ielts-yasi.englishlab.net

Updated  Sep 19, 2017

 

Part 1 Topics and Questions

For The IELTS Speaking Tests, January-April, 2017

 

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Notes

The pages PAST_PART_ONE_TOPIC_INDEX.htm is also useful as a guide to when different topics were used in the past. That page is connected to PREVIOUS_PART_1_QUESTIONS.htm.

I don't always keep those four pages up-to-date so you might also need to specifically look at Part 1 pages that have not yet been added to the Past Part One Topic Index or the "All Part 1 Questions" pages. See "Older Materials" for that. This applies just to the past couple of years.

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0The four I.D. checking questions.   (Not really part of Part 1)

1.  Your Work or Your Studies  

2Your Hometown

3.  Your Home (Your Accommodation) 

One of the three topics above is a compulsory topic and you will be asked 3 to 5 questions on this topic. You will then be asked questions on two of the topics from below. (Again, 3 to 5 questions per topic).   See Note 69

4.  Reading / Books

5.  Visitors

6.  Chocolate

7.  Colours

8.  Celebrities

9.  Teachers

10.  Bags  

11.  Writing  

12.  Holidays

13.  Leisure Activities at Places Near Water  

14.  Photography     

15.  Family

16.  Carrying Things  N

17.  Music  N

18.  Shoes  N

19.  Friends  N

20Mirrors  N

21.  Housework  N

22.  Dreams  N

23.  Robots  N

24.  Television  N

25.  Watches  N

26.  Indoor Games  N

27.  Public Transportation  N

28.  Your High School  N  

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1.  Your Work or Your Studies  

 

1a) Your Work

See also ALL_PART_1_QUESTIONS 1b. Your Work

The questions listed under "Questions Possibly Still in Use" were used in recent testing periods and some of these questions are possibly still being used, even if they haven't been reported yet. Since 'Your Work' is a high probability topic if you are working (or usually work), then you should think about all the questions in both groups.

  • What work do you do?

  • Why did you choose to do that type of work (or, that job)?  See Note 37

  • Is that a popular job in your country?

  • (Similar to above)  Is that a popular choice of job in your country?

  • What do you usually do at work?

  • (Similar to above) Can you describe your work?

  • (Similar to above) What do you do in that job?

  • (Similar to above) What are your (main) responsibilities at work?

  • Do you enjoy your work?

  • What part of your work do you like the most?

  • Does it require hard work?

  • What's the hardest thing about your job?

  • (Possibly) Which do you think is harder, being a student or working in a paid job? *  N

  • What are your (work) plans for the future?

  • Do you find your job stressful?

  • What do you usually do after work?

Questions Possibly Still in Use

  • (Possibly) Where do you work?

  • Do you prefer working alone or in a group?

  • (Similar to above) Do you prefer working with people. or on your own?

  • Do you prefer to work in the mornings or in the afternoons?   

  • (Similar to above) When do you think you work more efficiently, in the mornings or in the afternoons? 

  • Do you think it's good for teenagers to have part-time jobs?

  • Is your work the same as what you imagined it would be before you started this job?    See Note 42

  • (Similar to above) Is your work the same as what you imagined it would be when you chose this type of job? 

  • Is your work (or, your job) difficult?

  • (Similar to above) Is your work easy to do?

  • Did you have many jobs before this one?

  • Do you plan to stay in this job for a long time?

  • (Similar to above) Do you plan to continue doing that work in the future? (or, that type of work / or, that job)?

  • (Similar to above) Would you like to continue doing that work in the future? (or, that type of work / or, that job)

  • (Possibly the question above is this) Would you prefer to continue doing the same job, or would you prefer to change your job?   See Note 16

  • Do you feel your work is interesting?

  • What would you say is the most interesting part of your work? 

  • Do you think your work (or, job) is important?

  • What would you say is the most important part of your job?

  • Do you think your work will be more important in the future?

  • Do you see any changes in your job in the future?

  • (Similar to above) Do you think there will be future changes in your field of work?

  • (Similar to above) Do you think your way of working or work culture will change in future?

