Updated Sep. 2, 2010

Notes about some Questions (Page 3)


If some of the notes on this page are possible as a complete answer to the question, be very careful about speaking those exact same words in the test. If many people speak the same sentences in the test, the examiners will eventually know that these sentences are not your original words. This will seriously damage your score! Some examiners might even read this website. Examiners don't like answers that candidates learn, word for word, from a book or from the blackboard in a class because such answers are not real, natural communication. The best idea is to adapt the ideas below (if you want to) by making your own sentences and speaking naturally in the test. (Memorized answers are usually not spoken in a very natural way.) Try to avoid letting the examiner know that you have read this website!


Part 3 Topic 173, Success Note 1

How would you define the word, 'success'?

This question is asking you to give a general definition for the meaning of the word, "success". You should not begin your answer by talking about a definition or description of  your success. After you first give the general answer, then it is suitable, if you want to, for you to add, "For example, for me personally, I will feel I am successful when ..."


Part 2 Topic 177 A good Friend

This question, like most Part 3 questions, is a general question. It is asking about the importance of friends and family for people in general. If you want, you can add your personal feelings about the relative importance of your family and your friends to you. But first answer the general question.

小心! Read this.


Part 2 Topic 178 Story from TV

Describe an interesting story you watched on TV.

                      You should say:

                            When you watched it

                            Who was in the the story

                            What the story was about

                     and explain why you thought it was so interesting. *


                    and explain what you thought about this story. *



Part 3 Topic 182 Advice

In your community, what various kinds of people give advice and what kinds of advice do they give?

"In your community" might be, "in your neighbourhood", "around you", "in your hometown" or "among the people you know".

This question seems to be referring to professional advice-givers and consultants such as doctors, psychologists, religious leaders, lawyers, accountants and other experts. There are also government agencies such as community welfare departments. You could even include fortunetellers in this group! Finally, some communities use old, "wise" community leaders to give advice.


Part 3 Topic 183 Traffic Jam

Strictly speaking, the word "jam" means, "no movement is possible" (动不了). This happens, for example, when there is an accident at a key point on the road and no cars can move past the car(s) that had the accident. 

"Congested traffic" means traffic that is moving, but moving slowly because there are simply too many cars. 

But if you are in very congested traffic and there is a period that is much longer than normal when the traffic does not move (even when the traffic light is green) because there are simply too (过度) many cars, then this situation can also be called a "traffic jam". 

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Part 3 Topic 183 Traffic Note 2

Do you think building more roads (motorways (freeways)/highways) will solve the problem?

If you know (or have a good idea) where your examiner comes from, your choice of which words to use will help your communication a little bit. There are many different words used in English to describe different types of roads and the usage of these words varies from country to country (although every English speaker knows what the most common words mean).

The British use the word "motorway" but North Americans don't and Australians only use it in some circumstances.

Interestingly, although Australian English is basically a variety of British English, most words in Australia connected with cars and roads are the American variety, if there is a difference between British and American English for that thing. (Perhaps this was caused by the fact that American car companies have always had a bigger presence in Australia than British car companies. The presence of American troops in Australia during World War II might also have had an effect on this.)


These words are also suitable to use to describe similar kinds of road systems within a city such as the ring roads that go around Beijing (四环路 等等).



Part 2 Topic 185, A Talk

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Part 2, Topic 186 Song

What kind of song (or melody) was it?

"Remember from your childhood" really means "remember the experience of hearing and/or singing this song in your childhood." It doesn't necessarily mean "a song your learned to sing" although it can be that.

It is possible to "remember a song" even if you have forgotten most of the words from the song. If you remember the name of a song, what the song was about, and if you immediately recognize it when you hear it now, that still qualifies as "a song you remember" even if you can't remember all the words to the song now.

Therefore, the question is not only about a song your actually learned the words to (although such a song would be suitable to talk about), but simply a song you remember from your childhood. It could be a song that your grandmother used to sing as she worked in the kitchen or in her garden or it could be a pop song that was popular 10 or 15 years ago that your older sister or mother used to sing at home.


Part 3, Topic 186 Music

This question is testing your vocabulary for describing feelings. Many adjectives to describe feelings are listed here. Make sure you use the "ed" form of adjective instead of the "ing" form of adjective when using adjectives to describe how people feel. For example, "It makes me (feel) exciting" is incorrect. That should be, "It makes me (feel) excited." For this example (and many other examples), you could also use the verb: "It excites me." You describe the thing as exciting.

