Updated Aug 1, 2017


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 141

701 Someone Who Apologised to You  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

702.  A Story or Novel You Read  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

703 Some Local News  (Jan. 2016)   (Probably no longer used)

704 The First Time You Used a Foreign Language  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

705An Occasion When You Helped Someone  (Jan. 2016)  (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


701 Someone Who Apologised to You  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a time when someone apologized to you.

               You should say:

who apologised to you  *

why they apologised  *

where it happened  *

and explain how you felt (or what you said) after this person apologised. *



  • Someone seemed to report their topic was, "A time when you apologized to someone".  I think that is a mistake but it is a good idea to imagine what you would say for that wording.


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topics 472, 368 & 405

Apologizing in Your Country

  • Do people in your country often apologise?  FQx2

  • In what situations do they apologise?  FQ

  • (Similar to above) What are some examples of things that people apologise for?  FQ

  • Would you say people apologize today more than they did in the past, or less?

  • How do people apologize?

  • Do you think it's important to say sorry (or, to apologize)?  FQ

  • In what situations should people apologize immediately?

  • Who apologises more, young people or old (or older) people?

  • What is the purpose of apologizing?  FQ

  • Can you explain why some people don't apologize?

  • Are there different ways to apologize?

  • Do you think giving a gift along with an apology makes the apology more sincere?

  • Have you ever found it hard to accept an apology from someone?

  • Do you think someone should apologize even when, in his or her heart, they feel they have done nothing wrong?  FQ

  • Do you think some people are insincere when they apologize?

  • Some people think that insincere apologies are selfish. What do you think they mean?

  • Do you think people's actions are more important than what they say?

  • Can you suggest why some people find it difficult to say sorry? FQ

  • (Similar to above) Can you suggest why some people dislike saying sorry? FQ

  • Do you think fewer people apologize today than in the past?

  • What environment can influence how much a person apologizes (or, how important people think it is to apologize)?

  • Which situation is more common in your country, subordinate people apologizing to their superiors, or the reverse?

  • (For non-Western candidates) In your country, is the way that people apologise the same as in the West?  FQ

Children and Apologizing

  • Can you suggest why very young children rarely or never apologise?

  • Why are (some) children selfish?

  • Why should children be taught to be considerate of others?

  • Whose responsibility do you think it is to teach children about apologising, the parents or school teachers?

Caring About the Feelings of Others


702.  A Story or Novel You Read  (Jan. 2016)   (Probably no longer used)

Describe a story or novel you have (recently) read that you found to be particularly interesting. *

               You should say:

what the story or novel was about

who wrote it *

how long it took to read it / How much time you spent reading it

and explain why you read it *  (pronounced as "red" in past tense)


and explain why you chose to read it *



  • See the notes for Topic 703, below, for the meaning of "recent" and "interesting".

  • This topic is especially testing your ability to summarize. Some people will attempt to retell the whole story in detail, but  this is not possible in two minutes.

  • This is similar to past topics about "a book" you have read except that this topic specifies a particular type of book content, fiction.

  • Is a "story" the same as a "novel"? Not always. Some stories are not classified as novels. There are "short stories", fables, fairy tales, myths, yarns (spoken stories) etc., which are not classified as novels. But all novels are stories.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Would you recommend that story / that novel to others?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of  Topic 590, 492, 355, 215, 158, 88, 72,  52 & 14

For these questions, the word "fiction" can usually be used to replace "novel" or "novels".

Reading (especially reading fiction) in Your Country

  • Would you say it's important to read books?

  • How often do people in your country read a novel?

  • In what ways does reading (or, reading novels) affect society?  FQ

  • In your country, what types of books are the most famous?

  • What kinds of novels (or fiction) do people in your country like to read?  FQx2

  • Do you think men and women like to read the same kinds of fiction?

  • Can you suggest why some people like reading novels (as opposed to other types of books)?  FQ

  • For you, what qualities define a novel as "a good novel"?

  • Do people in your country often read foreign novels?

  • Are mystery novels very popular in your country?

  • Can you suggest why some people like to read mystery (or, detective) novels?  FQx2

  • Which do you think is better, a mystery novel, or a mystery film (or TV program)?  See Note 1

  • What kinds of novels do old people like to read?

