Updated  Aug. 10, 2018


IELTS Part 2 and Part 3 Topics and Questions

Page 172

866.  A Place Where You Would Like to Live (Jan 2018)

867.  A Day Out (Jan 2018)

868.  A New Development (Jan 2018)   Probably not a real Part 2 topic

869.  A TV Program (Jan 2018)

870.  An Athlete (Jan. 2018)    Not used May-Aug 2018



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


866.  A Place Where You Would Like to Live (Jan 2018)

Describe a city OR a foreign country you would like to live and work in. *

               You should say:

 where this city or place is

 how you know about this place

 what work you would do there

 and explain why you would like to go there.             .


  • This is probably a repeat, or an adaptation, of one of the following topics: 661, 573, 495, 339 or 220. The Part 2 of Topic 220 seems to be closest in wording to this current topic but the Part 3 of other topics seem closest to the contents of the current Part 3 for this Topic 866.

  • Most likely the first line is what is shown above. What that first line means is:  a) Choose any city, either in your hone country or in a foreign country (but most probably the examiners want you to choose a city within your own country) OR, b) Choose a foreign country. If you choose a foreign country, you can also choose to talk about a specific place or city in that country but this is not something that the card asks you to include.

  • If you have no intention of migrating (= living overseas permanently) and your reason for doing the IELTS test is only for the purpose of studying overseas or some other reason besides migration then, if you choose to speak about a country you should speak about a country "that would be nice to live in" IF you were to move abroad permanently and you should use, "would" and "would like to" rather than "want to" concerning living in this country. For example, you could talk about the country of Norway, which they say is a nice place to live but which you personally have no intention of ever going to.

You should choose to use either, "I want" or "I'd like" depending on the strength of your feelings and to what extent it really is a goal, or is just speaking hypothetically. For example, "I'd like to be the richest man in the world" is just speaking hypothetically and is complete fantasy; it's not my real goal. Those words mean that I would be happy to be the richest man in the world, if I found myself in that situation.

If your real plan is to spend most of your future life within your own country, even if you spend a few years studying abroad, then choosing a city to live in might be more suitable for you.

  • It is possible to answer this Part 2 by talking completely hypothetically, speaking almost like speaking about a fantasy, about a place (city or country) that you "would be happy to live in" and the work you "would do if you went there" but a place that is very different from your real goals or plans. For example, you could say things like: "I'd love to move to the city of Venice, Italy (because I'm very interested in a city that has canals instead of roads)" or, "I'd like to live in Alaska (because I'm interested in polar bears)" or, "I'd like to live in Hawaii (because I like surfing)" or, "I'd like to live in Antarctica (because I'd like to study the penguins there)". Of course, Venice, Hawaii, Alaska and Antarctica are not countries but those examples illustrate how you could speak. However, for most people, I don't recommend giving answers like that.


Possible follow-up questions:

  • Do you think you (really) will go there?

  • Do you think you will (be able to) stay there?


Part 3


  • How do you plan to achieve what you just spoke about in Part 2? 

  • Do you see yourself working in your favorite place in the future?

  • Did you get any advice or help from somebody regarding your plan?

  • Do you usually make a detailed plan when you travel?

  • Do you have a plan now?

  • When do plan to go there?

The Quality of Life

Choosing Where to Live

      Living in Cities  See Note 4


Choosing a Job   See Note 8

    Working in General

    Working Abroad   See Note 9


867.  A Day Out (Jan 2018)

Describe a time (when) you spent a pleasant day away from home, but didn't spend a lot of money. *

               You should say:

 where you went

 who you went there with

 what you did

 and explain why it didn't cost very much. *



  • This is a new topic and the exact wording is not very clear.

  • From the Part 3 questions, it would be more suitable in this Part 2 to talk about spending a day out for leisure (or pleasure), or some other non-work activity.


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Leisure Time and Going Out on Weekends  See Note 13


868.  A New Development (Jan 2018)   Probably not a real Part 2 topic

Describe a new development, (such as a new building or road) that was recently constructed near your home. *

               You should say:

 what development it was (or is)

 how long it took to construct

 what was there before this new development

 and explain how you feel about this development.



  • Only a small number of people have reported getting this topic, which leads to the question, "Is this really a new Part 2 topic, or is it a mistake?"

  • The Part 3 questions reported for this topic are very similar to the questions about Public Transportation in the Part 3 of Topic 856, A Public Place that Needs Improvement. Conclusion: This Topic 868 is a mistake. It is probably one of the questions in the Part 3 of Topic 868 and does not exist as a Part 2 topic..


