Updated Dec. 24, 2009  

Notes about some Part 1 Questions (Page 1)

To Page 2 of the Part 1 question notes.


Part 1 topic = Your Work

This question is in the test, most probably in Part 3 but it is possibly in Part1


Part 1 topic = Your Work

The exact wording of this question is not known. It could be these words or it could be, "Are you going to change your job?", "Do you want to change your job?", "Would you like to change your job?", "Are you thinking of changing your job?", or "Are you planning to change your job?" Note that these different questions do not all have exactly the same meaning! Also note that you should answer using the same or a similar verb and the same or similar verb tense.

For those of you who are working and are doing the IELTS test because you hope to migrate to another country, obviously you are thinking of changing your job (= changing the place where you work). This does not always mean that you are planning to change the type of work you do, however.


Part 1 topic = Your Studies

If you know (definitely) that your examiner is from the U.S. or Canada, it is suitable to say, "I'm a freshman", "I'm a sophomore", "I'm a junior" or "I'm a senior". However, if your examiner is not from North America (or if you are not sure where the examiner is from) you should not use these terms because they are American English only - most examiners from Britain and Australia and other non-North American countries are not familiar with these terms! (About 85% of examiners are non-North Americans, mostly from Britain and Australia.) Remember, it's a communication test

For example:

回复 179# fly0725 的帖子



PART1我告诉他我是大三学生:A JUNIOR OF XX UNIVERSITY ,他居然没听懂,我于是换了种说法:我已经在大学里学习了三年。。。。。。他才点了点头。

(See Message #199 on this page:


For non-North American examiners, you should say, "I'm a first-year student", "I'm a second-year student", "I'm a third-year student", "I'm a fourth-year student" or "I'm a final-year student". You can also say "I'm in (my) first year" etc. 

Definitely do not use the word "grade" for high school or especially for university - this is mostly used for primary school students. The answer, "I'm a senior grade 3 student"  is not comprehensible to native English speakers! That should be, "I'm a third year student in senior high school" or, "I'm a third year senior high school student".

In some circumstances, for example, if you are a high school student in Britain or Australia or studying in a British or Australian high school overseas, you can use the word "form" instead of "year". When using that word, we say, "I'm in Sixth form" or "I'm a sixth form student" etc. This usage treats junior high school and senior high school as one combined, "high school".

It is acceptable to say, "I'm a final-year high school student" or "I'm a third year senior high school student" or "I'm in (my) third year at senior high school". But don't just say, "senior school" - you should say "senior high school".


Part 1 Topic = Studies Note 2

Your answer could include electronic devices, such as laptop computers (= notebook computers), a PC computer at home or at the university, printers, flash storage devices, tape recorders, video recorders, calculators, electronic dictionaries etc. The internet could also be called "a tool".

For those engineering and science students who use certain special equipment, for example, in laboratories, this question gives you an opportunity of showing your vocabulary.

Non-electronic tools could be used as examples for your answer. For example, pens and pencils are writing tools! 


Part 1 topic = Your Home

In the questions below, it is unclear which word is used, 'neighbourhood', 'surroundings' or 'environment'. Possible more than one of these words is used. The word, 'neighbourhood' usually includes a description of buildings, landscape and people. But the word, 'surroundings' usually doesn't include a description of people.


Part 1 topic = Your Home Note 1

This is a 'Yes/No' questions, so you should first say, "Yes, there is" before you give more details.

Alternatively, the question might be, "Do you have anything on the walls of your home?" If it is those words, begin your answer to this Yes/No question with the direct answer, "Yes, I do".

The question probably does not include the words, "the inside walls" or "the walls of your rooms" but that is the meaning.

The question might be, "the walls of your room".

Most people in China have very little on the walls because they don't want to damage the walls. But if you just give a simple answer like that you'll be losing the opportunity to show a lot of vocabulary. Tell lies and show a lot of vocabulary if you want to score points! Which do you prefer, to be honest and get fewer points in the test or to tell lies and get a good score in the test?

Some useful key words are: a painting, a poster, a piece of (or, a work of) calligraphy (make sure you pronounce it correctly; another pronunciation of calligraphy is here), (a framed) photo(graph), a map, a calendar, a mirror, a light (= a lamp), a clock, an air-conditioner, a shelf, a Chinese knot (be clear on the pronunciation & clearly explain this, with body language for the word, 'knot' and explaining that it's a work of art), a certificate (degree, award etc.), ...

If you say a painting, describe it, showing a lot of vocabulary.

