Updated Aug. 26, 2010


Notes about some Questions (Page 4)


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 198 Conversation Note 1

There are different types of conversation in which people show different attitudes. Can you give any examples of that?

A 'conversation' is mutual talk between two or more people. Some of the examples below apply more to a situation where one person speaks more than the other person or people. You can use these examples but some of them might be a little less suitable to use than others; they are here to give you ideas (and vocabulary).


an argument - hostile

a debate - competitive; an attitude of pleasure in exercising the intellect

gossip - an attitude of titillation; impressing others; sharing secret or private matters; meddlesome; a disrespectful, invasive attitude towards the privacy of others

sharing jokes - humourous, light-hearted, happy

business negotiations - serious, careful, (maybe) competitive, (maybe) co-operative, respectful, a mutually helpful attitude, an expectant attitude

chatting with family or friends about everyday things - friendly, a sharing attitude

group discussions e.g., at work - co-operative, goal-oriented

intellectual discussions - an intellectual, logical, problem-solving attitude; an attitude of curiosity towards new understanding and new knowledge

'love talk' (between lovers) - romantic, intimate, private

banter - competitive, friendly, humourous

explaining something - attitude of being helpful

discussing a previous disagreement - an attitude of reconciliation

reminiscing - an attitude of reflection

discussion planning one's future - an attitude of expectancy, hope, (maybe) excitement

criticizing another - judgmental

teasing another - cruel

complimenting another - respectful


小心! Read this.


Part 2 Topic 199 A Machine

Describe a machine or electronic device you would like to buy.            

        You should say:

                 what special features it would have

                 how you know about it

                 how much it would cost *

                 how you would use this thing *

        and explain why you would like to have it.


In this second choice, your meaning of "I'd like to have" could be used as a polite way of saying, "I want to have". But in the first example, nobody seriously says, "I want to have a time machine". Remember, "want" = a true goal or a true strong desire, i.e., something you really want.

In the case of a sewing machine or washing machine or something like that, maybe you don't really have a goal or strong desire to have one of these machines. That is, your meaning is not really, "I want to have". In this case, if you say, "I'd like to have a washing machine", your meaning is, "It would be nice to have a sewing machine, even though it's not one of my plans to get a sewing machine".

However, there is a small number of things called "machine" in English that are not really mechanical. One example is, "a drum machine", which is a computerized device that produces the sounds of drums.


Part 3 Topic 199

These two questions are not exactly the same, although the first question can include the second question. Remember, "computers" and "the internet" are two different things: A "computer" does not necessarily include "the internet" but "the internet" does require a computer (or a 3G cell phone).

The first question could refer to "programmed learning", such as studying mathematics by using special software that takes the learner through the topic, step-by-step and includes review tests. The second question could possibly involve a single teacher teaching thousands of students via a webcam on the internet. Of course, this would be a lecture-style lesson, rather than a classroom-style lesson where the teacher could give individual help to students.


Topic 200 Film Part 3 Note 1

Do you think watching films can contribute to a person's education in any way?

Basically, this means "learning something". Although the main idea here is learning new facts about the world and other people, it can include learning something new about yourself by causing you to think. For example, a film might cause you to ask yourself why you reacted to something in the film the way you did. This is moving a bit far from the usual usage and meaning of the word, "education" but it is suitable if the question is made using the words, "learn something".


Part 3 Topic 201 Job Note 1

  1. The words, 'your job' can mean, "in general, what kind of work you do". For example: "What's you job?" "I'm a software engineer". 

  1. The words, 'your job' can also be used to ask for more specific information about your work. That is, they can be used to ask about your work responsibilities and your typical daily tasks at work. The words, "What's your job at XYZ Company?" = "What work do you do at XYZ Company?" For example: "Tell me about your job." "I write computer programs everyday, usually programs to help companies record information about their sales and their customers things like that."

  1. The words, 'a job' can simply refer to 'the state of being employed'. For example: "I've found a job." = "I've found employment". There is no need to say who has given you a job or even what the job actually is here it simply means "I now work for someone else, for pay."

  1. You can also use the word, 'job' to mean a 'one-time task' or a 'one-time piece of work'. For example, you can say to someone, even a kid, "I've got a job for you to do. Please wash the dishes."


Part 3 Topic 201 Job Note 2

Receiving advice/information/help about work

There are two different questions that are possible here: a) Help with deciding on a career ( a career = a 'line of work') or, b) help with getting a job (= help finding employment. See note above). Possibly both questions are used.

Most people decide on what career to enter when they finish high school. In most cases, the choice of university course (or other training) is actually the choice of career.


Part 3 Topic 201 Job Note 3

What are some of the reasons why people do the type of work (or, the job) that they do?

This wording is much broader in meaning than asking why someone chooses a certain career.

A "career" is a life-time (or almost a life-time) specialization in one particular area of work. People "build" their careers and "advance" in their careers as they become more experienced.

