Go here for the continuation of these notes in 2010.
Written Dec. 20, 2009
Topic 242, 'A Journey with Your Friends' was added today, although it was introduced into the test a few weeks ago.
Written Dec. 10, 2009
See http://ielts-yasi.englishlab.net/JANUARY_2010_PART_2_PREDICTIONS.htm for my predictions for the Part 2/3 topics that will be used from January to April, 2010.
Written Dec. 7, 2009
See the note written on Dec.5, below. I have now added Topics 215, 219 and 221 to that list.
Written Dec. 5, 2009
I have labeled Topic 182 (Advice) as (Probably no longer used).
The following topics have been labeled as Possibly no longer used, which is not quite as confident as (Probably no longer used): Topics 214, 217, 218, 220, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227 and 228.
I suggest you don't completely ignore those topics but, instead, still have a "quick look" at them because it is possible that they will suddenly come back into use at any time during December 2009 or in January 2010. But I think this possibility is small.
Written Dec. 3, 2009
Here's an email I just answered:
Date: 02 Dec 2009, 11:25:35 PM
Subject: help needed on test 12/12/09
My name's XXXX. i'm one of your student. I'm going to sit ielts test on 12/12/09. i'm working on the topics now but there are too many to prepare for and what's worse, not much time left. I'm wondering if you can give me some guidance. could you please reckon what would be possible topics in Part 1&2? I'd be really appreciate it.
Thanks very much!
All I can say is that possibly the following topics have been eliminated from the test: 214, 217, 218, 224, 225, 226, and 228. If you look at this page, http://ielts-yasi.englishlab.net/TOPIC_USAGE_2009_P3.htm, you'll see that those topics haven't been reported as being used for the last five tests.
I am going to wait to see if anyone says that get any of these topics on Dec. 3, 4, 5 & 6. If nobody says they get these topics, I will label them as "Probably No Longer in Use". But this is still a little risky since these topics only came into use at the beginning of September this year. It's unusual for topics to be retired after just a month or two of use but it has happened before, possibly because the topic cards were lost by an examiner somewhere in the world, or stolen.
For Part 3, first read all the questions for a whole Part 3, in order to get a general feel for the topics the examiners are focusing on, that is, a general feel for the possible lines of discussion that the examiners are focusing on. But don't think about how to answer the questions yet.
Then look at what you think are the most likely questions - don't try to think of answers for every question. Of course, the "FQ" and especially the "FQx2" questions are most likely but other questions might also be very likely, even if I haven't labeled them with "FQ" or "FQx2". Then concentrate on those most likely questions.
By just reading questions, your brain will still be a little prepared to answer them in the real test, even if you don't spend time actually thinking about answers. (The brain subconsciously tries to answer questions, even if you don't consciously spend time thinking about an answer. You will also better understand a question if you have read it before on my website.)
Written Nov.21, 2009
See the updated Index for the Part 2 topics.
Written Nov.17, 2009
Topics 229 to 236 were reported as 'new' topics in China on the weekend of November 14/15. It is unusual for several 'new' (or returning) Part 2/3 topics to be introduced at this time.
Usually a group of new topics is introduced at the first test of January, May and September. The introduction of Part 2/3 topics at an unusual time has occurred before and then the test managers have returned to the usual system. But we might be seeing a new system of introducing Part 2/3 topics at random times. Some new Part 1 topics were also introduced on November 14.
It looks like all or most of these are returning topics, not new topics, although Topic 236 looks to be new. However, even though many of these topics look very similar to previously used topics, possibly some of the Part 2 wording and especially some Part 3 questions are new.
Topics 237 to 239 have been reported recently overseas but they have not yet been reported in China. It is possible that one or more of them is also a 'new' topic in China but no-one has yet reported them.
Topic 240 might just be a Part 3 topic, not Part 2.
Written Nov.10, 2009
Topics #164 to #178 were not used on the weekend of November 8/9. I'm going to "stick my neck out" (= take a risk = take a gamble) and say that these topics have been retired now. It is possible that they might be used again in the next few tests, but I think that possibility is very small.
