Updated July 19, 2014 


Notes about some Part 1 Questions (Page 4)

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Caution! 小心!

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!!


It is unclear which question is being used. Maybe both are being used.

"Photography" is the activity or the process of taking photographs. The word is especially used to refer to serious or habitual photo-taking, either for work or as a hobby such as taking photos as an art form. In the days before digital photographs, the activity of "photography" sometimes also included the process of developing the photographs (冲胶卷) in a darkroom. Digital photography could possibly include the activity of adjusting the photos using computer software.

Make sure you know how to pronounce "photograph" (or "photograph" ),  "photography", "photographer" and "photographic". The word stress is placed on the syllable highlighted in green. Click on the word to hear a recording.


Do you (or, do people in your country), prefer to celebrate birthdays according to the lunar or the solar calendar?

This is not a confirmed question but someone reported it in China. Not every IELTS candidate in the world comes from a culture that observes the lunar calendar but since so many do (e.g., in China, Korea and Vietnam), then the question might exist in the worldwide examiner's question book for use in those countries where the lunar calendar is obserbed.



It is possible that one or more questions includes the word, "cookery". This word is standard in England ( for example, "a cookery book" and "a cookery class") but is much less used in Australia, and is unknown in American English.


Do you think it's ever a good idea to recycle a gift?

The wording might not be exactly as written. To "recycle" a gift is to give the gift to someone else because you do not like it or do not need it for some reason. It's possible to recycle a gift after you have used it but the most common thing is to give it to someone else unused. Examples might be books, clothes, a box of chocolates (which you have not opened), an unopened bottle of alcoholic spirits or an unopened carton of cigarettes (because you don't smoke).

The question might actually be something like this: "Have you ever recycled a gift?" (Why?) or, "Have you ever given a gift that you received to someone else as a gift?" (Why?)


Evidence that the topic. "Plants" is being used in the September-December, 2013 Part 1

(Written Sept. 25, 2013)

On the page we find the following post (red underlining by me):

  • In English, the underlined words are: What plants do you like? (I sadly heard "plans" (but then) the examiner kindly explained it as flowers, trees ...)

    Therefore, the examiner did say the word, "plants". This is confirmed by several other candidates reporting the topic of "Plants" in the Part 1 of Sept. 7 and Sept. 21.

    The topic of "Trees" was also reported three times for the test of  Sept. 21. Assuming that the May-August set of Part 1 questions were no longer being used by September 21, the conclusion is that both topics, "Plants" and "Trees" are being used at the same time. Looking at the reported questions for "Trees", it is obvious that this topic was always "Trees".

    On the other hand, the previous 4-month's Part 1 is usually used, along with the new Part 1 set, in the first test of the new 4-month testing period. Less often, this has also happened in the second test or even the third test of the new 4-month period. Therefore, there is still a small possibility that the topic, "Trees" will no longer be used in the Sept. - Dec. 2013 testing period. We will have to wait and see.

    Don't forget, about 17 to 20 topics from the previous 4-month period continue in the next 4-month period, along with 7 to 10  new (or returning) topics. These continuing topics are part of the new set of Part 1 topics. But since the previous set of Part 1 topics is usually used (along with the new set) in the 1st (or 1st and 3rd, or 3rd) test of the new testing period, it is not clear which topics are continuing in the test until the second month of the new testing period.


    Have you always studied that subject? 

    I think this question is more likely if you are studying as a graduate student, e.g., doing a Master's degree, Ph.D. or a graduate diploma. But even students doing an undergraduate degree (and even high school students) could also get this question. For example, if you are studying Accounting in university now, you should tell the examiner whether you did any business studies in high school or not.

    Another valid interpretation of this question could be to think of it as meaning, "Was this the subject that you started studying when you first went to university, or did you change courses?" But I think the first interpretation (above) is the most common meaning of such a question.

    There is also the possibility that the question is not that but is, "Have you always wanted to study that?" That is a completely different question.


    Has your preference in music changed?

    Of course, if you are 20 years old now, your preference in music is different to what it was when you were 5 years old! If the question is asked using those words, it's up to you to say something about what point(s) in time you are referring to. Basically, the questions means your preference now compared to some past point in time. But it does not exclusively or only mean that. It is also possible to say that your preference has changed more than once in the past ten or 15 or more years.


    How much TV do you (usually) watch?

    It's not "wrong" to say you watch "a lot of TV", or "just a little" or "a moderate amount" of TV. But these words are relative   what one person might interpret "a moderate amount" to mean might seem like "a lot" to someone else. So you should give an approximate figure, such as "about ten hours a week" in addition to or after saying something such as, "not much" or, "quite a lot". Of course, try to include a piece of information about why you watch so little or so much. But don't give a lot of detail about what you watch the question is about the amount of TV you watch, not the contents.


    How much TV would you like your children to watch?

    Some people have reported this question as, "Would you like your children to watch much TV?" and "Would you like your children to watch as much TV as you watched?" but I think it is worded as written above.


    Do you think children's television has changed (much) since you were a child?