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Public Transportation

These questions now moved to Topic 856, A Public Place that Needs Improvement


869.  A TV Program (Jan 2018)

Describe a TV program you like to watch.

            You should say:

                            what it is about

                            who you usually watch it with

                            when you watch it *

                            where you watch it *

             and explain why you like to watch it.




Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

See also any relevant Part 3 questions at Topics 806, 690, 594, 636, 520, Topic 494, 429, Topic 372, 274, 263, Topic 254, Topic 213, Topic 178 and 87

Types of TV Programs in Your Country

See HERE for vocabulary

Television in Schools


870.  An Athlete (Jan. 2018)    Not used May-Aug 2018

Describe a successful sportsperson (or, athlete) who you admire. *

               You should say:

 who this person is

 what he or she has achieved

 what you know about his or her life

 and explain why you admire him or her.



  • This looks similar to Topic 599, "A Sportsperson" and in fact might have been a repeat of that topic.

  • Although this topic was reported during the Jan-Apr 2018 testing period, it was not reported in the May-Aug 2018 period. Instead, the previously used topic, "A Sport You would Like to Try" was reported in May-Aug 2018. The test managers do occasionally take a topic out of the test, for example, after one examiner somewhere loses a cue card.

Alternatively, possibly the real topic in Jan-Apr 2018 was always, "A Sport You would Like to Try" OR, possibly the real topic in May-Aug 2018 is still, "A Sportsperson". Best to prepare to answer both topics.

  • The word, "they" is likely to be used to mean "he or she" and the word, "their" is likely to be used to mean, "his or her".

  • Don't refer to a female as a "sportsman". Instead, use "sportswoman".


Possible follow-up questions:


Part 3

Champion Athletes

Sport in Your Country

Famous People


Note 1

There are three different verbs, "to emigrate", "to immigrate" and "to migrate".

"Emigrate" = to leave a place, especially a country but it could also be an area of a country. We say, "emigrate from" but sometimes it's unnecessary to say "from". For example, "I plan to emigrate" (= I plan to leave my country.)

"Immigrate" = to move to or into a place, usually a country but also it could be a city or area of a country. We say, "immigrate to" or "immigrate into" but sometimes it's unnecessary to say "to" or "into".

"Migrate" = to move from one place to another, both from one country to another and also from one part of a country to another part of the same country. This is a general word that can be used instead of "emigrate" or "immigrate" and it can be followed by "from", "to" or "into".

All of these words are about moving to a different place to live permanently (or semi-permanently). These words are usually not used to describe tourists, students temporarily studying overseas or people working temporarily overseas.

There are also words to describe the people who do these verbs. The nouns, "an immigrant" and "a migrant" are commonly used but "an emigrant" is not so often used, probably because the pronunciation is so close to "immigrant", although it is possible to use it. [That means, in the IELTS test, it is best NOT to use it! You do not score extra points in vocabulary by writing, or especially by speaking what is not commonly used! The IELTS test is a test of clear communication, not a test of highly educated, formal or less common vocabulary like some of the words tested in the GRE test. In the IELTS test you get good points for vocabulary by knowing and using vocabulary that is everyday English and quite educated words that are also quite commonly used.]

Migrating to another country, not simply "moving" to another country, means getting a Permanent Residence visa to that country. It usually implies that the migrant plans to live in that country permanently in the future and very possibly become a citizen of that country after a few years. If a foreigner comes to your country to work for a year or more, for example as an English teacher, we would say that person moved to your country to live temporarily, not "migrated" to your country. On the other hand, many people do say, "move to" as a shortened way to say, "migrate to".

Note 2

How how does the government decide how much money to spend on improving the quality of life of people?

For questions like this, it's perfectly natural to say you don't know. But don't stop there. At least try to add a little about what you do know related to this question, even if you can't answer that exact question. This is a "discussion skill" and demonstrating this skill will add to your score.

One word to possibly use in an answer is, "budget" (both verb and noun).

Note 3

How can we improve the quality of people's lives?

If the question includes the word. "we" then it implies that we, the people, could do things to improve the quality of life (of everyone) in our country. This is a possible question. But I think the question wording, "How could the quality of life be improved?" is more likely to be asked. That question does not specify who does the improving, and questions about the government improving the quality of life are definitely being asked.

Note 4

Although it is possible that a discussion takes place about living in a city or in cities abroad, the discussions reported indicate that this topic is more about internal migration to cities within your own country.

Note 5

Would you say your hometown is a livable place?