A "job" is just doing some work to get some money. For example, not many people make a "career" of working for MacDonald's but many (usually young) people work for MacDonald's as a job for a while.

This question, which asks about "a type of work" or "a job" is simply asking you to explain why some people work in factories, other people work in shops, others work as office workers, and others as taxi drivers, construction workers, farmers, fishermen, or miners etc. You can include professional careers such as being a scientist, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, an engineer, a business manager etc. but, the wording of this question allows you to speak much more broadly than just about professional careers.


Part 3 Topic 202 Leisure

Do you think that activities such as shopping and cooking could be viewed as "leisure activities"?

The examiner might use the words, "leisure time activities" instead of, "leisure activities".

"Leisure time" = "time not spent working". This usually means time away from your job (your employment) or your study. And a "leisure activity" = "a non-work activity". But there's another side to this definition: housework is a kind of (unpaid) work and therefore, time spent doing housework is not really leisure time. On the other hand, certain types of shopping and certain types of cooking are viewed as pleasurable, non-work activities for some people.


小心! Read this.


Part 3 Topic 203 Magazines and Newspapers Note 1

What do you think is the role of professional journals?

A journal, (or a "professional journal"), is a newspaper or magazine that is serious (rather than "popular") and is specialized in a certain area, such as international trade, nuclear physics or psychological research. Journals are not (usually) for sale with popular magazines but are mailed to professional people or university professors and libraries. People "subscribe" to a journal, that is, they pay a yearly subscription in order to receive the journal. Sometimes the word, "journal" is used to refer to such a "professional journal".


Part 2 Topic 204 A Party

Describe a party you would like to arrange for your friends or family. 

            You should say:

                          who you would invite to the party 

                          when and where you would hold the party

                          what you (or, your guests) would do at the party

             and explain why you would hold (= have) this party. 



The first and most important thing to note is the verbs used in the question. The first line says, "would like to arrange". There are two possible interpretations of the words, "would like to":

1.      "I would like to" = "I would be happy to do it, if it became a reality in the future (but I have no real plans to do it)" and,

2.      "would like to" = a polite way to say, "I really do want to do it."

But this second choice, "I really want to do it", also has two possible varieties because the verb "want" only expresses your desire and does not express anything about your actual intentions or plans. These two possibilities are:

2a) "I want to do it and I intend to do it" (When you describe the party, you are talking about your plans for the real future) and,

2b) "I want to do it and I might do it I haven't decided yet whether I will do it or not." (When you describe the party, you are talking about a real possibility for the future.)


    These three different situations are shown in the diagram, below.

Note that, if you say, "I want to arrange a party ..." without mentioning that you might or might not do it, you are immediately saying that it is a real and quite strong desire and the listener might also assume that you also have a real goal or plan to do it. To use a different example, the difference between, "I'd like to meet Yao Ming" and "I want to meet Yao Ming" is that "I want to" means you really do have a strong desire and possibly even a goal or plan of meeting him. On the other hand, "I'd like to meet Yao Ming" can and usually does simply mean, "I don't have a strong desire or goal of meeting Yao Ming but if I happened to meet him, I would be happy about it" or, "I've never thought about which sports stars I'd like to meet but now that you ask me, if I had the opportunity, I'd like to meet Yao Ming."

To summarize: "I'd like to arrange a party ..." can have two possible usages or meanings. In a conversation, you need to further clarify which of the two is your meaning. In this Part 2 answer, no matter what you actually mean, I suggest you begin by using the words, "I'd like to arrange..." (or another similar verb, besides "arrange") and then, if your meaning is either 2a), 2b), clarify your meaning and change to using other, more specific verbs (such as "I want to") instead of "I'd like to ...".


Meaning 1

Here is an example of Meaning 1): "I'd really like to arrange a reunion party for my former high school class because most of us haven't seen each other in the past four years since we finished high school, and I miss them. Most of us went to different universities in different cities and we've lost contact with each other so I think a party like that would be a great way for us to get back together again."

Notice that these words are not yet saying whether or not you really do plan to arrange such a party. You are just saying that it would be a good idea or it would be nice if it happened. You should then add some words to emphasize that it's just an idea, not a real plan at the moment. For example, you could say, "Actually, I don't really plan to organize such a party because I'll be going to England in two months so I don't have much spare time at the moment, but let me tell you what I would do if I did decide to arrange such a party." In other words, you are clearly saying that you would be happy to do it if it were possible (but it isn't really possible), (or, if you had the opportunity) but you are not really planning to do it. The details you give about this party is an example of speaking completely hypothetically (假设的话).

For Meaning 1, you should use "If ...+ would .." sentences (虚拟式的句子). For example: "If I did decide to arrange such a party, I'd (= I would) hold it in the hot-pot restaurant which is near my former high school." Instead of the words, "If I did decide to arrange" you could also say such words as, "If I decided to arrange", "If I arranged" or "If I were to arrange".