Written Nov.7, 2009
I have deleted the two unconfirmed topics, 229. Your Ideal Marriage and 230. A Show or Concert because no-one has reported these topics for a long time.
It looks like Topics #164 to #178 have finally been retired but it is possible that they will be used again at any time! Therefore, if you want to be very sure that you have prepared for the test, I advise you to at least read these topics (both Part 2 & Part 3) once but give these topics lower priority than the others. If these topics are not used again in the next two tests, I'll label them as retired topics.
Topic 182, 'Advice' seems to be still in the test.
Written Oct. 14, 2009
If you look at the topic usage pages for September this year, you'll see that Topics #164 to #178 and Topic #182 have been used every second test. However, it would be dangerous to assume that this pattern will continue because the test managers might suddenly change this pattern. Until it is clear that these topics are no longer being used, it is safer to assume that they could be used in any test.
Written Oct. 11, 2009
Topic 223, "A Family Friend" is now confirmed as being in the test.
There is also another possible Part 2 topic, something like, "A show or a Concert". (See Topic 230). This is unconfirmed at the moment. It might be Topic 153 returning to the test.
Written Oct. 10, 2009
On Oct. 8/9, Topics #164 to #178 and Topic #182 were used again. These topics have been in use for 13 months now. Possibly there is a new system whereby topics will be used for more than 12 months. There is no way to know when these topics will be retired. They might stay in use until the end of December.
So it looks like there are about 60 possible Part 2/3 topics in use now (in Mainland China).
Written Oct. 4, 2009
On Sep. 26/27, Topics #164 to #178 and Topic #182 were not used. So it looks like these topics might finally be retired. But, just to be safe, I am labeling them as Possibly Still in Use. If you are going to do the test on Oct 8., you should at least have a quick look at these topics, although I think the chances that they will be used again are small.
Two new topics have been added: #227. The Perfect Climate and #228. A Job You Did Quickly.
Written Sept. 19, 2009
The test of Sep. 17/18 only involved a few test centres in China so there were not too many different reported Part 2 topics.
On Sep. 17/18 the examiners in China were still (!!) using the topics that should have been retired at the end of August. So, if you are preparing to do the test within the next few weeks, you should include those topics in your preparation. There is no way to predict when those topics will eventually be retired.
See also TOPIC_USAGE_2009.htm. On that page, you can see that, in the test of September 12, 2009, the examiners did not use the topics that are due for retirement and they also did not use any of the new topics that were introduced on September 5.
In the test of August 22, it also looks like the examiners possibly did not use the topics that were due for retirement at the end of August, even though, on that date, the topics were not yet due for retirement. (I haven't yet added the topic usage for August 29.)
So it seems the examiners (in fact, the test managers) are trying to confuse people in China about what Part 2 topics are currently in use.
Written Sept. 14, 2009
On the weekend of September 12/13, it looks like examiners avoided using any of the new topics that were introduced in the previous week and they avoided using any of the Part 2 topics that are due for retirement. This might be a sign that those topics that are due for retirement have in fact been retired now. But this is not clear - those topics might be used again in the next test or the test following that. We have to wait and see when they have not been used for a few more tests before we can say, with some confidence, that they have been retired. Even when those topics are finally retired, it is very possible that one, two or three of them will be given a "second life" and will continue in the test for another year. So, you should not completely ignore Topics #164 to #178 and #182, but give them lower priority than the other topics in your preparation for the test. See TOPIC_USAGE_2009.htm to see what Part 2/3 topics were used in the past two tests.
Written Sept. 9, 2009
So far, I have found 13 of (probably) 15 new Part 2/3 topics. After the next test or two, this website should have all of the current Part 2/3 topics listed.
I was a little amazed at how many people wrote on 51ielts.com and 3gbbs.com that their topic on Sept. 5/6 was "the perfect climate" or, "your ideal climate". It seems obvious to me that this topic is not new but is Topic #164. Your Favourite Season (2). The Part 3 questions reveal this and it would be highly unusual to have two different topics that are almost identical in meaning but with different wording in the test at the same time.
What was amazing is that so many people used exactly the same or similar wording to describe their Part 2 topic when, before September 5, almost everybody wrote using the word, "season" instead of "climate".