The word, 'picture' is not wrong but it has a meaning that is rather general because it can mean photograph or painting or drawing etc.

If you want to say a picture of a pop star, sports star or movie star, say one of those, not just the one word, "star". If you just say, "star" it means a star in the sky at night time!

If you say a photograph, don't say, "My photograph" when you mean, "a photograph of me". The words, "my photograph" just mean "a photograph that I own". My collection of photographs (= my photographs) includes some photos of my pet dog when I was a kid. These are "photographs of my dog", not "my dog's photographs". My dog never owned any photographs!

It is true that English has the idiomatic expression, "take my photograph" = "take a photograph of me". Similarly, "take my girlfriend's photo" = "take a photo of my girlfriend". Usually we use that expression for one person. It is possible to correctly say, "take my parents' photo" but it sounds a little strange to most English speakers. It's better to say, "take a photo of my parents".

So, don't say, "My photo is on the wall" or, "There's my parents' photograph on the wall". Instead, say, "There's a photo of me on the wall" or, "There's a photo of my parents on the wall." And give a detail or two. For example, "There's a photo on the wall of my parents on their wedding day." Or, "There's a photo showing me and my former classmates on our last day of classes."

This answer should be one of the longer answers you give in Part 1, maybe 25 seconds. (The average Part 1 answer should be about 20 seconds.) Give details by including the use of the word, "which" and show your vocabulary. Try to briefly talk about 2 or 3 different things on your walls.

Don't talk about mosquitoes (蚊子) or flies (苍蝇) on your walls. (Just joking.)


Part 1 topic = Your Hometown. Note 1

Possibly the words, 'young people' are used instead of 'children'. 'Young people' are about 15 to 30 years old.


Part 1 topic = Your Hometown. Note 2

Some examples: a road, a building, a bridge, a temple, another kind of structure, a statue, a piece of artwork etc.


Part 1 topic = Your Hometown. Note 3

a) What do you like best about your hometown? (Why?)

    = What's the best thing about your hometown?

    = What would you say is the best thing about your hometown? 


b) What do you like best in your hometown? (Why?) *


c) What part of your hometown do you like best?


d) What's the best part of your hometown?

It is not clear exactly which question is used. Maybe more than one of them is used. Whatever you answer, just choose one fact, thing or place to talk about.

For a), it's best to talk about a fact or a situation. For example, "The thing I like best is the fact that it's near the ocean because ...." Or, "I most like the fact that it's near the ocean. I like that because ....". 

Or, "What I like best are the modern shopping malls because all of these malls have clothes boutiques and I just love to look at interesting clothes, (pause) although some of them are far too expensive for me to buy."

It could be an answer about the people but to say the people in your hometown are "kind" or "friendly" is not a very strong answer because most Chinese people, from Harbin to Guangzhou, are more or less the same. However, if your hometown is just a very small town or a village, that answer would be suitable.

You could also talk about a thing (or things) or a place (or places) to answer question a). For that kind of answer, say, " ... the fact that it has many beautiful parks" or "the fact that there's a beautiful river running through the centre of town".

For b), it's best to talk about a thing. For example, "Possibly my favourite thing in the city is the ancient city wall because I'm very interested in history and the wall constantly reminds me that Xian has a long history." (Actually, the wording for b seems strange to me – I think a, c and d are much more likely questions.)

For c), the best answer is to talk about a section of your hometown, such as: the downtown area, the city center, the outskirts of the city, the area around my university, the northern part, etc. You need to express your personal reasons why you like that part of your hometown best.

For d), the question is not really asking for what you like best but rather, is asking you to say which part of your hometown you consider to be the best quality place. Quite often in English, "the best part of town" means the part of town where the richest people live. That part of town has "the best quality houses",  "the best quality facilities", and probably the best location (for example, on a hill or near the beach). This question might be what a newcomer to your hometown would ask, when looking for a place to live (assuming this newcomer has enough money to live in the 'best part of town'). In other words, the question is not really asking what you personally feel is the best part of town to live in, but instead is asking what most people consider to be the best part of town to live in.


Part 1 topic = Your Hometown. Note 4

This question can be interpreted in two different ways.

Firstly, you could consider the question to be asking you to talk about the untapped tourist potential that your hometown might have. In other words, the question is asking if you think your hometown is suitable for tourists when, in fact, very few tourists come to your hometown now (maybe because of undeveloped infrastructure such as poor transportation or a lack of good hotels). You could say yes if you think your hometown has something unique such as a connection to the history of China. Or you could say yes if you think there is some especially beautiful natural feature in or near your hometown such as a beautiful waterfall and a crystal-clear lake or a large, beautiful virgin forest on the side of a mountain. 