It is not necessary for you to repeat the "If" part of this sentence every time you speak about the four points on the card, but you should say it at least once, before you speak about the first of those details. Actually, it would not be grammatically "wrong" if you omitted the "if" part before you spoke about the first of those details but you will get more points for grammar if you show you can make that sentence and, by clearly including "if" at the beginning, you will be clearer, i.e., a bit more coherent.

Other examples are: I'd invite ... , I'd hold the party ... , we'd eat ..., we'd sing .... we'd play ..., we'd be able to ..., we'd have to ... etc.

Meaning 1), using the idea of "if I did do it, I would ..." is completely hypothetical (假设的话). The form of these "if" sentences is: "If + past tense form of verb + would + base verb".


Meaning 2a)

An example of expressing Meaning 2a) is this: "I'd like to throw a party for my Dad on his sixtieth birthday, which is coming up in December. In fact, it's one of the things I'm planning to do before I go to Australia in February to continue my studies. Normally, my Mum would arrange this party but she's very busy with her own company right now and besides, I want to show my Dad how thankful I am for all that he has done for me. I really do want to make this a memorable party for my Dad."

Although it is not absolutely necessary to use the words, "I'd like to" in the first sentence, I think it's a good idea because, firstly, that is what is written on the card and secondly, it shows that you understand that, "I'd like to" has two usages. Then, by using such words as, "in fact" you show that you are taking a rather general or ambiguous statement ("I'd like to") and making it more specific ("I really do want to / I really do intend to").

In other words, it is not grammatically "wrong" to say, as your first sentence, "One of the things I want to do before I go to Australia in February is to throw a party for my Dad on his sixtieth birthday, which is coming up in December", but it's a bit sudden when the words on the card say, "would like to". If you talk like that, the examiner might suspect that you don't know the two differences in meaning (or usage) of the words, "I'd like to". It's best to start with, "I'd like to" and then change to using "want to" (or another verb) after clarifying your meaning.

For Meaning 2a), you can use such verbs as "I want to", "I intend to", "I plan to", "I hope to", "I will" and "I'm going to". You can also continue to use "I'd like to" at times as a more polite way to say, "I want to". Don't use "can" or "must" to talk about the future here. Instead, say, "will be able to" and "will have to"

To add variety and express subtle shades of meaning, you can include adverbs with the verb, "will" such as, "I'll probably", "Possibly I'll" = "I might" etc. Using "will" on its own with no adverbs means, "There is 100% certainty that I will do this" but this degree of certainty is not always suitable. Similarly, saying "I'm going to" means "it is my intention and it probably will happen". In other words, there is no doubt (or very little doubt) about the future when you say, "I'm going to". For example, "I'm going to go to bed early tonight" is suitable but, "I'm going to get my PhD in England in about seven years" is unsuitable because you cannot be so sure about that. The sentence, "I'm going to book a room at my Dad's favourite Sichuan restaurant" is suitable.

All of these verbs are used to talk about (your plans for or predictions for) the real future.


Meaning 2b)

For meaning 2b), you should use grammar that is similar to meaning 2a), but not exactly the same.

For example, "I'd really like to throw a party for my Dad on his sixtieth birthday but I haven't decided yet whether I will do that or not because I'm pretty busy preparing to go to Australia. If I (do) decide to do it, I'll hold it in my Dad's favourite Sichuan restaurant."

The difference between the 2a) answer and this 2b) answer is that this answer expresses a real possibility for the future; it is not a real intention or plan for the future, as in 2a) and it is not speaking completely hypothetically as in 1).

A real possibility for the future is expressed this way: "If + present tense form of verb + will + base verb", or "If + present tense form of verb + might + base verb" or "If + present tense form of verb + may +base verb". Just as for meaning 1), you should not use "I intend to", "I plan to", "I hope to", and "I'm going to". However, "want to" does apply to a Meaning 2b) answer and "will" is suitable but only if you use it in an, "If + present tense + will" sentence (or if the meaning of "if" is clearly understood by the listener). If you use "will" without saying "if" then it will sound like a real plan or prediction for the future. You don't need to use the word, "if" every time you answer the 4 points on the card but you certainly should use it before you say the first point and it would be best to remind the listener (the examiner) from time to time that you mean "if" in your answer so that your usage of "will" does not start to sound like you are talking about a real intention for the future.

For Meaning 1), i.e., a hypothetical situation, to express the meaning of "", you should say, "If I were to arrange such a party, all of my old school friends would be able to see each other again". Alternatively, you could use, "could" such as: "If I were to arrange such a party, all of my old school friends could see each other again". To express the meaning of "must", the model is: "If I were to arrange such a party, I'd (= I would) have to find out the phone numbers or email addresses of all my old classmates in order to invite them to the party." (Of course, "If I were to arrange" can also be expressed as, "If I arranged" or, "If I decided to arrange" etc.)

