Updated Aug.1, 2017


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 128


636.  An Educational TV Program  (May, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

637.  A Gift that Took a Long Time to Choose  (May, 2015)   (Probably no longer used)

638.  A Time When You Got Up Early  (May, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

639.  A Childhood Indoor Game  (May, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

640.  Some Paid Work  (May, 2015)  (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


636.  An Educational TV Program  (May, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe an educational TV program that you have seen.

               You should say:

what this program is about

 how often you have watched it

 what types of people watch this program

and explain why you think it is educational. *


and explain what you liked or disliked about this program. *




In China, I noticed that there are some TV shows, usually dramas, that contain rather simple Mandarin Chinese language. These programs have simple, unsophisticated storylines and would be boring for most educated people who speak Mandarin. But I imagine that the intention of these programs is to help those who do not speak Mandarin well learn more of the language. From this observation, I would class those programs as "educational" even though they teach nothing to those fluent Mandarin speakers who are even just average in educational background - the intention of the program is to teach something to at least some people.

Similarly, you might watch a program for children showing the natural world and learn nothing new from that program. But the intended audience, children, would learn something from it so it should be described as an "educational" program.

I think there are even cases where a program that was never intended to be educational for anyone is, in fact, educational for some people. For example, if you watch a purely entertainment program that is broadcast for people who are from a different culture to your culture, or a different language, and if you learn something about entertainment in that culture, or other aspects of that culture, or about that language, then it is an educational experience for you.


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also any relevant Part 3 questions at the following Topics: 594, 520, Topic 494, 429, Topic 372, 274, 263, Topic 254, Topic 213, Topic 178 and 87

TV Programs

See here for a list of the types of TV programs.

    Educational TV Programs

TV Advertising

International Television


637.  A Gift that Took a Long Time to Choose  (May, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a gift you gave that took a long time to choose.

               You should say:

 what it was

 who you gave it to

 why you gave this gift

and explain why you spent a long time choosing it. *


              and explain how the receiver of the gift reacted when you gave it to him or her. *




Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Gift-Giving in Your Country

Homemade Gifts

Gifts for Children


638.  A Time When You Got Up Early  (May, 2015)   (Probably no longer used)

Describe an occasion when you got up very early.

               You should say:

when it happened

 why you got up early

 who you were with *

and explain how you felt about getting up early. *





Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Getting Up Early


See Note 18

Unusual Working Hours


639.  A Childhood Indoor Game  (May, 2015)   (Probably no longer used)

Describe an indoor game that you liked to play when you were a child *


Describe an indoor game that you played when you were a child *

You should say:

        what the game was

        who you played it with

        how you played it *

        where you played it *

and explain why you liked playing that game.



Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of 557, 479 & 179

See some vocabulary

Games in General

Note that this topic is not referring to most sports games such as football or basketball.

Children's Games


640.  Some Paid Work  (May, 2015)   (Probably no longer used)

Version A

Describe some paid work (or, a paid job) that you once did.

               You should say:

 what work/job it was

 where this work/job was done

 what other people worked with you

and explain how long it took to do this work / this job.


Version B

Describe some paid work (or, a paid job) that you, or someone you know, enjoys doing.

               You should say:

 what work it is

 where this work is done

 what other people work with you or this other person

and explain why you, or this other person enjoys doing this work.





Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of any earlier Part 2 topic about a "job" or about "work".

Work in Your Country

Changing Jobs 

Work for Different Ages


Note 1

Many people in China write the word "children" (in Chinese) when they actually mean "young people". For example, they write "children at university" when, of course, children (in the English language) are too young to go to university. As a result of this, I am not sure if the examiner really uses the word, "children" or uses "young people" for this question and several other questions like this. Obviously, only a few advertisements on TV (U.S. = "TV commercials") are aimed at children because children don't have the buying power of young people (those people aged 13 to 30).

Note 2

At least two people have reported they got a question (that both of them did not understand) about "phone programs". Since two people reported it, it is probably an FQ question. My guess is that the question was something about watching TV on your cellphone (smartphone).