  • (Similar to above) Do you think your work pattern will change in the future? (Why?)

  • Do you think your job will still be relevant in the future?

  • Do you feel comfortable in your job? (Possibly the real word used was "secure", not "comfortable".)

  • Do you like the people you work with?

  • Does your job pay well?

  • Would you recommend it to others?

  • Which do you think is more important, the work you are doing or the people you work with?

  • (Different to above) Which do you enjoy more, the work you are doing or people you work with?

  • Do you feel your co-workers (or, colleagues) have confidence in you?


1b) Your Studies

See also ALL_PART_1_QUESTIONS 1a. Your Studies

Notes: For high school students or recent high school graduates who have not yet started university, the word "school" or the words, "high school" or "secondary school" will be used instead of "university". If you are no longer a student now and have not yet started to work, the questions will be about the last time you were a student, either high school or university, and the questions will be asked in the past tense. For high school students (or recent high school graduates), the word "subjects" (plural) will be used. For university students, the word "subject" will be used, which has basically the same meaning as the American, "major".

There are probably two or three different sets of questions for this topic, on two or three different cards in the examiner's question book. I have no way of knowing which questions belong to which set so all the "studies" questions are grouped together here.

The questions listed under "Questions Possibly Still in Use" were used in recent testing periods and some of these questions are possibly still being used, even if they haven't been reported yet. Since 'Your Studies' is a high probability topic if you are a student (or have not started work yet), then you should think about all the questions in both groups.

  • What subject are you studying? ("What's your major?" in American English, for a Bachelor's degree)

  • (Esp. for high school stds.) What subjects are you studying?

  • Why did you choose to study that subject? / Why did you choose to study those subjects? (See Note and Note 37)

  • (Similar to above) Why do you think people choose such a subject in your country?

  • (Similar to above) Is that a very popular subject for university students in your country? 

  • Do you feel that's a difficult subject to study?

  • What's the hardest thing about your subject?

  • (Possibly) Which do you think is harder, being a student or working in a paid job? *  N

  • Do you find being a student to be stressful?

  • What do you usually do after class?

  • What do you plan to do (or, hope to do) after you graduate?

  • (Similar to above)  Do you have any future plans involving your subject (= your major)?

  • (Similar to above) What work do you plan to (or, want to) do after you finish your education?

  • (Similar to above) What are your future career plans?

  • (Similar to above) What kind of work are you planning to do in the future?

Questions Possibly Still in Use

  • (Esp. for high school stds.) What's your favourite subject?

  • Where are you studying?

  • Do you prefer to study in the mornings or in the afternoons? 

  • Do you prefer to study alone, or in a group?

  • When did you start studying ____ (your subject)?

  • What have you learned from (studying) that subject?    See Note 55

  • Do you like XXX (your subject)?  See Note 45

  • What's the most enjoyable part of your studies?

  • (Similar to above) What's your favourite subject?

  • (Similar to above) What subject (class) that you are studying is the most enjoyable for you?

  • What other subjects do you study? (Why?)  See Note 11

  • What's the most interesting thing about your subject(s)?

  • Is your subject the same as what you imagined (or, expected) it would be before you started studying it?   See Note 42

  • (Similar to above) Is your subject the same as what you imagined it would be when you chose it? 

  • Is it very difficult (or, easy) to study that?

  • (Similar to above, referring to multiple subjects) Do you find them difficult to study?  See Note 45

  • How do you study that subject?  

  • Do you attend classes every day? 

  • (Possibly) What are the differences between liberal arts students and science students?   See Note 32

  • Which do you think is more important in the education process (or, in the classroom), the teacher or the students?

  • Which is more important for you at school, the teachers or the other students?   See Note 39

  • Who gives you more help, your teachers or your classmates?   See Note 31

  • For you, where is the best place to study? (Why?)

  • Do you get annoyed when people disturb your study?

 

2Your Hometown

See also ALL_PART_1_QUESTIONS 3. Your Hometown

Note: Sometimes the topic is specifically about the city or place that you are living in now, regardless of whether it is your hometown or not. Therefore, instead of the word, 'hometown' in these questions, the examiner might actually ask you about where you are living now.