For 2a), i.e., talking about the real future, to express the meaning of "can", you should say, "and when we have this party, we'll (= we will) be able to combine it with a going-away party for me, before I leave for Australia." To express the meaning of "must", an example is: "and before we have this party, I'll (= I  will have to reserve a room at the restaurant because it's a very popular place to eat at."

For 2b), i.e., talking about a real possibility for the future, you should also use, "will be able to" and "will have to", preferably after first saying (or making it understood that you mean), "if I do, in fact, decide to do it".

小心! Read this.


Part 3 Topic 204 Parties

What do people eat at parties in China?

When you answer this question, don't say, "We eat delicious food". This sounds strange to Westerners (and it also sounds like weak English) because we Westerners think, if the food is not delicious, of course we will not eat it! In other words, we only eat what is delicious to us (what tastes good to us). This statement, "we eat delicious food" might be a translation from Chinese. (I don't know for sure.) In China, you have recent memories of famine and people not having much food to eat but we Westerners do not have such recent memories in our culture and language. So, it's possible in Chinese that you say there are two kinds of food to eat, "delicious food" and simple food that is not so delicious but good enough to keep a person alive.

Instead of saying "We eat delicious food", it would be much better to say something like, "We eat especially delicious food" or, "special food". And then give a brief comment or description of what makes that food especially delicious.


Topic 205 A Picnic or Outdoor Meal

But "eating outdoors" or "eating outside" means "eating in the open" = "eating in a place that is outside a building", such as at a picnic table in a park or eating your meal on your back verandah or in your back yard (because it is uncomfortably hot inside the house).


Topic 206

Describe a trip that didn't go as you had (originally) planned. *

          You should say:

                where you were traveling to

                who was travelling with you *

                what happened that was unplanned (OR: what didn't happen according to plan) *

                what you did

          and explain how you felt. *


          and explain how this change affected your enjoyment of this trip. *


Note: Written July 8

Someone has the reported the topic like this:

"I was asked to talk about my trip which was not up to my expectations and say:
- what happened,
- what did I do and
-what was my feeling

I think the meaning of the first line of those words is the same as, "didn't go as you had (originally) planned". (Several people in China have included the word, "planned" when they reported this.) In English, we say "I didn't plan on that" which means, "I didn't expect that". So, despite all that I wrote below before July 8 (for Part 2 of this topic), I think the topic is simpler than previously reported.

I think it would be suitable if you just spoke about a trip that was disappointing. A typical example of a disappointing trip in China is going to some famous tourist location during the Spring Festival or some other time when there were so many people there that your enjoyment of the experience was decreased. (Give details about why or how it decreased your enjoyment.) You could include the fact that there was a lot of litter (垃圾) on the ground, one of the results of having too many people at one place at the same time. There are other disappointments you could talk about such as the cost of things, the fact that the hotels were full and you had to stay at a hotel 50 kilometers away from the tourist location, or the fact that some famous old building was in a bad state of disrepair etc. (The latter point is not connected to the crowds of people and is not so common in China nowadays.)

On the other hand, a trip that had a pleasant surprise would also fit the wording of this topic; it doesn't have to be something negative that happened. This is assuming the wording is similar to what is shown above.

The trip doesn't have to be a trip as a tourist. For example, you could talk about a 500 kilometer trip you took to see your girlfriend to ask her to marry you but, when you got there, she told you she no longer loved you and had found a new boyfriend. That was a disappointing trip! It was not what you had expected (= not what you had imagined = something you had not planned for = had not planned on.) Notice the use of the past perfect tense here. You will get extra points for grammar if you include the past perfect tense in your answer!


Don't make the mistake of confusing the, "" form of adjective with the, "....ed" form of adjective.

For example:

"It was surprising" --> "I was surprised" = "I felt surprised"

"It was disappointing" --> "I was disappointed" = "I felt disappointed"


Below are the notes I wrote before July 8. (These notes are still worth reading and you could use some of these ideas in your story.)                   

But if the wording is something like, "what happened that was unplanned" then the main point is to talk about this unplanned event and the results of this unplanned event. Usually, an "unplanned event" is negative, a 'mishap' such as an accident, losing your money, arriving at the train station or airport too late to travel on the train or plane that you had planned to travel on, getting lost, falling sick etc.

Your example could be something that seems simple but actually had an effect on your trip. For example, if you didn't pack a warm jacket because you thought you wouldn't need it but you found you constantly felt cold on the trip, then your enjoyment was adversely affected.


Part 3 Topic 206 A Trip Note 1

What different types of people go on holiday trips?

Here, "types" probably refers to different categories of people. But you could choose to talk about different personalities of people.

As the question is worded here, it could include domestic traveling, not just international traveling.

The different types of people might not be very apparent in China at the moment but in the West there are: a) Young people ("backpackers"), perhaps just before or just after university studies or on the university summer break who travel for adventure and to "see the world", b) Honeymoon couples, c) Retired people who now have free time and perhaps a lump-sum pension payment that allows them to "see the world", d) People who normally work but have a long vacation (e.g., two weeks) from work ...

