Going Off Topic in IELTS Speaking Part 2

Is it wrong to go off topic in IELTS speaking part 2? Will you get a lower band score if you go off topic? Do you get a higher band score if you stay with the topic and follow the prompts given in IELTS speaking part 2? See the tips below to learn how your IELTS speaking is marked.

  • Is it essential to follow the prompts on your cue card for speaking part 2?
    • No, it isn’t. The prompts on the cue card are guidelines and support to help you build your talk.
  • Will you get a lower score if you don’t complete the cue card prompts?
    • No, you won’t. You can choose which prompts you want to use. You can ignore some and use others. You don’t get a lower score if you don’t complete the cue card prompts.
  • Are there questions to answer on the cue card?
    • No. There are no questions on your cue card. There are only prompts which are suggestions that will help you give a full talk. It is your choice to use them or not.
  • Can you add information in speaking part 2 that isn’t on the cue card?
    • Yes, you can. It is recommended that you add information to expend your talk. You will not get a lower score if you go off the topic by adding extra information that is not on your card.
  • Is the examiner marking your ability to use the prompts on the cue card?
    • No. You are not marked on ideas at all. You are only marked on your use of English language.
  • I heard that going off topic will reduce your score. Is that true?
    • Not for IELTS speaking. It is true for IELTS writing. In IELTS writing, you are marked on your response, ideas and being on topic. This is not the case for IELTS speaking. You can learn how band scores are marked on the links below.
  • Should you follow the prompts on the card?
    • I recommend that you use the prompts and also add extra information. The prompts are useful and provide a structure to your talk which will help your score. Adding extra information is a useful way to showcase your English language for a higher score.

Learn about how your speaking and other skills are marked: IELTS Band Score Explained

Prepare ideas for Common IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics

Learn more tips for IELTS Speaking on the Main IELTS Speaking Page of this website.

Learn How to Start your Part 2 Talk

Main IELTS Pages

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  1. Rajshree Sable says:

    Hi Liz,

    I had a speaking test today. For PART 2 of speaking test, topic given to me was DESCRIBE GIFT WHICH YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO SOMEBODY. But in my case, I went complete off topic. I spoke about GIFT WHICH I RECEIVED FROM SOMEBODY. I am so anxious now regarding band score for this. Kindly guide me how much will this affect my SPEAKING band.

    Thank you.

  2. dear liz
    can u please assess my ielts essay… m going to appear for the test on 21st of this month

  3. Victor Chidiebere says:

    My kind regards to you. keep it up.

  4. Thank you so much Liz for all your work. It helped me greatly with my preparation for the exam. You are amazing!

  5. Yassir adam says:


  6. Ahmed Mohammed says:

    I highly appreciate all your outstanding dedicated hard work here.I still can’t figure out your answer regarding following the prompts on the cue card.If the prompt instructs to describe a gift in your life is it OK if the candidate describe his/her favorite family member.Just asking.
    Best regards

    • You are given a topic with prompts and the advice above is about using the prompts, not about changing the topic completely. Design your talk around the topic but develop the prompts and use the prompts in any way you want – add your own prompts.

  7. Hi Mrs Liz

    Should i use capital letter in all reading answers?


  8. Anil pandey says:

    I am confident by yours support..thank you

  9. Hany Youssef says:

    Thank You for all useful information & efforts. you are a great help.

  10. jaswinder kaur says:

    thank you my respected Liz mam

  11. Arif Equbal says:

    Thanks Liz.

  12. Thanks

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