Secondly, it's also possible to answer by saying that your consider your hometown would be a suitable tourist destination if someone was planning to go somewhere as a tourist when, in fact, tourists do already come. Here, your meaning is that your hometown is suitable to be included in an itinerary (a plan of places to go to) for tourists. The word 'suitable' also includes such factors as suitable accommodation for tourists and convenient transportation for tourists

However, it's not a strong answer to just name two or three places that are current tourist attractions because just giving the names of a few places does not require very strong English. (Anyone can memorize a few names.) For example, if you come from Beijing and you say Beijing has The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace and the Great Wall, you will not really impress the examiner. It is much better, after you name these places, to give the examiner a summarized description or explanation of what the The Forbidden City or The Summer Palace is. (Use connecting words such as, "which", "where" etc.)

(By the way, The Great Wall is not in Beijing city. If Beijing is your hometown, the Great Wall is not 'in your hometown' unless you live near Badaling or some similar place.)


Part 1 topic = Reading

The meaning of 'read' here is , not 读书.


Part 1 topic = Weekends Note 1

Why?/Why not? Include what you usually do on weekends.


Part 1 topic = Weekends Note 2

= What do they do?

It is not 'wrong' to say that some people like to 'travel to different places in China' but that answer is unsuitable. After all, the weekend is just two days, Saturday & Sunday. Some people like to travel away from where they live, to a nearby place, but not really 'travel around China'. A short trip like that can be called a 'day trip', meaning you just go somewhere for the day and come back home to sleep. (Of course, many people stay away from home all weekend.)


Part 1 topic = Weekends Note 3

In (most countries in) the West, a 40-hour workweek, consisting of five 8-hour work days is considered to be the standard. If an employee is asked to work more than 8 hours in one day, the extra time is called "overtime". Overtime is usually paid to the employee at a higher rate than normal working hours. For example, many employers (must, by law) pay employees 150% of the normal pay for overtime hours worked, and in some cases, such as working on Christmas Day, it is 200% or more. The reason for paying overtime at a higher than normal rate is to compensate the employees for the loss of valuable time that could have been spent with the family and, to some extent, to penalize the employer for asking employees to sacrifice their family (or personal) time. 

Employees who have (senior) managerial positions usually do not claim or receive overtime – they receive a flat salary per year, which, of course, is considerably higher than that of  lower-level employees. 


Part 1 topic = Family, Note 1

We can say, "He's a family member" and, "He's a member of the family". But we don't usually say, "My family has four members" or "There are four members in my family." Instead, we say, "There are four people in my family".


Part 1 topic = Family, Note 2

Some English speakers treat the word, 'family' as plural. E.g., 'What do your family do together?'


Part 1 topic = Family, Note 3

Your job? Your girlfriend? Your family? Your friends? Why is it (or, are they) so important?


Part 1 topic = Telephones 

Which? Why? Guess if you don't know why.

Some English speakers also use the word, 'mobile phone' rather than 'cellphone'.


Part 1 topic = Daily Routine

'This time' = the time of the Speaking test.


Part 1, Topic = Weather, Note 1

Say how – guess how.

How do you feel during a light snowfall and immediately after, when the snow is still fresh? Most people are uplifted & refreshed by such a beautiful sight! (That is, if you live in a place that doesn't get a lot of snow.)


Part 1, Topic = Weather, Note 2

Pay attention to the exact words of this question. If the questions is, "... affect your life" then it means more than just affecting your mood. For example, you could say that heavy rain damages your shoes because it is difficult to keep your shoes dry. 


Part 1 topic = Weather, Note 3

'Here' = at the place where you are doing the IELTS test.


Part 1 topic = Friends, Note 1

Here, 'meet' = meet for the first time.

This means meeting new people – people you didn't know before.


Part 1 topic = Friends, Note 2

 = to really know a person; to understand a person


Part 1 topic = Friends, Note 3

Or do prefer using the phone or email?


Part 1 topic = Friends, Note 4

This question has not yet been reported for Part 1 but it is sometimes used in Part 3. It might be used in Part 1. 

Hint: If, after you first meet them on the internet, you then meet them in person, then of course it is as possible as meeting anyone new face-to-face.


Part 1 topic = Parks and Public Gardens 

 = What are parks and public gardens used for?


Part 1 topic = Clothes, Note 1

 = the same type as you wear?

'People around you' means your workmates, classmates, neighbours, friends etc.


