Tips for IELTS Speaking Part Two

Part two of the IELTS Speaking test lasts three to four minutes. And part two is a little more difficult than part one. 

In part two, you must speak for one or two minutes about one topic, answering a single question about that topic. Before you begin speaking, you have exactly one minute to prepare your answer.

While preparing your answer, it’s best to focus on thinking of many things to talk about. You should be able to keep talking for two full minutes. You should also focus on using plenty of interesting vocabulary.

You’ll be given a piece of paper called a ‘cue card’ that tells you what to talk about. The cue card also gives you some ideas on what to say. Here’s an example cue card:

Describe a festival that you enjoy.

You should say:

  • What the festival is called
  • When it is held
  • What it celebrates

And say why you enjoy this festival. 

You can see that you’re given a few suggestions on what to say. You can follow these suggestions if you like, but you don’t need to. You can say whatever you like as long as you answer the question and your English is good. 

The following are six important tips for part two.

1. Prepare To Talk for Two Whole Minutes

You might have to speak for two minutes without stopping. That’s quite a long time. 

Unlike part one, in part two you need to talk and talk and talk. Only stop when the examiner stops you. They might stop you after two minutes, or they might stop you earlier.

If you stop talking before two minutes, the examiner will usually ask you one or two more questions on the topic.

Always prepare to speak for the full two minutes so that you get into the habit of speaking at length (for a long time and in detail) on a given topic.

2. Focus on Detail

You only have one minute to prepare your answer for part two. That’s not a lot of preparation time.

So first and foremost, focus on thinking of lots and lots and lots of things to say. 

For every thought, memory, or idea you express, try to add plenty of detail. Detailed descriptions are the key to success in part two. 

3. Speak Naturally

In part two, because you’re focusing on what to say, you shouldn’t worry about using complex grammar.

It’s good to use some past tenses and present perfect tenses (see tip four below), but if you just speak naturally, using mostly simple sentences, you’ll find it easier to keep speaking for two whole minutes. 

If you focus too much on using complex grammar, you might get distracted and run out of things to say. So don’t worry about grammar too much.

One thing that’s very important in part two, if you want to achieve a band-seven score, is to use some interesting, uncommon vocabulary (see the next tip). So rather than focusing on grammar, focus on using interesting vocabulary while giving details to your answer. Let the grammar take care of itself. 

4. Use Interesting Vocabulary

As mentioned, it’s important to use interesting vocabulary in part two. This means using words, phrases, and idioms that are a little more advanced and uncommon.

So keep reading, listening, and memorizing new words and phrases every day. You can use a flashcard app like Anki App to help you memorize words and phrases more easily.

You can also use many excellent IELTS preparation apps like the Complete IELTS Full Skills app and IELTS Practice Band 9 app. 

And there are many other non-IELTS apps for expanding your English vocabulary, such as the apps on this list.

To begin with, focus on using more interesting adjectives, adverbs, phrasal verbs, and idioms. This will make a huge difference to your part-two score. 

Prepare Word Groups

One excellent way to use much more interesting vocabulary in part two is with word groups.

A word group is a collection of interesting words, phrases, and idioms that describe a particular characteristic of a place, person, activity, event, or thing.

For example, you might prepare an ‘exciting activity’ word group, which includes uncommon words like: ‘thrilling, exhilarating, action-packed, mind-blowing, buzzing with excitement, thrilled to bits…’ and more. 

You could memorize this ‘exciting activity’ word group (using Anki App). Then you could easily use this word group to answer many different part-two questions about an activity or an experience you had. 

For example, you could use the ‘exciting activity’ word group to answer any of these questions:

  • Describe a leisure activity you enjoy
  • Describe a hobby you had as a child
  • Describe a holiday you went on
  • Describe a sport you’d like to play
  • Describe a happy memory
  • Describe your favorite movie
  • Describe a memorable experience you had
  • And many more part-two questions

Word groups are a terrific way to prepare for part two. They make it much easier to show off lots of advanced vocabulary.

Learn more about word groups and see many examples here.

5. Tell a Story

Another wonderful way to prepare for part two is to prepare lots of short stories. Always try to tell a story related to the question. With a short story, you can:

  • Easily keep speaking for 30 or 60 seconds
  • Show off your past tenses (primarily past simple, past continuous, and past perfect)

So while preparing for IELTS, try to come up with many, many short stories related to all kinds of topics. These stories can be from your own life and experience (which are the easiest stories to tell). Or they can be about anything and anyone.

The more you practice telling short stories, the better you’ll become at thinking of stories on-the-spot (without preparation) and telling them well. This is a wonderful skill for IELTS Speaking.

Your past tenses will also improve a great deal when you practice telling stories, which is fantastic for your English.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice

Of course, just like everything in IELTS, the key to success is practice. Keep answering part-two questions, over and over again.

And it’s best to record yourself every time you do. That way, you can listen to your recorded answers and notice any mistakes you’re making. 

Better yet, while listening to your recorded answer, you can write down what you said. When your answer is written down, it’s far easier to notice your mistakes and correct them.

The fastest way to get better is to record your answer, listen, write, and repeat. Record, listen, write and repeat. Record, listen, write, and repeat.

You’ll improve a little each time. Your English-speaking confidence will also skyrocket (go up a lot) when you record yourself and hear yourself speaking. So give it a try!

That’s all for part two.

For detailed advice on part three of the speaking test, go here.

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