Updated Sep.11, 2013 


Notes about some Part 1 Questions (Page 3)

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If some of the notes on this page are possible in an answer to a question, be very careful about speaking those exact same words, especially the same word combinations, in the test. If several 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, a website 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. Completely memorized answers are usually not spoken in a very natural way by candidates. Try to avoid letting the examiner know that you have read this website!!


In the future, what sort of home (flat, house etc.) would you like to live in?


Do you like your job?

Do you like your subject?

If you get any question about liking something, you should try to say something about your feelings. (For example, see Adjectives of Feeling although you don't always need to use an adjective of feeling to talk about liking something.)

Below is an example of an unsuitable answer, unsuitable because it expresses rational (= logical) thinking rather than feelings:

Q: "Do you like your subject?" A: "Yes I do because it will lead to a good job after I graduate."

That answer doesn't really says anything about liking the subject. But it could be adapted to make it closer to a suitable answer. For example, "Yes I do because it will lead to a good job after I graduate, and I like having a feeling of confidence about my future." But that is still not really talking about liking the subject. Instead, it is simply talking about liking what you are doing now, with a view to liking something that will result from this in the future. It's a bit like saying, "I like not eating for a whole day because I like the idea of losing weight." I doubt that anyone really likes being hungry for a whole day!

A better answer, one that would be suitable is, "Not particularly because it's quite a difficult subject but it will lead to a good job after I graduate, and I do like having a feeling of confidence about my future."

It is not always easy to talk about why you like something after all, you are not a psychologist! But you can attempt to express your feelings. Or you can talk about some aspects of your subject or your job that you like. For either your subject or your job, probably the most suitable aspect to mention is that you find something interesting about it. After all, when something interests us, we don't dislike it. "Interesting" refers to using the brain, or thinking (not feeling) and this is very suitable when talking about being a student. For a job, which involves more than simply studying and learning, you could also say you like it because you like some aspect of your job, such as solving problems, meeting new people, helping people, traveling, or because you like animals (if you work with animals) etc. That would be good enough for a Part 1 answer. But it would be even better to try to express why you like this aspect. For example: "I get a lot of satisfaction from solving problems"; "I like meeting new people because I think people are interesting and sometimes I make new friends that way"; "I like helping people because it makes me feel that I am doing something worthwhile"; "I like traveling because then I get to see interesting new places, things and people"; and, "I like animals because I think it's interesting how they are like people in some ways".

It's also a good idea to say, "On the other hand, ..." and then add one or two things that you don't particularly like. Showing knowledge of the expression, "On the other hand, ..." will earn you some points for Coherence.


Climate and Weather

Although climate is usually defined as "weather on a long-term scale", I think the main aspects that people refer to when they talk about climate are temperature and humidity. Expressions that are commonly used to describe climate are: "a mild climate", "a warm, wet (or humid) climate", "a hot, wet (or humid) climate", "a cold, dry climate", "a cold, rainy climate". Those same expressions can also be used to describe weather.

On the other hand, we commonly use the following adjectives to describe weather but not to describe climate: "sunny", "windy", "overcast", "fine" ...

Of course, the climate of a place changes in the different seasons. When describing the seasons, expressions such as "mild winters", "mild summers", "hot, humid summers", "cold, dry winters" etc. are suitable.



Make sure you know, and use in your answers, some suitable vocabulary for this topic. The main relatives that people have are: uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews and grandparents. You can also add brother-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and father-in-law to that list.

(Note that grandparent, grandmother, grandfather etc. are all pronounced with "grand" spoken stronger than the second part of the word. The same is true for the in-laws (in-laws), shown above.)

The following are not called "relatives" in English. Instead, they are called, "members of your family":  mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, husband and wife.

"Family" in English usually refers to the "nuclear family" of mother, father and children. Even though grandparents sometimes live with one of their sons or daughters and their (nuclear) family and seem to be part of the nuclear family, most English-speakers would still refer to grandparents as, "relatives". The "extended family" consists of the nuclear family and the relatives.


Who are some of your relatives that you know?

No-one has reported that they got this question but the first question is usually an introductory question to the topic. It might be, "Which of your relatives do you spend the most time with?" or "Which of your relatives do you see most often?" Or it might even be as simple as, "Do you have many relatives?"


When you were a child, did you play more with your friends or with your relatives?

Someone reported they got this question. If it is worded that way, it looks like the examiner (who is reading the question from a question book) is avoiding the word "cousins" in order to test your vocabulary. Of course, kids usually play with other kids so using the word "cousins" or "cousin" is most suitable.


In the future, do you think you will have more opportunities to see your relatives (than you do now)?