 Part 1 topic = Clothes, Note 2

Or do students all wear a uniform?


 Part 1 topic = Clothes, Note 3

Or, too much time buying clothes?


Part 1 topic = Leisure Time & Relaxing 1

Or: What do you like to do to relax? (Why?)

See also important notes here.


Part 1 topic = Leisure Time & Relaxing 2

Weekends are not considered to be 'holidays' but rather, 'time off work'.

This question might be: Do you think leisure time is important? 

Of course, this question is really asking you, "What is the importance of holidays (or, leisure time)?"


Part 1 topic = Meals, Note 1

'Meal' has several slightly different meanings. 

  1. A meal is an event,  一顿饭 (Breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper are the three meals of the day for most people.)
  1. A meal is a dish (菜肴) i.e., the specific food eaten.
  1. A meal can also mean, 'a relatively large amount of food that is eaten, enough to satisfy your appetite.' 


Part 1 topic = Meals, Note 2

This question probably comes under the 'Meals' topic.


Part 1 topic = Photography, Note 1

= Do you like taking photographs?


Part 1 topic = Photography, Note 2

If people, say who. If scenery, say what kind of scenery.


Part 1 topic = Photography, Note 3

= Who do you photograph?


Part 1 topic = Photography, Note 4

= Why do some people not like having their photo taken?


Part 1 topic = Art (Or, The Arts), Note 1

A broad definition of the word, 'art' or an 'art form' means 'a creative skill' or the product of this creative skill. This includes such activities as drawing & painting, writing poetry and the 'performing arts' such as making music, dance, acting etc. In Chinese, this is 艺术.  

In a more narrow sense, 'art' means drawing, painting, sculpture, (photography) and similar visual art forms. This group is sometimes called 'the fine arts'. In Chinese, this is 美术. For the questions in the test, any type of art is probably suitable.  


Part 1 topic = Art (Or, The Arts), Note 2

American English for 'art gallery' is 'art museum'.


Part 1 topic = Art (Or, The Arts), Note 3

Handicrafts can be included as a form of 'artwork'. In China, there are many kinds of traditional handicrafts such as making and painting a kite, making & painting a mask for a Beijing opera performance, paper cutting, embroidery, making Chinese knots ... Calligraphy can be included in this! 



Part 1 topic = Newspapers

The wording might be, "Do you prefer to read local news or international news?"

The word, "local" usually means 本地的. That is, it refers to your local community, town, city or province. But when it is used in contrast to "international" it is possible to interpret the meaning as, "domestic" or "national". Alternatively, you could continue to interpret the meaning as  本地的.


Part 1 Topic = Names Note 1

(Don't worry about the word "special" (or "particular") in this question. It just means, "Does your name, or any part of your name, have a meaning?" For example, 王 means "king" and 李 means the fruit, plum.)

If you get this question, try to be clear and methodical in the way you give your answer.

For example, "Yes, it does. My surname, XXX means YYY and my given names, ZZZ and WWW mean AAA and BBB. My parents gave me that name because ...." 

The points to note here are:

  1. Clearly say which part of your name means what.
  1. You can say "family name" instead of "surname" but most English speakers say "surname" and showing that you know this word will impress the examiner more.
  1. Most Chinese people have a two-word given name, that is, two different Chinese characters with a meaning for each character and you should explain the meaning of each character or the meaning of the two words in combination. 

For example, if your full name is, say, "Liu Jianfeng" then you can treat "Jianfeng" as your given name (singular) or you can say that "Jian" and "Feng" are your given names (plural). It doesn't matter too much which of these two choices you make.

  1. Definitely do not use the expressions, "first name" and "second name". These expressions apply to Western names, not Chinese names. If you use these expressions, you will seriously confuse the examiner because your surname is the first word in your full name, which is the opposite to the case with Westerners' names.
  1. Give additional information, especially information about why your parents gave you your given name.

Everyone can and should do this, even if you don't know the exact, literal meaning of the name or if the name no longer has a known meaning. By doing this, you are saying what the name personally means to your parents = the significance or value of the name to your parents. For example, maybe your parents gave you the same name as some famous person or hero in Chinese history because your parents respect that person so much and they wanted you to have the same qualities that person had. Or maybe your parents named you after someone who saved your father's life and, by giving you that name, your parents wanted to show their gratitude and respect for that person.

  1. If your surname no longer has any (known) meaning and is simply a name, just say that to the examiner. You still should be able to give extra information about your surname, even if you don't know the meaning of it. For example, if your surname is , just explain that it was the name of an ancient emperor.


