Introduction to the list of current Part 1 topics and questions

  1. These topics and questions were found by searching the internet, especially the bulletin boards at, and
  2. Since most of the information from these bulletin boards is in Chinese, and since some candidates report their questions in poor English, I cannot always be sure of the exact English wording of the questions. But I can make a reasonably good guess at the wording of the questions because I am a former examiner.
  3. These topics and questions will almost certainly remain the same until the final test of this 4-month period. HOWEVER, in the period September 2 to December 16, 2006 the test administrators in China sometimes suddenly used one of the old sets of Part 1 questions (sets of questions used earlier in 2006) for a test weekend at some test centres. This happened at Guangzhou on two test weekends, and at Shenzhen, Xiamen and Changsha once each. (The reason for this was probably because the British Council feels that too many candidates are giving answers that are obviously completely memorized.) Therefore, even though you have over a 90% chance of getting some of the questions that are listed as the current Part 1 questions, it is still a good idea to take a look at all of the Part 1 questions that were used throughout 2006. We don't know when, and at which exam centre the British Council might decide to suddenly use an old set of Part 1 questions. These old Part 1 questions can be found HERE.
  4. The four introductory questions at the beginning of Part 1 are standard, that is, they are the same for every candidate and they continue to be the same questions even when the topics and questions for Part 1 change every four months. (But this situation could change in the future.)
  5. In Part 1, the examiner reads the questions from a question book (or speaks them from memory). In Part 1, the examiners cannot make their own questions nor can they change the words of the questions although they are allowed to make minor changes to suit the particular circumstances of a candidate.
  6. The questions are written in British English so even an American or Canadian examiner must ask the questions using these words. (But you may answer using American English words and expressions.)
  7. After the four introductory questions, the examiner has to choose 3 topics, out of 10 topics in his or her question book and should ask you about 4 questions for each topic.
  8. Each topic in the examiner’s question book has a choice of about 6 questions, which are not really related to each other except that they fall under the same topic. Some of these questions are harder than the others – in fact, the hardest ones are usually similar to Part 3 questions. The examiner has freedom to choose which questions to ask you; usually he or she will only ask you one of the harder questions if the examiner feels you might be a Band 6 or above.
  9. In my list of questions, you will find that there are many more than 6 different questions for some topics. This is because people who post on the internet bulletin boards are not always exact in the way they report the questions and I sometimes include several different questions in the list that are quite similar. If you get one of these questions, you will almost certainly not get another question that is very close in meaning to that one. The list of questions also has more than 6 questions per topic because I include almost everything that people post on the internet as one of their Part 1 questions (as long as it is not an obvious Part 2 or 3 question). 

    In addition, I sometimes include questions that I guess might be in the test. This is because, as a former examiner, I have a pretty good idea of the kind of questions that the IELTS test makers like to use. These guesses are marked with an asterisk (*). I especially make these guesses when I know one of the topics but have not been able to find many questions on the internet.

    If candidates report their questions very unclearly on the internet and I am confused about what they mean, I also use an * to show that this question, as it is written, might be in the test.

  10. Obviously, I can only include questions in the list that I find on the internet and, of course, only some candidates report their questions on the internet. On top of that, some examiners might rarely or never choose some of the questions in their question book. Therefore, a rarely used question might not appear in my list of current Part 1 questions until many weeks after the beginning of this 4-month period.


    For further general information about Part 1, go to the Summary of the Speaking Test.