What's the difference between a livable city and an unlivable one?

It is not certain that the words, "livable" and "unlivable" are used because these words are rather extreme. Instead, other phrases might be used such as, "a nice place to live", "a pleasant place to live", "a comfortable place to live", "an attractive place to live" etc.

Note 6

What country do you plan to go to?

Some people have reported that the examiner asked them in Part 3 about which country they, the candidates, plan to, or hope to live in. This is possible if your Part 2 answer seemed to be quite hypothetical, i.e., speaking about another country "that would be nice to live in" rather than speaking personally about a country that "you personally want to live in". Both of those slightly different types of Part 2 answer would be suitable if the Part 2 wording written above is accurate.

Note 7

Some people prefer to live in their hometowns and others prefer living in big cities. Why do some people prefer to be in these big cities?

Chinese people report that the word, "like" is used in this type of question instead of "prefer" but, in cases where an alternative choice is implied or especially when an alternative choice is actually stated in the question, then the examiner would use the word, "prefer". Your English will be less exact or clear if you simply use the word, "like" in your answer.

For readers who are not Chinese, this confusion among Chinese people is a result of the fact that in Chinese for, "prefer" they say, "comparatively like" or "relatively like" but they often omit the word "comparatively" in this situation. For example, in Chinese they might ask you, "Which do you like, noodles or rice?" That seems to be saying that you only like one of them but the fact is that I like both. Most Chinese people would reply with, "I like noodles" or "I like rice" and the questioner and replier both understand what each other means. But I, as a foreigner who speaks some Chinese might reply, "I most like rice" or "I most like noodles", clearly indicating that I do like the other choice, too.

Note 8

In the sub-topic of "Choosing a Job", you are asked general questions about choosing a job, regardless of where people (or you) are living. However, some of these questions might be included in a discussion that is about "Choosing Where to Live", either in a city or in a foreign country.

Note 9

Most questions about this topic are general questions about working abroad, regardless of other considerations such as the visa status of the people working abroad. Although many people who work abroad have migrated to another country, not everyone who works aboard is a migrant. For example, companies and the government send people overseas to work for short periods such as a year or two.

Some countries such as Australia have "working holiday visas", which allow young people from certain countries to live and work (in any job) in Australia for a year. Australia also allows people on student visas to work for 20 hours a week, even though those foreign students are not migrants. And most countries in the world have Work Visas (usually good for one year but usually renewable) that enable foreigners to come to work in their countries without actually migrating to that country as permanent residents before possibly becoming citizens of that country.

Note 10

In your country today, are the economic conditions more favourable for companies looking for employees, or are the conditions more favourable for people looking for a job?

Most likely, that question was asked by an examiner who had studied economics

Possible similar questions are:

Note 11

Do you think people from your country would like working abroad?

This means, "If they were working abroad right now, experiencing the real situation, would they like it?"  This is an invitation for you to describe the qualities of jobs overseas, both good and bad.

Note 12

What's the difference between spending a whole day at home, and spending it outside the home?

It is not certain that the examiners use, "outside the home" (or "outside the house"). If you have a backyard and do gardening  in your backyard on the weekend, or have a barbeque in the backyard with friends or family. then you are doing something that is "outside the house" (= in the fresh air). This question is possible but I think the examiners are more likely to say, "away from the home", which includes away from your backyard. This means, "going somewhere".

Note 13

This topic is about doing leisure-time activities on weekends, including going out for leisure. Weekends are when people get the longest stretch of free time away from work or study. During the work week, people usually only have leisure time in the evenings, and most people stay at home and do such indoor activities as watching TV. On the other hand, weekends give people the opportunity to do things outside, during the daylight hours, and weekends also give people enough time to travel short distances away from home. These are the themes of the questions here.

Note 14

Would you say watching talk shows ('dialogue programs') is a waste of time?

Would you say watching game shows is a waste of time?

Would you agree that watching entertainment TV shows is a waste of time?

From these reported questions, it's obvious that the examiners are randomly choosing a certain type of film and then asking if it's a waste of time. This is an indirect way of asking you if those shows have any good points, in your opinion.

The question, "Do you think watching too much TV is a waste of time?" was also reported.

Note 15

Is it possible that many of them don't work at all?

This is an opportunity for you, the candidate to branch out the discussion into the topic of the income of champion athletes, and their wealth, or lack of it.

Note 16

Is your government very involved in the training of champion athletes?

The national governments of almost every nation do spend money on supporting their athletes, especially those preparing for the Olympic Games.