Updated July 9, 2015


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 120


596.  A School Friend  (Sep. 4, 2014)   (Probably no longer used)

597.  An Old Person  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)   

598.  A Project or Homework Assignment  (Sept., 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

599.  A Sportsperson   (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)  

600.  Good Service  (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


596.  A School Friend  (Sep. 4, 2014)   (Probably no longer used)

Describe one of your friends from school.

               You should say:

who this person is

what he or she looks like

what you have in common (or, what you do together, or how you are similar) *

and explain why you chose this person as a friend *


and explain why you and this person have continued to be friends. *



  • (Written June, 2015) This topic was not reported as used after December 2014.

  • (Written Sep 9, 2014) Topic 529.  "A Friend Not Seen for a Long Time", was used on Sep. 4 but I think that topic is due for retirement. There is almost always a topic about a "Friend" in the test and two people have reported a more general topic, "A Good Friend" or something like that.

  • (Written Sept. 26) Someone reported Topic 529.  "A Friend Not Seen for a Long Time" as their topic on Sept. 25 or 26 (for the Sept. 27 test). It is possible that they were mistaken but it is also possible that Topic 529 is continuing in the test, not being retired. If that is the case, This Topic 596 might not exist. Certainly, the Part 3 questions so far reported for Topic 596 seem to be exactly the same as for Topic 529.

  • (Written Oct. 6) Several people, including one or two outside of China have reported that this topic is "Describe a school friend". This is different to Topic 529 because possibly Topic 529 did not specify "school" and it focused on a friend who you haven't seen for a long time. This topic, Topic 596, seems to be about a friend who you have now.

  • The words, "from school" means that was where you became friends. This wording is suitable for a candidate who is still at school now or a candidate who has left school but is still friends with a friend they had at school.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • (Possibly) Have you kept in touch with other friends from school? *


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topic 529 Topic 412 and the many previous "Friend" topics such as, Topic 8, Topic 30, Topic 91, Topic 106, Topic 123, Topic 162, Topic 177, Topic 223, Topic 288 & Topic 359.

Strangely, the questions below seem very similar to those of Topic 529. Possibly Part 2 has changed but not Part 3.


Making Friends


597.  An Old Person (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used) 

Describe an old person you know who you respect.

You should say:

       who it is

       what you know about his or her life

        what you usually do together      

and explain why you respect this person.



  • This could be Topic 482 returning to the test, although my wording for that topic was different to the wording here. (Maybe I was mistaken before.)


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Look up good reference books for the meaning and usage of the word, "elder". It is not used the same way that we use the term, "old person". For example, we don't normally say, "There are many elders sitting in the park". The word, "elders" is most often used to refer to the elderly, usually male leaders of a village or a community such as an indigenous tribe. The expression, "one's elders" is used to mean the senior members of one's community or family. "Elder" is also used as another form of the adjective, "older". "Elderly" is a more genteel way of saying "old" when referring to old people.

See also the questions about old people in the Part 3 of Topic 547, Topic 482 & Topic 157.

Spending Time with Old People

Here, "young people" could include "children".

Taking Caring of Old People

Old People in the Community


598.  A Project or Homework Assignment  (Sept., 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a project or homework assignment that you did. *

               You should say:

when you did this project or assignment *

how difficult this project or assignment was

how much time you spent on this project or assignment

and explain what you learned from this experience. *


and explain how you felt when you had finished this project or homework assignment. *




  • There's a big chance that this is a repeat of Topic 127 but I never had very exact wording for that topic.

  • See Notes 2 for an explanation of what this topic is about.


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Remember that I only list here the questions that have been reported. See also the Part 3 questions for Topic 127.

What School Students Learn

This probably refers to more to school students than to university students. But if the examiner just says, "students" then university students could be included in your answer.

  • What do students gain from doing projects for school? (= how do they benefit?)

  • Do you think that, (as time goes on), students are being asked to learn more and more?

