Not all IELTS Examiners Smile in the Speaking Test

I think it is a good time to talk about your IELTS Speaking Examiners. In the IELTS speaking test, you will be face to face with an IELTS speaking examiner who will ask you questions. There are three parts:

  1. short answer questions – about 12 questions in under 5 mins
  2. a talk – 1 mins to prepare and 1-2 mins to talk
  3. a discussion – about 4 to 8 questions in under 5 mins

The IELTS speaking test is informal. This means you need to be open, chatty and friendly throughout your test. This way you can showcase your English to the examiner. For speaking tips and model answers, see my Main IELTS Speaking Page

IELTS Examiners

IELTS examiners are supposed to be friendly, smiley and encouraging. They can’t be chatty with you but they should be encouraging in their body language, facial expressions and general manner. This is what they are taught to do.

BUT not all examiners are friendly. This means it can feel difficult to be chatty and friendly with an examiner if they don’t smile, yawn, avoid looking at you and show disinterest in what you say. Unfortunately, not all examiners are good with body language.

Your Preparation

You need to be prepared to face any type of examiner – encouraging or not encouraging You need to be mentally ready to be chatty and open even if the person you are talking to appears bored.

Your speaking test is 11 to 14 minutes in length. This is not a lot of time. But in that time, you can change your future. So, don’t let a bored examiner control your fate. Take your future into your own hands and be ready for anything.

Students’ Experience

Most IELTS students have a good experience in their IELTS speaking test and some even enjoy it. Most students found the examiner encouraging and friendly. This is the ideal situation. But examiners are humans and a few of them are not prefect – you must be prepared for that.

Your Experience

Please share your experience of the speaking test by posting below. Remember this is not a time to complain. It is a time to share experiences – good and bad. Please remember that the aim of this website is to prepare students for IELTS and also BUILD CONFIDENCE !!!

My Message to IELTS

It is time to get a camera in the IELTS speaking test room. Having an audio recording is not enough and certainly behind the times. Having a camera in the room means IELTS can monitor their examiners more closely to ensure that IELTS candidates who have paid money for this test are in fact being tested at the standard that IELTS have set. It should not be acceptable that IELTS have some examiners who put students off talking by appearing bored and annoyed. This entirely defeats the purpose of having a face to face speaking test rather than one done with a computer. IELTS want their speaking test to be as life like as possible – but at what time would you have a personal chat with someone for 14 minutes who wishes you weren’t in the room and shows it!

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How to Use Ideas for IELTS Speaking Part 2: Tips

It is important that you understand what ideas you can use for your IELTS speaking Part 2. You need to know what topics are appropriate and how a topic can be expanded.

On this page you will see:

  • a list of ideas
  • a model answer
  • examiner comments
  • a list of vocabulary
  • useful link
  • a picture

Possible Ideas

Lets look at this topics: An Activity near the Sea. Below is a list of possible topics:

Let me give you a current speaking part 2 topic: An Activity Near the Sea You have Done

Which of the following ideas can you use for this topic?

  1. Fishing
  2. Water-skiing
  3. Swimming
  4. Sunbathing
  5. Shopping
  6. Photography
  7. A lazy day near the sea
  8. A future holiday near the sea

Decide which of the above ideas is possible for the this topic.


You can use all of the above ideas for your Speaking Part 2 talk about an activity near the sea.

The examiner is not marking your ideas. It does not affect your score to go off topic. You are not marked on using relevant ideas.

Your speaking score is based 100% on your English language – nothing more. You are not even marked on understanding. You are only marked on fluency, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

How to Use Ideas for Speaking Part 2

See this model answer below to learn how to use all the above ideas:

Model Answer

I will tell you about a place I have been to near the sea and all the activities there were on offer there. Personally, I go to the sea to enjoy the sea air and see family. But there are also plenty of other things to do.

The town I go to is called Hoi An, which is both by the sea and also situated on a river. Most people take part in fishing and swimming, although the current in the sea can sometimes be a bit strong. It’s not the best place for water-skiing due to the waves, so most people just take a dip in the sea and sunbathe. Along the coast line are loads of shops selling a variety of souvenirs. I often enjoy browsing when I have the time.

The town itself is incredibly pretty. It is a UNESCO heritage site and boasts amazingly photographic scenes, particularly as daylight fades in the evening and the town has a golden glow under the street lamps. It attracts a lot of photographers from around the world and, the last time I was there, I couldn’t stop taking snap shots as I pottered around the town.

I think Hoi An is the perfect place for a lazy day near the sea. It’s not just because there are activities to do but because there is just a pleasant feel of arriving in another world that takes your breath away. I plan to have a lot more holidays there in the future. In fact, I’ve already booked my next trip.


You can see that this model answer does not focus on one activity near the sea. Instead, this model answer offers lots of activities as it describes a holiday.

This model answer would get band score 9. It is fine to adapt the topic and bring in lots of ideas to develop your story. The talk is informal (all IELTS speaking is informal) and you can see this in the style. It is chatty, friendly and full of interesting ideas – with great vocabulary.

Speaking part 2 has no questions, just prompts. It is your task to go beyond the prompts and add lots more information that isn’t asked for in order to develop your talk and showcase your English. Going off topic by adding more detail does not affect your score. Your ideas are not marked in IELTS speaking.


  • the sea air
  • the current can be strong
  • take a dip in the sea
  • variety of souvenirs
  • enjoy browsing
  • photographic scenes
  • as daylight fades
  • golden glow
  • taking snap shots
  • potter around
  • take your breath away

You can see that the vocabulary is mostly informal or descriptive. This is prefect for IELTS speaking part 2 when you are describing a place or a memory.

See my IELTS Speaking Tips

Click here to see all my IELTS Speaking Topics, Tips and Model Answers

Hoi An, Central Vietnam

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Question about speaking part 2 topic: Water

Hi guys,

Many students ask me if their idea for topics in speaking part 2 is ok. I want to see how much you understand about choosing an idea for part 2 speaking.

Let me give you a current speaking part 2 topic: An Activity Near the Sea You have Done

Which of the following ideas can you use for this topic?

  1. Fishing
  2. Water-skiing
  3. Swimming
  4. Sunbathing
  5. Shopping
  6. Photography
  7. A lazy day near the sea
  8. A future holiday near the sea

Decide which of the above ideas is possible for the this topic.



Find out how to use these ideas: How to use Ideas for Speaking Part 2: Activity near the Sea

This page: Ideas, will show you how to use ideas, a model band score 9 answer and vocbaulary.

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

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 !!! 🙂

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

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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