  • Where do you live now?

  • (Possibly) What part of your city do you live in?

  • Where is your hometown located?

  • (Similar to above) What part of your country do you live in?

  • Did you grow up there?

  • (Similar to above) Where did you grow up? (= What is your hometown?)

  • Can you (or, could you) describe your hometown a little?

  • (Similar to above) Please describe your city.

  • Did you like living in your hometown?

  • (Similar to above) Do you like it?

  • What is your favorite place in your hometown?

  • What would you say is the most interesting part of your hometown?

  • Is there anything special about this place?

  • Do you have any special celebrations in your hometown?

  • Would you say it's a good place to live in?

  • Would you recommend it to your friends?

  • Is it a good place for families with kids?  See Note 44 & See Note

  • Do you think you'll always be living in your hometown?

  • (Similar to above) Do you plan to continue living there in the future?

  • (Similar to above) Will you go back (to live in) your hometown in the future?

  • (Similar to above) Would you like to continue living there in the future?

  • (Similar to above) Would you like to live there (or, here) for a long time?

  • (Similar to above, but different) Do you plan to live there (or, here) for a long time?


Questions Possibly Still in Use

  • Is the (public) transport system in your hometown convenient to use?

  • Where would you take a visitor to your hometown? (Why?)

  • (Similar to above)  What would you show a visitor to your hometown?

  • (Similar to above)  What would you recommend a visitor to your hometown see and do?

  • Is that a big place or a small place?

  • Has your hometown changed much in the past few years (or, decades)?

  • What do you like most about your hometown?  

  • Would you say your hometown is (or, was) a good place to grow up?  See Note 44

  • What facilities and services are available in your hometown?

  • Would you like to return to your hometown when you retire?

  • Would you like to live in the countryside?

  • (Probably the question above is really this) Would you like to live in the countryside when you retire?

  • (Similar to above) Would you like to live in the countryside when you are old?

  • Do you like living in _______ (your hometown, or where you are living now)?

  • What are the good points and the bad points about living here/there?

  • (Possibly) Is there anything you dislike about it?

  • Has it changed much since you were a child? 

  • Can you suggest how it could be improved?

  • Would you say it has good facilities?

  • Does it have good educational facilities?   

  • Would you say it's a suitable place for young people to live?  

  • Do you have many neighbours?

  • Do you know your neighbours (or the local people) very well?

 

3.  Your Home (Your Accommodation) 

 See also ALL_PART_1_QUESTIONS 2. Your Home (Your Accommodation)

  • Do you live in a house, or a flat (= an apartment)?  See Note 6

  • Could you describe it a little?

  • What do you think are the advantages of living in a ______ ? (flat or house, whichever you live in).

  • What can you see when you look out your window at home?

  • Which part of your home do you like best?

  • (Similar to above) Which is your favourite room?

  • Is there anything you don't like about that room?

  • (Similar to above) Is there anything you would like to change about your home?

  • (Similar to above) Would you like to change where you live?  See Note 61

  • Do you plan to live (or, to continue living) there for a long time?

  • Do you live far from here (the examination room)?

  • What is the living environment like around your home?  See Note 8

  • (Similar to above) What facilities and services are there in your neighbourhood (= near your home)?

  • Is your home near a bus stop?

  • Are there many shops near your home?  

Questions Possibly Still in Use

  • How long have you lived (or, been living) there?

  • Has your family (or, have you) always lived there?  See Note 1

  • How do you like where you are living now?

  • (Similar to above) Do you like your home?

  • (Similar to above) Do you enjoy living there?

  • What's the most enjoyable part of living there?

  • Would you say your home is a comfortable place to live?

  • Would you prefer to live in a big house or a small one?

  • (Possibly) Do you get along well with your neighbours?

  • (Possibly) What types of shops are available in your area?

  • Did you live in a house / flat when you were a child? (The examiner will probably use the word that applies to what you are living in now.)

  • (Similar to above) What type of place did you live in when you were a child?

  • Did you like the place you lived in as a child?

  • What are the differences between the place you live in now and the one you lived in as a child?

