Updated June 29, 2020


Part 1 Topics and Questions

For The IELTS Speaking Tests, MAY to the end of SEPTEMBER, 2020




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.


The four ID checking questions.   (Not really part of Part 1)

  1. Your Work or Study

  2. Your Living Area

  3. Your Home / 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)

  1. Art 

  2. History 

  3. Water Sports   

  4. Pens and Pencils 

  5. Running 

  6. Beautiful Scenery / Views 

  7. Desserts 

  8. Numbers 

  9. Science 

  10. Laughter 

  11. Spending Time Alone  

  12. Taking a Break

  13. Patience

  14. Sleep  N

  15. Fish  N

  16. Insects  N

  17. Age  N

  18. Perfume  N  Possibly not in use May-Sep 2020

  19. Drinking Water  N

  20. Street Markets  N  Possibly not in use May-Sep 2020

  21. Parks  N   Possibly not in use May-Sep 2020

  22. Travel  N

  23. News & Newspapers  N

  24. Tidiness  N

Note that there should be a total of 26 to 28 topics


Possible extra topics are: Your Hometown; Public Transport, Photographs; Celebrities; Colours; Cooking; Handwriting; Public Gardens; Plans; Plants; Public Holidays; The Sky; Social Media; Visiting Friends & Family;




You should check the page Vocab_Lists_Index.htm to see if there is any useful vocabulary for each of the topics listed below.





See important information here and click the link for "student" or "work" at the bottom of that page. The grammar points apply both to students and people working, of course.



Main Questions

Possible Other Questions



Main Questions


Possible Other Questions




Possibly the examiner will ask about, "your city" or "your hometown" instead of "your area".


See some extra vocabulary here


Main Questions

Possible Other Questions


3. Your Home / Accommodation


4 Art 


See Note 7 


5 History   

See some vocabulary


6.  Water Sports  

See some Vocab

See Note 45


7Pens and Pencils   


8.  Running 


9Beautiful Scenery / Views   


10.  Desserts  

This topic might be called, "Cakes" or "Sweet Food".


11 Numbers     

See some vocabulary

See also this topic in 2011


12 Science    

See also this topic in 2016 and in 2011




See Note 58 


14Spending Time Alone   


See also this topic in 2015


15.  Taking a Break   


See Note 44

16.  Patience


See also this topic in 2019


17.  Sleep  N


See also this topic in 2019


18.  Fish  N


19.  Insects  N


Possibly this is really a Part 2 topic. Or a similar Part 2 topic will come soon. Such a topic was reported last year but I thought it was a mistake.


Some vocab


20.  Age  N


See also this topic in 2008 although the questions seem to be different this time.


21.  Perfume  N  Possibly not in use May-Sep 2020


Since this topic would have been used until the end of January, 2020, it is very possible that it has mistakenly been reported as being in use in May.


See also this topic in 2019


22.  Drinking Water  N


See also this topic in 2019

See some vocabulary here


This topic is about a particular type of water, the water that you drink. This is called, "drinking water". Note how it is pronounced, with the stress on the word, "drinking".  See Note 31 for the use of the word, "drink"


23.  Street Markets  N  Possibly not in use May-Sep 2020


Since this topic would have been used until the end of January, 2020, it is very possible that it has mistakenly been reported as being in use in May.


This topic might be introduced as "Shopping".

See also the various past usages of the topic "Shopping" here.

See also the topic "Street Markets" in 2019


24 Parks  N   Possibly not in use May-Sep 2020


In September 2019 there was a new topic that I called, "Amusement Parks". However, it is possible that this name was a mistake and the topic was the more general, "Parks" and that there were just one or two questions about amusement parks. If it really was, "Parks" then this topic will still be used until the end of May 2020 only, and probably will not continue until September 2020. On the other hand, if the topic in Sep. 2019 really was, "Amusement Parks" then "Parks" would be a different, new topic that will continue until September, 2020.


See some vocabulary about Parks.



