Updated Aug 1, 2017


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 134


666.  A Frequent Flier (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

667.  A Street  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

668.  An Article You Read about Health  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

669.  Someone Whose Work Benefits Society  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

670.  A House or Apartment  (Sep, 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


666.  A Frequent Flier (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a person you know who frequently travels by plane.

               You should say:

how you know this person

where this person flies to (e.g., what countries or cities)

how often this person travels by plane

and explain how this person feels about traveling by plane so often.



It's perfectly suitable to say such things as, "I have no idea", "I don't know" or, "I'm not sure" when speaking about this point or any other question in the speaking test. The weakness that some candidates will show here is to stop talking about this point after saying that.

Here, the language function of "speculation" is being tested. See #12 on this page.

Instead of just a short, one sentence reply to this question, you should use language such as, "I'm not sure but I imagine ...". The verbs "guess" and "suppose" or even, "expect" could be substituted for the verb, "imagine" in that statement.

You could even say something like, "I don't know but if I were in his position (or, in that position, or, in his shoes), I would ....".

Or, "I don't know but he probably feels ...". "Possibly", "Might" (or, more formally, "May"), "Perhaps", "Certainly", "most likely" etc. could be used instead of "probably" in that statement.

If you want to get 6.5 or more for the speaking test, you definitely need to practice the skill of talking like that.

(Side by Side, Book 4, with the recordings, is an excellent way to practice speaking some of the language structures mentioned above. Those of you in Australia & Britain will find that Side by Side is not used much in English-teaching schools in those countries because it is American English, even though the authors have tried to make it as internationally standard as possible. In my opinion, it is a weakness, or a mistake not to use Side by Side for at least some English teaching even in Australia & Britain. Of course, the ideal situation for IELTS students would be to have a British English version of Side by Side but this seems to have never been done! I was introduced to Side by Side when I was teaching in Taiwan, where it is very popular, and I am very glad that I was introduced to it.)

          The way to do that is to speak speculatively throughout almost your entire answer.

For example, "I'm afraid I don't know anyone who often flies. I only know a few people who have flown once or twice in their whole lives. But if I were someone who frequently travelled by plane, it would probably be to holiday locations such as Thailand or Europe, which of course, would be very enjoyable for me.

Even if I were travelling frequently by plane for work, I doubt that I would mind doing it because my company would probably be paying me to stay at 4 or 5-star hotels, eat in good restaurants and so on. It fact, I think I would enjoy it a lot, as long as I wasn't (or, weren't) married. (Or, as long as I didn't have to stay away from home for too long or, too often.)  ......."

Just continue speaking like that for about 1 min 40 seconds and you'll be speaking at Band 7.5 to 9 standard!


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Air Travel

Air Travel as Opposed to Other Forms of Transportation



667.  A Street  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a street that you like to visit.

               You should say:

where is it

what it looks like

how often you go there

and explain why you like to go there.




  • This looks very similar to topic 497.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do other people you know also like that street?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topics 335, 409 and 497


City Living



668.  An Article You Read about Health  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe an article you read in a magazine or on the internet about health.

               You should say:

when you read it

what the article was about

where you read it (which magazine or website)

and explain what you thought was useful about the article. *


and explain what you learned from the article. *



  • Probably the "magazine section" of a newspaper would be acceptable here. Many newspapers have such a section in their Sunday edition.

  • See Note 17


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Have you spoken to anyone else about that article?

  • Do you apply the advice from that article? (Or, Have you started to apply the advice from that article?)


Part 3

See also the Part 3 questions for Topic 707

A Healthy Lifestyle

Information about Health

Children and Good Health


669.  Someone Whose Work Benefits Society  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a person you know whose work benefits society (or, your community). *

               You should say:

who this person is

how you know this person

what job they do (= he or she does)

and explain why (= how) you think their work contributes to society.



  • If you can't think of any other example, you could always talk about a teacher you know. Or your mum. since the topic wording probably does not stipulate that it is paid work that they do.

  • If the real wording is similar to above, then it would be quite suitable to talk about someone who does unpaid volunteer work in your community.

  • Have a look at this note about "naming a job".