  • Would you like to move to a different home?

  • What sort of home would you like to live in, in the future?

  • Will you move to (live in) a different flat / house? (Or: Will you be moving to (live in) a different flat / house?)

  • What are the differences between the place you live now and where you have lived before?

  • In the future, what type of home would you like to live in?  See Note 17

 

4Reading / Books 

 

5.  Visitors


6.  Chocolate

 

7.  Colours

 

8.  Celebrities

See Note 66

 

9.  Teachers

 

10.  Bags

 

11.  Writing  

 

12.  Holidays  

 

13.  Leisure Activities at Places Near Water

 

14.  Photography

 

15.  Family 

The examiner will probably first ask you if it's OK to ask you questions about your family. You are allowed to say "No" if you prefer not to talk about your family and the examiner will choose a different topic.

  • Do you live with your family (your parents)?

  • Do you think it's good to live with one's family?

  • How often do you see your family?

  • How much time do you spend with your family?

  • Is the amount of time you spend with your family now the same as it was before?

  • What do you do when you are together?

  • Which of your family members do you like the most?

  • Which family member do you think you are most similar to?

  • Is the idea of family very important in your country?

  • Which is more important to you, your friends or your family?

 

16.  Carrying Things  N

See Note 2


17.  Music
  N


18.  Shoes
  N


19.  Friends
  N


20.  Mirrors
  N

      

 


21.  Housework
  N


 

22.  Dreams  N

 

23.  Robots  N

Note the pronunciation of this word. It is not pronounced the same as the name, "Robert".  A small number of people pronounce it as, "row-bow" (the French pronunciation) but that pronunciation is rarely heard these days.

 

24.  Television  N


25.  Watches
  N


26.  Indoor Games
  N

See Note 5

27.  Public Transportation  N

  • What forms of public transport do you have in your hometown?

  • What forms of public transport do you usually use?

  • How often do you use public transport?

  • What's the farthest you have traveled using public transport?

 

28.  Your High School  N

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Note 1

The wording is unclear but I think the question is something like that. It might be, "Has your family lived in many other apartments/houses?" or, "Has your family moved often to different living places?" In that question, "family" means your parents & siblings but it could possibly include earlier generations of your family living in the same house, for example, 150 years ago. 

Note that the examiner is most likely to use the British form, "have your family", not the American form, "has your family". The British consider family as "them" or plural while Americans consider it as one group, "it". When you speak or write, both are correct.

Note 2

Make sure you know the difference between the two verbs, "bring" and "take".

 

"Bring" is associated with "here"

but

"take" is associated with the word, "there".

 

Also:

"bring" and "here" go with the verb, "come"

but

"take" and "there" go with the verb, "go"

 

An example of "bring" (spoken to a man at work on a rainy day by one of his colleagues): "Did you bring your umbrella today?"

An example of "take" (spoken by a man's wife at home, after work): "Did you take your umbrella to work today?"

 

The verb "carry" can be used both with, "going there" and "coming here".

 

Note 3

Have you learned how to play a musical instrument?

This question is present perfect tense ("have you learned") but I think the past tense ("did you learn") is usually used in Part 1 of the speaking test. But that does not mean that the present perfect tense is never used.

If the present perfect tense is used, you should first say, "Yes, I have" or, "No I haven't" or something like that. Following that initial reply, if you say yes then it would be a good idea to say when you learned it but you don't have to say that. If you do say when you learned it, you need to use the past tense such as, "I started learning the piano when I was 8 and I continued to to study it for about two years."

If the question was in fact asked using the past tense ("did you learn") then a past tense time must be included in the question. For example, "Did you learn to play a musical instrument when you were a child?" or, "Did you learn to play a musical instrument at school?"

Note 4

Do you think everyone (or, anyone) can play a musical instrument?

This is the wording that was reported for this question. But I think that wording is might be inaccurate.

If that wording is accurate, then of course not everyone can play a musical instrument  – only people who have learned to play an instrument can play an instrument!

So the real wording is most likely to be, "Do you think everyone (or, anyone) can learn to play a musical instrument?"

