Updated June 30, 2015


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 117


581.  A Traffic Jam  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

582.  An Interesting Conversation  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

583A Waste of Time  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

584A Band or Singer  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

585.  A Healthy Activity  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)



FQ = frequent question = a question that has frequently been reported = a question that is probably in the examiner's question book

* = my guess at a question


581.  A Traffic Jam  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used) 

Describe a time when you had to wait in a traffic jam.

            You should say:

                         where it happened

                          how long you were in the traffic jam *

                          what caused the traffic jam *

                        what you did while waiting 

             and explain how you felt when you were in that traffic jam.



  • This is possibly a repeat of Topic 183


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topic 183, and Topic 222

Traffic Congestion

"Traffic congestion" or "congested traffic" is not exactly the same as "traffic jams". "Congested traffic" is usually moving, but slower than usual. A "jam" (any kind of jam) means "not able to move".

Means of Transport

Public Transport / Mass Transport


582.  An Interesting Conversation  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe an interesting conversation you recently had with someone. *

               You should say:

who it was

when you had this conversation

where it was

what you spoke about *

and explain why you think it was interesting.



  • Some of the wording above is my guess at the moment.


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topics 500, 329, Topic 256, 198, Topic 193 & 185.


Conversations / Chatting

      Men and Women Talking    Frequent sub-topic

Speaking in Front of a Group


583A Waste of Time  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used) 

Describe something you did that was a waste of time

               You should say:

what you did

when you did it *

where you were *

and explain why you think it was a waste of time.



Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also any related questions in the Part 3 of the following topics - 544, 435, 289, 228, 131 & 63

Wasting Time

  • What are some other examples of things that people do that you think are wastes of time? FQx2

  • What are you usually doing when you waste time? (See Note 1)

  • How do you think people can (or could) avoid or reduce time-wasting activities?  FQx2

  • (Similar to above) How do you think a person can arrange their lives so that they are more efficient with their time? FQ

  • How do you suggest a person could avoid wasting time while travelling (e.g., commuting to work)?

  • Do you think that doing nothing is (always) a waste of time? FQ

  • Do you think that playing computer games is a waste of time?

  • Why do you think computer games are so popular? *

  • Do you think reading novels is a waste of time?

Time Management  Frequent Sub-Topic

Teaching Children to Use Time Efficiently


584A Band or Singer  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a band or singer who you like.

               You should say:

                              what style of songs they sing

                              when you listen to them

                              where you listen to them

                and explain why you like this band or singer.



  • It seems that one point on the card is, "what songs they sing". So, if you choose to talk about a band, it must be a band that sings - not all bands sing, some just play music. Here, "band" can mean "group". On the other hand, some singing groups don't play music, they only sing.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do your friends also like that band/ singer?

  • (Possibly) Do your friends also like that song?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topic 401. Other past music-related topics were 488, 356, 331, 270, 136, & 81

The Skill of Singing

See also the questions about songs and singing at Topics 186, 330 & 452

  • Do you like singing?

  • Why do some people seem to be better at singing than others?

  • What are the qualities (or, factors) that define someone as a good singer? FQ

  • Do you think there are benefits from being able to sing well (or, have a good singing voice)? FQ

  • Do you think that people who can sing well make friends easier as a result of their talent?

  • Do you think everyone (or anyone) can be trained to become a (good) singer (or, to sing well)? FQ

  • Do you think that a good singer always makes money from singing or becomes famous as a singer?

  • What advice would you give someone if they wanted to learn to sing? FQ

  • How can someone become a top-level singer? See Note 2

  • (Possibly) How can someone become a professional singer?  See Note 2

  • What do you think is the most important quality that a singer needs to have?

  • What do you think are the advantages of having a good voice?

  • Do you think having a good voice can help a person get a girlfriend or boyfriend?

  • If a person had a good voice but didn't want to be a singer, how do you think he or she could benefit from their good voice?

Music & Singers

  • What types of songs do you have in your country? FQ

  • (Similar to above) What types of songs are most popular in your country? FQ

  • What types of singers are most popular now?

  • Why are some singers more popular than others? FQ

  • What types of people especially like these singers?

  • Do old people also like those singers?

  • (Similar to above) Is there difference between young and old people in the music they listen to? FQ

  • How does a song become popular?

  • Can you suggest why some old songs are still popular today?

  • Do you think everyone (or anyone) can learn to play a musical instrument?

  • In what ways is traditional music from your culture different from the music in the West?

  • Are the traditional songs of your culture still heard very often today?

  • Are pop songs in your culture the same as pop songs in the English-speaking word?

  • (Possibly) What are the features of a good song?