Topic = Birthdays Note 1

What did you do on your last birthday?


Topic = Gifts or, flowers

What sorts of things do people in China usually give as gifts? 

The word, "send"

We usually say, "give a gift". In English, if you say, "send a gift" it means to "mail a gift", "post a gift" or, "ask someone else to take and give your gift to another person". The same is true for "giving flowers to someone".

The word, "send" means "to cause something or someone to go somewhere" but the person who sends does not go with that thing or person. For example, when you send a letter to your friend in another city, you don't go with the letter! Or, if Mum sends her daughter to the shop (= asks or tells her daughter to go to the shop) to buy some vegetables, Mum stays at home while the daughter goes to the shop. 

Similarly, if your cousin from another city visits you and you are planning to go with your cousin to the airport to say goodbye when your cousin is leaving, we don't say, "I'll send you to the airport". That is wrong because you plan to go with your cousin to the airport. Instead, you should say, "I'll take you to the airport" (= "I'll see you off at the airport" or, "I'll accompany you to the airport".) When you "take" something or someone somewhere, you go with that thing or person.


Topic = leisure 1

The American (and Canadian) way of pronouncing 'leisure' is quite different to the British (and Australian etc.) way.


The British pronunciation of 'leisure'

The American pronunciation of 'leisure'.


Topic = names 1

How are babies given their names in China?

If possible, try to give some information about where the names come from. For example, from traditional Chinese stories, from Tang poetry, from some special book of names, .....

(In the West, many people give their children the names of the baby's grandparents or uncles or aunts etc.)


Topic = Food 1

It is not an intelligent answer to say, "I like Chinese food."

Most people have several different foods that they like to eat. But most people cannot quickly say which one food is their 'favourite'. So, if the question asks for your "favourite" food, just quickly choose one - don't sit there for a long time trying to select which food you like the most out of all the foods you like.

You could even answer by saying something like, "Well, there are several foods that I like to eat and it's hard to say which one is my 'favourite food' ... but I especially like to eat mangos when they're in season - the yellow ones, not so much the red ones. I guess the main reason I like them is that I have a 'sweet tooth' but I can't really explain why I like mangos more than other sweet fruits. I just think they taste like heaven - they are the fruit of the gods!"


Sports & Exercise Topic Note 1

For most people, you should talk about a sport that you don't (regularly or habitually) play now but would like to play in the future. Since the meaning is a sport that you don't regularly or habitually play (or do) now, it is suitable to talk about a sport that you have experienced or even a sport that you used to do but don't often do now. For example, it is possible for you to say that you used to occasionally play ping-pong when you were a kid (but you don't do it now) and you would like to play it more regularly in the future because you think it's a good form of exercise.

It is also possible to talk about a sport that you play now and would also like to play in the future. In this case, say something like, "I'd like to continue playing basketball in the future". But I think it's best to not use this kind of answer.


 See Vocabulary Lists 2.


Topic = Studying alone or with others



Note about "parties"

In English, we do not say "take part in a party" or "participate in a party". Instead, we just say, "go to a party" or, less frequently and more formally, "attend a party".

The word, "party" can also be used as a verb, such as, "He likes to party".


Note 2 about Parties

For almost all of you reading this, I strongly suggest not using the term "party animal" in the test, such as "I'm a real party animal" or, "I'm not a party animal". Students that I see in mock tests are using it without a real understanding of the meaning and usage of that term, and they are using it with the wrong word stress. It sounds much too rehearsed. Speak naturally. Don't try to "impress" the examiner with that colloquial expression.

On this website, I have it next to the picture of two dogs as a joke!

But, just for your information, below is my explanation of the term, "party animal". There are two ways to interpret the term, "party animal".

A "party animal" is a slang (or informal) expression for someone who especially loves going to parties and who probably goes to parties often. For these people, parties are a big part of their lives. Here, the meaning of the words, "party animal" is the same as, "a party person" or, "an extroverted person whose personality is especially suited to parties" and a person for whom parties are a big part of their life. Instead of saying, "I'm not a party animal", I think it would be much better to just say, "I'm not much of a party person". Why is it better not to use the slang or informal term, "party animal" in that sentence? The reason is that this term refers to someone who especially likes (and often goes to) parties but there is no need to refer to the extreme case when you are saying that you do or do not like parties. Saying "I'm not (much of) a party person" sounds ok because it's simply stating a fact, without referring to the extreme case. As well as that, saying that you are or are not a "party animal" also can, and often does remind the listener of the second meaning that is explained below.