But using adjectives is not the only way to describe feelings. In English, we also often use an expression that begins with the words, "a sense of + 名词" such as, "a sense of humour" (幽默感), "a sense of excitement", "a sense of responsibility", "a sense of achievement". See here for a collection of "a sense of" expressions. For the question above, one answer could be, "I think it gives them a sense of closeness with nature". For that example and other example, we could use the word "feeling": "I think it gives them a feeling of closeness with nature" but other expressions commonly (or only) use, "a sense of". 

小心! Read this.


 Part 2 Topic 188 Historic Place


Part 3 Topic 188

What are some of the famous historical places in your country and where they are located?

Don't just say a few names and where they are. This is not very good communication, especially if you use Chinese names. Instead, try to explain what these places are and make a few other comments. (Use the relative pronouns (联系代名词)"which" and "where" to give extra information in complex sentences.) For example, in Beijing, if you just say, "The Forbidden City" and "The Summer Palace" you are not communicating what these places are.

Part 3 Topic 188 Note 2

Do you think film makers should give an accurate portrayal of history (or is it ok to make changes to what really happened for the sake of entertainment?) 

Read a little about the meaning of the expression, "artistic license". The meaning is similar to poetic licence and, when spoken, the intonation is the same, with the second word spoken a little louder than the first word. (American spelling is, "license".)


Part 2 Topic 190, An advertisement

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Part 3 Topic 190, An advertisement

I'm not going to give you complete answers here you need to think for yourself and besides, if many people use the same answer, the examiners won't be impressed. I'll just give you a few points to think about.

There are several factors to consider about children, especially very young ones, and how advertisements (especially on TV) affect them. One key factor is that young children are very impressionable, much more so than older children and adults who might also be somewhat impressionable. Very young children often can't (or don't) even distinguish between reality and fantasy on TV or in films. This can result in the children getting some erroneous ideas about how to speak and how to behave in society and about the world in general.

As well as that, young children lack the maturity and judgment to distinguish between what they want and what they need. They also lack the maturity to make judgments about the claims that might be made, or implied, in advertisements.


Consider this little story. It's 5:30 in the afternoon and 7-year-old Johnny is watching a children's TV show while his mother is in the kitchen making dinner. Johnny, who is very hungry, sees an advertisement for some snack, candy or ice-cream that children like. Maybe some of these "goodies" can be found in the house or maybe not. Or perhaps it's an advertisement for McDonald's. Imagine the possible results of this.

Another example: Little 7-year-old Johnny's family doesn't have much money but he keeps seeing an advertisement on TV that shows lots of kids having fun playing with a new toy that is quite expensive. Imagine the possible results of this.

A final example: In the Western countries, there are nowadays several advertisements (aimed at adults) that include elements of horror or fearful situations. Of course, many of these advertisements are advertising films or TV programs that include horror or fearful situations themselves. These advertisements leave an impression on everyone but imagine the psychological results on little kids seeing such material during all of their growing years.

The above are examples of negative effects of advertisements on children. There are also some possible positive results. For example, kids learn to mimic and sing jingles or mimic the words of a TV or radio advertisement more readily than adults, and these jingles will stay in their memories for all their lives. If the jingles include something of educational value, such as how to spell a long, complicated word, then that is positive. But examples of jingles with educational value are not common.

小心! Read this.


Part 3 Topic 190 An advertisement Note 2

What kinds of advertisements do you think are the most effective?

This question is not really asking you to give the name of a particular "kind" ("type", "classification") but instead, it is asking you give a description such as, "advertisements that show beautiful scenery", "advertisements that have good-looking people", "advertisements that make you laugh", "advertisements that have an expert giving his or her recommendation" etc. etc.

The following question shows you what that question means: (Similar to above) What are the features (qualities) of advertisement that leave the deepest impression on people?

See note here on using the word, "star".


Part 3, Topic 191 Family Note 1

What people like to do and what people actually do are not always the same.

