Updated Aug 8, 2017 


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 143

711.  A Special Holiday (Vacation)  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

712.  A Leader You Admire  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

713.  A Place in Your City or Town  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

714.  A Wedding  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

715.  The First Time You Ate a New Food  (May 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


711.  A Special Holiday (Vacation)  (Jan. 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a short holiday (vacation) that was special to you.

            You should say:

                           where you went            

                           who you spent time with

                           what you did

            and explain why it was special to you.



  • Americans usually say, "take a vacation" instead of "have a vacation" or "have a holiday". In theory, American English cannot be described as "wrong" in the IELTS test, but since IELTS is a British English test, it is best to use British English whenever you are aware of a difference between the two major standards of English. Some British or Australian examiners might not even know when an example of American usage is being used, and they might consider it to be "wrong" because it is not the same as the British English that they know. But don't worry too much about this probably about 98% of English is the same in both British and American English. (This is referring to the words used, not pronunciation.)

  • I don't know why the test writers chose to include the word, "short" in the wording but apparently they did. The best example for this is one of the public holidays in your country. The longest public holidays anywhere in the world that I am aware of are about 1 week. For example, Christmas-New Year in the West and the Chinese New Year in China and other east Asian countries last about a week. One week can be described as rather "short". There are also several 1 or 2 day public holidays throughout the year in most countries.

  • This question wording would still be applicable to someone who spent a holiday at home, i.e., someone who didn't travel. Maybe you went to a shopping centre during this time but you never spent time away from home longer than one day. Alternatively, "where you went" could be answered by using the word, "nowhere" + a short explanation of why you went nowhere.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Have you told anyone else about that holiday?

  • Would you like to go to other places in XXX ?

(XXX = the country where you went for this short vacation, which is most likely your own country, since it was a short holiday.)

  • Do you like short vacations? * See Note 6


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topic 658

Personal Holidays (Vacations)   See Note 1

  • Besides traveling, what do people in your country like to do when they have a holiday (vacation) from work or study?

  • Would you agree that different types of people choose different holiday activities?

  • Which do you think is better, to spend a holiday at home or to travel during the holiday?

  • Do people generally spend holidays with their family, or with their friends? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Do you generally spend holidays with your family, or with your friends? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Do young people generally prefer to spend holidays with their family, or with their friends? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) What do you think are the differences between spending a holiday with family and spending it with friends? FQx2

  • Would you like to spend a holiday with your boss?  See Note 7

  • What are the differences between holidays (or, having a holiday) at different times of the year? FQ

  • (Similar to above) What are the differences between having a holiday in winter and having a holiday in summer?

  • What holiday is most popular in your country?  See Note 3

  • What do students do during their Summer and Winter holidays?  FQ  See Note 4

  • Can you suggest why some people do not like to have holidays? (or, some people find holidays to be inconvenient)

  • What do you think are the benefits of having a holiday (a vacation)?  FQ

  • Do you think people prefer to have a few long holidays (vacations), or several short holidays?

  • Can you think of any advantages in having short holidays? FQx2

  • And can you think of any disadvantages in having long holidays?? FQx2

  • Which do you think are better, several short holidays or just a few long holidays (vacations) during the year? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Which do you prefer, several short holidays or just a few long holidays (vacations) during the year? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Which do people in your country prefer, several short holidays or just a few long holidays (vacations) during the year? FQx2

  • Do you think there are both advantages and disadvantages for students to have long holidays?

  • What do people usually do during short holidays?

  • Can you explain how people benefit from having a holiday from work or study? FQx2

  • How do employers benefit from their employees taking a holiday?

  • Is it easy for working people in your country to take a holiday? FQ

  • (Similar to above) Is it easy for working people in your country to take time off from work? FQ

  • Do many people in your country receive paid leave from their employer?

  • Do you think people should be paid when they take a holiday (= take leave)? *

Travelling During a Vacation

  • Do people in your country prefer to be domestic tourists (within your home country) or foreign tourists, when they go touring during a holiday (vacation)? FQx2

  • (Similar to above) Do people in your country like to travel away from home when they have a holiday (vacation)? FQx2

  • Can you explain why some people like to travel away from home?

  • Why do some people not travel  away from home when they have a holiday (vacation)?