  • Do you think formal exams really do assess (or test) how much a student has learned?

  • Do you think formal exams really do assess (or test) how well a student has studied?

  • What can school students learn outside the classroom?  See Note 4


  • Do you (or did you) like doing homework?

  • Do you think it's good (or, useful) for school students to do homework (and study at home)? FQ

  • Do you think homework helps students to learn?

  • Do you think such a person should learn something at home?

  • At what age do school students start to have homework in your country?

  • Do you think very young students (e.g., 6 and 7-year-olds) should have to do homework? FQ

  • What do younger school students usually do in their free time?

  • Do you think it's important for such young kids to have time to play?

  • Do students in your country have a lot of homework to do?

  • How much homework do you think is suitable for senior high school students?

  • Would you say they have too much homework?   FQ See Note 5

  • How so think this problem could be solved?

  • If a school student did their homework at school, how do you think they would spend their time at home?

  • Do many parents in your country send their children to 'cram schools'? (If yes, why?)

Home Schooling

  • Do many parents in your country educate their children at home?  See Note 3

  • Some parents prefer to teach their children at home. Can you suggest why?  FQ

  • How do you think home schooling and normal schooling are different?

Students Having a Part-Time Job

  • Some people say it's good for high school students to work part-time, in paid employment. Why do you think they say that?  See Note 9

  • Do you agree with them?

  • What age do you is suitable for a student to start doing part-time work?

  • Do you think there should be any laws controlling the employment of children?

Students and The Internet 

  • Do you think every university student should have their own personal computer?

  • Is the internet useful for students (all students)?

  • Do you think the information on the internet is reliable (accurate, correct)?

  • How can someone get reliable information on the internet?


599.  A Sportsperson   (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a sportsperson from your country who did well in a sports event.

               You should say:

who this person was

what the event was

what sport it was

when and where this event took place *

and explain why you liked his/her performance.



  • You need to state that you actually saw this performance, even if it was only on TV.

  • The topic is about one particular sports event (competition/game/match), not how well this sportsperson performed throughout their whole sports career.

  • The words, "explain why they (he or she) did well" have two possible interpretations and either would be acceptable.  1) It can mean, "explain why you view this athlete's performance favourably" or it can mean, 2) "explain how, in your opinion, this person came to perform well". An example of the second meaning is this - John Smith, the athlete, hadn't been training for the past few months and had put on weight. Not only that, he was sick the night before the event and didn't sleep well. So how did he come to win the event?  Another example is this - Sam won his event and is a world champion. Explain how (in your opinion) he became so good at this sport. Although those two examples of the second interpretation are acceptable, I think the first interpretation is the meaning that most people would use, and it is therefore what the examiners are expecting you to answer. In other words, describe what aspects of the athlete's performance you think were good, (in addition to simply winning the event).

  • If you talk about a female sportsperson, don't call her a "sportsman". Instead, call her a "sportswoman". Or simply, "an athlete".

  • There is a small possibility that this is not a real Part 2 topic because the Part 3 questions look very much like those for Topic 572.  A Sport You Like (See note below)


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Sport in Your Country

  • What kind of sport is the most popular in your country? FQ

  • Can you think of any sports that are not very popular in your country?

  • Does everyone like sports competition (or, competitive sport)?

  • What do people get from sport?

  • What benefits do people get from taking part in sport?

  • Do people in your country prefer to participate in sports or to watch sporting competitions? FQ

  • (Similar to above) Does everyone like to compete in sport (= play sport competitively)? FQ

  • Are there any differences between sports that men play and those that women play? FQ

  • (Similar to above) Are men and women all interested in the same sports? FQ

  • Do people prefer playing sport for fun or playing in serious competition?

  • What are the benefits (and possible disadvantages) of playing competitive sport (as opposed to "social sport")?

  • What qualities should (or does) a good athlete (need to) have? FQ

  • What influences would you say technology has had on sport?

