Part 1 Topics and Questions [Updated Dec 4, 2006]

For The IELTS Speaking Tests in China, September 2 to December 16, 2006


1.  For more general information on Part 1 of the test and about this page, go HERE.

2.  For the test of September 23 & 24, Guangzhou and Shenzhen used a different set of Part 1 topics and questions  the same topics and questions that were used throughout most of China between January and April 2006. Go HERE, to see these questions.  However, since that time, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have been using the same questions as the rest of China.

3.  It is possible (although not probable) that the Part 1 questions will suddenly change at any time for any other test center in China. If you have time, it might be a good idea to have a quick look at those old questions. I do know that Taiwan is currently using the Part 1 questions that were used on the Mainland from January to April this year.

4.  On the weekend of December 2, 3 out of the 6 test centres in China used the set of Part 1 questions that were previously used in China from May to August this year. These centres were Guangzhou, Xiamen and Changsha. Xiamen and Guangzhou are managed by the Guangzhou British Council office but the tests in Changsha are managed by the Beijing office. This could be a warning that, in the future, any test centre in China could suddenly use an old set of Part 1 questions at any time. Therefore, it would be a good idea to also prepare yourselves for all the Part 1 questions that are in the Part 1 archives of this website. Go HERE to see these old questions. Normally, one set of Part 1 questions is used throughout China for 4 months. (This does not include Taiwan and Hong Kong.)

5. * = a question which might not be in the current test, but which you should prepare for, anyway.

6.  If there are two or more questions in one topic that are very similar, you will only be asked one of them.

7.  Some useful vocabulary for these questions can be found HERE.

8.  NOTE! A new set of Part 1 questions will probably start being used on January 6, 2007. Therefore, it is not a good idea to do the test on that date because you will have no information about the topics and questions. It would be best to wait until early February to do you test, after a few tests have revealed the new topics and questions.


Summary of Part 1 Topics

0.  The four standard introductory questions.

1.     Your work/studies

2.     Your Hometown

One of the two topics above is a compulsory topic and you will be asked about 4 questions on this topic. You will then be asked questions on two of the topics from below. (Again, about 4 questions per topic).

3.     Secondary School

4.    Leisure Time

5.    Rain

6.    Restaurants

7.    Letters

8.    Television and Radio

9.    Daily Routine

10.    Travel


1.    Your Work/Studies

l       Do you work or are you a student?

           (You must choose one and then you will answer either 1a or 1b, below.)

1a: Your Work

l       What work do you do? 

l       Why did you choose that job (that kind of work)? *

l       What are your responsibilities at work?  

l       What is the most interesting part of your work? *

l       Is your job (your work) very important to you? (Why?/Why not?) *

l       Would you like to change your job?  (Why?/Why not?)

l       If you had the opportunity to change your job, what would you choose to do?

l       Tell me about your typical daily routine at work. *

l       How do you and your work colleagues help each other at work? (Or: Do you and your colleagues help each other at work? How?)  (Or: Who gives you the most help at work?) 

l       Do you often get together with your colleagues (workmates) after work? (What do you do?)

1b: Your Studies

l       What subject are you studying? (= 'What's your major?' in American English)

l       Why did you choose to study that?

l       Where do you study? 

l       Do you like your university/school? (Why?/ Why not?)

l       Does your university specialize in any particular subject/area? *

l       Is there anyone who helps (helped) you (with your studies) at university/school? (Who? In what way?) (Who gives you the most help?) 

l       Do you often get together with ( = go out with = do things in your free time with ) your classmates after classes? (What do you do?)

2.    Your Hometown

l       Whereabouts (=where) did you grow up?  (Or, Where were you born?)

l       Is that a city or is it in the countryside? *

l       Do you still live there?

l       Does (do) your family still live there?   

l       What kind of place is your hometown? (= Describe your hometown) *  

l       Would you say  it's a good place to live? *

l       How has your hometown changed in recent years? (e.g.,  the past 20 years or since you were a child)

l       What part of your hometown do you like best? (Why?) (= What's the best thing about your hometown? = What do you find most attractive about your hometown?)

l       What's the most famous (= well-known) place in your hometown?

Note: One of the two topics above is a compulsory topic.

