IELTS Speaking part 2 Structure

Use a structure to help you talk for the full 2 minutes.

In IELTS speaking part 2, you have to talk for 2 minutes on a particular topic. The examiner gives you a cue card with 1 minute preparation time to make notes.

It is important to have a strategy in this part of the speaking as 2 minutes is actually a long time to talk non stop, even I would find that a challenge!

The way to make this easier is to structure your talk. Remember that you really need to develop your speech like you are telling a story. This is very important for a higher band score.

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Giving effective examples in IELTS essays.

ielts examples in writingHow to write specific examples in IELTS essay body paragraphs.

In writing task 2 it is very important to be able to extend your ideas and explain your main points with examples in IELTS essay body paragraphs. This can be done with supporting points and most importantly, specific examples. This is necessary to get a good band score in task response and helps with the overall cohesion of the essay. By using examples the examiner can clearly see how you are developing your main idea in the main body paragraphs. However, the examples given must be specific to the task question and your main idea and they should also be clear, easy to follow and concise.

Read moreGiving effective examples in IELTS essays.

7 model answers: IELTS writing task 2

ielts model answers writing task 2
A model answer for each type of IELTS essay

An IELTS essay is a ‘discursive essay’ where you may have to discuss an issue, give an opinion, explain the advantages or disadvantages, write about problems or causes of problems and give solutions. There are 5 variations to an IELTS discursive essay. In this blog post, there are 7 model answers for IELTS writing task 2. These are based on essays my students have written with help from me to correct them and make them more concise and clear.

Read more7 model answers: IELTS writing task 2

IELTS academic writing task 1: Table on consumer expenditure

Model answer and analysis of a table in IELTS writing task 1.

Tables sometimes show up in IELTS academic writing task 1. In some cases, they are in a double task such as a pie chart and table or a bar graph and table. In this lesson, we have a table on its own with a lot of data. This is taken from Cambridge IELTS 7, page 30, it is a popular example of a table for IELTS teachers.

Before writing anything you will need to analyse the task. Take around 4 minutes to plan, look at the categories, the countries, the year and the highest and lowest statistics. The grammar tense is important to get right too, you can see below that the table shows data from 2002, so I will write in the past tense.

Read moreIELTS academic writing task 1: Table on consumer expenditure

IELTS General: Letter to a friend about a problem at work.

General Writing Task 1: Model answer for a letter to a friend about work issues.

If you are doing IELTS general instead of the Academic version then you are lucky. In the general section, you only need to write a letter and it will be either formal or informal. There is a semi formal style but if you are writing to a friend, even if it is in a business setting, then just write informally.

In the Academic version of IELTS you will get one of the following: a bar chart, pie chart, line graph, map, process diagram, table, double task (pie chart and table for instance) so the general IELTS writing task 1 is much easier.

Let’s take a look at the task question below about an IELTS general letter to a friend.

Read moreIELTS General: Letter to a friend about a problem at work.

Make your own IELTS study plan.

ielts general task 1Setting up your own personalised IELTS study schedule.

If you are serious about getting a Band 7+ in IELTS then you need to get very organized and focused. Consider making your own IELTS study plan.  There is a YouTube video below about this and 5 steps to take below that video.

Everyone has different weaknesses in IELTS, so it is really your responsibility to make a study schedule. Motivation is crucial here too. If you can find a study partner then that will help you keep motivated and accountable. The best option is to have a teacher who can check your writing and evaluate your speaking giving feedback along the way.

Read moreMake your own IELTS study plan.

IELTS Writing Task 1: Paraphrasing Statistics

ielts writing task 1 statisticsParaphrasing percentages and statistics in IELTS academic writing task 1.

One thing that can be challenging in IELTS writing task 1 academic is how to report on all the data in a chart or graph. Something that can help your vocabulary band score is using specific language, such as the language of approximation, proportion and fractions to paraphrase percentages.

Read moreIELTS Writing Task 1: Paraphrasing Statistics

Are you worried about time management?

ielts time managementTiming and preparation in IELTS Writing

One of the biggest concerns for people doing the IELTS exam, particularly in the writing section, is time management.

I have had many students who get to the IELTS writing section and start stressing out because their time management becomes an issue and they can’t finish the essay or leave only 10 minutes for task 1. You will only have around 40 minutes to write a 250+word essay, so straight away this tends to create anxiety. Then there is writing task 1 which should only take 20 minutes.  That’s 1 hour in total for the writing section. It is easy to feel pressure in this situation.

If you don’t finish your essay and fail to write a conclusion then you will end up with a Band 5 in task response.

There are two things to consider here


1. Lack of preparation

Time management issues come from not being prepared. If you feel that you are not quite ready for the exam or if you are in a hurry to get to Band 7 or more, it will only cause anxiety and you will end up under huge pressure to finish in a set amount of time. Fear creeps in and you stress about timing and worry about failing. This is not a good mindset to have in IELTS.