    This question might be more general, i.e., "Do you think television has changed since you were a child?" (Not just children's TV)

    Of course, the technology of television has changed and, strictly speaking, you would not be wrong if you spoke only about that. But both technology and the contents of the TV programs have changed and it is the contents that this question would refer to here, especially if it follows a question about what programs you watched as a kid. You could try to mention both aspects in your answer but in Part 1, where the average answer should be about 22 seconds long, you don't have time to answer this question in as much detail as in Part 3.


    Do you often use a dictionary?

    Not all dictionaries are English-Chinese or English-Russian or whatever your first language is. There's also a Chinese-Chinese (etc) dictionary. And there's an English-English dictionary that is useful when you reach a certain level of studying English as a foreign language.

    To only talk about a dictionary that translates from your language into English (or vice versa) is not really what the question asks, is it?

    Unlike a question that specifically asks, "How often do you ...?", I think it would be OK if you didn't give an approximate number (e.g., "on average about five times a day") but it wouldn't hurt your answer if you did.


    Do you prefer to use an electronic dictionary or a dictionary made of paper?

    I think it would be acceptable to call a dictionary on your computer or on the internet a type of "electronic dictionary", but it would be best to quickly explain why you think those dictionaries are not much different to an electronic device that is called, "an electronic dictionary".


    Is there any other language you would like to learn? (Why?)

    (Similar to above) Is there any other language you want to learn? (Why?)

    "Would like" means it "would please you" if it came true, or happened. It does not necessarily mean that you have a strong desire to do something, or a plan to do it.

    "Want" means you have an active, quite strong desire to do something, very possibly including a plan to do it.

    See this page for more detail on these points.


    A Silent Environment

    Originally I had the word "silent" in this question but I changed it later to "quiet", which I think is more likely to be the real word that is used. "Silent" means absolutely no sound at all, i.e., zero sound.


    Street Markets

    There are different varieties of street markets. Some of them, in some places, focus quite heavily on the arts, including handicrafts and performers.




    Some internet Links


    Would you say it's a good place for (families with) children to live?

    There is a possibility that the real wording of this question is, "Would you say it's a good place for young people to live?" But I think this is less likely because a couple of candidates have reported that their question included the word, "families".

    If "young people" is used, your answer should be different to the first possibility (children) because "children" and "young people" mean different things. "Children" means people between the ages of about 4 and 12 but "young people" usually means people between the ages of 13 and 25, or possibly 13 and 30. There are times when some English speakers use the term, "young people" to mean, "people aged from about 4 to 25" or, "people who are not yet adults" ( i.e., everybody under the age of 21, or 18). But this second, broader meaning is less common.

    Basically, whatever age group the examiner says, you should give your opinion on whether your hometown (or living place) has what the group (children or young people) needs in order to live a full life. Some things that people need are the same for all age groups, such as a clean environment and good health facilities (e.g., hospitals) but there are other things that different age groups particularly need. For example, children especially need safe places to play outside (e.g., playgrounds) while young people, especially those aged 18 to 25, need entertainment & recreational places and places to socialize with others of the same age group, such as basketball courts, football fields, cinemas, sport & hobbyist clubs, and to some extent karaoke bars, pubs, night clubs and discos etc. Young people aged over 18 need facilities for further education and vocational training such as universities, vocational colleges and training centres while children only need to have good schools (and kindergartens) children obviously don't need universities yet. Young people also need jobs but children don't need them.

    Whatever you say, give your own personal opinion and feelings, along with the reasons why you say what you say. Some people might say that a quiet, rural town or village is a good place for children to live because such places usually are safe, clean and have plenty of places for children to play outside and opportunities to get close to nature, including farm animals. On the other hand, such places sometimes have poor-quality schools or the children have to travel far to go to school. Some cities and towns are "boring" places for young people because there's nothing much for them to do in their free time. (Having something to do in one's free time is a need, not just a simple desire or a whim.)

    Caution! 小心!


    Which did you (or do you) prefer to visit, museums or art galleries?

    There is only a small chance that this question is in the test. One person seemed to hint at this question when they reported their test experience but it was not clear. So this question is more or less my guess at a question.

    Whenever the Speaking test has two different things in the same general topic (e.g., emails and letters), there is often a question that asks the candidate to compare the two. However, one reason why such a compare question might not exist is that American English often uses the term, "Art Museum" to mean the same as the British English, "Art Gallery". Basically, an art gallery and a museum (whatever type of museum) are both museums.

    For this whole topic, there's nothing wrong with saying that you have never been to an art gallery, but try to use good English to explain why not. (On the other hand, it's a rare person who has never visited a museum.) Speaking honestly and openly usually helps people to speak more fluently.


    Do you like traveling by car?

    This does not just mean traveling for long distances, such as to another city. It includes traveling within your city, such as commuting to work. And it does not have to be your car it includes traveling in taxis or in your friend's car, for example.

    This question is asking about your feelings, not asking about how often you travel by car or other details such as when you travel by car. Talk mostly about your feelings.