  • What kinds of novels do young people in your country like to read?  FQ

  • (Possibly the question above is this) What are the reading habits of young people in your country?

  • What kinds of novels (or, fiction) do you think are the most relaxing to read? 

  • In your country, do parents often express an opinion about what novels their children should or should not read?

  • What influence do (or can) novels have on society?

  • Would you say there are differences between novels written in your country and those written in the West?

  • Do you think books written by authors in one country are appreciated by readers in other countries?

  • Do you think books written by authors from a particular country (always) give readers some information about that country?

Films Based on Novels   Frequent sub-topic

  • Do you think that the novels (or, books) that people read and the films that they watch are similar? (similar in type, or topic, or as forms of entertainment)  FQ

  • What sorts of novels are most often made into films?  FQx2

  • (Similar to above) In your opinion. what kinds of novels are most suited to being adapted into a film?  FQ

  • In what ways do you think reading a novel is different to watching a film based in that novel?  FQx2

  • Do you think most people watch a film based on a novel for the same reason that people read the novel?

  • Which do you think is more interesting, a novel or a film adaptation of the same novel?

  • In what ways do you think films based on novels are different to the novels?  FQ

  • How do you imagine a novel can be adapted into a film?

  • Can you suggest why films based on a novel are popular?

  • Can you suggest why detective (or mystery) films are so popular?  FQ

  • What makes a successful film, in your opinion?

How People Read

  • How often do you go to a library?

  • What would you say is one of the biggest changes that have occurred in society in recent years?

  • Do you think people's reading habits have changed in the past few years?

  • Do you prefer to read books (or, novels) on paper, or in an electronic form (e-books, e.g., Kindle)?  FQx2

  • (Similar to above) What are the differences between reading a book on paper and reading it in an electronic form (e-book)?  FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Do you prefer reading a physical book or its digital version?  FQx2

  • Which of those do you prefer?

  • What kinds of people are most likely to read e-books?



703 Some Local News  (Jan. 2016)   (Probably no longer used)

Describe some local news that people in your locality are interested in.

               You should say:

what the news is

how you know about this news

who is involved in this news

and explain why it is interesting to people.



  • So far, it seems to be present tense (e.g., is) i.e., it is current news right now, or news that people are usually interested in. (This latter case is the use of the present tense to refer to a general truth.) But this is mainly based on only one person's reporting. Possible it is really past tense ("people were interested in").

  • The meaning of "local"

I would define, "local" as being a part of your country, but not the whole country. The whole country would be better described using the word, "national" or possibly, "domestic". Examples of this part of your country could be: a state, a province, a county, a city, a town or even a neighbourhood within a town or city.

One candidate in India has reported this topic as, "Describe some local news that people in your locality are interested in", which fits my definition of "local". If the test makers meant, "your locality = your country" then they simply would have written the wording as, "people in your country are interested in".

  • The real wording might say, "recent local news", which could be within the last year or two.

  • Usually "interesting" means something like, "makes you think" (or, use your mind) rather than "makes you feel", which is using your heart. For example, the word, "exciting" is describing a feeling, not the use of the rational mind. On the other hand, having curiosity about something involves rational thinking and is a key part of finding something to be "interesting". Noticing how something is unique, special or different to others of a similar type is another aspect of finding something "interesting". Something that is the same as others of the same type, or not special, is sometimes described as, "boring" (= not interesting). That's what English speakers understand "interesting" to mean.

However, in the case of, "news that people are interested in", it is possible to interpret those words to mean, "news that people are interested in reading about or interested in talking about".  This is probably a more suitable interpretation of this topic. In this case, they might be interested in it because it excites them or because it stimulates some other emotional reaction. For example, people are often interested in reading about something that shocks them or makes them angry, even though these are negative emotions. Therefore, even some local gossip might be suitable as "local news that people are interested in".

But the most common reason why people are interested in a certain piece of local news is because they think it affects them personally, such as an increase in the cost of electricity in their city. Another example is that people are interested in the lives of well-known local people, which includes both factual information. and unproven gossip.

  • "News" is an uncountable noun, so you cannot say, "a news" or "many news". Instead, we use "some news", "a piece of news", "a news item" or a "news story" (not "story" as meaning "fiction").