25.  Travel  N


See also some vocabulary


26.  News & Newspapers   N


This might be either the topic of "News", "Newspapers & Magazines", or Reading"


See also this  in 2018 and this in 2009


27.  Tidiness   N



Note 1


Where do you usually study?


This question means, "Where do you do such activities as studying your textbooks, writing essays and class assignments etc?"  For example, "I usually study at my desk in my bedroom" or, "I usually study in the university library." The inclusion of the word, "usually" indicates that the question has this meaning.


If the question is simply, "Where do you study?" then it could have two possible meanings, either, a) What educational institute or school do you attend? or, b) Where do you do your private study, such as writing essays?

Note 2

"Would like" Questions

Would you like to be a teacher?

Most likely this question uses the words, "Would you like" but possibly the question is, "Do you want to be a teacher?" These two are not always exactly the same! See HERE for an explanation.

Note 7

"Painting" and "drawing" are activities (verbal nouns) that people do. These are from the verbs, "to paint" and "to draw". But "a painting" and "a drawing" (paintings and drawings) are nouns, the things that are created by those activities.

 Note 12

This question might be,"Would you say that's a good company to work for?"

Note 14

If this topic is just "Sport" or "Sports" I suggest you be very careful about using any of the following words in your answers: "exercise", "exercises" or "gym". This is because "sport" and "exercise" are not the same thing. Although most sports involve physical exercise, exercise itself is not considered to be a sport.

Note 15

Do you like sports?

This can mean either, a) "Do you like to play any sports?"  b) "Do you like to watch sports, for example, on TV?" or, c) both a & b.

This question is asking you to express your feelings. If you simply say, "... because I want to keep fit" that is not wrong but it is not really expressing your feelings.

Note 18

Would you like to change the place where you work?

This probably means, "Would you like to change your job?" = "Would you like to get a different job?" = change your employer.

The question might be expressed as, "Have you thought about changing job?"

Note 19

How much study do you do every week?

This most likely means, "How many hours of private study (e.g., at home) do you do?

However, it might mean, "How many hours of classes do you have every week?"

Note 20

Do you like your school / university?

This might be expressed as, "Do you like your current learning (or studying) environment?"

Note 21

Would you like to change your school (or university)?

This means, "Would you like to change the school (or university) you attend and go to a different school (or university)?"

The question might be expressed as, "Have you thought about changing your school (or university?"

Note 22

Do you do anything that especially helps you to study?

This is referring to your private study.

The question might be, "Is there anything that especially helps you when you study?"

Note 23

How do you think you could improve your efficiency as a student?

This might be expressed as, "What would (or, could) help you study better?"

Note 24

Do you do anything that especially helps you in your work?

The question might be, "Is there anything that especially helps you in your work?"

Note 25

Where are you living (where do you live) at the moment?

This is asking for the name of the place (the city or town). You should also add what part of your country this is in if it is not where you are doing the test.

Two common errors that people make when answering this are:

i) Saying the province instead of the hometown. For example, "My hometown is Heilongjiang". That's your home province, not your hometown. Of course, you can and probably should include the name of the province when you say where it is. An example of a good answer to the question is: "It's a small city in the north of China called ..... That's about 100 kilometers north of Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province."

Note that in English we first say the city, then the province or state. For example, we say, "Harbin, Heilongjiang Province." That's the opposite to the way Chinese people speak.

ii) "It's north of China". That should be, "It's in the north of China. "It's north of China" means it's outside China, for example, in North Korea or Siberia.

Note 26

Have you lived there for a long time?

This might be expressed as, "Have you been living there (for) a long time?", "How long have you been living there?" or,  "How long have you lived there?"

Note 27

Are you planning to move to another area to live?

This wording could be interpreted to mean either, a) "Are you planning to move to a different part of this city or town to live?" or, b) "Are you planning to move to a different part of your country to live?" or even, "Are you planning to move to a different place to live, (including in a different country)?"

The question might also be, "Would you like to move to another area to live?", which is not the same as planning to move.

Note 28

What changes are you expecting to see in this area?

The changes you are expecting in this area could either be improvements or a deterioration in conditions.