It takes weeks or months of consistent preparation, practice and good feedback to get from a Band 6 to a Band 7.

2. Planning issues

You should allocate 10 minutes to planning your essay. Some students think they are wasting time planning or they only spend 2 minutes planning. So they start writing and suddenly get new ideas and think, ‘maybe I should put that in’ hoping to impress the examiner with sophisticated ideas.  I have had a few students who did this, they couldn’t finish their essay and ended up with a Band 6 even though they were capable of a Band 7.

My Advice

Do not go into the exam until you have found your weaknesses and got feedback from an IELTS expert on your writing.

It could be just two or three areas which are causing problems such as grammar (articles, plurals, faulty complex sentences) or wording issues (wrong collocations, memorised words from lists) Maybe it is task response (going off-topic, not covering both sides in a discussion essay, not supporting your ideas etc..)

I advise anyone doing IELTS to spend at least a few months preparing so that when you go into the exam you will feel relaxed. When you feel confident in your writing then you can practice timing your essay in 40 minutes and 20 minutes for a task one.

Begin by giving yourself over an hour to write an essay. WHen you get the hang of it bring that down to 1 hour, then 50 minutes, then 45 minutes, and finally, start timing yourself to get the essay written in 40 minutes. Start slowly and work at it over time.

Planning time

Planning is very important in the writing exam. Set aside 10 minutes to plan your essay. It sounds like a long time but you need this time to analyse the question, think of ideas and supporting points and get an idea for the structure.

 Once you have decided on your plan and got your main points with supporting points, stick to them, don’t suddenly change your ideas when writing, you will only confuse yourself.

See this lesson here about the 5 things you need to do before you begin writing an essay.

Are you stuck at Band 5.5?

If you have issues with grammar and vocabulary and you are stuck at Band 5.5 then you will have a lot of work to do that could take months or even a year. It really depends on your study schedule.

Ask yourself this: are you finding the time to study or are you finding excuses not to study?. Remember that to jump from a Band 5 to a Band 7 is a huge task.

The IELTS test is quite simply testing your English. If you are a Band 5 your English level is around Pre-intermediate (B1 on the CEFR scale) so you will need lots of good feedback on your writing and speaking.

To have a good chance at a Band 7 your English level should be at the higher end of B2 and close to C1 on the CEFR scale below.


Are you doing the IELTS exam over and over?

Many people studying for IELTS think that by doing practice test after practice test and doing the exam over and over it will give them different results. It doesn’t. Why? because you need to get feedback on what your weaknesses are. For example, if writing is an issue ask yourself lots of questions.

  • What part of the writing is the problem? is it paraphrasing? grammar? vocabulary? can’t think of ideas? relevant supporting points? Or maybe it’s your task 1 writing that is weak and dragging your score down.
  • What exactly is the issue? if it is grammar then what needs to be fixed? prepositions, tenses? infinitive /gerunds? relative clauses? …and so on
  • Have you made a study schedule? are you finding at least 1 hour per day to work on your weak areas?
  • What feedback are you getting? Can you take criticism on your mistakes? Are you taking action to fix your mistakes?
  • Are you just relying on IELTS practice tests? What about real-world English like reading news stories, podcasts, reading books? It’s not just about doing practice tests over and over.
  • How are you developing your vocabulary? Are you just memorising lists? <-(bad idea) Vocabulary work takes a long time and needs focus.

Spend 15 minutes asking yourself questions about your preparation and you will find many areas that need improvement. It’s a big job to jump a whole band score. Your goal is to raise the level of your overall English abilities.

Find your weaknesses and start fixing them. It will be worth it in the end.

Any questions ? leave a comment below…

Why am I stuck at Band 6 in Speaking?

ielts focusThis is one of the most common questions I get asked about in IELTS.

‘Why can’t I get Band 7 in speaking?’

There are a lot of IELTS students out there stuck on a Band 5 or Band 6 in the speaking section and are frustrated. Many of you are near to giving up on hitting a Band 7. Some people get the wrong advice, poor feedback or are promised a high score by their teacher just to keep them happy. It is important to be realistic about this.

Read moreWhy am I stuck at Band 6 in Speaking?

Line Graph Lesson: Energy Consumption by Fuel Source

Writing about a line graph with a future prediction.

Here is a line graph from the Cambridge IELTS 9 book about US energy consumption by fuel type. As you can see, there is a date range from the past with predictions for the future. Always take around 2 minutes to analyse the task before writing anything. Give yourself 4 minutes in total to plan out what you will write.

Note that this graph is courtesy of the Cambridge IELTS 9 practice book. Only use authentic Cambridge IELTS material when practicing. You can get these books online such as You can also download free practice tests from or the British Council website.


IELTS graph model answer
Source: Cambridge IELTS 9

Read moreLine Graph Lesson: Energy Consumption by Fuel Source

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