If the word used is simply "travel" rather than "go on holiday trips" (or something similar) then there are even more types of travelers: People traveling on business (e.g., salesmen, buyers, investors, people meeting possible new business partners); people migrating to another country; people who are moving to live in a different place; people traveling to attend school or university; people who work far from home such as oilfield workers; people traveling to look for work in a different place; people traveling back home for a family reunion or an event such as a wedding, .......etc.

小心! Read this.


Part 3 Topic 206 A Trip Note 2

For the first question, say, "I'd suggest ..." or "I'd recommend ..." or "I'd say ..." etc. Use "I'd" (= "I would"), not "I will".

For the second question, you can use "I'd suggest", even though the question did not include the word, "would". Or, for that question, it is also possible to say, "I suggest" etc. instead of "I'd suggest". If you use the "I'd" form, you will impress the examiner more. Again, for the second question, don't say, "I will ...".

See Language Functions on the topic of "Suggesting".


Part 3 Topic 206 A Trip Note 3

These two questions could include the idea of how do people choose where to go on a trip. (Here, "trip" is probably referring to a holiday trip, simply for enjoyment.) In fact, I suspect that where to go is the main point that these two questions are referring to. Certainly that is the first point to consider when planning a trip. All this depends on the exact wording of the question or on the context within which the question is being asked. For example, if the examiner has been asking you questions about vacation trips and then asks you the first question using exactly those words, obviously the first thing to "plan" is to decide on where to go.


Part 3 Topic 206 A Trip Note 4

What are some of the characteristics of these people who like to travel?

The average or typical person sometimes stays at home when they have a vacation and sometimes they take a trip (if they have the money). Even though going on a trip is enjoyable, it does take some energy to do it and some people, especially those who work very hard, might prefer to just relax at home when they have a vacation, in order to have a rest. As well as just relaxing at home, some people have hobbies and interests that they can only do at home, such as gardening, playing a sport or playing the piano, and for these people, a break from school or work might be a good opportunity to spend some time on their hobbies at home. On the other hand, people who take a trip almost every time they have a break from school or work quite possibly don't have many hobbies that they do at home. As well as that, people who travel a lot probably have an above-average income because travelling, as a "hobby", is a rather expensive hobby.

As well as that, they probably don't have young children because frequent travel with young children is difficult; and they are more likely to be young or, if they are older, they are probably quite fit because traveling does require a certain amount of energy and physical fitness.

Other people travel a lot because they have a hobby of collecting something that requires them to go to different places to add to their collection. For example, people who collect sea shells, rocks, coins or antiques need to travel to find new things for their collections.

People who travel also need to be "versatile" (= "practical", "adaptable") in order to cope with different living situations, different food etc. and, if they frequently travel overseas they probably are more "open-minded", "tolerant" and "respectful" of the cultural differences of people in the world. Quite often, people who travel a lot to foreign countries have an interest in foreign languages (even if they don't have the time or ability to learn foreign languages very well) and an interest in "the exotic".

Many people who travel a lot are nature-lovers and/or, amateur photographers who love to experience and photograph new and interesting natural environments. These are most probably urban dwellers and it is this group of people who are the stimulus (or, the catalyst) for the growth of "eco-tourism".

Some people who travel a lot are searching for something that they feel is missing in their lives, such as excitement, stimulation, variety or even searching for a way of life that is more satisfying or peaceful than the life they live at home and they hope to live this better life at least for a short time while they are on vacation. People who travel a lot to foreign lands quite possibly have a sense of dissatisfaction with their own culture and society and crave the experience of living in a different culture or society, even for a short period of time. A very simple example of a person seeking variety is someone who lives in a rather arid place that has a cold winter going to a warm, tropical island to enjoy the beach and the ocean. But that applies to everyone who travels, not just the people who travel a lot, as their main interest in life.

Possibly most people who travel a lot basically work in order to get enough money for their next trip. This kind of person quite possible spends all of their "spare money" on travelling rather than saving for "a rainy day". You could describe this kind of person as someone who "lives for the moment" and as a person who certainly is not very conservative because conservative people tend to save rather than spend, in addition to the fact that conservative people are not very interested in change or experiencing new things in life.

小心! Read this.


Part 3 Topic 207 Water Note 1

What "fun" activities can people do at places where there is water?

More than one person has reported that the examiner used the word "fun". This seems to mean that the examiner is trying to get an answer from you that is more than simply an answer to the question: "What are some examples of water sports?" For water sports, many candidates probably just list the words, "swimming", "diving" and "water polo". But these are competitive sports that are held in water indoors and they are rather serious because they are competitive. "Fun" is doing something for enjoyment it is not serious.

The examiner is talking more about natural places with water such as lakes, rivers and the ocean than about places such as a swimming pool.