Professional Athletes / Talented Athletes

See Note 6

  • Some people believe that the top professional sportspeople are overpaid. Do you agree? FQ

  • Do you think it's right that many professional athletes are paid more than doctors and teachers? FQ

  • Do you think professional athletes are only motivated by money?

  • Do you think it's easy to be a professional athlete?

  • Do you think it's easier to become a top-class athlete today than it was in the past?

  • (Similar to above but different)  Do you think it's easier to become a professional athlete today than it was in the past?

  • What influences would you say technology has had on (professional) sport?  

  • Do you think talented athletes are born that way?

  • What factors influence the development of talented (or simply, good) athletes?

  • (Similar to above) What qualities does a person need in order to be a good athlete (or, good at a sport)?  FQ

  • (Similar to above) What characteristics does a person need in order to be a "successful" athlete?  FQ

  • Do you think coaches play much of a role in the performance of athletes?

Sports and Children

  • Do children in your country play any sports?

  • Do you think it's important for children to take part in sporting activities?  FQ

  • (Similar to above but different) Do you think it's important for children to do some forms of physical exercise?  FQ

  • (In your opinion,) Is it better for children to play various types of sport or is it better for them to concentrate on one sport?  FQx2

  • Do you think it's better for children to play sport just for fun or to compete seriously?

  • Do you think sport should be a compulsory activity in school?

  • Do you think school children should be forced to take part in sport even if they don't like it?

  • Do children in your country have enough time for sport?

  • Do you think children (in your country) should do more exercise?


600.  Good Service  (Sep. 4, 2014)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe an occasion when you received good service from a company or shop. *

               You should say:

what company or business it was and what this company does *

what the service was

who gave you the good service (or, who helped you)

where you received this good service

and explain why you think it was good service.



  • In this case, the word "service" is non-count. So the first line might say, "received some good service", and it won't say, "received a good service".

  • One report says that you are asked to say "where and when you received this good service" but the Part 2 cards usually only have one item, not two. It is possible that "when" is not asked on the Part 2 card. In that case you must still say when because you cannot use the past tense in English without setting the time, even if it is set at some general time such as "one day" or "a long time ago".

  • The first line might be worded in a way that would allow you to include good service from a government department. After all, government employees are often called "public servants" in English. But if it is worded as shown above, you cannot include a government department, but a government-owned company or shop would be acceptable.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Would you recommend that company / shop to other people?


Part 3

Working with the Public

  • What are some examples of jobs that include a lot of contact with the public? FQx2

  • When dealing with the public, what should a company employee pay particular attention to?

  • What's an example of a difficult situation involving the public that an employee might need to deal with?

  • How can a company maintain the quality of the service that it gives to the public?

  • What personal qualities do such employees who work with the public (or serve the public, such as waiters and taxi drivers) need to have? FQ

  • Which one of those qualities would you say is the most important?

  • Do you think people can be trained to have those qualities? FQ

  • (Similar to above) Do you think employees who work with the public require special training to prepare them for their work? FQ

  • How can (or, could) a company or business (or government department) train employees for this? FQ

  • Within a company or organization, who should be responsible for the service that the employees provide to the public?

  • In your country, what government departments or organizations provide services for the public?

  • Do you think there is much difference between the service in a big shop (e.g., a big supermarket or department store) and a small shop (e.g., a family business)?

  • Would you like to work in a service occupation? *

The Success of a Company

See also any related Part 3 questions at Topic 306 and at 37, 79, 98 & 508

  • How would you define a "successful" business? *

  • In general, what should companies (or businesses) do in order to retain their customers?

  • Do you have any suggestions for what some companies (or businesses) could do in order to help them better retain their customers?

  • Do you think the employees of a company play much of a role in the success, or otherwise ( = or, non-success), of a company?

  • Do you think innovation is important for the success of a company?

  • In your country, do companies (businesses) generally respond quickly to customers' feedback and enquiries?

  • How can companies maintain the quality of their products?

