Go here for the continuation of these notes in 2010.


Written Dec. 20, 2009

Written Dec. 10, 2009

Written Dec. 7, 2009

Written Dec. 5, 2009

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 

Hi, Chris

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!


My Reply


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,, 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

Written Nov.17, 2009

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.

Written Nov.10, 2009

Written Nov.7, 2009

Written Oct. 14, 2009

Written Oct. 11, 2009

Written Oct. 10, 2009

Written Oct. 4, 2009

Written Sept. 19, 2009

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

Written Sept. 9, 2009

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.

Written Sept. 6, 2009

Written Aug. 23, 2009

Written Aug. 7, 2009

Predictions for the Changes in the Part 2/3 topics on September 5, 2009

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).

            (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



Written July 23, 2009

However, from what I have seen, it has only been reported once in the last 5 tests. This is what someone wrote on for the July 11 test (, Message #53):


那大爷啊 我不说啥了.跟催命似的

有个哥们 走前蹲了3P2





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.

Written Jun. 27, 2009

Written Jun. 21, 2009

Written Jun. 3, 2009

Written Jun. 2, 2009

Written May 27, 2009


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.