IELTS Speaking TestIn this post, we’re going to look at the IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 of the exam. I think it goes without saying that most students know that Part 2 is more difficult than Part 1. And because of that it is important for you to understand that without a decent amount of practise, Part 2 is a bit of a nightmare.

However, it is not only important to understand how Part 2 works, it is also important to understand that preparation is an important part of your answer. Therefore, we are not only going to look at how to do do Part 2 but also how to prepare for it. So without further ado, let’s look at the IELTS Speaking Test Part 2.

If you don’t know how the IELTS Speaking Test works, please check out this post before reading this article.

One more thing. This post is a little bit strange as I don’t start at the beginning of the topic card and finish at the end. In fact, it’s the other way round, so you may need to read it a couple of times to make sure you understand what I am trying to say.

If you’re in a rush, check out the full example by clicking this link.

What Is the IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 Topic Card?

The first thing you need to understand is that the topic card has two main parts. The top part includes the first line and the bullet points. The second is the final line. Many students make the mistake of concentrating too much on the top part of the topic card, and end up not talking enough about the final line.

You should not make this mistake because the final line is where all the interesting information happens. The top part of the topic card is normally just the facts concerning the top line. Think of the first line and the three bullet points as an introduction, and should only last about 30 seconds.

How does Speaking Test Part 2 Work?

IELTS Speaking Test Part 2

Image by MustangJoe from Pixabay

After Part 1, the examiner will say something along the lines of, ”Let’s move on to part 2.” He will then give you a topic card, and you and he will read through the card together. He will then say something along the lines of, “You have one minute to prepare, and you may make notes if you wish.”

Preparing for Part 2 well is extremely important. Generally, my advice to is to write down three main ideas as quickly as possible – preferably within 15 to 20 seconds. Then spend 40 to 45 seconds thinking about what you’re going to say. It’s not easy to write down the three ideas within 20 seconds but if you can do it, you have made a great start to Part 2.

For the 40 to 45 seconds of thinking about what you’re going to say, the best method is to ask yourself questions related to the three main ideas that you have written now. Let’s look at what I mean.

The  IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 Topic Card

IELTS Speaking Test Part 2Don’t worry about the top part of the card yet. You’re doing the last line first, so that’s what you need to concentrate on. Let’s look at three possible answers to the line, “and explain what you are doing to achieve your dreams.”

1. Studying English
2. Researching places to live
3. Saving money

Notice that you’ve only written eight words. That’s about the maximum you want to write, so don’t go crazy! You only have 15 – 20 seconds here so make that time count!

Also, notice that I have used the same tense in the notes as the last line, “…what you are doing…” This is important as keeping the same tense means you are keeping the same meaning.

While writing those three ideas down, you may have been thinking in full sentences. If you were, you’re ahead of the game, because the next part’s the ‘thinking’ part of your preparation.

A lot of students say to me, “But I don’t know how to think. What should I do?” Don’t worry. I’m going to tell you. You need to think of questions that might be asked in response to your sentences. Let me show you what I mean.

Main Idea 1

1. Firstly, I’m studying English.
2. How?
3. You think “reading, watching TV, online IELTS courses, online speaking classes”.

Main Idea 2

1. Secondly, I’m researching places to live
2. Why?
3. You think “safe place, good schools / hospitals, not big / not small, friendly people”.

Main Idea 3

1. Finally, I’m saving money.
2. How?
3. You think “Asking relatives, % of wages in bank account, part-time Uber driver.”

The difficult bit is remembering everything you have just thought about. But with practise, it’s very possible. When you practise, you really need to find an online IELTS teacher to help you. If you’re short of money, try and at least find a speaking partner.

Sequencing Your Speech

Notice I used ‘firstly’, ‘secondly’, and ‘finally’. It’s important to sequence your long speech so that the examiner can follow what you’re saying.

And make sure you use ‘finally’ for your last section of your long speech. If the examiner knows that you’re on the last part of your speech, he may give you a bit longer to finish. And a completed answer always sounds better than an answer interrupted by the examiner.

By the way, the long speech should last about 90 seconds. This means that each one of your three main ideas should last 30 seconds. I think three main ideas is a good number because it should be pretty easy for you to talk for 30 seconds for each one.

If you can’t speak for 90 seconds for your long speech; especially after a week of two of practising, then you are probably not ready to do the IELTS yet.

The Top Part of the IELTS Speaking Test Part 2

IELTS Speaking Test Part 2Okay, so you have thought about what you’re going to say. Let’s go back to doing the top part of the Part 2 test. You shouldn’t need to worry too much about preparing for the top part. Let’s look at why. Here’s the topic card again on the right.

