Part 2 of the Speaking test is where you have to speak about a given topic for one to two minutes. The examiner will give you a card with a topic and several bullet points related to the topic. You will get 60 seconds to prepare before you must start speaking. You are able to write notes during this minute of preparation.
This 60 seconds is critical to the standard of answer you give. A poorly structured or irrelevant answer will score low whereas a well-organised, logical and detailed answer will get you a high band score. So using this one minute to prepare notes and prompts is a vital part of the Speaking part 2 procedure and it is important not to waste it. First you should THINK (Steps 1 & 2 below) and then you should WRITE DOWN.
Step 1 is always the same – the first thing you should do when the examiner gives you your card is to focus on the topic and underline it. This is what your whole talk must be based on and you will get no marks for talking about something else.
Step 2 is to then decide exactly what you will talk about – the details. The task card provides you with a structure by including several bullet points. You don’t have to mention these in any particular order but you must mention them! It’s a good idea for you to think of three ideas for each bullet point because this will give you plenty to talk about for two minutes.
Bear in mind that there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy when it comes to making notes. But remember that two of the four marking criteria are Lexical Resource and Fluency and Coherence, which means that any preparation for the task should focus on including interesting, high-scoring vocabulary and a logical, easy-to-follow structure.
Different students find different strategies useful and below are some suggestions that IELTS candidates have made that you could try practising before the exam.
After Steps 1 & 2 above, do one of the following:
- Divide the paper into 3 or 4 sections, one section for each bullet point and an introduction. Write key words and phrases that you can include in each section and use them as prompts while you are speaking.
- Draw a mind map. In each circle, write a key idea and link the circles with arrows to show the flow of your talk. Include concepts like cause, effect, reasons.
- Ask yourself Wh? questions and structure your talk around the answers. On your paper, write the question word followed by some details.
- Organise your talk in terms of past, present and future. Think how you can relate the topic to something in your past, generally and in the future. This will encourage you to use a range of tenses which will help you score high in another of the marking criteria, Grammatical Range and Accuracy.
Important things to remember or consider:
- For every main idea, include some high-level vocabulary. A good tip is to use descriptive adjectives for interest.
- If you find it hard to think in words, then visualise. Think in pictures and feelings but remember to write down key words and important vocabulary.
- Connectors and linking words are important if you want your talk to sound fluent. Before the exam, prepare some language and phrases that you can use regardless of topic you get given on the day. These will link your ideas and help you express yourself well.
Now, have a go!
- Find some example Task 2 topics on the internet.
- Have a piece of paper and pen ready.
- Choose one of the strategies above.
- Use the timer on your phone and set it for one minute.
- Make notes according to your chosen strategy.
- Record yourself talking for two minutes.
- Listen to your talk and take note of what you said.
- How well did you structure your ideas?
- Did you use ‘structural language’?
- How you could have done the task better/
- Note down other ‘structural language’ that you could use.
- Try again.