  • Do you think it is a good idea to teach music to children in schools? FQ

  • (Similar to above) Do you think the government should promote music in schools? FQ

The Music Industry

  • Do you think the main goal of the music industry is to produce (or provide) good music, or to make money? FQx2

  • Do you think that is what the music industry should do?

  • How do you think the music industry will evolve (change, develop) in the future?


585.  A Healthy Activity  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used) 

Copy of Topic 485

Describe something you do to (help you) stay healthy. *


Describe something you do that you think is good for your health. *

You should say:

        what you do

        when you started doing this

        how much time you spend doing this (or, how often you do this)

and explain what benefits you get from this activity.


and explain how this activity helps you stay healthy.




Possible follow-up questions:

  • Would you advise others to do that?


Part 3

See also Part 3 of Topic 485

A Healthy Lifestyle

  • What do people in your culture do in order to keep healthy?  FQ

  • (Similar to above) What can (or, what do) people do in order to keep healthy?  FQ

  • (Similar to above) What do young people in your country do in order to keep fit?

  • Do you think food (one's diet) is important to one's health?

  • Which do you think is more important for good health, exercise or diet?  FQ

  • Do many people in your country eat junk food?

  • Why do you think many people do not live healthy lives? FQ

  • Can you give me any examples showing how different types of people do different things in order to stay healthy?  See Note 3

  • Who do you think pays more attention to living a healthy lifestyle, old people or young people?

  • Are people in your country concerned about (or, afraid of) air pollution?

  • Who do you think should be responsible for the health of people?  FQ  See Note 11


  • What do you think are the major differences between indoor exercise and outdoor exercise?

  • Which of those do you think is better for one's health? *

  • Why do you think many people are not doing enough exercise nowadays? FQ

  • Which do you think is more important, getting exercise or working?

  • How do you think modern people could increase the time they spend exercising?

  • Do children in your country do much exercise? FQ

  • What exercise do school students in your country do?

  • What can old(er) people do to keep fit?

  • If the government provided free exercise facilities for people, do you think that would encourage more people to exercise?

  • Do you think it is a responsibility of the government to provide free exercise facilities for people?

Health Awareness

  • How can people choose the best ways for them to maintain their health?

  • What do you think the government could do to improve the awareness of health among the public?

  • Who do you think should be (or, is) responsible for educating children about having a healthy lifestyle? FQ

  • Do you think schools should be responsible for the health of their students?

  • Is there any health education in the primary schools of your country?

  • Do you think it's important for children to learn about health at school?  FQx2

  • How can (or, how do) schools help to promote a healthy lifestyle to children? FQ

  • Do you think it's important for children to do physical exercise at school? FQ

  • What role do you think the mass media plays when it comes to the question of people's health awareness?

  • Do you think the media could be (or, should be) used to promote health awareness? FQ

  • Do you think advertisements could be used to promote an awareness of good health? FQ

  • Do you think doctors have a responsibility to educate their patients about health?

Health in the Workplace

See Note 4

  • Should employers pay attention to (or, be concerned about) the health of their employees?

  • What do you think companies (or employers) could do in order to promote the health of their employees?  FQ

  • Do you think companies should provide exercise facilities for their employees?


Note 1

Basically, this question is asking, "In what situations (or circumstances) do you waste time?" It is similar to the question, "What are some other examples of things that people do that you think are wastes of time?" but is not exactly the same. One of the most common examples of such a situation is traveling on the subway or bus to work or to school every day. But don't just say something like that, also say why or how you think time is being wasted (= not being used productively or efficiently) in that situation.

Another, different situation is when you (or people) procrastinate doing something that you know must be done, such as writing an essay for homework. People procrastinate when they want to avoid doing something. For example, you might say to yourself, "I'll just play one computer game before I write this essay" or, "I'll just watch this one TV program before I write this essay". In other words, procrastination usually involves doing something that is, more or less, a waste of time. For this example, the answer to "what are you doing when you waste time" might be "I'm sitting at my desk attempting to study", or "contemplating doing my homework"  or some such words. (Be careful of using this as an answer in the test. If the examiner knows that I have written this and hears such an answer from you, he or she might penalize you heavily. This is why I don't write "answers" on my website.)

Yet another example that I hope most IELTS test-takers don't personally do is gambling. Organized gambling activities (not social gambling such as when playing cards with your friends) is a waste of time because those organized gambling activities are mathematically designed so that, in the long-run, the player loses money - it's impossible to win in the long run. Since gamblers do it with the aim of making money, it is therefore a complete waste of time! This is an example of where a person has an illusion about (or ignorance of) the reality of the situation and tries to reach a goal that is illusory, or impossible. There are several examples of human activities or illusions like that.

