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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  1. Manmohandeep singh says

    THANK you mam

  2. I’m a native English speaker who’s been teaching ESL in Indonesia for over 10 years and I still find you a source of knowledge and inspiration!

    I was, ignorantly, under the impression that speaking was marked on content and cohesion. Thank you for pointing out that my students can go off topic, it’s a game changer for some with limited experiences.

    Keep up the amazing work! And remember that you are not just helping people directly, but also through people like me, I’m sure I’m not alone on here.

    • When I say you can go off topic, I do not mean you can change the topic. Rather you can expand your ideas based on the topic given in any direction and add information which is not asked for.

  3. Hi Liz! As in this topic, you selected to talk about an activity done near the sea. How would someone like me answer this kind of questions which they have never been into? I have never been to a sea since my childhood. Can I rotate the question and talk about the river instead of the sea?

    • Yes, of course. You can adapt the topic and explain that you’ve never been to the sea but you will talk about a trip to a river.

  4. Dear Liz
    Could suggest me to use more idioms & phrases, the appropriate preposition in IELTS Speaking as well as writing? If that would be perfect to obtain higher band score? I’m bit more confused that somebody mentioned me that’s not appropriate.

    Can I have your honest suggestions, Liz?

  5. Hi liz!
    My speaking test is on Monday and Im not feeling well prepared for it,I have listen and read some of the topics and tips that you have shared but I still don’t feel confident.Any tips before I do the test? Univeristy admission is no band below 6.

    • For speaking, the key is to be chatty and open. This means you will need to save your energy and use it all during the 14 mins given to you. Each question is not about what answer to give, it’s an opportunity to showcase your language skills. Simple questions require simple answers but you can always showcase your English by simply adding another tense to your reply – this will boost your score. For example, “Can you swim?” Answer = “Yes, I can but I haven’t had the time to do much swimming recently”. You’ve answers directly and also shown the use of the present perfect. In part 2, decide what extra information you will give. You MUST add more information that isn’t on the card – it’s the only way to get a high score. Add past memories, future hopes, comparisons, descriptions etc. In part 3, always explain your ideas fully. Explain “why” always. Good luck!!

  6. Amninder Singh says

    Hello Liz,
    Actually my exam was postponed due to some reasons in India.. I am very tensed about it. when will it re scheduled and and my speaking is average, how can i practice?

  7. I’m taking my speaking test on Saturday ,from Nigeria . Hoping for the best and thanks a lot for your tips. Any last minute ideas ?

    • Be chatty and open. Expand all answers. Don’t worry if the examiner interrupts your answers – it’s normal. Add lots of extra details to your part 2 talk – add past memories, future hopes – add comparisons, descriptions etc. Good luck!

  8. NigarfromAzerbaijan says

    Thank yooou! God bless you!

  9. Thanks Liz, this very helpful

  10. Thanks Liz very helpful

  11. Ones again thank, please are you in Egypt

  12. Hi, my ielts tutor told that in speaking section if we talk off-topic, we will loose marks. I’m confused. Please reply.

    • There is nothing in the marking system which relates to ideas or being on topic for speaking. This is a fact, not an opinion. If you go off topic, it won’t affect your score. Please read the comments I have written to other students on this page to learn more.

  13. Priya Chadha says

    Thanks Liz,
    This article really helps me in understanding speaking module better.
    The line “you are not examined on the basis of ideas but on the basis of your language skills” shed my fear of speaking because sometimes I don’t have a lot of ideas to speak and feels hesitated and I hope it’ll not from now onwards.

    • Brilliant !!! I’m so glad you have understood. Many students are scared of answering in their speaking test in case their answer is wrong or off topic. Forget it! Your score is based on your language produced and not your ideas. This is the opposite to writing. In writing, your ideas are crucial and the way you develop them is also marked. But now you can relax with speaking. Enjoy the test, enjoy the questions. Add past tense memories and future hopes to your answers to boost your grammar score 🙂

    • Amazing! Thank you Liz for upgrading my speaking skills.

  14. Thank you for that lesson. I know you mentioned that we can be flexible with answering but I am too scared to be out of the topic so probably i would just said about my experience only and not about other activities. I guess that is not right..

    • That is not right. Your score is based on:
      fluency / grammar / vocabulary / pronunciation – no marks are given for ideas or being on topic. So, don’t worry.

      Writing is the opposite. In writing you are marked on:
      Task Response (these are your ideas and how you develop them)
      Coherence & Cohesion- how you organise and link your ideas

      So, you see, in writing only 50% of your marks is based on your English language. In speaking, 100% of your marks is based on your English language. So, in your speaking test, relax, be chatty and add anything you want to your answers. Answer directly and then add anything else.

  15. Dipesh chawla says

    Respected Madam,
    Is it correct to say You and I in speaking module?

    • Of course. The speaking is informal, natural and chatty as through you were speaking to a friend. See my model answers.

  16. Do we have to speak only on the topic given like in the above topic of activities near sea,you have ellobaroted even about sea, the town and things nearby.
    Will the examiner take it as off topic ? Do we only have to stick to the main question in cue card?
    What about the subquestions asked, is it mandatory to answer all of them?

    • Did you read the examiner comments on this page? Please look again. There is advice given about going off topic.

  17. Sneha Varghese Payyampallil says

    Thank u ma’am

  18. Dear Liz,
    I’m wondering why you did not use past tense in the sample answer as I assumed it had happened.

    Thanks alot!

    • I used both. But if you are describing activities which exist now, you use present tense. The aim is to show flexibility.

  19. Thank you Liz. very helpful. I sent you a message yesterday about writing task 2,.I was reading an essay topic on art asking to what extent I agree. but I completely disagree with that. so can i write both agree and disagree or just disagree with what is given in the question?

  20. Mam, can we not speak like answering the questions ? Or we should take it as generally or naturally while speaking.

    • You should not speak like answering questions because there are no questions in part 2. Just speak naturally and chat.

  21. Anshuman Sehgal says

    Thanks a lot, Liz…I really like your model essay..keep up the good work 🙂

  22. grateful for Liz says

    Massive thanks dear Liz. You are a God sent. I can’t thank you enough. 😀

  23. Mandeep kang says

    It’s a good piece of information for me .thanks a lot for this and have a good day Liz.bye

  24. Mandeep kang says

    Thanks Liz it’s a good piece of information for me .thanks again and have a good day Liz .

  25. Hey Liz,
    I have all ideas on my mind… but when I start speaking ,then everything goes wrong I can’t perfom very well….
    Please suggest me what can I do for improve?

    • For speaking part 2, you need to train and practise using 1 mins to prepare. You should be preparing all your ideas in short note form – don’t write long sentences. Just write code or short form so that you get all your ideas on paper before you start.

  26. What if a talk went entirely off topic? Such as ‘Describe a person who can speak another language fluently’ and the answer was like describing an appliance in your home? Is there a particular limitation for expanding our ideas?

    • You would need to explain to the examiner why you are doing that. If the examiner thinks you are changing the topic because you want to give a memorised talk that you prepared at home, you will get a very very low score. You can adapt the topics but don’t change them in order to use memorised answers.

  27. Gurleen kaur says

    Can I speak like this… I’d… I’ll and so on while speaking or writing??

  28. Harsimran Jit Singh says

    You are playing a good role.. Thanks Liz..

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