  • At what time of the year are people most likely to go traveling (for pleasure, not on business)?

  • Which do you think is better, to spend a holiday at home or to travel during the holiday?

  • If you were traveling on vacation, would you prefer to stay in a hotel, or a hostel (or, "bed-and-breakfast accommodation")?

  • Would you prefer to travel with your parents, or with your friends? FQ

  • Is it easy for young people to travel in their holidays?

  • Do you think it's a good idea for young people to spend a "gap year" between high school and university travelling to other parts of the world?

  • Are there any differences between traveling at different times of the year?

  • Do people tend to go to different places for a holiday in different seasons? FQ

  • Why do many people choose to travel to a warm place in winter?

  • Do you think people will ever be taking holidays in outer space?

  • How do you think space travel might affect the environment here on earth?  See Note 8


  • Can you explain why people go to work?

  • Do you think people today are working more (hours per week) than people did in the past?

  • (For candidates from non-Western countries) Would you say that people in your country work more than people in Western countries?

  • Do you think an increase in people's leisure time might improve their working efficiency?

  • In general., who do you think spends more time working, men or women?

  • * a question about "workaholics" *  See Note 5

  • Why do some people (have to) work overtime?


712.  A Leader You Admire  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used) 

Describe a leader who you admire.

                   You should say:

                               who this person is 

                               what this person does (as a leader)                                 

                                how you know about this person (or, how you personally know this person)

                    and explain why you admire this leader.



  • This might be Topic371 returning to the test.

  • I suggest you talk about a leader who is still alive. This is especially true if the card uses the present tense such as, "who this person is".

  • For topic 371, apparently some people reported the first line as, "Describe a leader who you admire (for example, in sport, business or politics)".

  • In China, people tend to refer to a political leader simply as a "leader" but in English there are many different types of leaders, so it is best to call leaders in the area of politics "political leaders", not just "leaders".


Possible follow-up questions:


See also the Part 3 questions for Topic371, Topic 323, Topic 60 and for Topic 625

Part 3

See Note 12

If you are interested, here is a screenshot of one paragraph from The Constitution of the People's Republic of China. The full copy of the constitution is at the Chinese Government internet page,

Leadership Qualities

Who Becomes a Leader

Students (or children) and Leadership


713.  A Place in Your City or Town  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used) 

Version A

Describe your favourite part of your hometown, (or where you are living now) that is open to the public. *

            You should say:

                          where it is                    

                          how often you go there

                          what people do there

            and explain why you like it so much.



Version B

Describe an interesting place in your hometown, (or where you are living now) that is open to the public. *

            You should say:

                          where it is                    

                          how often you go there

                          what people do there

            and explain why you think this place is interesting.




  • The first line might be, "Describe a place that you visited recently which is open to public".

  • Many places could qualify as "a public place". For example, a public park, a street, a town square, or many examples of buildings, including shops or shopping centres.

  • Public places are not always free to enter or use. For example, a cinema or a gym are open to the public but you have to pay use these places.

  • If the wording is, "an interesting place" then a train station would be a good choice, interesting because of the variety of people passing through there.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do you often go there?


Part 3

See also any related questions in the Part 3 of Topic 24, Topic 620, 532, 383, 327, 243, 314, 71, 35 & 13

Topic 653 also has some questions related to public facilities.

Living in Cities and Towns

Public Places, including Public Buildings

Places for Resting & Leisure Time Activities


714.  A Wedding  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used) 

Describe a wedding that you have attended. *

            You should say:

                          whose wedding it was                    

                          who was there *

                          where it was (where it took place)

                          what happened

            and explain how you felt. *


            and explain what you did at this wedding. *



  • This topic has been reported as being used once before. Previously, I had my doubts about whether this topic was being accurately reported, since the topic of weddings has also been a major Part 3 topic, and I wondered if people were making a mistake in reporting it as a Part 2 topic.

The reason why I had my doubts is the fact that the vast majority of IELTS candidates are still a little too young to have been to a wedding of one of their friends, although some of them might have attended a wedding of someone else, such as a relative or friend of the family.

Possibly the examiners have been instructed to first ask the candidate, "Have you ever been to someone's wedding?" and if the candidate answers "Yes" then the examiner gives them this topic.