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Have you shared this news with your friends?

  • Are you very interested in local news?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topics 46, 151, 193, 272, 316, 410 and Topic 606

There also might be questions about the news, as in newspapers or in the News program on TV. See any relevant questions about news in the Part 3 of Topics 101, 203, 272, 342, 337 and 672

Local News

  • Are there many local newspapers in your city (or town)?

  • Do you (or people in your country) generally prefer local news, or international news? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Which do you think is more important, local news or international (= world) news?  FQx2

  • (Different to above) Which news are people in your country more interested in, local news or national news?  FQx2

  • Do you think people in one locality, such as a city, are interested in the local news from another locality or city?

  • Do people get local news from the internet?

  • How do you think a community benefits from local news?  FQ

  • Do you think local news can help people keep a sense of local identity?

  • If you wanted to be in the local news, how would you do it?

Ways of Getting News

Communities (frequent sub-topic)

National Identity


704 The First Time You Used a Foreign Language  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe the first time you used (spoke) a foreign language to communicate.

               You should say:

who you communicated with

what the situation was *

what you said (or wrote)

and explain how you felt during this experience.



  • Except for the first line, no details are available for this topic at the moment. The wording above is my guess.

  • One can communicate using a language either in a spoken form or a written form but written communication requires feedback from the other person for you to know if you communicated successfully. Therefore, an example of spoken communication is better for this topic, if possible.

  • A key point to understand is this the meaning of, "to communicate" is, "to exchange information so that the other person understands your meaning". Expressing personal feelings or opinions is also an example of exchanging information. Simply saying the greeting, "Hello" is an expression of a personal feeling so it is also an example of communicating.

However, many people who have studied a foreign language have never used it to communicate with another person, which is the purpose of a language. Foreign language classes in many schools and universities only involve doing grammar drills and exercises in text books but never exchanges of information in a natural way. On the other hand, good language teachers involve the students in activities in which they can gain experience and practice communicating to others in that language, for example, pair work activities.

  • For some IELTS candidates, sitting for the speaking test is their first experience of communicating in English. If you have sat for the IELTS test before, it would be perfectly suitable to talk about a previous speaking test as your answer for this Part 2.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do you often speak to foreigners? Or, Do you often speak a foreign language?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of the past topics about language - Topic 21, Topic 49, Topic 115, Topic 171, Topic 280, Topic 476, Topic 645, and Topic 554

Studying a Foreign Language in Your Country

  • Do many people in your country learn a foreign language?

  • Besides English, what other foreign languages do some people in your country study? FQ   See Note 4

  • Which people in your country learn (or, study) a foreign language?

  • Can you explain why people learn foreign languages?  FQx2

  • Why did you start to learn English?

  • Do you think it's really useful (or, important) to study a foreign language?  FQ

  • (Similar to above) What would you say are the benefits of learning a foreign language?  FQx2

  • Do you think some people associate learning a second language with having a better life?

  • It what situations is it an advantage to have studied (or, to know) a foreign language?

  • Do you think learning a second language has benefits for a person's brain?

  • Would you say that knowing (or, studying) another language is more likely to help your use of your mother tongue, or to harm you use of it?

  • Do you think more people are learning languages well (= learning them to a high level) today than in the past?

  • Do you think learning a foreign language in your home country is the same as learning it abroad?

  • Would you say it's easy to learn a foreign language?

  • What are the main difficulties that people have when they learn a language?

  • How important would you say it is to be interested in the language one is studying?

  • Which do you think is more important, learning to speak a language or learning to write it?  FQx2

  • (Different to above)  Which do you think is more difficult, learning to speak a language or learning to write it?  FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Which do you think is easier, learning to speak a language or learning to write it?  FQx2

  • Which is easier (or more useful), learning to speak a language or learning to write it?

  • What do you think are the differences between learning to read a foreign language, and learning to write it?

  • Some people only learn to speak a foreign language without learning how to read and write it. Do you think that's a good idea?

  • Can you suggest why some people learn a language faster than other people?

  • Do you think it is better to learn a language as an adult or to learn it as a child?