The second, more expanded interpretation of "party animal" includes the idea of "acting like an animal" at parties, especially when we are talking about young men. That is, behaving in a wild, uninhibited way, usually as a result of drinking a lot of alcohol. The phenomenon of "party animals" with this meaning is not common among the kind of people who sit for the IELTS test in China. In China, maybe you could describe a few of those people who very often go to pubs and nightclubs and other people such as some of the more wild full-time rock musicians as "party animals". If you say, "I'm a real party animal", you are referring to this meaning. But it is unusual for someone to describe himself or herself as a "real party animal"; usually we say that to refer to others, such as, "He's a real party animal".

It should be spoken with the stronger stress on the word, "party": party animal.


Note on the usage of the word, "play"

Unlike Chinese (and some other languages), adult English speakers do not (usually) say, "Let's go out and play" or similar usages of the word, "play" when they are referring to themselves. But they might say that if they are talking to a child – an adult can "play with" a child, for example, playing games with the child or simply doing the kinds of things that kids like to do, such as playing with their toys. In English, "playing" is what children (under the age of 13) do. If you walk past a primary school when the kids are outside during their recess time or lunchtime, you'll hear them shouting and screaming and see them running around. We say, "The kids are playing outside." Of course, not everything a child does is "play" – children also do things such as 'watching TV', 'reading a book', 'practicing the piano', 'doing homework' etc. But if you take a younger kid, say 4 to 6 years of age and let him or her do whatever he or she wants to do, especially if they have toys available, then what they do is "play". Play often involves the use of the imagination, for example, pretending to be someone in a role. Games and other activities that kids do are called, in general, "playing".

Sometimes we can say an adult or teenager is "just playing" or, "He's just playing around". This usage means that he or she is not serious, for example, is joking or pretending or maybe doing something that is a waste of time. Americans also say, "fool around" for this meaning. So we see that, in general, the word "play" means "do something that is not serious".

In English we also have a few expressions such as "all work and no play" that are referring to adults. However, the way a word is used in an expression is not always a good guide on how to use the word more generally.

You might occasionally hear adult English-speakers say something like, "Let's go out tonight and play" but it is rare and those people who say it have been affected by or are copying the language of non-English speakers.

So, what do adult English speakers say when they mean, "出去玩儿"? Strangely, English is not very efficient for this idea and does not have a single word that is equivalent to "play" when referring to the behaviour of adults or teenagers. We use a variety of different expressions, some of them slang, such as "have fun", "hang out" (slang), "take it easy" or the more serious-sounding, "have a good time" and "enjoy ourselves". We can also simply say, "relax", meaning do something that is recreational, not work. Sometimes people say, "recreate" but it is not in common usage. We also say, "go out" when we mean to go out for recreational purposes but "go out" can also simply mean, "leave the house" such as when going out to buy some groceries. For example: "What do you usually do on Saturday night?" – "I usually go out with my friends."

In English, when speaking of adult behaviour, we usually speak more specifically about what we do – "see some friends", "go window-shopping", "take a walk on the beach", "listen to some music", "watch a DVD", "chat", "shoot some basketball", "play snooker", "have a drink", "go to a disco", "see a film", "play chess", "play a computer game", "play my guitar" etc. Notice we do use the word "play" but it is followed by the name of a game or a musical instrument.


Similarly, we only refer to the area outside a school classroom as a "playground" when we are talking about a kindergarten or primary school, that is, for kids under the age of about 13. However, some people use it when talking about a high school, based on the habit of talking about a primary school and saying that does not sound too incorrect. On the other hand, it certainly does sound incorrect to refer to the recreational or rest area outside a university classroom as a "playground". Such an area outside a university classroom building should be called, "the rest area", "the garden", "the lawn", "the courtyard" or something similar to those.

Some people refer to a school or university sports field as a "playground" but that is wrong – it should be called a "sports field", a "playing field" or, more specifically, "a football field" etc. (I personally believe it is incorrect to say, "a football pitch" because "pitch" means to "throw" and this term is really only suitable for a "cricket pitch".)

We can see public playgrounds, which are recreational facilities for children, in towns and cities. These usually have play equipment such as swings, slides ("slippery dips"), see-saws, "jungle gyms" (for climbing), carousels (= "merry-go-rounds") and other imaginative play equipment for children. People over the age of about 13 generally do not use this equipment. (See "Playgrounds" in the vocabulary section of this website.)

In China we often see places that look similar to playgrounds but they have exercise equipment for adults. These places are "exercise areas".


How has the internet changed your life?

