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IELTS Speaking Exam Part Two – Video

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The IELTS speaking test has three parts. In this class, you can learn in more detail about part two of the speaking exam, and how to improve your score. You’ll learn how to use your preparation time, how to organize your answer, how to make your answer more detailed, and more points which will help you to get a higher score in the IELTS speaking exam part two.

QUIZ: IELTS Speaking Exam Part Two

Do this quiz to test how well you know what you have to do in part two of the IELTS speaking exam.

There are 10 questions. Press ‘Finish Quiz’ after the last question to see your score for the quiz.

If you haven’t yet, be sure to watch the previous lesson from Oxford Online English: IELTS Speaking Exam – How to Do Part One.

1. Basic Information about the IELTS Speaking Exam

First, let’s review what happens in part two of the IELTS speaking test.

The examiner will give you a card with a topic. You have one minute to prepare a short speech on the topic. After one minute, the examiner will ask you to speak. You need to talk for between one and two minutes.

After you finish, the examiner will ask you one or two simple questions about what you said.

Let’s look at a sample question from part two of the IELTS speaking test which we’ll use during this lesson:

Describe an important choice you made.

You should say:

  • What choices you had
  • What you decided
  • How easy it was to make your decision

…and explain how you feel about this choice now.

Imagine: you’re in the exam. You have one minute to prepare your answer. How should you use your time?

2. How to Use Your Preparation Time

IELTS Speaking Exam - How to Do Part Two - How to use time image

The first thing you should do: ask the examiner if there are any words you don’t understand!

Asking the examiner will use some of your time, and that’s not ideal. But, starting to talk if you haven’t understood the question will be much worse. Don’t do it!

Secondly, look at the question. It has four parts: the three bullet points, and the part at the end—“…explain why this thing is important to you.”

One minute is not a long time. You can’t prepare everything, so don’t try. Try to think of one or two things you can say for each part of the question. Make short notes to help you remember your points.

How can you make effective notes? Let’s look:

For example, let’s say you want to talk about choosing what to study at university. You write:

  • Computer science/engineering
  • IT—interesting career opportunities
  • Difficult—pros and cons on both sides
  • Satisfied—IT work is interesting/creative

These notes will help you to speak. Let’s see how:

  • The four parts of the notes follow the four parts of the question. This will help you to keep your answer organized.
  • You have some key words and phrases like career opportunities, pros and cons or creative which you can use in your answer.
  • The notes give you at least one or two points to make about each part of the question.

Again, you won’t have time to do more than this, so don’t try. Don’t write full sentences—focus on covering all the points you need to talk about.

OK—your minute’s up, and it’s time to talk! Now what?

3. How to Organize Your Answer

Organizing your answer well is easy to do, and important, but many students don’t do it well.

So how can you organize your answer effectively?

First, start with an opening phrase. Say something like:

  • I’m going to tell you about…
  • I’d like to talk about…
  • I’ve decided to talk about…

This gives your speech a strong, clear start.

What next?

Very simple: follow the bullet points. Say 1-2 sentences about each of the three bullet points. Hopefully, this will take you 30-60 seconds.

Be focused, and don’t go off topic or add any points which don’t answer the question. Every sentence should be a direct answer to one of the points on the card.

Next, focus on the last part of the question—“…explain how you feel about this choice now.” This is the most important part of the question, because it lets you go into more detail.

This isn’t just true for this question; this is generally true for IELTS speaking part two questions. The three bullet points are quite simple, and you can’t say very much about them. The last part has more depth, and you should spend more time on it.

So, try to make 3-4 sentences about the last part of the question. This should take you 30-60 seconds, again.

Great! You’ve finished, right? Not quite.

You also need a strong finish.

Often, when I practice IELTS with my students, they act surprised when they finish their answers:

  • “…and so I feel like I probably made the right choice…


This doesn’t sound like you’ve finished. It sounds like you’ve just run out of things to say. You should know when you’ve finished, and you should show the examiner clearly.

How can you finish strongly?

Use a concluding phrase, such as:

  • That’s why I feel that…
  • Finally, when I look back at my decision now…
  • I’m glad I made the decision I did.

Obviously, the finishing phrases aren’t like the opening phrases, which you can use for any topic. The finishing phrases will depend on the question you get. Just remember: you need to finish strongly; don’t just…

I’ve finished point three! What’s next?

4. Adding Details to Your Answer

A lot of IELTS advice says the same things:

  • Give detailed answers.
  • Use varied vocabulary.
  • Use different sentence structures.

OK, that’s great, it’s all true, but how? And how can you use this in part two of the IELTS speaking test?

Actually, if you follow the advice I’ve given you so far, this will happen automatically. If you:

  • Make two sentences for each bullet point.
  • Make 3-4 sentences for the last part of the question.
  • Write down key vocabulary to use in your notes.

Your answer should already be detailed, with good vocabulary. We’ve already done a lot of the work on this.

What else can you do?

For each point, try to give at least one fact and at least one opinion. For example, don’t say:

  • I had to choose between studying computer science and studying engineering.