Topic 208 Science Lesson

You should not speak only on either a) or b) but on both. For a), you should say one thing only. Think of the aim of the lesson what new piece of knowledge was the teacher trying to teach you? You should expand that and explain with a little detail what exactly you did learn. You should explain this very clearly to the examiner; don't just name the topic of the lesson and give no more details.

But don't spend all of the two minutes just explaining a scientific fact or theory to the examiner also describe the specific classroom situation for that specific lesson, i.e., how the teacher taught this lesson and how this classroom experience helped you to understand the new piece of information you were taught. (For the word "classroom" you can, of course, substitute another place such as an outside location or a laboratory.)

An experiment in physics or chemistry or talking about how you dissected a mouse to learn about internal organs would be ideal to talk about but the lesson doesn't have to be an experiment; it could be just a classroom lesson in which charts and other teaching devices were used to show ideas or information or even a lesson which was simply based on a chapter in your textbook. If that was the case, include a summarized description of any illustrations or diagrams that were in the textbook.


Part 3 Topic 208 Science Note 1

Can you give me any examples in the home, of the practical application of biological or chemical science?

In (most) noun + noun combinations, the first word is pronounced with more stress. For example: "washing powder"; "coal mining"; "a swimming pool; "a car park" and "a traffic jam".

On the other hand, for adjective + noun combinations, such as, "genetic engineering" and "artificial flavourings", the second word, i.e. the noun, is spoken with slightly more stress than the adjective, except when the adjective is chosen to contrast with another adjective, such as, "I've got an old computer but she's got a new one". Listen to "electrical engineering". Here are four more: "a young man"; "The Olympic Games"; "The European Union"; "international law".


  1. The following products are produced after research in chemical laboratories:

(The words in heavy black print are pronounced with more stress than the other words in that word combination. For example, in "cleaning products" the word "cleaning" is spoken stronger than the word, "products" and in "artificial flavourings" the word, "flavourings" is pronounced stronger than "artificial".)

  1. The following are produced as a result of research into biological science:


Part 3 Topic 208 Science Note 2

What do you think are some of the benefits of scientists freely making their raw research data available to the public (or, available to other scientists)?

If you tell the examiner that you are sitting for the IELTS test because you intend to do a post-graduate degree (i.e., a research degree) in science or engineering, you will have a big chance of getting this question. And if you give a poor answer, (i.e., an answer with few or no ideas), you will not give the examiner a very good impression.

The key words for the answer to this question are "peer review". (See also the following question about scientific fraud.)


Some useful reading on the internet concerning this topic (Not always simple English)  On sharing  Page 1  Not bad  Audio. Good.  See the New York Times essay written by Dr. Vickers About ownership of research results


Part 3, Topic 210 Note 1

  1. Can you imagine what your life would be like if you were old?

  2. (Similar to above but different!!) Can you imagine what your life will be like when you are old?

These two questions are different in grammatical structure and in meaning. You should answer using the same structure as the question that you are asked. Don't mix the two structures.

The first question (a), is asking you to describe the unreal situation of you being old now. Don't use "will" to answer this; use "would".

The second question (b), is asking you to describe what you think the real (possible) future will be like when you are old, i.e., about 45 years in the future. There will be some changes in society over the next 45 years. Use "will" (with adverbs such as "probably") and other verbs that suit talking about the real (possible) future.


Part 3 Topic 211

Do you think rich people are happy (or, happier than ordinary people)?

This question is not asking you to compare rich people and poor people. Instead, it is asking you to compare (very) rich people with average people.

However, it's Ok if you expand you answer to compare very rich and very poor people, after you have first answered the basic question.


Part 2 Topic 212 A Happy Childhood Memory

Almost certainly, the wording of this topic includes the word, "event". (There is only a small possibility that it just says, "Describe a happy memory from your childhood".)

An "event" is something that happened at one particular time, such as a visit to the zoo, a birthday party or the time your father brought home a new pet for the family (e.g., a cute puppy). It is unsuitable to talk about something you did habitually or something that happened continuously, over a long period of time (or over your entire childhood) such as playing with your dog.


Part 3 Topic 213 Radio and TV

How are television programs in China today different to those of in the past (e.g., 20 to 40 years ago)?

It is possible that this question (or the question about radio) is worded this way: How is television broadcasting in China today different to that of the past (e.g., 20 to 40 years ago)?

"Television broadcasting" includes everything about television, from the programs to television broadcasting technology and the style of TV's in the home. In fact, "television broadcasting" tends to focus more on the technology than on the program content.


Topic 214 An Intelligent Person

The second meaning is, b) "and explain why or how you think this person became so intelligent". If you answered using the second meaning, the examiners should not think you are answering incorrectly (however, they might think that), but even if you answer using the second meaning, you still should include a description of the person's attributes that makes him or her seem to be very intelligent.


The meaning of the word, "wise".

Some people think that "wise" means the same as "intelligent", but that is not really correct. In English, we do say things such as, "That's a wise decision" which does more or less mean the same as, "That's an intelligent decision".