  1. First, notice that the question (as it is written here) is present perfect tense (现在完成式). Therefore, the best answer should use the same tense. For example, "It has (= It's) introduced me to a lot of new ideas." is much better than, "It introduced me to a lot of new ideas." The second sentence is past tense and the past tense should only be used when the listener or reader has a more exact idea of when than simply, "before now" or, "up to now". The present perfect tense is used to talk about, "before now" or "up to now", without a more exact time being mentioned.
  2. Many people in China will say, "It's broadened my horizon". This is quite a good idiomatic expression but it has become a little overused in China. I suggest changing it to, "It's expanded my horizon". Certainly, if you do use either of those expressions, you should immediately follow that with, "For example, ...". Just to say, "It's broadened my horizon" as your complete answer will put that answer into the category of Band 5.0 or 5.5 only. 
  3. When using an expression such as, "It's expanded my horizon", native English speakers often use the word, "really" to emphasize that something is quite large in extent, not just a little bit. So, for this example, you could say, "It's really broadened my horizon. For example....". This is a much more natural way to speak and it makes the expression seem a lot less like a clichι (陈语滥调). In fact, I suggest you try to use the word, "really" this way more than once in the Speaking test, but no more than 3 times.
  4. Do you really know what your "horizon" is? In this expression, it means how wide your view of the world is. Your 'view of the world' means your awareness of what exists in the world, your awareness of the realities of the world (or of life) or the depth of understanding you have about the world, especially about society. 
  5. Other ways to answer could include such sentences as: "It's allowed me to access a lot of information"; "It's enabled me to communicate with more people than I would have communicated with if I hadn't used the internet"; etc.
  6. Don't say, "It has made my life more convenient." and especially don't say, "It has made me more convenient". If you want to talk about convenience, say something like, "It's brought a lot of convenience to my life." See here on the word "convenient".


Words connected with 'travel'

Some words in English can be used as either a noun or a verb. But other words cannot be used this way. It is also important to know the differences in meaning, and therefore differences in usage, between similar words.

Let's look at five different words; journey; voyage; travel; trip; and tour (There are also several other words connected with this idea.)

Note: British spelling has double 'l' for the words, "travelling", "travelled etc. but American usage has only one 'l'.

Word Meaning Used as a Noun?  Used as a Verb? Common (phrasal verb) Expressions



a) the distance travelled

b) the experience of travelling this distance

c) the time of travelling this distance

Usually (but not always) used when referring to long distances or a long time spent traveling. For example, "Travelers along the Silk Road often endured a long and dangerous journey."

Yes. Usually used as a noun. Although it is possible to use "journey" as a verb, it is not often used this way because, when used as a verb, the word is emphasizing the great length and difficulty of the journey. For example, "They journeyed across Australia from south to north."

When talking about a long trip or journey but without emphasizing the length or difficulty, it is more appropriate just to use the word, "travelled".

"go on a journey"

"Have a journey" is possible but not often used. If you use it, it's best to use it with an adjective such as, "We had an interesting journey." That sort of sentence is commonly used.

"Make a journey" is possible, but is not commonly used so I suggest not using it because the examiner might think it is an incorrect usage.

Word Meaning Used as a Noun?  Used as a Verb? Common (phrasal verb) Expressions


航行, 航海

A "voyage" is a long journey, especially by sea. Yes. Usually used as a noun. No.

There is an old-fashioned and formal usage of "voyage" as a verb but you should not use it. (Besides, "voyaged" and "voyaging" are hard to say!)

"go on a voyage"

"embark on a voyage"

"undertake a voyage"

"set out on a voyage"

"make a voyage" (less common)

Word Meaning Used as a Noun?  Used as a Verb? Common (phrasal verb) Expressions


旅游, 旅行, 移动,

a) The basic meaning is "to go" or "to move". It is similar to, "go on a journey", "go on a voyage", "go on a trip" or "go on a tour" but there is no special emphasis on the length of the journey - the usage is related to the idea of 'movement'. For example, "I traveled across the city to sit for the IELTS test."

b) In this modern age, "to travel" usually means to use a vehicle such as a bicycle, car, bus, train, plane or ship. However, it is possible to use, "travel" to mean, "walk" when the distance or time is not short. For example, "I traveled (walked) from my home to my office in 30 minutes" or, "This morning, I traveled (= walked) all around the old centre of Beijing."

c) Sometimes, but not always, the verb "to travel" means, "to travel for recreational purposes" = "to tour" = "to go sightseeing" = 游览

In the Part 1 topic, "Travelling", the emphasis seems to be on this usage of traveling for recreation. But people such as traveling salesmen also travel for work, and some students travel between their hometown and their university (which might be hundreds of kilometers apart) at vacation time, and so on.