  • If you get this topic but have never attended a wedding, the obvious thing to do is to tell the examiner that you have not had this experience and to ask for a different topic.

  • Although it is unlikely, this might actually be Topic 522, "A Family Celebration You Attended", which has a lot a questions about weddings in Part 3.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do you often attend weddings?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 questions for Topic 357, Topic 345, Topic 413 & Topic 522




715.  The First Time You Ate a New Food  (May 2016)  (Probably no longer used)

Describe a time when you tried a new food for the first time. *

            You should say:

                          what food it was                    

                          where you ate it

                          what it tasted like *

            and explain whether or not you liked this food *



  • This seems to be a new topic, one that has never been used before.

  • The words, "a new food" could mean, "a new dish", or they could mean a type of food that is new to you, such as donkey meat or lychees. More often than not in English we mean the second of those two meanings because a "dish" usually contains several different food ingredients. Nevertheless, it would probably be acceptable to talk about a dish when answering this question.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do you like to try new foods?


Part 3

See also the Part 3 of Topic 320

Diet and Food Preferences

Eating New Foods / Foreign Food

Eating Out


Note 1

Americans tend to use the word, "vacation" more than British English speakers but this is changing and British English speakers also do use it.

Fewer than 7 days could be called a "short holiday".

The majority of the questions for this Part 3 sub-topic are about people's personal holidays (vacations) from work or school, not about public holidays, which apply to everyone. "Personal holidays" (= vacations) are the breaks that people have from work, or from school & university etc., in addition to public holidays. For students, the main holidays are the Summer and Winter holidays ( = the Summer and Winter vacations = the Summer and Winter "breaks"). See the following 2 paragraphs for more information about personal holidays for working people.

In the so-called "developed" countries of the West, working people get 2 or more weeks of "annual leave" (= annual holidays = annual holiday = annual vacation) every year. In these countries, employers must, by law, allow employees to have this vacation, and usually the employee can choose when to take this vacation. Usually annual vacations are "paid vacations", meaning the employee continues to receive his or her normal pay even for the time not spent at work.

In China and some other countries, I think many (most?) working people don't have the same type of annual vacation from work as in the West. Instead, in China at least, people get two or more one-week breaks from work during traditional festivals such as The Chinese New Year and The Mid-Autumn Festival. But these are public holidays, when almost everybody takes a break. So, in China and some other countries, one can say that these working people's annual vacations are the same as the public holidays. Alternatively, one could say that these working people don't really get a annual leave at all, in addition to the public holidays, in the same way that Westerners do.

Westerners usually get a one-week public holiday during the Christmas-New Year period and during the Christian celebration called Easter (in late March), as well as a few other public holidays of 1 or 2 days during the year. (In Australia we have a one-day public holiday to celebrate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, of Britain. Isn't that sweet?)

Note 3

This question was probably referring to the Summer and Winter holidays (or, Winter and Summer "breaks") that students get.

Note 4

This question might be worded as, "What do people do during their Summer and Winter holidays?" If the question is worded that way, it would be best answered by referring to working people who choose to take a vacation from work in Summer or in Winter and by referring to students.

Note 5

"Workaholic" is a relatively new word, or expression that may not be in some dictionaries. "An alcoholic" is a person who is addicted to alcohol --> "a workaholic" is a person who seems to be addicted to work, someone who overworks or who doesn't know when to take a break from work. It's a particular problem in Japan.

Note 6

It is not clear if the examiner uses the word, "holiday" (or vacation) or the word, "trip" here, but I think the word used is, "holiday".

Let's look at the word, "trip".

Although the word, "trip" can sometimes include the time spent at a destination away from home, to me it refers more to the travelling itself to get to that destination. This is assuming that the person went to one particular destination for a holiday, such as a beach or a ski resort.

However, for those times when someone does not simply go to one particular destination but instead, spends the whole holiday travelling to several places as a tourist, then we can say that the trip and the holiday (or vacation) are the same thing. But not everybody spends their holidays travelling from place to place. Some people go to only one place and some stay at home.

To summarize:

Overall, I think most or all of the questions in this Part 3 are asking about "holidays" (vacations), not about "trips". However, you might choose to introduce the word, "trip", as an example of a holiday activity in some answers. Or perhaps the examiner will ask a question about "holiday trips" or "traveling during a holiday". Possibly one of the aims of this whole Part 3 is to see how clearly you understand and express the differences between the two words, "holiday" and "trip" and to see if you use one of the words in an unsuitable context.