On the other hand, maybe the word has always been, "climate" and I missed that detail before. Anyway, this topic will probably be retired soon, although we have no idea of exactly when.
So, this topic is worth keeping an eye on because there is a small possibility that the cunning IELTS Speaking Test writers have taken topic #164 and basically kept the same Part 3 questions but made some changes to the wording of the Part 2. If this did happen, then it would qualify it as a "new" topic that will probably stay in the test for about 12 months. The next few tests will probably make this situation clearer.
Until the situation becomes clearer, I will not call it a new topic.
On the page, PARTS_2_and_3_P45.htm, I have labeled Topic 222, "A Car or Vehicle You Would Like to Have" as "Unconfirmed" because only one person reported this as a Part 2 topic and his or her reported Part 3 questions look very much like the Part 3 of Topic 183, "A Traffic Jam". So it might be a mistake. Similarly, only one person reported Topic 223, "A Family Friend", with some scant details about Part 3 questions concerning friendship. It's possible this person intended to write, "Family photo" (Topic 219) and that there was a discussion in Part 3 about friends and families. So topic 223 is also labeled as "Unconfirmed" at the moment. However, if you are going to do the test on Sept. 12, I suggest you assume that these topics do really exist in the test right now.
If you are going to do the test on September 12 or 17, but especially September 12, I suggest you include looking at the following old topics (both the Part 2 and Part 3) in your preparation because one or both of them might be in the test, since there are still at least two (and maybe more) new Part 2 topics that we don't know about yet:
Art: 167, 118, 81, 76 and 11
Clothes: 165, 67
Topics with a number lower than #95 can be found by going to the following page:
Written Sept. 6, 2009
Yesterday, Saturday September 5, the Part 2 topics that were predicted to be retired were still in use! See Part 2 Index. Those same topics will probably be among those topics used today, September 6, along with the topics that are not due for retirement and along with a few new topics.
I am guessing that most of the topics that were due for retirement at the end of August will, in fact, be retired soon. But it is not clear how many more tests it will be before this happens. And of those topics, 1, 2 or 3 might continue in the test until December.
There were also a few new Part 2 topics introduced yesterday, for example, "Describe an Intelligent Person (who you know)." I will be updating the website on these new topics later this evening. For those of you doing the test today, sorry, you'll just have to read the 51ielts.com and 3gbbs.com pages yourself.
Written Aug. 23, 2009
From the test of August 22, someone mentioned on the internet that they got the topics, "environmental protection" and "endangered animals". This person did not specifically state that this was in Part 2; it might have been part of a broader discussion in Part 3. In the past I have noticed that sometimes a new Part 2/3 topic is introduced into the test a few weeks earlier than the expected change time. The evidence for this has usually been just a small mention or a hint at the new topic. Usually it has not been a full, detailed description of a new Part 2/3 topic. It seems that the test managers sometimes gradually introduce a small number of topics into the test early by giving the topic card(s) to just a few examiners.
I think the chances that this is a new topic are small. Most likely, it was part of a broader discussion in Part 3. Nevertheless, if you are going to do the test on August 29 or anytime in September, I suggest that you have a quick look at some past topics that are related to "environmental protection" and "endangered animals". Since the chances that it is a new topic are small, I suggest you only give this topic a small amount of study time. The past topics are: Topic 39, 'A Wild Animal'; Topic 134, 'An Interesting Animal' and Topic 180, 'A Polluted City'.
Don't forget to read my main predictions about the upcoming new Part 2/3 topics below, written on August 7.
Written Aug. 7, 2009
Predictions for the Changes in the Part 2/3 topics on September 5, 2009
First, you should be aware that some of these changes, or (less likely) even all of them, might occur on any of the remaining test days in August, that is, in the tests of August 8, 13, 22, and 29. There's about a 20% chance that this will happen. Certainly, the changes will be in the test on Sept. 5.
All or most of the following topics will be "retired" by Sept. 5: Topics #164 to #178 and Topic #182.