  • On Dec. 19. one person reported the topic as "useful social work that you want to do". I think that is the first time I have seen someone report the word "want" or "would like" for this Part 2 so the candidate probably misunderstood the topic. Most likely, that question was in his/her Part 3 or a follow-up question in Part 2. As well as that, "social work" has a particular meaning, which you should look up in a dictionary.

  • Of course, almost all jobs benefit society simply by being useful to at least some people. If they didn't provide any useful product or service, they probably would not exist for long.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do you think he/she enjoys his/her work?

  • Would you like to do that job yourself?


Part 3

See also any similar questions in the Part 3 of Topic 457, 564 and 579

Work that Benefits Society

Salaries / Wages (Income)

Work Skills

Job Satisfaction / Working Conditions


670.  A House or Apartment  (Sep, 2015)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a house or apartment you would like to live in.

               You should say:

where this house or apartment would be

what it would look like, both inside and out

when you would like to live there

and explain why you would like to live in such a place.




Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also any similar questions in the Part 3 of Topic 512, Topic 174, Topic 96, Topic 394 & Topic 439

Housing in Your Country

Living in Cities, Towns or Villages

Moving  See Note 1


Note 1

American English uses the expression, "move home" or "move house" but British English tends to just use, "move". However, "move home" or "move house" is completely acceptable in the IELTS test.

Note 2

In China (and some other countries, especially in East Asia), probably more than 95% of the people who live in the bigger cities live in apartments. But the question asks about your country, not your city. Although China is rapidly urbanizing, I think more than 50% of the population are still classified as peasants (= farmers) or rural dwellers (农民,). These people usually live in small houses in villages or small towns. Therefore, most people in China live in houses! (When talking about statistics or mathematics, "most" simply means "more than 50%".)

Note 3

This question might be mistaken. In many cases, train travel is both the cheapest and the most comfortable. Instead, the real question might ask you to compare the fastest means of travel with the most comfortable means of travel.

Note 4

This question, or this topic, might be an attempt to see if Chinese candidates will confuse "staying at a hotel near an airport" with "having a home (= living) near an airport". In Chinese, they use the word, "live" for "stay" at a hotel or a hospital but we use "stay" in English when talking about hospitals and hotels. Since the Chinese are probably the largest group of IELTS candidates in the world, I believe many questions are especially written to test them, or attempt to trap them into making errors, or attempt to cause them to misunderstand a question.

Note 5

Do you think universities should prepare their students for work?

This question has been used several times in the past and a question related to the purpose of universities has been used as a Task 2 essay question.

The word "should" usually means, "have a duty to do it" or, "have a responsibility to do it". But "should do something" can also mean, "it is best to do this something"

The question means, "Besides giving students academic (theoretical) knowledge, do you think universities should prepare their students for work?"  This question really relates to the purpose of having universities. Hundreds of years ago, universities only educated people who would later go on to become such people as ministers of religion, teachers, doctors, or people doing senior administrative work in government. Engineers and similar technical people were trained "on the job", not in universities. But today, universities teach a much larger array of professional courses.

I think the best answer is "Yes", although some people can successfully argue that universities should be purely places of academic study. That is, the responsibility (or purpose or function) of universities is only to be places of academic study and research.  Those who say "No" claim that it should be the responsibility of industry (companies etc.) to more fully prepare recent graduates for work. In contrast, those who say, "Yes" claim that most degrees today are meant to be preparation for work in modern society and the students are usually not fully prepared even after they have gained their degree.

Many universities already do prepare students for work, in an indirect way, especially in the more practical degree courses such as engineering, medicine, dentistry, nursing and teaching. What they do is require the students to work for a certain time, such as a minimum of 6 or 12 months in the industry that they are studying, before the students are awarded their degree. That is, relevant practical work experience is more or less part of the degree. Most students do this by working in their chosen fields during the long university holidays over their 3 or 4 years of study. In this way, although the universities do not directly give the students practical working experience, this stipulation is made by the universities. As well as that, most of these universities give the students some forms of guidance and help in finding suitable vacation work.

One advantage of having students get work experience before they are awarded their degrees is this: In those fields where safety is important, we cannot rely solely on employers giving the recent graduates practical experience in situations of possible danger, which would enhance the graduates' understanding of safety, since employers are primarily focused on making money. That is, most recent graduates start working immediately in managerial or office positions instead of gaining experience on the factory floor, in a mine, or as construction workers.