However, a "wise person" means someone who has good judgment, good understanding or insight (洞悉) based on experience and reflection (= 沉思 = thinking about and learning from one's experiences). We usually only describe quite an old person as, "a wise person" and this wisdom usually refers to matters concerning people or society, not things such as mathematics or other abstract thinking like that. It's not impossible to describe someone who is, for example, under 30 years old as "a wise person" but it's unusual. Certainly, it is unsuitable to describe a child or a teenager as "a wise person". A child or a teenager can act wisely, say something wise or make a wise decision, but we still would not say this person is a "wise person".

On the other hand, it's possible to describe a three-year-old as "an intelligent child".

What is "intelligence", or what is "an intelligent person"? In the West, the psychology profession doesn't even have a universally agreed definition of "intelligence" even though psychologists have tests that supposedly measure intelligence! Most psychologists say it is something like "the ability to learn", "the ability to think abstractly" or even simply, "intelligence is what intelligence tests measure". "The ability to learn" does not just mean the ability to memorize material from books it mostly means the ability to understand, although memory is part of intelligence.

Other words similar to "intelligent"

"Bright" means "quick to learn" or "quick to understand". We also can say, he or she is (very) "quick" to mean he or she can understand or learn something new quite quickly.

The word, "intelligent" is used in both American and British English but Americans also say "smart" as a less educated or informal way to say, "intelligent". However, in British English, "smart" means "well-dressed (especially in new-looking clothes) and well-groomed (for example, after a new haircut)".

"Clever" is a somewhat old-fashioned way to say "intelligent". Most people today use "clever" to mean "very skillful", "very creative" or "ingenious" (灵巧的) when referring to such things as a magic trick or a magician or someone who has a very ingenious idea: "a clever trick", a "clever idea", "a clever invention" or "a clever game player".

"Brainy" is an informal (and rather uneducated) way to say, "intelligent". But it would be OK for you to use that word in the Speaking test, as long as you don't overuse it.

A "genius" is an unusually intelligent person. Psychologists say that someone with an I.Q. of 140 or more is a "genius". (About 0.25% of the population have an I.Q. of 140 or more.) We also describe people who show unusual talent in areas such as mathematics, science, literature, music or invention as "geniuses" such as Mozart, Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci.

A "child prodigy" (stress on the second word) is a child who shows intelligence or talent far superior to other children of the same age; that is, a child who shows talent that usually only a few highly talented adults show. Lang Lang ( 朗), who was giving concert performances at the age of 5, was a child prodigy, as was Mozart.

"Gifted" is another rather old-fashioned adjective to refer to geniuses or especially child prodigies. It is based on the idea that God "gave" special talent to someone.

As well as saying "very intelligent" and "highly intelligent", it is very natural in spoken English to say, "really intelligent" to mean the same thing. You should try to use "really" at least once in the speaking test instead of "very" it will make your speech sound more natural and less like written English. For example, "I really like spicy food" instead of, "I very much like spicy food" or, "I like spicy food very much". ["I very like spicy food" is wrong and is Band 4 level! English never has "very + verb", as in Chinese.]


Part 3, Topic 216

Do you think students should save money?

In English, the expression, "to save money" has two different meanings:

a) to not spend money and, instead, to add to your store of money (e.g., put it in the bank).

b) to spend money but spend as little as possible, i.e., to buy things that are as cheap as possible. For example, if you need a computer, you can save money by buying a second-hand computer rather than a new one. This usage of, "to save money" = "to economize". Of course, you would save even more money if you didn't buy a computer at all.

This type of question is giving you an opportunity to show your vocabulary knowledge and an opportunity to show your ability to explain and compare by showing that you understand the two different usages of the expression, "to save money".


Part 2 Topic 218 A Competition Winner

1. a lottery

2. a talent quest

3. a beauty contest

4. a quiz show on TV

5. an English speaking competition in school

6. an election

These are all organized competitions and all of them have an audience watching the competition. But more personal competitions can exist just between two people. For example, an arm wrestling contest or a chess game. A competitive situation can also be called a "competition" such as a competition between the two top students in a class to see who will become the No.1 student; a competition between two people to get a particular job or promotion at work; or a competition between two men for the heart of a woman, etc.

There is also competition between companies and countries for trade or business. This kind of competition can last for many years. However, since this topic asks you to describe a person, not a company or a country, this kind of answer is not suitable.

小心! Read this.


Topic 227, The Perfect Climate

Describe (your idea of) the perfect climate (for example, rainy, dry). *

        You should say:

                what climate it is / what is is like (or, what this climate would be like)

                what season it is usually in

                where this climate usually exists *

         and explain why you think this is (or, would be) the perfect climate for you. *


However, it is possible that the climate now, where you are now, is "just right" for you. If that is the case, you can mention that the climate you are in right now is ideal for you and say such things as, "This climate is ideal for me", instead of saying, "This climate would be ideal for me."