This is referring to the possibility that you might be busier than you are now or living further away from your relatives than you are now, so you probably will see them less often than now.

Possibly the question really is this: In the future, do you think you will have opportunities to see more relatives? This is referring to the possibility that you will have more money or better transportation than you have now or have had in the past, and will therefore be able to visit some relatives who you have never or rarely seen before.

I think the first of these two possible questions is most likely to be the real question.


Indoor Games

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


Do you like plastic flowers? 

If this question does exist, it's more likely to be something like this: "Do you think plastic flowers are just as good as real flowers?" Hint - Which ones smell better?


Were colours important to you when you were a child?



coloured pencils


What school/university do you go to?

This question might be worded as, "What school/university do you attend?"

Both of those questions mean, "What school/university do you go to now?" This is not asking about your future plans.


What are your responsibilities at work?

This is what someone reported as their question. But it's possible that the question is simply, "What do you do in your job?" or, "What do you do at work?"

"What you do" and "what your responsibilities are" are not always exactly the same thing. "Responsibilities" refers to "duty" or, what you must do or have to do or should do. Managers and group leaders have more responsibility than employees who are lower on the ladder. But, of course, even the lowest person in the hierarchy at work has a job to do, which more or less does mean, "a job they have to do". If the word, "responsibilities" is used in the question, the best way to answer the question is to include such words as, "I have to ..", I must ..." etc. For example, "I have to clean the toilets and keep the floors in the whole office clean."

On the other hand, if the wording is simply, "What do you do?" then it's more normal to say something like, "I write computer code most of the time but sometimes I have to test new software that I and other people have written." It would not seem very suitable to stress that you "have to" do it in this case, although it would not be wrong to say that.


Hometown, May-Aug, 2012

Good for Children

It is possible that the verb here is present tense, i.e., "Would you say it is a good place for children to live?" The word, "children" refers to people from about the age of 4 to 12. If the question uses the words, "grow up", then the meaning is from birth to the the late teens, up to the age of 20.


"Safety" can include "safe for your health", i.e., the words, "a safe place" can include the meaning of, "a healthy place".


What do you plan to do after you finish your studies?


Would or Will

These two questions are hypothetical (假设的), referring to a situation that does not exist now (= 现在虚拟式). If you get one of those questions, you should use "would" (or a variation of "would" such as "probably would" or "possibly would"), not "will".

On the other hand, it is possible that this question is asked using the following words, "If you have children in the future, what toys will you give them?" This question is asking you to make a prediction about the real, (possible) future. You should answer this question using "will" (or "might", "may", "possibly will"= "will possibly", or "probably will"= "probably will"), not "would".


"Holidays" Topic (May-Aug 2012)

Do you prefer to spend your holidays at home or to travel?

The question above might be simply, "Do you like to travel when you have a holiday?"


(If you sometimes travel) Do you usually go to the same places that you have been to before?

The question above might be simply, "Do you go to the same place every year?"


What would you like to do in your next holiday?

The question above might be something like, "If you had a holiday and wanted to choose a travel destination, where would you choose to go?"

The following two questions were reported to go with the question above:

Would you prefer to go to just one place or several places?

Who would you choose to go with?

Don't use "will" to answer these questions; use "would".


What do you like to photograph?

Here, "photograph" is a verb.

The exact wording of the question is not known. It might be expressed as, "What do you like to take photos of?" or, "What kinds of things do you like to photograph?"


Did your friends also grow up in the same place as you?

If the question uses wording such as that, it means the people who are your friends now.


Do young people in your country like traditional dancing?


The Meaning of the Word, "Entertainment"

watching films

watching TV or listening to the radio when the programs are not 'serious' programs (that is, not serious programs like the News, documentary programs or other programs that are meant to teach you something or make you think seriously). Quiz shows or similar game shows on TV are for entertainment, not really for the viewer to increase their knowledge. Similar contents on the internet are also classified as "entertainment".

watching/listening to a performance such as a play, a concert, a band playing music, a singer on stage, watching/listening to a comedian performing, watching a basketball or football game or some other sports competition,  a magic performance, a dance performance, an acrobatics performance etc.

listening to recorded music

listening to someone tell a story

playing games such as computer games or playing games with other people just for fun such as card games or even chess

playing party games or similar games with other people

engaging in fun (= not serious) competitions with others

solving puzzles such as jig-saw puzzles, word puzzles or number puzzles

experiencing 'fun activities' such as riding a roller-coaster at an amusement park

telling or sharing jokes and stories etc. and engaging in witty, amusing conversation with others

engaging in non-serious chat on the internet (= chatting on the internet) or just chatting with others in real life when the contents of this chatting are not serious or not intended for learning something useful or something academic or intellectual. Serious 'discussion' is not 'entertainment'.