Note 5

  1. Although it is possible that the words, "indoor activity" or "indoor activities" might be used in a question, the topic is mainly about indoor games.

  1. This topic was previously used in 2012. See here for those questions.

  1. Below is a copy of the notes I wrote in 2012 for this topic.

----------------------------------

Indoor Games

  • For some of these questions, the examiner might just say "games", or he might say, "indoor games", or he might say, "electronic games", or simply "activities". This is not clear yet but keep in mind that the topic is "Indoor Games". Listen closely to the exact words that are used in the questions.

  • The examiners might use the term, "computer games" or they might use, "electronic games", which includes hand-held electronic games on a variety of electronic devices. Or they might use the older term, "video games".

  • This topic is not about "indoor sports"! What is an "indoor sport", anyway? It's hard to think of any sports that are only or almost only played indoors. Ping-pong is probably played outdoors as much as it is played indoors. Basketball, especially professional basketball, is usually played indoors (on a nice smooth wooden floor that will not tear your skin if you fall over) but it is also played outdoors in many places. The only example I can think of for an indoor sport is snooker, and the related games of billiards, pool, 8-ball, 9-ball etc. If a snooker table is left outdoors permanently, it will become damaged by rain.

  • This topic is about various games that are usually played indoors but which can also be played outdoors in good weather. A good example of that is chess, played in a public park. You can also play a computer game on your laptop computer or some other device while sitting in the park.

  • The game of snooker (and similar games) is one example of a game that is also called a "sport" that I think would be acceptable to talk about for this topic.

  • There might be a game that does not have an English name (such as weiqi and majiang) or a game that you don't know the English name for. In both of these cases, you should try to give the examiner a very short explanation of the game.

Don't forget, this is a test of communication ability, not just a test of language. To simply say "weiqi" or "mahjiang" is not good communication, although some English speakers do know what "mahjiang" means because many old ladies in the English-speaking countries like to play mahjiang with their friends. (It is pronounced as "mahjong" in English.) If you don't know the English name of a game but successfully communicate what it is, you will get points for that, specifically vocabulary points! This is called "paraphrasing" and it is judged under the Vocabulary sub-score.

  • See HERE for some vocabulary and internet links to websites on the topic of "games", especially indoor games.

-----------------------------------

Note 6

If you are living in a dormitory at the moment, it is perfectly suitable to say that.

Note 7

You need to have a clear understanding of the difference between a "game" and a "sport". Although most, but not all, sports are also games, only a minority of games are also sports. In other words, the majority of games are not sports.

Although most children's outdoor games involve physical activity, such as running, that does not mean they are "sports". For example, a common kids' game that is played outdoors is "Hide and Seek". It is (usually) played outdoors and the kids run away quickly and hide. Another common kids' outdoor game is "Tag', which is a kind of "chasing game".

Boys play marbles on the ground outside (although it could also be played indoors) but this game requires skill more than physical exercise.

Girls play several physical and skill-based outdoor games, such as Hopscotch and various games involving a long skipping rope.

Can you include in your answer a sport that is also a game? Certainly. For example, many children play soccer and some play tennis. But I doubt if basketball is a good choice. People usually only start playing basketball when they are teenagers and, don't forget, a teenager is no longer a child.

Some primary school children have to engage in relay races (or competitions) in their Physical Education (PE) class. These are team competitions but it is not very suitable to call such an activity a "sport". It is also not very suitable to call a relay competition a "game".

See also Games and Sports Facilities

Note 8

That question might be, "What's your neighbourhood like?"  Your "neighbourhood is the area around your home, perhaps to a radius of 1 km.

Note 11

This is probably mostly for high school students but it is possible university students will also be asked about other subjects.

Note 16

"Would you like to change your job?"

There are several things to understand about this question.

1) If you had just said that you enjoy your job (or, your work) then this question is unlikely to be asked, but it is still possible.

2) The most important point is this – someone has reported the question as, "Would you like to change your job in the future". This meaning is slightly different to the question, "Would you like to change your job?" That is, when "in the future" is added, the questions is similar to, "Do you want to change your job in the future?" or, "Do you plan to / hope to change your job in the future?" But when the words, "in the future" are not included, it means something like, "Would you be happier if you had a different job (now)?" or, "Do you wish you had a different job (now)?"