Note 2

"Professional" means they make money, or even make their living from singing. The examiner might ask you this question to test you, to see if you know the difference between a "professional singer" and a "top level singer" = "a professional-level singer" = a "professional-quality singer". It is possible for some people to sing at a professional level but not make money from singing because they prefer to keep their current career. In other words, they remain amateur singers even though they sing at the same level as professional singers.

Note 3

If the examiner uses words such as "in order to stay healthy" or, "to keep healthy" then it means "with the aim of keeping healthy". Do you really think most 18-year-old young men who play basketball with their friends are doing it with the main goal of keeping healthy (maintaining their fitness)? I don't think that is the main goal of most of them, although most of them would be aware that playing basketball is a healthy activity. Some of them might be doing it in order to increase their endurance, similar to running many kilometers. This is improving or building one's fitness, which is not exactly the same as "maintaining or improving one's health". In fact, I think most young people don't do much with the specific goal of keeping healthy, except some who might avoid certain foods because they believe these foods are not good for the health. Those teenagers who have a weight problem and who watch their diet and who exercise in order to lose weight are probably doing it primarily in order to improve their appearance rather than improve their health. In contrast to that, most middle-aged and especially old people do exercise primarily for their health and only secondly in order to improve their appearance. Many young men go to the gym in order to build up their body (build their muscles) and, although this is a healthy activity, they are doing it more for the purposes of appearance or physical strength (e.g., to be better at a sport) than for reasons of "good health". For young women, it is similar - they go to the gym in order to have a "good figure" rather. This is a discussion topic so show the examiner your ability to talk about and explain fine shades of meaning (= small differences in meaning).

Note 4

Health and safety are two different things although they sometimes overlap. For example, dangerous fumes in a factory is both a safety and health issue. But wearing a safety helmet on a construction site is just a question of safety, not health. Obviously employers should be concerned about the safety of their employees - this is so obvious that most countries have laws concerning safe working conditions. Personal health issues, such as being overweight or smoking may or may not be suitable as issues that employers should be concerned about. This question touches on the issues of privacy, individuality etc.

Note 5

Can you walk away from (= abandon) your car if it is stuck in a traffic jam?

Note 6

There seems to be a question or two involving the words, "responsible for". Sometimes the words "responsible for" are used to mean "caused" such as, "Who is responsible for creating this mess on the floor?" At other times, "responsible for" is used to talk about who has a responsibility or duty to solve or manage a problem. Of course, these two are often the same person (or people), but not always. Listen carefully to the exact words of the question and communicate to the examiner if you are not sure what the examiner means by the question.

The second question here invites you to say something about what you think is (or is not) a responsibility of (local or city) government and the part that individuals could play to help alleviate this problem..

Note 7

A "routine" is habitual but a "schedule" is often just a one-time plan. For example, if you visit a new city, you might have a schedule (a time plan) of what to do for each day you are there. This is not a "routine". Pay attention to which word the examiner actually uses. Examiners are expecting students, especially high school students, to talk about private study schedules or timetables. A "study routine" is more than just a time plan - it includes the place and methods that people habitually employ when studying.

Note 8

I think the questions is expressed similar to that. Note that a "public transport system" really means "mass transport system" it is for the use of the public but is not necessarily public owned (= owned by the state, the government). That is why the second question, "Do you think that only the government should be responsible for this?" seems to be used along with the first question. This second question is asking you to comment on a more political question, i.e., the question of privately owned public transportation systems such as subway systems, bus lines etc.  A different question, asking if only the government should be responsible for addressing the question of traffic jams, is asking you to compare the responsibility of governments, individuals and also possibly companies.

The definition of "public transport" or "public transport system" can also include public roads but usually it assumes that roads are publicly owned and is usually referring to systems such as subway systems, bus lines, inter-city train lines etc. However, certain roads, such as highways and freeways are, in fact, privately owned toll roads, and some subway and railway lines are privately owned in some parts of the world.

Note 9

It seems that the examiners are specifically testing how you answer a "would" question here. Don't use "will" to answer a "would" question!

Note 10

If the question is expressed that way, it can means "Do you think children themselves feel that time management is important?" Of course, the younger the child, the less they are likely to be aware of the concept of "time management" and "wasting time". Very young children need some free time to wonder about and reflect on the world, for example, the natural world around them when they are outside.

Note 11

The basic choice is between, a) the government, b) individuals & families, c) doctors & other health professionals, c) employers or a combination of a, b, c & d. If you choose b) more than the others, then the question of compulsory vaccination is logically answered by stating that vaccination should be voluntary. If you choose a) then you should logically state that vaccination should be compulsory.