The top part requires you to just say the name of the country, the reason(s) why you’d like to live there, and who you’d like to live there with.

If you think about this for a moment, you’ll realise that you’re probably going to say more or less the same things that every other student’s going to say. Let’s look at the possible answers for each of the bullet points.

The Three Bullet Points:

1. What the country is.

Most students are doing the IELTS because they’re going to move to another country to study, to live, or for work. I think the same is true for you. And because the IELTS is a test of English ability, these countries will generally be English-speaking countries.

For that reason, most of the answers to the first bullet point will be the UK, Canada, America, Australia, or New Zealand. Even if that’s not the case, and you are going to Japan or Germany, you are still saying a country.

2. Why you want to live/work there.

Because of where most students are going and why, the answers to the second bullet point are going to be similar as well. A couple of more obvious examples are studying and work. However, some other examples may be quality of life, free education and healthcare, the people, the culture, and so on.

As the second bullet point (in this example) is a good place to add a few more details, you’d probably want to use two or three of those reasons. That way, your introduction will be more interesting.

3. Who you would like to live there with.

Finally, we have the last bullet point. This one is also very predictable. Most students will say that they want to live alone or with a friend (if they are going abroad to study) or with family (if they are going to live or work in another country). There are not really many other possibilities you can choose.

Putting the Introduction All Together

Image by olafpictures from Pixabay

So, that is the best way to introduce your long speech (the last line). Don’t make this complicated. The introduction is your chance to start off strong, sound confident, and impress the examiner. You shouldn’t take risks, so just play safe.

First of all, take the first line (Describe a country where you would like to live/work in the future) and use it to start strongly. Then continue with the last two bullet points. Here is an example of how you could do the introduction:

“The country where I would like to live and work in the future is the UK (1st Bullet Point). The reasons I’d like to live (2nd bullet point) there is because the quality of life is higher than the country I come from. Also, there is free healthcare and education, which is really important for me as I want my children to have the things I didn’t have. Additionally, the weather is much better in the UK because my country is hot in the winter and boiling in the summer. And if possible, I’d like to live there with my family (3rd bullet point).”

That introduction lasts about 30 seconds, and would be a really great start to any IELTS Speaking Test Part 2.

Putting Everything Together

Below is an example of a Part 2 speech.


“The country where I would like to live and work in the future is the UK. The reasons I’d like to live there is because the quality of life is higher than the country I come from. Also, there is free healthcare and education, which is really important for me as I want my children to have the things I didn’t have. Additionally, the weather is much better in the UK because my country is hot in the winter and boiling in the summer. And if possible, I’d like to live there with my family.

Let me explain what I’m doing to achieve my dreams.”

Main Idea 1

“Firstly, I’m studying English. To be honest, it’s a little difficult to study English in my country so I do a few different things to study online. For example, one way I study is to try and read as much as I can. I enjoy reading short stories online because novels are too long for me. I also watch a lot of movies. I’m not sure that helps me a lot with my English, but I enjoy watching them anyway. I also have an online teacher who has helped me prepare for this test.”

Main Idea 2

“Secondly, I’m researching places to live. I am going to London to work, so I have to find a place to live, but I don’t want to live just anywhere. I know that London is generally is a safe city, but I have been told that some parts of it are not so safe. For that reason, I am researching different areas of London, that are also close to my new job, to try and find the most suitable place to live for me and my family.”

Main Idea 3

“Finally, I’m saving money. There are a few different ways I am saving money, but the easiest way is to ask my relatives for money. Fortunately, I come from a society where family is very important, which means that everyone supports everyone else. However, I can’t depend on my family to pay for everything, so my wife and I are also saving a percentage of our salaries each month in a special bank account. I’m also working as an Uber driver in the evenings. It doesn’t pay very much but every little bit helps.

And that’s what I’m doing to achieve my dreams.”

Depending on how fluently (which doesn’t mean fast) the speech above is spoken, it should last between two and two and a half minutes.

Please note: That is not meant to be an essay, so there are some mistakes of grammar, which don’t matter.

Wrapping Up the Speaking Test Part 2

And there you have it. The IELTS Speaking Test Part 2 is pretty difficult, but it is not the most difficult part. You will have to wait for Part 3 for that pleasure.

This is a fairly in-depth post, but it is not a replacement for real preparation. To do well in the IELSpeaking Test, you need to have a teacher. Fortunately for you, I am a qualified IELTS teacher, with over 22 years of teaching experience, ready to help you reach your goals.

If you would like a FREE no-obligation consultation to see if I can help you get the band score you need to achieve your dreams, please contact me using the form below, and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

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