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Part 2 topic 192, A Course

Describe a course you would like to take, if you have time.

a) A course of study for a hobby or interest such as a driving course (to get a driver's license), cooking, painting, playing the piano, speaking a foreign language, English literature, the history of your new country (if you are emigrating), how to train your dog, how to build your own boat etc.; 

b) A course in personal improvement such as etiquette, how to apply makeup or how to be a better parent;

c) A course in personal improvement that would help your career such as a course in public speaking, or a course in leadership;

d) An extra (academic) course that you think would help you in your career such as studying how to use certain computer software, how to write business reports or a course in management or accounting, such as an MBA. 

a) The first way is this: "If I took (or, studied) that course I would ...." You should say, "I would benefit ...", not "I will benefit ...". Use the word, "could", or the words, "would be able to", not "can". Similarly, use "would have to" instead of "must". The words "can" and "must" should only be used for the present tense.

b) It is also possible to express yourself this way: "If I take (or, study) that course, I will ..." In this case say, "I will benefit ...". But it is not suitable to say, "I will benefit" without clearly indicating the idea of "if". If you don't clearly include the idea of "if" in the same sentence or in a nearby sentence, then it will sound like you are talking about something that is definite (肯定的) in the future. For this way of speaking, again don't say "can" or "must". Instead, say "will be able to" or "will have to".

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Part 3 Topic 192 Course Note 1

Which do you think is better for high school students: to study a broad range of subjects or to specialize in one or two particular areas?

This is an old, frequently used essay question. In your answer, you should give an opinion and, just as in an essay, mention the other side and why you think that opinion is not as good as your view. Talk about advantages and disadvantages.

Basically, the question is referring to at least the final year of high school but possibly even the final two or three years. The specialization might be as narrow as studying only four subjects.

The most common example is the situation where a students specializes in either science subjects (including mathematics) or non-science subjects. I suggest you don't use the term, "arts subjects" when referring to non-science subjects. The term, "arts" is usually used for university studies and when you say, "arts subjects" it sounds like, "art subjects". You could also use the term, "humanities subjects" to refer to non-science subjects.

Some people do specialize in artistic subjects such as art, music or other performance arts such as dancing. Usually these students are attending a special high school that specializes in these areas.

I'm not going to give you an answer here. But obviously, by specializing from the age of say, 16, students can learn more about one area and, as a result, be better prepared for further studies and a career in that area. On the other hand, young people at the ages of 16 to 18 often change their minds about what kind of work they want to do in life. If they specialize too much and too early, they then have much less freedom to change than the students who study a wide range of subjects in high school. One particularly strong example of this is the students who study no mathematics or science in the final 2 or 3 years of high school. In this scientific age we are living in, this gives those students only a narrow choice of university courses and careers.

小心! Read this.


Part 2 Topic 193, Good News

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Part 3, Topic 193, Good News

This question is really asking you to compare our lives today with our lives before we used modern communications equipment.

In English, we do not describe a life as "convenient". For example, we do not say, " ... make my life more convenient".

Nor do we say, "make me convenient". For that, we say, "it's convenient for me".

We also don't say, "Do something more conveniently", such as, "Today people can go shopping more conveniently than in the past." For that sentence, we say in English, "Today it's easier to go shopping than (it was) in the past". The word "conveniently" is best used this way: "My house is conveniently located near a subway station."

We describe things, or situations as "convenient" and we talk about the "convenience" that things or situations bring to people's lives. We can also say that something or some situation is "a convenience".

Here's an example. "There's a shop across the road from my house that's open 24 hours a day. That's very convenient." The last sentence really means, "that situation is very convenient", not really, "that shop is very convenient". ( To understand it as meaning "that shop is very convenient" will not hurt your comprehension of the meaning when someone else says those words but, when you are producing the words, it is best to understand that it means, "that situation is very convenient".)


For the question in Part 3, you can say something like:

"Mobile phones are very convenient communication tools because ..."

"It's much more convenient to use mobile phones, compared to fixed-line phones because ..."

"People find mobile phones much more convenient than fixed-line phones because ..."

"Mobile phones bring a lot of convenience to people's lives, because ..."

"Mobile phones are a great convenience in people's lives, because ..."

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Part 2 Topic 194, Future Change

"What do you think the results of those changes would be if the changes took place". 这是假设的话. Don't use, "will", "can" or "must". Instead, use "would", "could" (or "would be able to") and "would have to". You could also say, "might" instead of "would".

