(Updated Feb. 28, 2011)
Explanation of the Part 2/3 Topic Index
This Index lists all of the known Part 2 topics that have been in use since January 2006. Page 1 of the Index shows the topics that were used in 2006, 2007 and 2008 until about May. These are now 'retired', i.e., no longer in use. Page 4 shows the topics that are in use now.
96. Ideal Home (May 19, 2007) (Probably no longer used)
The topic name is the name I gave to the topic. Sometimes I change these names to better reflect the topic after I find out more information about the topic.
The topic number is just the number I give to that topic in order to be able to index it.
Note that the word used here is "Probably", not "Definitely". It is assumed that Part 2 topics are retired after about one year of use but it is still possible that exactly the same topic card could be reintroduced into the test at a later date.
Certainly, similar but new topics are frequently introduced at later dates – these new topics are similar to earlier topics but a few words on the card are different to the earlier topics and the Part 3 questions also differ, to some extent, from the earlier topics. Sometimes this 'later date' is the very next test after the old, but similar topic was retired!
The Part 3 questions for each Part 2 topic are shown on the same page as the Part 2.
In the real test, the Part 2 task card does not have a choice (represented by the word, "or") of what points you have to speak about but I have sometimes included "or" in these pages, reflecting the fact that I do not have enough information on this topic.
"and explain why you think this person likes to take risks.
(or, explain how you feel about the risks this person takes.)"
(From Topic #3, An adventurous person)
A " * " means I am not very sure of this point on the Part 2 card or this question in Parts 1, 2 or 3.
If you see 'FQ' written after a question it means that this is a FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION. ('FQ' has not yet been attached to all the frequently asked questions.) In fact, these questions are almost certainly written in the examiners' question books. However, examiners will often choose a variation of the exact words that are written on this website. So pay careful attention to the wording of the examiner's questions - don't assume your know the meaning of the question as soon as he or she starts the question.
'FQx2' means 'very frequently asked question'! ('FQx2' has also not yet been attached to all the very frequently asked questions.)
In the real test, you will probably be asked questions on two topics in Part 3, with 4 to 5 questions for each topic.
Remember that examiners can and do make a few of their own questions in Part 3 – not all the questions come from the examiner's question book. So, be prepared to answer questions in part 3 that are not written on this website. Part 3 is supposed to simulate short examples of discussion and, of course, your discussion will not be exactly the same as other people's (although it might be very close to the same!)
Some of the Part 3 questions written on this website seem to be very similar to other questions in the same topic. This is shown by: "(Similar to above)". This reflects the different wording of the questions that people reported on the internet. Of course, in the real test, if you get one of these questions, you won't get another question that is almost the same in meaning.
Old Part 3 questions often reappear with (slightly) different new Part 2 topics and,
Examiners remember old Part 3 questions and sometimes include them as part of a 'discussion' with candidates in other Part 3 topics.
Occasionally I use the label, Possibly no longer used This means the topic is very possibly no longer used because it is known to have been used for at least 12 months and it hasn't been used for the past few tests. However, there is still a small possibility they it will be used for the next one or two tests, or that it will come back quickly, with a few changes. In other words, I am not confident enough that the topic is no longer in use to use the label, Probably no longer used
The label, Possibly no longer used is also used when the topic has not been reported as used for a long time, (e.g., it hasn't been used in the past four tests), even if the first reported usage of the topic was less than 12 months ago. The difference between this label and Probably no longer used is that the word "possibly" is less confident than the word, "probably".
Possibly Still in Use means I was expecting this topic to be retired but some people seem to hint that the topic is still being used. That is, nobody has very clearly reported that this topic is still in use, so it might be a mistake to say the topic is still in use. The people who seem to hint that the topic is still in use might be confusing a Part 1 or Part 3 question with this Part 2 topic.
This label is also used when I think there is a possibility that this topic might be used again in the near future. This happens in the months of January, May and September - in September 2009, January 2010 and May 2010, the examiners sometimes used, at random times during the month, the topics that should have been recently retired.
The words, NOT CONFIRMED AS A NEW TOPIC means that there is a strong hint that this is a new Part 2 topic but it is not yet confirmed. I sometimes label Part 2 topics this way when new Part 2 topics (with the accompanying new Part 3 questions) are being introduced into the test but I am not sure that this really is a new Part 2 topic because the information is unclear.