Note 3

The wording for this question has not really been reported - I am more or less guessing here, but the general topic is being asked. There are basically two types (groups) of people that fit the description of working "unusual hours" - i) shift workers, those who rotate between day shift (the normal working hours of most people), afternoon shift and night shift. Nurses and police officers are good examples of this, as are some factory workers, miners etc. and ii) those who start work every day at an unusually early hour, such as garbage men (garbage truck drivers) who only work in the early morning hours. There might be a third group sometimes, those who get "called out" for emergencies. But usually these people, such as ambulance drivers and firemen (U.S. = fire-fighters) are shift workers who are on standby, waiting for a situation when they have to go into action.

Note 4

This question would be referring to "people of what type of personality". Or it could refer to a temporary attitude that someone has such as wanting to avoid facing life at that point in the person's life, or a person with no goals, or a person who is discouraged or depressed or even simply a "lazy" person. But it can also refer to "night owls", i.e., those people who need to sleep late because they go to bed late and they go to bed late because they prefer doing things late at night.

Note 5

This question seems to be a personal question, aimed at you, the candidate. Within reason, most people can get used to sleeping in an environment that has some noise, such as traffic if they live close to a road that has a lot of traffic at night. But sudden, loud noises, such as the sound of a car horn, would wake up most people, although I think one can even get used to that if it happens often.

Note 6

A question with that wording does not specify whether these people get up early habitually or not. For a question with that wording, you can talk about reasons why some people occasionally get up early and talk about other people who get up early as a habit.

Note 7

Old people taking an afternoon nap; working people taking a midday "siesta" in hot climates; pre-school children taking an afternoon nap ...

In English, we sometimes use the Spanish word, "siesta" to mean an "early afternoon nap", especially in hot climates.

In the Speaking test, you can say either, "take a nap" or, "have a nap". Americans usually use "take" and British English speakers usually use "have".

Note 8

I think that, until the examiner says he is asking about "indoor games" then you can assume these questions refer to any games, indoor or outdoor. But you should avoid sports games such as football or basketball (which are not traditional, anyway). And until the examiner says so, both children's and adults' games are Ok to talk about. Always seek clarification from the examiner if you are not sure.

Note 9

Probably the best way to answer this would be to say "X hours per week spent working" and "Y hours per week spent resting and on leisure". But other factors enter into the discussion, such as the amount of time spent traveling to and from work.

Note 10

Someone has reported this question with the word, "qualifications" instead of, "level of education". A "qualification" is basically a certificate or something similar that a person gets after completing some training and / or education. A person with a relatively low level of education can, in theory, get several "qualifications" although they might be low-level qualifications that are not too hard to get.

Note 11

"Employer" was the word reported for this question but also be prepared to answer the same question for the qualities of a good employee.

Note 12

This question was reported but I think the word "job", "type of work" or "occupation" was probably used, not "profession". The word "profession" is used for certain jobs that require a university degree, such as doctor, dentist, lawyer, engineer, accountant, (highly skilled & highly trained) manager and teacher.

Note 13

New words:  insomnia, insomniac

Note 14

I think that items such as a cake that you made yourself could be included in the category of "handmade gifts".

Note 15

This topic is related to the topic of corruption, especially when we are referring to political leaders. New word - "bribe" & "bribery". Expression: "winning favours".

Note 16

Someone has reported this questions as "the most common types of TV programs in your country" but I think they were probably asked a question about "popular" types of TV shows.. Sometimes "common" and "popular" are interchangeable but at other times, they are not. For example, pollution might be common but it is certainly not popular. On the other hand, a few decades ago, bicycles were very common in China and were also popular. They were commonly seen because people liked to have them. ("Popular" means "many people like it". "Common" means "frequently seen" or "frequently exists")

For TV programs, the usual case is that common & popular are interchangeable because if not many people don't like a certain TV program, it is usually taken off the air.

However, if you are asked, "What are the most common TV shows in your country" then the best answer is to talk about what types of TV shows are most frequently broadcast on TV – this is more or less a question about statistics.. The situation is complicated in China and possibly some other countries because there are separate channels that specialize in certain areas of interest such as sport, music, science, business, news etc. Actually, on the non-specialized TV channels, I think there is more or less an even mix of the most common 4 or 5 types of TV shows, to cater for different tastes. See here for a list of the types of TV programs.

Note 17

This question is connected to old superstitions or other such beliefs. For example, I think in China certain items are considered unsuitable as gifts because they might remind people of bad luck, ill-health, death etc. or because the Chinese word for that item sounds like a word connected to bad luck, ill-health, death etc. In other words, different cultures have different traditions about what should not be given as a gift.