However, possibly 1, 2 or 3 of those topics will continue in the test, possibly will some changes to the Part 3 questions but most likely with the same Part 2 wording as now. This means that you should not completely ignore the topics that are due for retirement if you are going to do the test in September because there is still a small chance that you will get one of those topics. You should at least quickly read the Part 2 topics that are due for retirement and, as much as possible, quickly skim the Part 3 questions that go with those topics.
The 15 retired topics will be replaced by 15 new Part 2/3 topics. Of those 15 topics, possibly 2, 3 or 4 will be topics returning to the test that had been previously used and were retired at some time before May 9, 2009. The Part 2 for those will probably be exactly the same as used before and the Part 3 might, or might not be the same as the Part 3 that was used before. As well as that, as mentioned above, 1 to 3 topics that are in the test now and are due for retirement will probably continue in the test.
It is more difficult to predict what the actual new topics are likely to be. But there are some general guidelines that we can follow in order to make some predictions. These guideline are:
a) The IELTS people (the test makers) try to have an even spread of topics to cater to the tastes and interests of different types of candidates and,
b) They nearly always have the following topics included – a film, a book, a friend, sport, art, and music. Photography, clothes and shopping are also very common topics. For this "even spread" of topics, they like to have some topics that appeal more to females and some that appeal more to males; they like to include a business or work topic; and they like to include a science or technology topic. More broadly speaking, the topic of leisure or free-time activities is a frequent topic for all of the Speaking test (including Part1).
We see that there is already a film topic for #200; Topic #201 covers work; Topic #209 covers sport but it is a little restricted in scope; Topic #186 covers music; Topics #199 and #208 very adequately cover the topics of science and technology; and Topic #202 covers leisure.
However, the topics of a book, a friend, art, clothes and photography are not covered by the Part 2 topics that we know will stay in the test and shopping is only covered by the Part 3 of Topic #190. Although there is a Part 2 topic about a job in the test now, there are not really any about business. So, I predict that most or all of those topics will be included in the new Part 2/3 topics.
Therefore, if you are going to do the test in September, especially the first or second test in September (which we won't have any or much information about), you should include in your preparation the following old (or due for retirement) Part 2 and Part 3 topics:
(Green highlighting = "especially important")
Book: 158, 88, 72, 31 and 14
Friend: 177, 133, 123, 91, 44, 30 and 8
Art: 167, 118, 81, 76 and 11
Clothes: 165, 67
Photography: 161, 110, 33
Shopping: 170, 121, 79, 69, 48, 38, 9
Business: 37 and 98 (the same topic), 127, 150 and 79
Topics with a number lower than #95 can be found by going to the following page:
As a wild guess, I think a Part 2 topic about skills might be in the test after Sept. 5. Past Part 2 topics related to skills are: 17 and 89 (both especially important) and, less likely, 139, 154, 171, and 76.
Of the topics listed above, we see that Topics 165, 167, 170, 171 and 177 are current topics that are due for retirement. Therefore, I think it is quite likely that one or two of those topics will continue in the test.
I have deleted Topic #214 A Good Law (2) from the list of topics in current use.
Written July 23, 2009
I have labeled Topic #161 A Photograph (3) and Topic #163 An Important Letter You Wrote as Probably no longer used.
I have labeled Topic #214 A Good Law (2) Possibly no longer used. The word "possibly" is not as strong as the word, "probably" and I am labeling it this way because I think there is still a very small possibility that the topic is still in the examiners' bag at the moment, ready to be used.
However, from what I have seen, it has only been reported once in the last 5 tests. This is what someone wrote on 51ielts.com for the July 11 test (http://bbs.51ielts.com/thread-561441-3-1.html, Message #53):
I think every time (or almost every time) it has been reported since May 9, it has been reported as "second-hand information", i.e., not reported by the person who actually did the test and no details have ever been given. Very possibly, the people who originally did these tests had Topic #168, A Stage in Your Life, which has questions in Part 3 about laws concerning age, such as the marriage law.
So, my suggestion is that you give this topic a very low priority in your preparation for the test. Don't ignore it completely – give it a few minutes of thought but don't spend much time on it.
If this topic is not clearly and definitely reported as a topic in use in the the few tests, I will delete it from its position at Topic #214.