In general, I only added those questions for Part 3 that had been reported by candidates. However, sometimes it was clear that a current set of Part 3 questions was a repetition of one that had been used in the past. In this case, those questions that were labeled as 'FQ' in the past were probably being used again in the current set of Part 3 questions but I usually did not add those questions to the more recent set if nobody reported them. So you should always check to see if a current set of Part 3 questions is very similar to a previously used set and, if it is similar, you should also use the past questions, especially the 'FQ' ones, in your preparation for the current set of Part 3 questions.
Information about the Dates
If there is a date following the topic name, this is the date of the first known usage of the topic. However, it is possible that the topic was first introduced a few tests before it became known i.e., before it was reported on the internet. This date includes those rare instances when the topic was first reported outside China - most topics are first reported in Mainland China.
What can you deduce from this date? Well, it seems highly probable that topics are only used for about 12 months. But you need to be careful when the 12 month period is reached because the topic might still be used at any time within that last month. For example, a topic might still be used 12 months + 3 weeks after the first reported usage. So, to be on the safe side, you could assume that topics are used for 13 months.
Not only that, it is quite possible that the test managers will decide to change their policy and use some topics for, say, 15 months or even 18 months. But there is no evidence yet of such a policy change.
"Date Unsure" means that there is some confusion about whether this is a new version of an older Part 2 card or if it is still the older one.
All of this information and predictions about dates applies to Mainland China only. I cannot make predictions for elsewhere because I don't have much information about the topic usage outside Mainland China.
See also this page: NOTES ABOUT CURRENT PART 2 TOPICS. You can also see a link to this page at the bottom of the Part 2 topic index page. The notes give you extra information or my ideas about upcoming new topics and topics that will probably be retired soon.
Information About New Topics
Remember that new topics do not appear in every test weekend.
The main times when new topics are introduced into the test are, the first test in January, the first test in May and the first test in September. (This might be spread out over the first two tests in those months.) Usually ten to15 new topics are introduced at those times. The Part 1 topics are also changed in the first test of January, May and September.
So, the best time to do the test is in the month (or the two months) before those times!
It seems that many examiners prefer to use the new topics rather often than the older ones and, if you do the test on the weekends when new topics are being introduced, I think you only have about a 50% chance of getting one of the topics on this website.
DON'T FORGET: In addition to the usual times for new Part 2/3 topics, sometimes (but not often) there are about 3 new topics in another test weekend – any test weekend! So, even if you prepare for all the topics and questions on this website, you might STILL get a new topic!
When new topics are being introduced, it looks like one new topic is added for the Saturday afternoon tests, another new topic for the Sunday morning tests and another for the Sunday afternoon tests. However, when the test managers are coming to the end of the new topics to introduce, they might only introduce one or two topics on that whole weekend.
Previously, I have noticed the following a few times when new topics were being introduced:
In the first test of January, May & September, when new topics were first being introduced into the test, three new topics appeared on each test weekend. After this had been happening for 2 or 3 weekends and when the test managers had come to the end of the topics to be introduced, only one or two topics were introduced in one weekend. In other words, the new topics were introduced over the first 2 or 3 test weekends in the months of January, May and September.
On those weekends when those three new topics were being introduced, one new topic was only used for half a day on that test weekend. And this same topic was used, usually in the same half day, all over China. These half day periods are: Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. (I'm not sure what happened when Monday tests were held.) In other words, a new topic that was used on Saturday afternoon or on Sunday morning was not used again on that weekend.
However, understand that this previously happened only sometimes on the first tests of January, May and September. At other times, it seemed that the test managers throw in about ten new topics all at the same time (and all over China).
The following are some old pages on this website that have similar information to what is written on this page but understand that some of the information on those pages is out of date: (old) Blog (page 2) and Introduction.
If you feel that the lists of topics and questions on this website has been useful to you, you should make an effort to help those who follow you by either posting information about your Speaking test on the internet or by emailing the information to me (in English or Chinese) at firstname.lastname@example.org. The most popular bulletin board site on the internet for this seem to be: http://bbs.51ielts.com.
RETURN TO PART 2/3 TOPIC INDEX