsive and full of surprises.

The family get-together, when the photo was taken, was in the summer. It was one of the hottest summers I remember and the temperature rose to a scorching 35 degrees. Almost 40 people turned up and stayed over the weekend. We enjoyed endless food, like seafood, salads, pies, meat and loads of desserts, different types of drinks and lots of dancing which was all hosted for by my mother. It isn’t often that my family all meet up together so this was a really special weekend.

At the time the photo was taken, I was chatting to my grandfather and we were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. That was the last time I saw him. He died later that summer. That conversation has stayed with me and will continue to stay with me all my life. He was telling me to reach for the stars and never hold back, to follow my dreams and not to be worried about the outcome. He was an inspirational man and I know he died without a single regret. If I could speak to him again, I would tell him just how much his advice has helped me throughout my entire life. I keep this photo on my bedside table. Whenever I look at it, it brings me a feeling of calmness and hope. For me it symbolises all that is possible in life as well as the importance of having a loving, supportive family.

Audio of Sample Answer

 Reviewing the Sample Answer

    1. Pay attention to the different grammar tenses used.
    2. See what extra information has been added.
    3. See how clearly it is structured. I followed the prompts but also added my own ideas and memories.
      1. If you don’t expand your talk to showcase your English, you will struggle to get a high score.

Useful Links for IELTS Speaking Part 2

Below you can click on useful links to improve your speaking part 2.

I will post more speaking topics for 2018 when students report them to me. Please post your topics after your test: Recent Exam Questions Page

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IELTS Speaking Part 1 Topics: December

Below are some IELTS Speaking Part 1 Topics for December 2017. These topics have been reported by students this month. You can also find a link to IELTS speaking tips below.

The Sun Topic

  • Do you like the sun?
  • How do you feel when it’s sunny?
  • What kinds of activities do you enjoy when it’s sunny?
  • Would you like to live in a place with more sun or less sun?
  • Why do some people prefer to live in sunny places?
  • What are the benefits of sunshine?
  • Does your country use energy from the sun?

Rain Topic

  • Does it often rain where you live?
  • Do you enjoy the rain?
  • Have you ever been caught in the rain without a coat or umbrella?
  • Does rain affect people’s behaviour?
  • What types of activities can people do when it rains?
  • Does the rain ever cause transportation problems in your country?

Other Speaking Part 1 Topics in December

Notice:  Only the examiner has the full list of speaking part 1 topics. The list below are topics that students have reported this month. It is very possible you will get one or more of these topics in part 1. However, there is no guarantee. You should prepare these topics and also common part 1 topics. Click here for common part 1 speaking topics. Click here to follow recent questions: Recent Exam Questions

  1. work / study
  2. home / hometown
  3. family
  4. jewellry
  5. buses
  6. laughing / happiness
  7. fruit
  8. emails
  9. boats
  10. names
  11. transport
  12. teenagers
  13. birthday
  14. art/music
  15. internet / computers
  16. keeping healthy
  17. advertising
  18. history

What about January? It is possible some of the topics might change. But, even so, you can still prepare ideas for both the topics above and also the common speaking topics: Common part 1 Topics.

IELTS Speaking Tips & Model Answers

You can find lots of tips to improve your IELTS speaking and also some model answers on my main speaking page.

Click here: IELTS Speaking Tips & Model Answers

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Speaking Part 1: the best answer

Learn which is the best answer for IELTS speaking part 1 “Do you like vegetables?”. Below you will find the right answer, tips and also more possible answers. Furthermore, you can find useful vocabulary for vegetables on this page: Test your Veg Vocab

I asked you which answer is best for this question: “Do you like vegetables?”

There were two options:

  1. Yes, I do. I consider vegetables an important part of any healthy diet due to amount of vitamins and minerals that some vegetables can supply. Without vegetables in a person’s diet, health problems might occur later in life.
  2. Yes, I do. I am particularly partial to leafy greens, such as spinach, although I do eat pretty much any kind of veg. In fact, on the whole, most of my main meals contain at least 5 different types of veg.


Number 2 is appropriate and number 1 is not.

IELTS speaking part 1 is mostly about you and your life. If the question asks about YOU, you must answer about YOU – not about people in general.

The questions are often very simple and basic in part 1, such as “Do you like …”.  This means you should be straight forward and give a natural answer. You should NOT change the question into an academic discussion about the importance of vitamins and minerals. In part 1, imagine you are talking to a friend. Answer naturally and be chatty.

Answer number 2 provides:

  • a) fluency – it is an extended answer with a good length for a simple questions in part 1
  • b) grammar – a complex structure and variation.
  • c) vocabulary: I’m partial to .. / leafy greens / spinach / pretty much / veg

Other Possible Answers

The answers below were posted by students:

  1. Yes, i definitely do. I’m really keen on organic crops such as potatoes, squash, green leafy veggies, and even bitter gourd despite of it’s unpleasant taste. i basically grew up eating these type of food, because my mom likes to cook vegetarian dishes.
    1. A great answer. It demonstrates excellent vocabulary in a very natural way which is perfect for part 1. The examiner might interrupt the examiner to move on to another question before the end, but don’t worry about that. The examiner will decide when to move on. Your task is to keep talking until that happens.
  2. Yes, i do. I eat green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. I enjoy to eat salad made of vegetables. It’s pretty delicious and healthy as well.
    1. The technique is fine and the vocabulary great. However, the sentence structures are basic  and simple.
  3. Yes I like vegetables. I am very keen about having veggies in many of my meals as this provides the balance I want to get from every diet in the meal I take, though i have better preference for uncooked vegetables.
    1. The tone is great -it’s personal. The fluency is fine and the sentences complex. However, the grammar is not strong as it contains a number of errors.