Assuming that there is a question about "trips", not "holidays" then the word "short" could either describe a trip from A to B in terms of distance, or in terms of time. However, to repeat, I think most questions here are about holidays, not trips.

Note 7

This might be referring to the fact that, in recent years, a few Chinese billionaire company owners have given their whole staff paid overseas holidays, with the staff all traveling together. One famous example was the hundreds of employees of one company who went on a company-paid trip to Paris. I believe the boss of the company, the billionaire, went with them.

Possibly you could use this idea when answering the question, "In your country, how are people who are successful at work rewarded?" in Topic 662.

Of course, in the East Asian countries such as China, Japan & Korea, many companies give their employees, all as one group, a short holiday at some camp or tourist attraction in their country. These seem to more for the purpose of "binding employees together" or helping employees get to know other employees who they don't usually meet at work, than for the purpose of actually "rewarding" employees. This is because these camps are usually nothing special, something that ordinary people can afford to do, and something that involves experiences or activities that are not particularly special to ordinary people.

Note 8

See Note 6, Page 133.

Note 9

This question is more likely to be used if you are doing the IELTS test in a place such as Australia. After all, it would not be a very fair question for someone who was doing the test in their home country and had never been to a Western country.

If you are from another Western country and doing the test in Australia (for example), the question would probably be, "Are there any differences between weddings in your country and in this country?"

Note 10

As I have written in notes elsewhere, a "wedding" (= a wedding ceremony) and a "wedding celebration" are different and are not always held together at the same time and place.

Note 11

Someone has hinted that he or she got a question asking about the differences between a legal marriage and a marriage that is not recognized as legal. There are two points to consider concerning this question

a) In many countries, there is the concept of "defacto marriage". A defacto marriage refers to the situation where a man and a woman live together for many years just as married people do, and may have children together, but never got married. This sometimes happens because some religions forbid divorce or, in the case of some countries, divorce itself is illegal. People in relationships that have the legal status of "defacto marriage" have the rights and obligations of legally married people.

b) In most of the Western countries at the moment, the idea of legal marriages between homosexuals is a prominent political and social topic. In fact, such marriages are legal in some countries now or in some parts of some countries. Even in those Western countries where such "marriages" are not legal, such relationships usually have a similar status to defacto marriages, mentioned above.

Note 12

The word, "leader" is a very general term, although most of these questions refer to "leaders in the community", "leaders in society" and "leaders in the business world". These are people such as political leaders, company managers, heads of schools and universities etc.

However, a broader interpretation of the word, "leader" can include such examples as, "a leading author", "a leading TV personality", "a leading film actor", "a leading entertainer, such as a singer", "a leading sportsperson", "a leading member of the community" etc.

Note 13

Make sure you know the difference between, "want to" and, "would like to"

Note 14

The "environment" here refers to the physical surroundings of your neighbourhood.

Note 15

We have the following three questions reported. The first two mean the same thing, more or less.

For the third question, you could use examples such as a cinema, a KTV (karaoke parlour), a pool hall etc. It is possible to describe watching a 2-hour movie in a cinema, or spending time in other places, as "taking a break" from the longer work day (or study day).

On the other hand, some examples of "taking a break" or "having a rest" are examples of just taking a short "breather" from work, or other tiring activities like shopping, or studying. For example, sitting in the park, under a tree, for ten minutes on a hot day is an example of taking a short break but can hardly be described as "recreation"

Note 16

Governments usually have regulations concerning the safety of food that is sold in shops (and markets) and in restaurants. That is, there are regulations to avoid people getting sick (or dying) from the food they buy. But there are not many regulations in any countries concerning food that does not make people sick immediately after consumption but is  not very healthy over the long term.

Some governments have regulations that compel food producers to list the ingredients on packaged and canned food.

Note 17

This might be a question about leaders in general, in any area, or it might be specifically about political leaders.

Note 18

Here, "free" = free of cost (免费)

Note 19

This question is referring to entertainment, not specifically places for entertainment. For example, television broadcasts are provided for free for most people in the world, although there might also be paid television (cable TV) available.