Strictly speaking,  nothing is "perfect" in this world "perfect" things or situations are imaginary. So, if the word used in the topic is "perfect", it would be suitable to talk about what you imagine the "perfect climate" to be, even if such a climate is impossible in reality. For example: "For me, the perfect climate would be sunny with a constant temperature of 25 all year round." This is talking about a fantasy (幻想) and the grammar you use should definitely be the subjunctive form, (虚拟语).

But you don't have to describe a totally imaginary, impossible climate. Most people should describe a climate that is possible, but you still should use the subjunctive form of verbs because you don't live in such a climate now, i.e., it is not real, now.


Part 3 Topic 230 Note 1

Do you think young people and older people learn in the same way?

If you get this question, firstly note carefully if the word "learn" or the word "study" is used in the question. Most likely, the word "learn" is used because everyone, including old people, learn things but old (e.g., your grandparents) and older people (e.g., your parents) don't often engage in "study".

Also note if the words, "young people" or "children" are used and if the words, "old people" or "older people" are used.

Although there is some overlap in the meaning and usage of these two words, there is a basic difference: "learning" is a change that takes place in the brain; "studying" is an activity such as reading your textbook.You should, in a natural way, develop your answer so that the examiner sees that you know this difference, or at least accurately talk about "learning", not simply "studying". Don't speak in such a way that the examiner sees that you have obviously read this website!! See here for more information about the differences between the words, "learn" and "study".

The biggest difference in learning is between very young children and adults. Young children (e.g., pre-school children) mostly learn from play, exploration and mimicking others, especially their parents, rather than study. For old people, learning is more difficult than for young people and children, partly because their memory is not so good. For everybody, learning is based on what you already know (= already have learned).

You could also develop your answer to talk about different study styles or study methods between, say, primary school children and adults.

小心! Read this.


Part 3, Topic 230


Generally speaking, 'teachers' in university are not called, "teachers". Instead, they are called "lecturers", "tutors" or "professors". So, if the examiner uses the word "teacher", the meaning is usually "a high school or primary school teacher". [In American English, any university lecturer can be called a "professor" but in British English, only the head of the department is called, "the professor".]

In Britain and Australia and other countries that follow the British styles of education, tertiary colleges that are not classified as "universities", such as TAFE colleges in Australia,  might use the word, "teacher" to describe the lecturer.


Part 3 Topic 232

Do you think the status of old people will change in the future?

This question is hinting at the fact that in developed countries (such as in Western Europe, Japan, North America, Australia etc.) the proportion of old people in society is growing. This is because fewer people are having children or, if they have children, they have fewer children. That is, the average age of the population is increasing and these societies are being called, "aging societies".

So, will the status of old people change in the future if a large percentage of the population (larger than now) is composed of old people?


Part 3 Topic 263

On what occasions do people send a card (or, postcard) to someone?

A "postcard" and a "greeting card that people send to others" are not the same. Postcards are usually photographs of some tourist destination; you write a message on the back of the card, and you write the address of the receiver and put the postage stamp on the card itself. Other cards, such as birthday cards, are put into an envelope and sent that way.


Topic 240 - Old Thing

  1. A useful word to use is: "heirloom".  (Check the pronunciation of "heirloom" in the dictionary. It is pronounced the same as "air loom", with the first word spoken a bit stronger than the second word.) Usually we say "a family heirloom", not simply "heirloom", although "heirloom" alone is also possible. If you want to say, "a family heirloom", don't say the word "family" stronger than the word, "heirloom" the second word, "heirloom", is pronounced with more stress than the word, "family". The stress pattern is the same as for "a family member" or "the city centre". See this page for more on this stress pattern:
  2. Some people (at the Band 4 level and lower) are confused about the difference between the two words, "home" and "family". Your home is a place, the place where your live. If you live in a tent in the forest, you can say, "My home is a tent" or "His home is a cave in the mountains". A "family" is a group of related people.


Part 3 Topic 241 Note 1

Do you think living in a city with a large population increases the stress in people's lives?

In Chinese, you use the word "压力" to mean both "pressure" and "stress". But in English, there are some subtle differences between the usage of these two words. When we are referring to the negative effects that too much "压力" can have on a person, we call it "stress". The word "stress" is used by doctors and especially by psychologists as well as by the general public, whereas "pressure" is more general and is not referring so much to the damaging effects on the body and on the mind.

For example: "I'm under pressure to finish this report before the end of the week" or, "My parents are putting pressure on me to get married before I turn 30." These examples are not referring to the physical or psychological damage that this pressure might cause. On the other hand, look at this example: "He's under a lot of stress because his business is losing money and, at the same time, his wife wants a divorce. Lately, he's been quite depressed, smoking too much, over-eating and not sleeping well. I'm worried about his mental health."

Other examples: "Being caught in traffic jam every morning on the way to work certainly increases the stress in people's lives." And: "Living in a quiet, attractive rural location with good friends and doing something that you love at a relaxed pace is one way to achieve an almost stress-free life."

小心! Read this.