I hope this lesson was useful 🙂



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Choose the best answer: IELTS speaking practice

Hi guys,

Below is a speaking question from part 1:

Do you like vegetables?

Which answer do you think is the best to answer this question?

  1. Yes, I do. I consider vegetables an important part of any healthy diet due to amount of vitamins and minerals that some vegetables can supply. Without vegetables in a person’s diet, health problems might occur later in life.
  2. Yes, I do. I am particularly partial to leafy greens, such as spinach, but I do eat pretty much any kind of veg. In fact, on the whole, most of my main meals contain at least 5 different types of veg.


The answer to this lesson is now available:

Click here to see the answer: The best answer


Why the IELTS Speaking Examiner Stops your Answer

Learn why the IELTS speaking examiner sometimes stops your answer before you have finished.

Why the IELTS speaking examiner stops your answer.

There are two main reasons why the IELTS speaking examiner might stop your answer.

  1. The main reason is that time is limited, and the examiner needs to move on to a new question.
  2. Another possible reason is that the English provided in your answer was sufficient and the examiner wants to use the time to test a new piece of language.
  3. The examiner wants to change topic.

It is important that you understand this fully:

  • The examiner is not testing your response or your reaction to changing questions.
  • The examiner does not test confidence.
  • Being off topic does not affect your score in IELTS speaking.
  • Task Response is a criterion for writing. It is not a criterion for speaking.
  • The examiner does not rapidly ask questions to test your ability to handle stress – this is not how IELTS speaking works.
  • The examiner is not testing your eye contact.

Always remember that the examiner is only testing 4 things: fluency, vocab, grammar and pronunciation. Nothing else is marked.

A student called Janet mentioned that may be the examiner feels that your answer is memorised and scripted. It is true that the examiner will look out for this. The examiner will know which answers were memorised and what your real level of English is by the end of the test by asking a range of questions and topics.

Will it lower your score?

No. 100% not. This is a choice made by the examiner to cover all language functions and direct the test in the way the examiner wants.

For this reason, when it happens, you should:

  1. be prepared for this and not be surprised.
  2. not be upset or worried about it.
  3. understand that the reason for the examiner moving on is NOT because you have made a mistake
  4. understand that this is a natural part of the IELTS speaking test
  5. focus on the next question.
  6. continue to be confident because you have done nothing wrong and your test is going as normal.


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Speaking Answers for Topic of Change

Speaking Part 3 Questions for the Topic of Change:

This topic is currently being used: Oct – Dec 2017.

  1. Why do old people not accept change?
  2. Why do some people keep changing their jobs?
  3. What changes have occurred in your country in the last few decades?

Sample Answers

Why do old people not accept change?

  1. Answer 1: I guess one of the main reasons they don’t accept change is because they have spent the last few decades living a life of routine. For that reason, they find it difficult to alter that routine in order to accept changes. For example, old people who have been used to going to into the bank to do transactions find it difficult to change this habit and bank online. I think new technology must be really challenging for them.
  2. Answer 2: I think some old people are afraid of change. I mean, they find it difficult to understand and learn new ways of doing things and this makes them feel afraid. They don’t want to expose their age or their weaknesses so they try to resist change.

Why do some people keep changing their jobs?

  1. Answer 1: Well, I think some people change their jobs frequently for no other reason than they can’t find a permanent position. But other people choose to change jobs. I mean, they want to try difficult jobs in order to learn new skills, have new experiences and enjoy the opportunities that life has to offer.
  2. Answers 2: It’s not easy to say why people change their jobs but I suppose that career growth is one of the reasons. There are so many people trying for the same jobs or trying to get promotion that people need to show a range of skills and the ability to adapt. So, by changing jobs frequently, they can develop their CV and hopefully have a better chance of a better job.
  3. Answer 3: I don’t think people have much choice these days. It’s really hard to find a long term job that offers good job security. So, people have no choice but to move from one job to another. But it’s also a good way to develop new skills in different fields and hopefully land a better position.

What changes have occurred in your country in the last few decades?

  1. Answer 1: There have been so many changes it’s hard to choose which one to talk about. I think there have been big changes in education, mainly university education. When I was younger, all students had access to free university education but now they have to pay which means they leave university with greater debt but with less job opportunities at the end of it.
  2. Answer 2 posted from a student: In Nigeria here, some changes has taken place over the past few decades. We the Nigerians have witnessed how a small religious sect metamorphosed into a full blown globally recognized terrorist group. Indeed, our once peaceful country changed into a war zone where the lives and properties of her citizens aren’t secured. We also witnessed a great change in the political arena where for the first time ever, an incumbent president contested and lost the presidential elections to the opposition party.

More IELTS Speaking Model Answers

You can find more model answers and speaking tips on my main speaking page: IELTS Speaking Main Page


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