My Comments about the Part 1 Topics and Questions

For The IELTS Speaking Tests in Mainland China, Sept. 1 - Dec. 16, 2007

Sept 4, 2007

Today I received two emails expressing confusion about these new Part 1 topics and questions. So, I'll try to explain what I think is happening.

If you read the old, archived Part 1 topics & questions for the period January 2006 to April 2007, you'll see that 10 topics were used for each 4-month period. There are 4 sets of Part 1 topics for this period, each set having been used for 4 months. Occasionally, during this 16-month period, some test centres used previously used sets of Part 1 topics for one test weekend but, most of the time, most of the test centres used the new Part 1 set for that 4-month period. In this period (until April 2007), test centres in Fujian & Guangdong were most likely to suddenly use an old set of Part 1 topics for one test weekend but other centres such as Jinan & Changsha also did that sometimes.

Then, in the period May to August 2007, we saw that many (but not all) test centres, all over China, used old sets of questions; the set of questions from Sept.-Dec. 2006 was especially often used. And this happened every test weekend. Furthermore, to make the situation even more confusing, it is possible that old topic names were used but with a few extra new questions. That is the reason why some new questions were added to some topics such as 'Photography' and 'Music' on the list of May-August questions, even though those topics were also seen in previous sets. We did see that some topics were 'new' (= not used in the period January 2006 to April 2007), for example, 'Computers', 'Parks', 'People's Ages' and we did see that some new topics, 'Reading', 'Games' and 'Gifts', seemed to contain mostly Part 3-style questions.

Now, in this new test period, September-December 2007, we see the same thing happening. So far, after only 1 test in this new 4-month period, we see that the topics 'Telephones', 'Newspapers' and 'Housework' seem to be 'new', that is, not used in the period January 2006 to April 2007 but possibly they were used before that period, for example, in 2005 or 2004. There will almost certainly be some more new Part 1 topics added after the next 4 or 5 tests.

The best I can do is to continue to list all the topics and questions that people report after their tests on the page, 'Current Part 1 Topics and Questions'. Just like the period May - August, there will probably be a total of more than 20 different topics listed.

You can read the old sets of Part 1 questions for the 16-month period (Jan. 06 - Apr. 07) by going to the page called Archived Part 1 Questions and you can see a list of all the topics that were used by going to the page called PAST_PART_ONE_TOPIC_INDEX.

I have also gathered together all the past and current Part 1 questions on this  new page, ALL PART 1 QUESTIONS. The smartest thing to do is to study all the questions on this page. In future, I will add all new Part 1 questions to both this page and to the page, 'Current Part 1 Topics and Questions'.