  • What age do you think is best for a person to begin to learn a new language?  FQx2

  • Some people say that primary school is the best time to start learning a new language. Do you agree?

  • If someone tells a story in English to little children in your country, do you think the children will understand it?

Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages

  • How are foreign languages taught (at school) in your country?

  • Do you think this is the best way to teach a language?

  • Can you suggest any modern methods of teaching a language that you think should be included in schools in your country?

  • Why do some school students find their language classes to be boring?

  • How do you think teachers could make language classes at school more successful (or, more interesting)? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) How do you think language classes at school could be improved? FQx2

  • How do you think teaching a language to little kids is different to teaching a foreign language to teenagers or adults?

  • What difficulties can children face when studying a foreign language?

  • Would you say it's a good idea for children to play games using a foreign language in language classes?

Languages,  International Relations & Translation

See earlier topics under "International Languages" (or similar) for other likely questions in this sub-topic, e.g., "In the future, which language do you think will be the dominant language in the world?"


705An Occasion When You Helped Someone  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe an occasion when you helped someone.

               You should say:

who you helped

how you helped them

where it happened *

why you helped them *

and explain how this person reacted to your help *


and explain how you felt after helping this person. *



Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also (for "You Helped Somebody") the Part 3 of Topics 78, 156, 279, 461 & 550

See also (for "Somebody Helped You") the Part 3 for Topics 526, 461, 392, 279,  267, 210, 156 and 28

and see 104


Helping in General

  • Do you like helping others?

  • Has anyone ever given help to you?

  • Can you explain why people like to help others? FQ

  • Would you say that people in your country are generally willing to help others?

  • Do you think children should be taught to help others?

  • How do people in your country help each other?

  • Are people in your country generally willing to lend money?

  • How would you describe people who like to, or frequently help others?

  • Who do you think are more likely to help others, men or women?

  • Are there any people in your country who do volunteer work? (What work? Why?)

Helping Within the Family

  •  In general. how do family members help each other?  FQ

  • (Similar to above) What can family members do to help other members of the family (or, the family as a whole)?  FQ

  • In your country, in what ways do parents help their children?  FQx2

  • How would you compare that to the way friends help each other? FQ

  • Do you think parents should help their children?

  • How do you think parents are affected by the need to help their children?

  • (Similar to above) How do you imagine parents feel about helping their children?

  • Do you think parents helping their children can sometimes not be a good thing? FQ

  • Do you think some parents do too much to help their children?

  • What effect might it have on the children if the parents give them too much help?

  • Do you give much help to other members of your family?

  • (Probable, unreported question) Which do you think is more important, helping members of one's family or helping others, such as one's friends? *

The Helping Professions


Note 1

Instead of "mystery novels", the question might be about "crime novels or "detective" stories. Crime novels, in which the reader does not know until the end of the book "Who did it" are one particular example of "mystery novels", although they are the most common example. 

Note 2

The word, "community" is usually defined as a (rather large) group of people living in the same area. But I think that word is more suitable for describing a rather large group of people who interact with each other, rather than simply a large group of people who live in the same area. ("Rather large" means a group of more than, say, ten people.)

If people living in a certain area have absolutely no interaction with others in the same area and do not know any of their neighbours, they are simply isolated individuals or families living in the same area. They are not really part of the community.

An example of the word "community" used to describe people who interact but do not necessarily live in the same area, is communities of people who read the same websites on the internet. Describing them as a community is especially suitable when referring to those readers of a website who communicate with other readers by making comments on the internet.

The word, "society" refers to a much larger group than a "community". It is used to refer to all the people in a country, or even to all of human society.

Note 3

This question might be an attempt to introduce the topic of, "political correctness".

Note 4

a) Make sure you correctly pronounce the languages you use in your answer. Check at

b) Although the question did not ask you to say why people study these languages, it's a good idea to include that information or some comments to your answer. Don't simply list the names of a few languages as you complete answer.

Note 5

This is a good example of a question where it is no crime to begin your answer with, "I don't know".  Most English speakers would say that. The difference between a Band 5 answer and a Band 7 answer is that the Band 5 candidate stops talking after saying that but the Band 7 candidate continues to talk about the question, even though he or she cannot answer the question.