Graduates from university nursing and teaching courses usually start work immediately as nurses or teachers but if they have had practical experience before graduation, such experience would be supervised, or it would be experience as an assistant to an experienced nurse or teacher.

Practical work experience in industry also ensures that we have fully competent professionals in society. After all, it is possible for some graduates to become self employed after they graduate, or to become some kind of manager in their industry even with no previous practical working experience in their industry. That is, someone is more competent as a manager if they have had some experience actually doing the type of work that they are managing.

In theory, keeping universities solely as places of theoretic learning could be a successful model for society, but there are good reasons why work experience has evolved to become a compulsory part of many degrees today.

Note 6

To "fly a plane" means to be the pilot of that plane. To "fly in a plane" usually means to be a passenger in a plane, although it is not necessary to add, "in a plane". That is, when someone says, "I'm going to fly to XXX", we usually assume that the person will go there as a passenger but if we know that this person has a pilot's license then we don't know if the person will go to XXX as a passenger or as the pilot of the plane.

Note 7

The words, "Do you think it is a responsibility of government?" can have two interpretations: 1) "Do you think it is a legal responsibility of government?" and, 2) "Do you think it is a moral responsibility of government?", which really means, "Should it be a legal responsibility of government?"

If the words "Do you think" are used then it is more likely to be the second meaning. For meaning 1, the laws either exist or they don't, so the more logical question wording would be, "Is it a responsibility of government?"

To some extent, this question is inviting you to comment more generally on what you think the responsibilities of (and limits on) governments are, or should be.

In the Part 3 of several topics, there is a question about the responsibilities of government. It would be a definite help to you if you first clarified, in your own mind, what your belief is concerning what the responsibilities of government should be. Then be able to express that as a short, concise general statement, in clear English, of course. You might not always need to speak that statement but such a clear idea in your mind will guide you towards answering any specific question about the responsibility of government.

Don't forget, there are different levels of government – local (municipal), state or provincial, and national but it might not always be necessary to refer to a different level of government when making your general statement.

A statement about what you think the responsibilities of government should be is really a statement of what you think is the ideal situation. This might be different to what the legal responsibilities of your government actually are today. The responsibilities that a government actually has at the moment (i.e., the legal responsibilities) are usually expressed in the Constitution of the government. In the USA, this is enhanced by the Bill of Rights, which outlines the rights of the citizens, but not many countries have such a document. Following that, and probably most importantly, the responsibilities of the government are expressed in the laws that apply to that government, whether national or another level of government. (Laws don't only express the responsibilities of (and limits on) the citizens – they also express the responsibilities of government.)

Some people, especially in the USA, have a general philosophy that government is a "necessary evil" that should be given as little responsibility as possible. They believe this because they believe that the more government has responsibilities, the more power it has over the citizens, thereby infringing upon the power of individual citizens to make their own decisions or choices. By "individual citizens", they include families and groups of citizens who join voluntarily together. These people believe in local, voluntary forms of regulation over their communities rather than national government.

An opposing view is that governments represent the collective will of all its citizens. Therefore, the responsibilities of government represent what the citizens want the government to have.

However, there are two factors that complicate this situation. Firstly, who does the government really represent? That is, who really has the power to influence the decisions of the government? For example, does government, in fact, represent the interests of wealthy people before it represents the interests of the common people?

Secondly, to what extent is there really a "collective will" of the citizens? The more a society is composed of different types of people, including people of different cultures and beliefs and people of differing levels of wealth, the more there will be differences in what people's interests are. The theory behind "democracy" as a form of government is that the will of 51% of the citizens can override the will of 49% of those citizens who might have different or opposing interests.

Most people, in most countries, believe in various levels of a "welfare state" in which needy citizens are given help (usually financial help) by the government. These needy people include unemployed people, old people who are no longer capable of working and seriously ill people. These people do not always have family to help them so the government helps them, similar to the way the people of a village, in times past, might have all combined to help the needy people in the village. However, along with the welfare state, people have to accept the loss of some individual freedoms since this responsibility of government also gives the government some power over the citizens. But to be a member of a society has always involved both benefits and responsibilities of the citizens, that is, the citizens sacrifice some of their individuality for the benefits of being a member of society.