To repeat: The question, "Would you like to change your job?" most commonly means, change it NOW. It means the same as, "Would you be happier if you had a different job (now)?", "Would you prefer to have a different job (now)?", "Would you change your job (now), if you could?", "Do you wish you had a different job (now)?" etc.

The vast majority of times when a native English speaker says, "I would like to ...", without adding "in the future",  he or she means that he or she would be happier if the present situation (now) were different. For example, "I would like to be younger". It would be nonsensical to talk about being younger and add the words, "in the future"! "I would like to be younger" means the same as, "I wish I were younger ".

Some learners of English (in China, at least) mistakenly assume that, "Would you like ...?" is always (and only) referring to the future, when this is not true.

3) On the other hand, it is possible that the question, "Would you like to change your job in the future?" is really being used. That question is similar to, "Do you want to change your job in the future?", and also similar to, "Do you plan to change your job in the future?", "Do you intend to change your job in the future?" or, "Do you hope to change your job in the future?"

Overall, I am not sure what the real wording is for this question. It's quite possible that two different questions are being used, one referring to now and one referring to the future. (I think two or three different sets of "Your Work" questions are being used.)

3) If you are doing the IELTS test with the intention or hope of migrating, for example to Australia, then almost certainly you will "change your job", meaning you will change your employer but you might not necessarily change your occupation, such as computer programmer. In this situation, it is somewhat unsuitable to talk about "liking to" or "wanting to" to change your job or your occupation in the future because you will have little choice.

Note 17

Although I wrote in Note 16 that the majority of the time, native English speakers don't say, "Would like to" when referring to the future, sometimes they do. The question, "In the future, what type of home would you like to live in?" (= "What type of home would you like to live in, in the future?) has a similar  meaning to, "What type of home do you want to live in, in the future?"

So why would, "Would like to" be used instead of, "want to"? Firstly, "want to" is more emphatic and similar to "plan to" but most people simply have "hopes" about where they will live. Secondly, "would like to" is used because it sounds gentler i.e., it is less emphatic or less aggressive sounding – it is more "genteel" or more "polite" sounding.

Note 19

Would you like to teach children how to swim?

Possibly that question is worded as, "Would you be willing to teach children how to swim?" This has a slightly different meaning to the first question.

Note 20

Do you think it's important to learn how to swim? = Do you think it's important to know how to swim? = Do you think it's important to be able to swim?

Note 21

the sea = the ocean

Note 31

If the question is worded that way, without specifying "help with your studies", then it is possible to say that your classmates give you more help concerning your personal life, lending you money etc. but your teachers give you more help concerning your studies.

Note 32

This question was reported by one candidate so it might not be in the examiners' question book. (Examiners only use questions from the question book in Part 1.)

Note 37

This is an important question and you have a 50% chance of getting this question. See some important notes here, on the website. Those notes are about the question, "Why did you choose to study that?" The question, "Why did you choose that type of work (or, that job)?" is grammatically the same.

Note 39

Which is more important for you at school, the teachers or the other students?

Possibly the question is asked in general terms like that. Alternatively, the question might emphasize your study, i.e., "In your studies, which is more important for you, the teachers or the other students?" The first question could possibly be answered in terms of your social life, your friends at school.

Note 42

Possibly the word, "hoped" is used instead of "imagined".

Note 43

The word, "handicrafts" might be used, or the words, "hand-made things" might be used, or possibly both are used, in different questions. This is not clear yet.  In fact, a "hand-made thing" and a "handicraft" are very close in meaning. The meaning of a, "hand-made thing" is something like, "made by a person, not made in a factory". The meaning of a, "handicraft" is focusing more on the creative or artistic aspect of making this thing, or the idea that it requires skills to make this thing.

The word, "handicraft" is sometimes used to mean the thing that is made by hand. However, the most common usage of the word is, "a handicraft" = an activity or a skill; the activity of making something by hand that requires some skill and/or artistic ability, such as needlework or making pottery by hand.