  • I had to choose between studying computer science and studying engineering. I was interested in both, although I always felt that studying computer science was a better choice.

Don’t say:

  • I decided to study computer science.


  • I decided to study computer science, because I felt that it would give me more interesting career opportunities.

This is a good, simple rule to make your answers more detailed. Always include a fact and an opinion if you can.

Add details wherever you can. Don’t say:

  • It was quite a difficult decision to make.


  • It was quite a difficult decision to make, because my parents and my teachers all gave me different advice, and I didn’t know what to do.

Don’t say:

  • I feel like I made the right decision.


  • I feel like I made the right decision, because I really enjoy working in IT—it’s very creative and there’s always something new to learn.

Following these simple rules will make your answers more detailed, and give you a higher chance to get a better score.

Next, let’s look at timing:

5. How Long Should You Speak?

IELTS Speaking Exam - How to Do Part Two - How long should you speak? Speech bubble image

This is simple: at least one minute. Speaking for less than one minute will hurt your score.

You can speak for up to two minutes. After two minutes, the examiner will stop you, even if you’re in the middle of your sentence.

If the examiner stops you, that’s not necessarily a problem. It doesn’t affect your score if you go too long. However, if you’ve haven’t covered all the parts of the question, that could be a problem.

That’s why a good goal is to speak for 90 seconds. This should give you enough time to say everything you want to say.

So how do you do that?

Practice, and time yourself. Type “IELTS part two speaking questions” into Google and find some questions to practice with.

First, speak and look at your timer, on your phone or wherever. Answer the same question several times. Your goal is to cover all parts of the question in 90 seconds.

Later, when you’re more comfortable with this, practice your answers, but don’t look at the timer. At the end, guess how long you spoke for, and then look at the timer to check.

If you do this a few times, you’ll start to feel how long you need to speak for. You’ll also know how much you can say.

Different people speak at different speeds. If you can speak fast and fluently, you’ll be able to say more in 90 seconds. If you’re a slower speaker, you won’t be able to say as much.

Practising will help you to understand how much you can say in 90 seconds.

6. Dealing with Common Problems

Finally, let’s look at some common problems which students face in part two of the IELTS speaking test.

“I don’t have anything to say about this topic!”

I chose the question for this lesson because it’s an easier one. “Describe an important choice you made” is something which most people could talk about.

Unfortunately, not all of the questions are so easy or general. For example, if the question is “Talk about a party which you went to.” What if you haven’t been to a party for several years? What if you don’t like parties?

This could happen. We hope it won’t, but it could. What can you do?

First, when you’re preparing for the exam, be strict with yourself. Don’t just practice easy questions, or questions which you think are interesting.

Find the most difficult question you can. Find the most boring question you can. Practice answering these. Find more difficult questions, and more boring questions, and practice them.

You need to be prepared for everything.

If the worst happens, and you get a topic where you don’t have anything to say, you have two options:

First, you can just lie. The examiner really doesn’t care if you tell the truth or not. Make up a story if you can.

Otherwise, try to think of a story from a friend, or from the news, or anything which you could use. For example, if the topic is “Talk about a party which you went to,” and your friend told you about a party s/he went to last week, use your friend’s story.

To be clear, don’t talk about your friend. Use your friend’s story and make it about yourself.

This is important: in other parts of the IELTS exam, it can be OK to say “I don’t know,” or “I don’t have anything to say about that.” But in part two, you must answer the question. You can’t change the topic or adapt it.

What other common problems do IELTS students have during part two of the speaking test?

“I’m so nervous!”

Giving a speech like this makes a lot of people nervous or uncomfortable. Is there anything you can do about this?

First of all, understand that feeling nervous in this situation is natural. Very few people can feel totally comfortable in this kind of situation.

So, what can you do to feel less nervous?

Try to practice making presentations or speeches in English, for example with your teacher or with your classmates.

Practicing speaking like this is useful, but it’s also useful to get used to feeling nervous. Feeling a little nervous doesn’t mean your English will get worse. Feeling nervous is natural; you can feel nervous and still speak well.

7. Review

Let’s review what we’ve talked about today. To get a higher score in part two of the IELTS speaking test, you need to:

  1. Prepare carefully, making sure you have something to say for each part of the question.
  2. Structure your speech, with a clear beginning and ending.
  3. Add details to your answer where possible, especially for the last part of the question.
  4. Speak for around 90 seconds.
  5. Practice in advance, including boring questions, difficult questions, and speaking in situations where you feel nervous.

Do you have a goal of scoring Band 9 on the IELTS? OOE has a lesson to give you an example of what a Band 9 response looks like. Watch it here: IELTS Speaking Band 9 Sample Answer.

Think about the question we looked at today:

Describe an important choice you made.

You should say:

  • What choices you had
  • What you decided
  • How easy it was to make your decision

…and explain how you feel about this choice now.

Who would you talk about? What would you say? What details could you add to your answer? Try it for yourself, and try to use some of the things we’ve talked about today.

Nest, watch: IELTS Speaking Exam Part Three.

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