In part one of your IELTS Speaking test, the examiner might ask you a past tense question like, “What did you do last weekend?”
Let’s look at the best way to answer this question, with 10 example answers (go straight to the answers here).
Use Past Tense Verbs
If the examiner asks you any past tense questions, they want to know if you can hear past tense questions, and use past tense verbs in your answer.
The best way to answer is simply to say what you did last weekend. Keep it simple, and describe what you did.
Because it’s part one, you don’t need to use advanced vocabulary or grammar. Just focus on fluency: answer as quickly as you can, without hesitation.
Very simple English is fine. Just make sure that your past tense is good.
Remember Your Weekend, and Picture It
In the exam, you might feel nervous and you might be thinking too much about grammar and vocabulary and not making mistakes.
Here’s a good way to relax and focus on communicating: picture what you did last weekend; see it in your mind’s eye.
Then simply describe what you’re remembering.
Try to do this for all your IELTS Speaking questions. Picturing a memory makes it easy to think of things to say.
Grammar Tip: How to Improve Your Past Tense
For students from some countries, the past tense can be difficult to remember. But for IELTS and all English communication, good past tense is 100 percent necessary.
Here are two excellent ways to improve your past tense, and make it an easy habit for you.
1. Write a Super-Simple Journal
Get a notebook and pen. And every day, for just five minutes, write a few sentences about what you did yesterday.
These can be quite simple sentences, such as:
Yesterday morning, I woke up at about seven am and had a shower. I ate cereal for breakfast and then caught the metro to work…
If you’re more advanced, you can make your sentences more interesting, with various past tenses, for example:
Last night, I was hanging out with my friends when someone called me. It was the client from work who I had met the previous week. He needed help with something…
It doesn’t matter if you make simple or complex sentences. The only important thing is that you use good past tense and you do it every day.
If you continue this habit for a month, you’ll see amazing improvements in your past tense.
2. Ask Yourself Past Tense Questions Aloud
On a piece of paper, write about ten simple past tense questions, like:
- What did you do this morning?
- What did you do last night?
- What did you do last weekend?
- And more like this
Stick that piece of paper on your bedroom wall, or on your fridge, where it’s easy to see.
Every time you walk past that piece of paper, stop for a moment and ask one of the questions out loud to yourself. Then answer it out loud. Imagine you’re having a real conversation.
This is another way to build an excellent past tense habit.
Let’s look at some good example answers for this question about what you did last weekend.
1. Last weekend, I spent a lot of time with my wife and child. It was sunny, so we went to the park and played a game of frisbee. And in the evening, I cooked a meal of noodles and beef.
2. On Saturday, I went shopping with my sister. We bought some clothes and had lunch at a sushi restaurant in the mall. It was a lot of fun. On Sunday, I just stayed at home doing housework and watching TV.
3. I had to work last weekend because it’s the end of the year and we have to close up all our accounts. So I didn’t have any free time last weekend, only overtime for work.
4. On Friday night, I went to the cinema with my boyfriend to watch a movie. It was a really inspiring, uplifting romantic comedy. I loved it. On Saturday and Sunday, we were mostly relaxing at home.
5. I had two days off work last weekend, so I played soccer with my friends on both mornings. And in the afternoon, I went to the gym to work out.
6. A couple of my friends came over last weekend, and we spend al of Saturday playing computer games on my Xbox. After that, we ate pizza and watched anime movies online.
7. I had to do lots of homework last weekend. It was mostly math and science exercises. I didn’t have any free time to enjoy myself.
8. I did what I do every weekend. I had a few English classes, online and at the English center. And I had two yoga classes as well. It was a good weekend, and I had a nice time.
9. I went on a quick weekend trip to Payar Island last weekend. I spent two days swimming in the sea and sunbathing on the beach. It was a wonderful mini-vacation, and it really helped me unwind.
10. I’m an entrepreneur, so I don’t really have any days off. I was busy working on my business last weekend. I had to meet three suppliers and complete a few purchase orders.
Now, Your Turn To Try!
Give this question a go yourself.
Set up the voice recorder on your smartphone and ask aloud, “What did you do last weekend?”
Answer as quickly as you can. Remember to keep it simple. Just focus on good past tense.
When you’ve finished, listen to your answer and write it down. See if you made any mistakes.
Then do it again!
Keep repeating this process to prepare yourself for part one of the IELTS Speaking test.