Note 44

Obviously, you need to talk about what people need and want when they are growing up, (People stop growing at about the age of 18, or earlier.) The question is not the same as, "Would you say it's a good place to live?", which refers to people of any age. Therefore, it is not suitable to talk about the infrastructure in your hometown such as roads and bridges when describing what people need and want when they are growing up.

Note 45

For high school students, the examiner might choose to ask this question about one of the subjects that you said you are studying (or studied). For example, "Is physics very difficult to study?" [Or, "Do you like physics?" for the question, "Do you like ...?"]

Note 48

This question and the one following it might be worded as "How has it changed?", not "How much has it changed?"

Note 50

If the words, "to do" are not included, it is possible to talk about what kinds of dancing people like to watch, not do. But you still should not ignore the point about what forms of dancing people like to do.

Some people in China give the example of "square dancing" but this is a mistake. Square dancing is a particular form of a quite old style of dancing in a group that is done in the West, a form that is still popular with country people and in primary schools, where they teach the kids how to do it. Those Chinese people are translating 广场跳舞 (town square dancing) when they say, "square dancing". Just call it "town square dancing" and try to give a short description of what it means. There is no English name for it, as far as I know.

[Possibly the English "square dancing" is also derived from "town square" but since the group doing the dancing are in a square formation, I always assumed that was where the name came from. In this form of dancing, either the males and then the females move around the square, changing partners as they go.]

Note 51

It is possible that the examiners are not using the words, "primary school" and, instead, are asking, "Can you describe your first school?" or, "Can you describe the first school you attended?" If this is the case, "my primary school" is the correct name for it but the examiners are testing to see if you know that name for it. "Elementary school" is the American style of "primary school" and  is not wrong but in the IELTS test, using the British English style is best. Don't say your first school was a kindergarten because Westerners don't consider kindergartens to be schools.

Note 52

The question, "Do you prefer to write letters, or emails?" is really asking which you prefer in general, not just when communicating with your friends. However, if the examiner announces at the beginning of this topic that the topic is, "Communicating with friends" and not simply, "Communication" then you could assume that the question is specifically asking about writing letters or emails to your friends. Always pay attention to the exact wording when the examiner announces the name of the topic.

Note 54

If the question does not include the words, "besides chatting face-to-face" (or similar words) then most people should include that in the answer. But you also should include other methods such as talking on your phone, texting on your phone (= sending text messages), sending text messages on an app such as Skype or Wechat, sending emails or letters, and using online video chatting services such as Skype and Wechat

Note 55

If you have already completed your studies (either high school or university), this question will probably be, "What did you learn from studying that subject?" For high school students, the examiner will probably choose one of the several subjects that you say you are studying or studied, if you have finished high school. Basically, the examiner wants a summary of what you learned or the contents of the subject, possibly with a few specific examples of what you learned.

Note 56

Below is a copy of an email I sent to someone about the topic of "computers".

Question:

I've seen a question in the IELTS question pool, which is in the topic of 'computer'. It is like 'In what ways do people use computers in China?' I'm not sure whether this refers to how people use computers (e.g. use computers to watch TV or documents' editing) or it means how to make computers work ( e.g. Connect to wifi) 

My Reply

On the topic of Computers (plural) in Part 1, that sort of question is referring to the various purposes of using computers, not the various technical ways of using computers. Anyway, there are not many different technical ways of using a computer – most computers work the same way.

Your question also seems to indicate that you are confusing the two different words, "computers" and "the internet". These are two distinctly different things, although they are connected in some but not all cases. For example, people today can connect to the internet by using a mobile phone, which is not classified as a "computer".

If the question is, "In what ways do people use the internet?" then, again, the question is USUALLY referring to the purpose of using the internet rather than the variety of technical ways of using it, especially if it is a Part 1 question. If the question is about the different ways of connecting to the internet, then the word "connect" or "go onto" would most likely be used, not just the word, "use".