Note 31

In English, if we say things like, "I like drinking", "He likes to drink", "He drinks a lot" etc it means "drink alcohol". Therefore, you should say what you drink, such as, "I like drinking water", "I like drinking tea" etc., not simply, "I like drinking".

Note 33

The three words, "exercise", "exercises" and "sport" mean different things, although they are related and the usages sometimes overlap.

See:  vocabulary_lists_6.htm#80. Sport

Note 44

"Having a break" = Taking a break"

Note 45

A note about swimming as a water sport - Although it's not a great "error", I suggest not talking about swimming as a water sport unless you are referring to swimming competitively, i.e., joining a swimming club and entering swimming races. Even if you are referring to swimming up and down a swimming pool, I think of that more as exercising rather than engaging in a sport. There are many other choices of water water that you can choose to talk about.

Note 46

You can "like" a water sport even if you don't do it yourself if you talk about liking watching it, for example, on TV.

Note 47

"Scenery" is a non-count noun. Use "views" or "scenes" as the plural form.

"Beautiful" views/scenery in your hometown can be man-made, such as beautiful architecture; they don't necessarily need to be natural scenes.

Note 48

This means beautiful scenery when you look out the window of your home.

Note 49

Are you good at memorizing numbers?

This question might be, "Are you good at remembering numbers?"

To memorize and to remember have different meanings! When you memorize something, you put it into your "memory bank"; when you remember something, you bring it out of your "memory bank".

Note 50

Some people have reported this question as, "Do you like to laugh? (Do you like laughing?)"

That wording would be a stupid question because when people laugh they are expressing a happy emotion. It's almost like asking, "Do you like to be happy?" Of course everyone likes to be happy.  Many people confuse doing something often with liking to do that something. They are not always the same.

Note 51

Something you "would like to try" is something that you have never done before. If you answer yes, say what water sport and include why you would like to try it. If you answer no, say why not.

Note 52

A "number" can be any of the digits, 0 to 9 but a number can also be a string of digits, such as a phone number or a string of digits that you use as a password for your bank account. Surely one of those is important to you! It could even be a number that changes such as the exchange rate between your country's currency and that of another country, the price of gold, or a certain stock market index, including the price of a particular stock that you own on the stock market.

Note 53

In your culture (or country), do people usually eat dessert at the end of (or, after) dinner?

Instead of the word, "dessert", the examiner might say, "something sweet" in order to see if you know to use the word "dessert". Make sure you know that "dessert" is not pronounced the same as "desert", which is a dry place where nothing much lives.

Note 54

Do you prefer going to natural parks or amusement parks?

This wording has been reported but the expression, "natural park" is not a common collocation. It is possible that the person who reported it was actually asked about national parks. These are quite different to the typical parks in towns and cities. See the vocabulary about Parks.

On the other hand, the word "natural" might be used, since amusement parks are full of man-made structures and are therefore not "places that are full of nature".

Note 55

"Sleep late" = "get up late". It does NOT mean "go to bed late".

Note 56

Do you think old people need as much sleep as young people?

It is possible that the word, "adults" is used instead of "old people" and "children" used instead of "young people". If that is the case, your answer might be different to an answer to the question above.

"Old people" is people over about the age of 60; "young people" usually means people aged from about 13 to 30.

Note 57

One example - bees (and other insects) and pollination.

Note 58

Some notes about laughter -

However, when talking about laughter, for example, why you don't often laugh, it is suitable to say that you don't laugh very much although when you find something (mildly) amusing, you do usually smile. "Amusing" = "mildly funny", "a little humorous" but not funny or humorous enough to make you laugh.

Note 59

Some various types of water that you can buy in convenience stores and supermarkets are -

You should not say that tea or coffee are "types of water". But it is suitable to say that you get a lot of your water from the tea or coffee, fruit juice, soft drinks, beer or other kinds of commercial drinks that are available in the shops. In other words, these beverages are composed mainly of water but are not said to be "types of water". You could even include soup as another way that you get water into your body.

Note 60 

This question might be something like, "How do you feel about being old (or, getting old) one day?

Note 61

This question might be, "Do you like to ready history books?"