  • Do you think it's important for a company to provide after-sales service? FQ

  • What can be done about companies that produces bad quality goods?

  • Do you think international companies that are in your country and local (= domestic) companies have the same kinds of problems to deal with?

  • Are there any companies that don't need to provide service to the public?  See Note 10



Notes 2

  • A "project" or "assignment" is a task that school children are sometimes asked to do, similar to homework but requiring more time to do than normal, typical homework. This task might be a group activity or it might be an activity done by one student.
  • Sometimes in school the word, "project" is used and sometimes the word, "assignment" is used when they both represent the same type of activity. But "assignment" is more commonly used for a research project that upper high school students do, with the final product usually in the form of a written report or a long essay (e.g., 2,000 words).
  • Both a "project" and an "assignment" require some research, such as in a library, and require more than just a few days to do well. So school students are given a period of several weeks within which to complete this task.
  • Examples of "projects" that upper primary school or junior high school students might do are these:

a) A science project - "On a large piece of paper or cardboard, create a display of the life-cycle of a frog. Include some drawings or photos as well as written information." The teacher then hangs up all the student's projects in the classroom so that everybody can see the work that each student (or group) has done.

b) A history project - "On a large piece of paper or cardboard, create a display of an important historical event in our country. Include some drawings or photos as well as written information."

  • This Part 2 topic might also be suitable for working people because some (but not all) working people have to complete "projects" as part of their work, although these projects are done at work, not as "homework". It depends on the actual wording of this Part 2 whether or not a project at work could be used as your example.
  • Normal, typical "homework" does not usually require several days or weeks to complete. For example, doing the maths questions on Page 25 of your text book or writing an essay can be done in an hour or two. Teachers might give students a couple of days to do such homework or even give this homework to students today and expect the work to be handed in to the teacher tomorrow. This is "homework", not a "homework assignment"

Note 3

  • This is probably about parents educating their children at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to the normal teaching of life skills to their children that all parents do. If the question is asked as it is written here, it is obviously not clear what exactly the examiner means. In that case, it would be displaying a good communication skill to ask the examiner for more details about what he/she means by the question.
  • "Home schooling", as it is called in English, is not common in countries such as China but it's a growing phenomenon in the West, especially in the U.S.A. Parents have varying reasons for not wanting to send their kids to normal schools - religious, political and other reasons such as the fear of crime in the schools. Of course, many parents simply believe that their children would receive better quality education at home, regardless of religious, political or other reasons. The reason is rarely because no school is available, although it might sometimes be that reason in the U.S. - I am not sure if they differentiate between the terms, "remote education" and "home schooling" in the U.S.. I suggest you read a little about it on the internet, such as at

Note 4

  • The question is probably referring to a wide variety of other ways to learn things such as attending cram schools, private tutors, private study or reading at home, attending other classes outside the home such as music lessons, learning by traveling, visiting museums etc.

Note 5

Would you say they have too much homework?

"Too much" means an excessive amount.

Note 6

"Professional" means they make money from being a sportsperson. But not all top (or champion) sportspeople make money from their sport. Until a few decades ago, professional athletes were banned from competing in the Olympic Games - only amateurs were allowed to compete. For any questions here, listen carefully to the examiner's exact words - do they say "professional" or do they use other words such as "top", the "best", "champions", "talented athletes" etc.

Note 7

Of course, this question is inviting you to compare the days before the internet and today.

Note 8

The meaning of "children" in this question (and the one that follows it) is: "their children" = the sons and daughters of people. These can be the adult children or near-adult children of people, such as young people between the ages of 16 and 20. Of course, parents do have more control over the friends that their young children make and do have some responsibility to make sure that these friends are not bad influences on their children. But the situation changes as the children grow older.

Note 9

This could include temporary full-time work during school vacations.

Note 10

Answer - companies that only deal with other companies, rather than with the general public. But they still have to provide good service to the other companies that they deal with.