小心! Read this.


Part 2 Topic 195 Your Favourite Part of Your City

a) A library is not a "part" but is, instead, one particular building or facility, and

b) Some examiners know that candidates rehearse an answer for some Part 2 topics, answers that they think can be used for more than one topic. "A Library", Topic 189 is a current topic. If you just talk about a library, in the same way you would when answering Topic 189, the examiner will realize you are speaking a rehearsed answer, and examiners don't like to hear obviously rehearsed answers!


Part 3 Topic 195 Country versus City Living

Many people in China would think that moving from the city to the countryside is a ridiculous idea. This is because, generally speaking, the major cities in China are far more desirable places to live than the countryside. There is also another major point that most examiners are not aware of Chinese people like to live in a place that has 热闹 whereas many (but not all) Westerners prefer to live in a quiet place.

You also need to understand that, even if the examiner uses the word, "countryside", he or she does not just mean living in a farmhouse or in the wilderness (although it can include that meaning). Instead, the examiner simply means, "away from the big cities", which could include living in a village or country town far from any big city or it could mean living in a rural environment that is just outside a major city.

In the West, the differences between the quality of the facilities in the cities and the country towns are not as great as the differences in China. So, in the West, the idea of moving from the city to a country town is not so ridiculous. This is especially true if the country town is in a particularly beautiful location.

Most people live, or move to live, where they can find the best work opportunities for themselves. Some people in the West do move away from the big cities when they can make a good living in a quieter and more attractive environment. If people don't need to worry about working (such as retired people or very wealthy people), then this makes it even easier to make the choice of leaving the big city. For example, in Australia and the U.S. (and other places), many old, retired people move to live their retirement years in some beautiful, warmer location near the ocean. In China, the equivalent might be moving to live in Sanya when you retire. For people of working age, with the increasing usage of the internet for work, more people in the future will be able to do the same work while living "in the countryside" as they now do in the cities. A further example is artists, who might choose to live close to or with several other artists in a peaceful, rural artists' community. These people are an example of people who can do their work just as easily in the countryside as in the city.

In all countries, including China, many people choose to move from the cities to the countryside when such a move advances their career. They usually plan to live in the countryside only for a few years and they believe that the few years they spend working in the countryside will help them advance faster in their careers after they return to the city than if they had not left the city. For example, a young high school teacher in the city knows that he will have to wait many years before he will be offered a position as a school principal in the city. If this young teacher was offered and accepted a principal's position in a small town, this would advance his career and make it easier for him to get work as a school principal in the city after perhaps spending only five years in the countryside. In other words, if he stays in the city, it might take him twenty years before he is offered a the position of school principal but, if he gets the experience of being a principal in a small town, it might take him only five years to get a similar position in the city.

In 'developing' countries such as China, there are also a few altruistic people who volunteer to live and work in the poorer countryside in order to help develop these areas.

The main factors that influence people (in the West) to move out of the big cities are: the cheaper cost of housing in smaller places; a cleaner environment in a smaller place; the absence of traffic jams, noise and the need to commute for a long time to go to work; a better climate in a different place; a sense that people in country towns are friendlier than people in the big cities and, simply a desire to be in closer contact with nature. As well as those factors, in some parts of the world, such as some places in the U.S. and some parts of Britain, there is also a problem with "urban decay" and crime in the cities.

Yet another important factor is people's hobbies, interests or leisure-time activities which might require these people to travel out of the urban environment in order to pursue their hobby. For example, if you are crazy about the sport of scuba diving, you might decide to move ( = move to live) to a small town by the ocean, assuming you could still earn a good living by living there.

Some people in the West even choose to move from the cities to live in a rural environment where they can grow their own fruit and vegetables and have a few animals such as a cow, a horse, a goat and some chickens, on a small farm. These people want to live a more "self-sufficient" life, as well as enjoy this kind of lifestyle and they don't usually expect to make make much (or any) money from their farming activities. In the West, they are called, "hobby farmers". However, this situation is, at the moment, rare in "developing" countries such as China.

Another choice is to live in a rural or natural environment just outside a city while still working in the city. This is possible if there is an express train service available or a freeway which enables the person to drive into the city in a relatively short time, possibly even faster than the time it takes most people who live in the city to get to work.

小心! Read this.