going to a karaoke bar (or KTV) with your friends and singing songs there is a form of entertainment because it is an activity in which you watch the performance of others - you entertain each other. It is also entertainment simply because it's a 'fun' activity, not a serious activity, even if you are serious about singing the best you can.

reading non-serious literature such as comics, joke books, amusing short stories or 'love stories'. Even reading magazines or articles on the internet about the personal lives of celebrities or entertainers such as pop singers, actors or sports stars is more a form of entertainment than a form of serious reading from which you learn something useful. Usually, reading novels is an example of engaging in an activity for entertainment - it's similar to listening to someone telling a story (see above). This is especially true if you don't learn much from the novel that is useful such as new words or new facts about history.           

Although we say "a game of basketball", it's best to think of basketball and football etc. as sports, not 'games'. The word "game" here is used more as a "measure word", just like saying "a pint of milk" or "a flock of sheep".  However, there are a few activities that are often classified as both 'a sport' and 'a game' that is played in a socialization setting such as in a pub. Examples of these are playing snooker or darts in a pub or another setting that is used for socializing. Even when the players definitely try to win (= semi-serious competition), it's all in fun and these "games" (also sometimes called "sports"), played in such a setting, can be described as forms of (self) entertainment.


Topic = Museums

Do you think the government should build more museums?

In addition to answering the question as it is asked, this question is also an invitation for you to introduce the idea of privately owned or privately built museums, if you want.


What museum (or, what kind of museum) would you like to visit in the future?

If the wording is "what museum" then it is best to talk about a real, existing museum.

If the wording is "what kind of museum" or "what sort of museum", it might be possible for you to talk about the kind of museum that doesn't exist now but that you imagine would be a good idea for the future. This is speaking hypothetically.


Topic = Keeping Healthy

Being "fit" and being "healthy" are very close in meaning but are not exactly the same. "Fit" is more concerned with having a strong body while "healthy" simply means "free of illness or disease; in good condition". So, exercise promotes the "fitness" part of being healthy, as well as helping the body stay free of disease, while eating good food promotes the "healthy body" aspect more. It's not very suitable to say that eating healthy food helps keep you "fit", although it is not an enormous error.


Topic = Climate Change

Do you think the weather has changed much in recent years?

I think it's difficult for even old people to answer this question. Old farmers would be better able to answer this question than old city people, but I think even many old farmers would not be sure about the answer to this question.  Elderly people have seen many more years of life than young people who are about 20 years old, so an answer to this question is even more difficult for young people to correctly judge. Climate changes take place on time scales that are much longer than a few decades! And there is always some variation in weather and climate from year to year - nothing in nature stays static.

I personally remember that there was more snow in Beijing in the early 2000 years than there was in the years 2010 to 2013. But nearby parts of northern China seemed to always have robust snow falls (not just in the mountains) so I suspect other factors are at play here, such as urban pollution, the urban heat-island effect, and humidity changes because, after all, snowfall is not just connected with temperature, it's also connected with humidity. Climate is the result of many extremely complex and not well-understood natural processes. Furthermore, it has been shown that there is both "local climate" and "regional climate". It's not as simple as we have been led to believe. Not only that, my life experience of snowy winters is rather limited, especially in the one place, Beijing.  I haven't lived continuously in one place all my life, to say the least. All this complicates my ability to make an accurate, objective judgment on the question of recent weather changes in Beijing.

For topics such as this, you need to think about such words as objectivity, subjectivity, illusions and perceived reality. You also need to consider how much your "judgment" or "opinion" on this question is influenced by what the media and school tells you. How can the average person make an accurate judgment on this question unless they analyze, and understand honest, accurate and unbiased empirical data, i.e., data from real-life measurements. Unfortunately, the average person is neither capable of, nor very interested in analyzing complex scientific data. But several scientists and academics have analyzed the data and spoken out, crying "Fraud!".


Topic = Difficult Work

The words "difficult" and "demanding" have somewhat different meanings, although they are close in meaning.

"Overloaded" and "demanding" are more or less the same in meaning.


Do you think studying history on the internet is good?

If the word "studying" is used then it implies doing a formal class (or even a complete degree) in History by internet study. The word, "study" basically means the same as "learn" but it also has the added meaning of learning in a more formal or a more organized manner than simply learning something by general reading. Of course, a person can also "self study" something by reading many documents on the internet without getting any credit for a class or a degree.

As opposed to some subjects such as chemistry, the internet is ideal for doing university classes that involve only reading and essay writing.

Caution! 小心!