For those of you who are reading this website in another country besides China, please be aware that my list applies to the situation in China. I don't have much information about what topics are being used in other countries, although it seems that most of the topics on my list are also being used worldwide right now. However, some topics that have been (temporarily) retired in China are still being used in other countries. For example, I do know that Topic #150 An Organization is still in use in Australia.
Written Jun. 27, 2009
Topic #196, "A Childhood Activity" has rarely been reported since the beginning of May and I suspected it might have been taken out of the test. But someone (called "Vanilla0214) who reported on several topics at Guangzhou on June 13 wrote this: "6.game(有的说activity) in childhood". That was posting #108 on page 6. I know that people always say "game" or "activity" for this topic. So, even though people don't report this topic very often, it seems to be still in the test.
Written Jun. 21, 2009
I have added Topics #151 and #158 to the group of topics that are no longer in use.
I have now deleted the words, "Not Confirmed as a Part 2 Topic" for Topic #213, "A TV (or radio) Program". Previously, I suspected that #213 was the same topic as #178, "A story from TV". For "A Story from TV", you are asked to describe one particular episode of a TV program (and possibly the wording also allows you to describe a news story from TV). But for Topic #213, you are asked to describe a TV program in general, not one particular episode from it.
I have added a third possible version for Topic #206, "A Trip".
As for the "Law" topic (#214); it hasn't been reported for a few weeks but that doesn't mean it has finally been taken out of the test. If and when it is not reported for five consecutive tests, I will then label it as, "No longer in Use" or "Possibly No Longer in Use".
Written Jun. 3, 2009
I have renamed Topic #206 to simply "A Trip" and I think the wording of that topic is much simpler than what I wrote before. It now has two possibilities, 'Version A' and 'Version B' and I think Version A is the more likely.
Written Jun. 2, 2009
Following the May 30 test, it seems that Topic #152 (Law) is still in use, although not often used. I have moved it to Topic #214 and called it "A Good Law (2)".
I still don't think Topics #151 and #158 are still being used but I will wait for one more test before labelling them as "Probably no longer used".
I have labelled Topic #162 as "Probably no longer used".
Previously I labelled Topic #163, "An Important Letter You Wrote" as "Probably no longer used" but that was a mistake. It seems to be still in use, although not frequently reported.
Topic #192 (Course) is still in use. Last week I wrote that I thought #192 and #154 (Something you would like to learn) were possibly the same topic, which had been retired.
The biggest mistake I made was to ignore those people who wrote that Topic #210, "Someone Who Gave You Important Help" was a topic. For some reason, I thought it was Topic #156, being repeated. 忙重有错.
Written May 27, 2009
There is still a small possibility that one or more of the following topics is in the test: #151 (News); #152 (Law); #158 (Book); and #162 (Spend time with). In reality, I think they are all no longer in the test but I am reluctant to label them as (Probably no longer used) right now because of this small possibility. After one or two more tests, we will see if any of those topics are still being used.
#211 (A Happy
Event (2)) and
#212 (A Happy Childhood Memory (2)), it's possible that there is only one topic
but several people clearly report the wording of #211 and several other
people clearly report the wording of #212.
and #212 (A Happy Childhood Memory (2)), it's possible that there is only one topic but several people clearly report the wording of #211 and several other people clearly report the wording of #212.
A few people persistently report getting Topic #213 (A TV or Radio Program) but they might be mistakenly reporting the Part 3 of Topic #178 (A Story from TV) as a Part 2 topic.
Written May 18, 2009
The New Part 2/3 Topics
Part 2 topics #198 to #211 were new on May 9. As expected four of the topics are returning topics (topics that have been used before in the past 3 years) - 200, 207, 210 & 211. Actually, it's possible that the wording of these four topics is a little different to the wording when they were used before.
So far, it looks like all of the topics that I predicted to be retired have, in fact, been retired.
At this early stage, only two weeks (two tests) after the new topics were introduced, you should not accept my wording for the Part 2 topics as being 100% accurate. After a few more tests, we should have a more accurate idea of the wording for most of the topics.
By the way, I noticed that topics 207 and 211 were actually introduced into the test one or two tests before May 9 but the people who reported them did not give any details at all so I thought they were mistakes.