Different purposes i.e.,  usages of the internet are: 1) Entertainment especially viewing entertainment videos, listening to music audio files, connecting to real-time TV and radio broadcasts, reading entertainment articles such as gossip articles, and playing online games etc. 2) Personal Communication such as using emails, text message exchange services, direct streaming audio-video services such as Wechat, and expressing personal opinions on message boards 3) Getting information such as the news, which includes using non-entertainment audio-visual files & by reading webpages 4) Studying, either private study by researching information on the internet or more formal study such as taking an online university course, which might involve sending assignments by email or face-to-face discussion with a tutor via a service such as Wechat 5) Making financial or business transactions such as internet banking, buying & selling shares on the stock market, online shopping, making online hotel or airline reservations etc. 6) Exchanging computer files and data with others, including photos, audio-visual files, software, e-books, and data (such as my Updates service) etc. The internet is also used by governments & companies for sending and receiving real-time data such as the direct streaming of the data from surveillance cameras.

Of course, computers themselves can be used for various purposes without being connected to the internet. One of the most common uses of computers is to write documents, including letters that are printed out and mailed by regular mail ("snail mail"). Other common usages are the printing-out of documents or previously downloaded webpages, and using a scanner to photocopy a document, a page from a book or a photograph.

Your question was a good one, especially since it illustrates the confusion that some people have between the two words, "computer" and "internet", I will copy it and my reply to my Updates notes.

Note 61

The wording, "Would you like to change where you live?" can have two different meanings: a) "Would you like to make some changes to the place that you are living in?" or, b) "Would you like to change your address?" = "Would you like to move to a different place?"  Meaning a) is the meaning that most people report. But a question about moving to a different place has also been reported.

Note 62

Your answer could possibly include what you are afraid of doing in the evenings.

Note 66

Most people have reported that the word, "celebrity" is used in this topic but some people have reported that the more general term, "famous person" was used, at least in one or more of the questions.

All celebrities are famous people but it is not suitable to describe all famous people as celebrities. Well-known entertainers such as movie stars, well-known pop singers, TV hosts and sometimes sports stars can be called "celebrities". This is especially true if articles about their personal lives, or their personalities, are written in popular magazines or if they give interviews on entertaining talk shows on TV. Many people recognize the faces of celebrities because we have seen photographs of them quite often.

However some people are famous for more serious reasons, such as being a high-level political leader, a leader in business, a renowned academic, an author of a serious but well-known book, or someone who has done a great deed such as being an inventor or scientist who made a great discovery. In most cases, it is not very suitable to describe these people as "celebrities", especially if people only know their names but generally do not recognize their faces, and if people do not know much about their personal lives or their personalities because these well-known people have never been interviewed by the media.

Note 67

Most likely the question used in this Part 1 is, "Do you like taking photographs?" However, the second question is possible although it would be more suitable as a Part 3 question because it is more suitable for expansion and discussion.

"Photography" has a broader, more detailed meaning than, "taking photographs". The word, "photography" can mean one or all of the following aspects: Taking photographs; Learning about the different types of cameras and equipment that can be used for taking different types of photos in different types of situations; Developing photos in darkrooms (when rolls of film are used); Making changes to digital photos using software such as Photoshop; and Appreciating the photos of other people as works of art.

Note 68

Have you ever been to a place that had a lot of photographs?

Possibly that question is expressed as, "Do you ever go to places that have a lot of photographs?" This question is more suitable when talking about your habits or lifestyle.

Four examples of this are:

i) Photograph exhibitions that might be held at places such as art galleries, public libraries or a public place such as a town square or park. Often the photos are all based on a single theme such as an event in history. Photograph competitions are similar to that. 

ii) Museums, especially history museums usually have a lot of old photos.

iii) Newspaper archive offices usually have a lot of photos but the average person rarely visits these places.

and

iv) Places on the internet that have collections of photos. There are many of these. People don't physically go to these places  – they 'go' to the websites on the internet.

Note 69

In previous years, the 'rule' or custom was that one of Topics 1 to 3 is compulsory, and that only one of them is used for each candidate. But since 2016 I have seen several people reporting, in detail, two of these topics in their test. So it is possible that this rule is no longer being strictly applied.