Returning to the question of giving government the responsibility of educating the people about a healthy lifestyle: although this sounds good in theory, it reduces the responsibility and the power (the ability) of families to educate their children on such matters and it gives government "the voice of authority" that influences the personal choices of people. This might not always be a good thing. For example, if a government is controlled by big business, then it is more likely to promote GMO foods and the interests of the pharmaceutical companies when "educating" people about healthy living. Such a government is also more likely to promote the interests of the medical profession, which is based on treating disease, rather than promoting the views of those who promote natural herbs and other methods of healthy living as preventative medicine.

Note 8

This question might be asked using the word, "training", instead of education.

Note 9

The examiner might ask you if you have ever been to an airport and if you say, "Yes" then this question and the question following it would be suitable. If you say, "No", the examiner probably would not ask these questions.

Note 10

The "basic wage" is the minimum hourly wage that is stipulated by law in many (not all) countries.

Note 11

As explained in the note for the Part 2, "liking" something is not always the same as "often doing" something.

Note 12

Someone reported "factors employment" so what this question actually is, is unclear. It might be, "What factors determine when a person starts working?", "What factors determine which employment a person looks for?" or, "What factors determine who employers hire for a job?"

Note 13

When referring to everyday forms of public transport such as buses, trains, taxis, trams and ferries, we usually use the word "fare" to describe the payment made to travel on these forms of transport. Although it is not really "wrong" to use the term, "plane fare", it is usually not used because planes are not forms of everyday public transport. Instead, most English speakers refer to the cost of the "plane ticket".

Note 14

Pedestrian malls

Note 15

These questions about a 'good" or "the best" location for a shop can be answered from two viewpoints: a) the viewpoint of the customers and, b) the the viewpoint of the owners of a shop.

Note 16

Overall, this question could be addressed by in a general way by comparing personal responsibility to having governments provide for (all) our needs. For example, should government be responsible for making sure that I have enough food in my home or should that be my responsibility? Or, should government be responsible for providing me with clothes to wear? However, I think this question is best answered by referring to a) and b) below, especially b).

Depending on the exact wording of this question, it can be answered in two parts: a) governments being responsible for the citizens having a healthy lifestyle and, b) governments being responsible for "health care', which is the provision of doctors, hospitals, medicines etc when people have problems with their health, or even when women give birth to babies, which is not really a "health problem".

The "exact wording" of the question refers to whether the examiner says "responsible for health" or, "responsible for health care". Even if the examiner just says "health", not "health care", it is perfectly suitable for you to introduce the topic of health care.

For a) there are the important questions of personal choice and privacy, i.e., the lack of government intrusion into our lives. This can be developed into a discussion about mandatory vaccination of the citizens which is a big concern at the moment, especially in relation to the possibility that vaccines (as they exist today) seem to be related to the increasing incidence of autism among children, as well as other problems. If you are interested, do an internet search for the new film called, Vaxxed.

For b), this point should not just involve governments providing these services but should also include the very important question of the costs of these services. That is, how much patients have to pay. This further develops into the question of the pros and cons of, "nationalized medicine" or, "universal health care" as opposed to completely privatized medical care. ("Nationalized medicine" is sometimes referred to as, "socialized medicine", which is a derogative term used by some people, especially in the USA, referring to the fact that it is an aspect of socialism.)

I suspect that the main aim of this question is to discuss b) but focussing only on the other points mentioned here would also be acceptable.

Note 17

Some people from several different non-English speaking backgrounds make the mistake of saying the adjective, "healthy" when they should say the noun, "health". Same with the words, "noisy" and "noise". They might know the correct word to use and might be trying to say "health" or "noise" but they still add a little sound to make it sound like they are adding "y" to the word. If you are one of these people, practice mimicking the pronunciation of these words at

Note 18

This question might be referring to whether your country is suitably equipped for air travel. For example, a poor country that has old planes, poor maintenance of the planes, a poor safety record for air travel and inadequate airports could be called, "an unsuitable country for traveling by plane".

Or it might be referring to the terrain and size of your country, and whether or not it has well-developed alternatives to air-travel such as highways and railways.