Note 18

In English, there is an expression, "to sleep late". This really means "to get up late" (later than usual). For example, if you usually get up at 8 am but you got up at 10 am last Sunday, then you slept late on Sunday, something that many people like to do.

A similar expression to "sleep late" is to "sleep in". Sometimes that is used with the same meaning as "sleep late" but it is also used for when someone accidentally gets up later than they intended. For example, "I was late for work because I slept in. I forgot to set my alarm clock."

In contrast to that, if you usually go to bed (= go to sleep) at 11 pm but you went to bed at 2 am last Saturday night then you "went to bed late" on Saturday. To "stay up late" means the same as to "go to bed late" (or, later than usual)

Note 19

What kinds of people usually get up early?       (Answer: "Early birds" / "morning people")

Any question that asks, "what kind of" or "what kinds of" has two possible meanings. Meaning 1 is the same as, "what type of" or "what types of". In answer to a question of that meaning, you need to describe a type of something, where "type" is defined by describing certain broad or general characteristics that all or most members of this type share. For this question, you could answer it by defining the typical personalities of people who choose to get up early and those who choose not to.

Meaning 2 is simpler. Instead of defining a type based on certain characteristics, you can simply give an example (for "kind") or some examples (for "kinds"). For this question, Meaning 2 could be interpreted to mean, "What kinds of working people usually get up early?", for example, "garbage collectors", "some factory workers", "people who work at a wholesale fresh produce market, (fruit, vegetables, fish etc.), which opens at about 4 am in the morning or, "people who have to travel for a long time, such as one hour, to get to work".

In the Speaking test, you will give a better impression if you can combine, or mix, both Meanings 1 and 2 in your answer.

Note 20

Of course, what one means by "early" or "late" is relative. But I think most people would consider getting up between 7.30 and 9.00 am as getting up at a "normal" time, which is neither early or late.

Note 21

Some people are reporting this question as "most popular jobs" but I think that is probably a mistake. Remember, "popular" means something like, "many people like it" or "many people choose it" while "common" means, "it is often seen" or "it often exists". Some things are both popular and common but other things are not. For example, in pre-1980 China, bicycles were both common and popular. In fact, most things that are popular are also common, as a result of many people choosing that thing. But air pollution is common in some places, although no-one would claim that air pollution is popular.

On the other hand, there are certain career choices that are more popular than others, especially among young people when they are first choosing a career or an area of study. In China, I believe high school students make several choices of what they would like to study at the time they apply to sit for the college entrance exam. I have read that many thousands of these students choose, as their first choice, to study acting because, of course, they dream of being a film or TV star. But enrollments into acting schools are limited to just a couple of thousand per year, with the result that, although acting is a popular career choice, people who work as actors are not that common in society. In fact, we can say that acting is not really a "popular" career choice if not so many people actually enter that profession, even though they would like to. In other words, although acting is a both a popular and common desire (or dream) of a career choice, that is not the same as an actual career choice or actual job.

If you get a question about "popular jobs" then I think one major group of popular jobs are those that have the potential to lead to highly paid jobs and / or jobs that have high social status. For example, working in a bank, which is a popular job, has the potential for leading to a job as a bank manager. To go straight to saying that the top jobs are "popular" is not quite right because the top jobs are limited in number.

Cleaning (or, working as a cleaner) is a fairly common job but most low-paid jobs like that can hardly be called "popular" jobs.

Note 22

Know the term, "shift work".

Note 23

This is called "flexitime". The most common "family situation" related to this question is the case of working mothers (or fathers) who have young school-age children (e.g., under 10 years of age) and who would prefer to be at home when the children come home from school. Or parents who actually need to pick up their children from school.

Note 24

For any question about the future, first think whether the internet will influence the future of the topic being asked about. For example, the future of shopping, education, making friends, how people get their news etc. For the question about people's relationships with their work colleagues, the predicted increase in the number of people working from home, via the internet, will influence how much they interact with their colleagues face-to-face.

Note 25

This question is obviously aimed at testing Chinese candidates because many Chinese people, when speaking English, use the verb "send" when they should be using "give". This is called "interference from one's native language" and originates from how the Chinese use the verb, "song", 送. Other languages, especially Asian languages, might be similar to Chinese in using one verb when English has two separate verbs, "give" and "send".