For example, in English we do not say, "I have been on many travels around China" or, "I plan to go on a travel to Tibet."

In English we can use the verbal-noun, "travelling" ( "traveling")  to mean the activity. For example, "I like travelling very much." A verbal-noun is a type of noun.

We also see the following usages in English: "the cost of travel" and "Travel broadens the mind". You should think of these usages of the word "travel" as shortened forms of the verbal-noun, "travelling". For example: "the cost of travel" = "the cost of travelling" and "Travel broadens the mind" = "Travelling broadens the mind"

We also see this in English: "I've seen some interesting things on my travels." ("某人的 travels") This is a special expression only and it does not mean you can say, "I have gone on many travels."

["in my travels" = "on my travels]

Yes. This is the usual usage.  
Word Meaning Used as a Noun?  Used as a Verb? Common (phrasal verb) Expressions


 旅行, 远足

A trip is similar in meaning to "a journey", "a voyage" or "a tour" but, unlike "journey" and "voyage", a "trip" is usually not very long, in either distance or time. For example, when meeting someone at the airport who has just made a 3-hour plane flight, you might ask: "How was your trip?" 

Or, "While the advertisements were on TV, I made a quick trip to the kitchen to prepare a snack."

You can also say something like this: "In my last holidays, I took a trip to Australia." Here, you are expressing the feeling that the experience felt quite short because the two weeks you spent in Australia were not enough to see and do all that you wanted to see and do. Australia is a long way from China but you can still use the word "trip" to express the idea that it did not seem to be a very long journey.

Yes. The usual usage is as a noun. No.

There is an expression in English that treats "trip" as a verb: "day-tripping". This means to go on a trip (or trips) that only last for one day. Related to this, we can say, "He's a day-tripper". But besides this example, "trip" is not used as a verb.

There is also a (slang) verb, "to trip" that means, "to have a hallucinogenic drug experience". So I suggest you do not say to the examiner, "I like to trip" or, "I like tripping". Instead, say, "I like travelling" or, "I like to go on trips".

There is also a different verb, "to trip" that means "to stumble and (almost) fall" (绊倒)


"go on a trip"


"take a trip"

These two are usually used to refer to traveling for pleasure. For example, "I'm going on a trip to Thailand next month." But those two expressions can also be used to refer to business trips.

("going" = "going to go")


"make a trip"

This is usually only used when you include the information of where you are going to go or went. For example, "I made a trip to the post office." It refers to a short journey, not a holiday trip as for the first two examples, above.


Word Meaning Used as a Noun?  Used as a Verb? Common (phrasal verb) Expressions

旅游, 参观

a) As a verb, "to tour" means to "to travel to (to visit) different parts of a place that is new to the traveler in order to see interesting things" such as, "I toured the Forbidden City in Beijing". 

b) A similar meaning to above is to visit the different parts of a place in order to inspect or to have a good look in order to gain knowledge. For example, "The new manager toured the factory". In this example, the manager is not a "tourist" because he toured the factory as part of his job.

c) The word "tour" is equally used as a noun. The examples above can be changed to: "I took a tour of the Forbidden City in Beijing" and, "The new manager had a tour of the factory".

Yes Yes "to tour (usually) + noun" =

"to make a tour of + noun" =

"to have a tour of + noun" 

The expressions, "to take a tour" and "to go on a tour" can also have the added meaning of, "to join an organized group that is shown around a certain place by a tour guide". When used this way, you can add, "of + noun" in order to give more information but it is not necessary to add this.



Notes on the topic of 'Fruit and Vegetables'


Did you like to eat fruit and vegetables when you were a child?

The examiner wants you to show some vocabulary here (as well as show you can use the past tense). Say what you liked, what you especially (really) liked (your favourite fruits and vegetables), what you didn't like very much and any fruit or vegetable that you especially disliked. Add a few extra comments, such as how you especially liked a certain vegetable when it was cooked a certain way, or comment about any vegetable that you preferred to eat raw.

Even if your tastes and preferences in fruit and vegetables are now still the same as when you were a child, still use the past tense to describe your tastes and preferences when you were a child.

It's especially good to mention any changes in these tastes and preferences between when you were a child and now or to mention that your tastes and preferences are still the same. Show contrasting stress when you mention these things at two different times.


To Page 2 of the Part 1 question notes.