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  • Writer's pictureSte Sharpe

Time for IELTS Speaking... part 2

A clipper board showing part 2
Learn about part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test

Now that you know the basics of the IELTS Speaking Test part 1, it’s time to delve into part 2. 

In my experience, this is the part which candidates fear the most, but hopefully this blog post will help to ease your nerves and give you some useful tips.

Let’s have a look at part 2…

What is part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test?

Part 2 is known as the ‘long turn’’ and lasts between 3-4 minutes.

The examiner will provide you with a pen/pencil, a piece of paper and a cue card which contains a topic and some bullet points. You’ll then have 1 minute to read the topic and the bullets and make some notes.

The examiner will then indicate that you can start talking. You can use the cue card and your notes to help you talk about the topic for up to 2 minutes. Once the time is up, the examiner will stop you and might ask one or two rounding-off questions about the topic.

What are the cue cards like part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test?

Let’s look at an example part 2 cue card taken from the official IELTS IDP website.

Describe something you own which is very important to you.

You should say:

where you got it from

how long you have had it

What you use it for

And explain why it is important to you.

Notice that there are 4 question prompts in total: 3 together and then the last one at the bottom. Most candidates think there are only 3 and miss the 4th one, so pay attention!

Are there any tips for preparing and speaking for 2 minutes in part 2 of the IELTS Speaking Test?

Here are some of my top tips to help you deliver your best in part 2:

-Read the cue card carefully

As I mentioned above, make sure you read all of the cue card, so you know what the 4 question prompts are. Use these as a guide to help you make notes.

-Use the 1-minute preparation time

I can’t tell you the number of times I examined in the past and candidates went straight into the long turn without using the 1-minute preparation time and really struggled. This is a chance for you to gather your thoughts and make useful notes to help you speak for 2 minutes.

-Make notes, not full sentences!

Notes are short words, not full sentences. The idea here is to use these words/phrases to help you think about what to say, not to read full sentences from the paper.

Look at the example notes below for the example part 2 cue card from above:

Where- my best friend

How long- since 2011

What use for- to cook

Why- reminds me cooking with her

As you can see, there are only a few words to help prompt you to think about what to say.

-Don’t stress if you don’t cover all of the 4 question prompts

These question prompts are there to help guide you. The examiner isn’t concerned about whether you cover all 4 or not; they’re only focused on the language you use.

-Paraphrase the words on the cue card

As I mentioned in my previous blog about Lexical Resource, it’s important that you show your range of language by using synonyms. Let’s look an example using the cue card from above:

Describe something you own which is very important to you.

A personal item which I cherish…

One of my belongings which I can’t live without is…

One of my possessions which has a lot of sentimental value is…

As you can see, different words have been used for ‘something you own’ and ‘very important’ which have a similar meaning, but show a range of language.

-Practise speaking on a topic for 2 minutes

As I advised in my post about part 1, practise as much as possible. For part 2, you can try finding some example IELTS Speaking Test part 2 cue cards, either on the Internet or from official IELTS Practice Test books, time yourself making some notes for 1 minute, set the timer on your phone/watch for 2 minutes and then talk. Keep talking until the timer goes off. Do this as often as you can, so you can train yourself in reading the cue card carefully and making notes in 1 minute, as well as being able to speak for 2 minutes. 

In the real test, the examiner will stop you once 2 minutes are up, so don’t worry if they interrupt you.

Also, to really help you improve your English for this part of the IELTS Speaking Test,  you can record yourself speaking and then listen to see if your language was accurate and your pronunciation was clear.

-Relax… this is an informal setting

Having done several speaking tests in different languages myself, I know it’s easier said than done (you can read about one of my experiences in a previous blog post), but if you’re stressed, you’re going to lose concentration and make mistakes.

So, what do I do now?

If you want to learn more about the IELTS Speaking Test, check out my online IELTS Speaking Course where you’ll not only learn all about the test format, but you’ll also practise and improve your speaking skills so you can deliver your best on the test day.

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