3.     Secondary School

Note 1: It seems that you could be asked about your secondary school studies even if you are working now or a university student now. However, if you are a university student (and especially if you are a secondary student now) and if you answered 1b, above, you probably will not get these questions. Everyone should prepare for this topic because if you get 'Hometown' as your first topic, 'Secondary School' is possible as one of your other topics.

Note 2: 'Secondary school' means the same as 'high school'. Unlike China and the U.S.A., most students in Britain and Australia go to one school from the age of about 12 to 18, called 'secondary school' (= high school). However, there are also a small number of  'Junior High Schools' and 'Senior High Schools' in Britain and Australia.

Note 3: Avoid saying 'Middle School' or 'Senior School' because these names are not familiar to many IELTS examiners.


l       What subjects did you study in secondary school (= high school)? *

l       What was your favourite subject ( = class) in secondary school? (= high school)

l       And which class (= subject) did you like the least? (Why?)

l       Which secondary school subject do you think is most useful for people in adult life?

l       What part of your secondary school education did you enjoy most?  Or: Did (do) you like your secondary school life?

4.    Leisure Time

l       When do you have free time?

l       How do you like to relax? (What’s your favourite way to relax?)

l       How do Chinese people like to relax?

l       How does that (the way Chinese people like to relax) compare with western countries?

l       Do you think it's important to have leisure time?

l       How could we (or you) find more time for leisure?

l       How do you think people will relax in the future? *

l       Compare the way people in China relax today and the way they used to relax years ago.

l       In your leisure time, what do you usually do with friends or family? (= Do you do things in your leisure time with friends or family? What?)

l       Do you think it's important to spend your leisure time with your family? Why?

l       Do your friends ever come to your home in their free time?  What do you usually do together?

l       Do you have any hobbies or interests? (= What are your hobbies or interests?) *

l       What do you do in your holidays (= vacations)? (= How do you spend your holidays?) Or: How do people in China spend their holidays?

l       Are holidays important (to people/to you)? (Why?) Or: Do you think holidays are necessary? (Why?) Or: Why do we need to have holidays?

5.    Rain

l       Does it rain much in China? (Where? When?)

l       Do you like rainy days? (= How do you feel on rainy days? = Do you feel sad on rainy days?)

l       How does rain affect different people’s moods?  (Or: How does rain effect people's lives?)  

l       What do you do on rainy days (or, on a rainy day)?

l       Do you think rain is good? (Why?)   

l       Is there any part of China where it doesn't rain much? (Where?) (or: Is there an even distribution of rain throughout China?)

l       What effects can a shortage of rain (a drought) have on people's lives?

l       When (in what month/season) does it rain most in your hometown?

l       What about the other parts of China? (In which season does it rain most in other parts of China?)

l       Can you remember any time when it rained particularly heavily in your hometown? (When?)

l       Does rain ever affect transportation in your hometown? (How?)   

l       Do you think the seasons have changed in recent years, compared to the past?

6.    Restaurants

l       Do you usually go out to eat or do you usually eat at home?   

l       How often do you go to a restaurant (to eat)? (Do you often go to restaurants (to eat)? How often?)   

l       Why do you (or, why do people) go to restaurants?

l       What kind of restaurants do you like? (prefer) (Why?)  (Or, How do you choose which restaurant to go to?)

l       What kind of restaurants do young people in China prefer? (Why?)

l       What do you usually do there? *

l       What kind of foods do you (or Chinese people) like to eat in restaurants?

l       How (do you think) restaurants have changed, over the past few years? (=How are restaurants today different to those of before?)

l       How do you think they will (might) change in the future? *   

l       What skills do people need to work in a restaurant?

l       What are the qualities of a good restaurant?

7.    Letters

l       Do you often write letters? (How often do you write letters?)

l       Who do you usually write to and what do you write about?

l       What (do you think) is the most difficult kind of letter (or email) to write? (Why?)

l       Do you prefer to write letters or emails? (Why?)

l       What role do emails (or letters) play in your life? ( = Why do you write these emails or letters?)

l       How often do you write emails? 

l       What kinds of emails (or letters) do you most like receiving? (Why?) (= What kinds of emails/letters make you happy?)

l       What are the differences between handwritten letters and emails?

l       Do you think it is a good thing that some companies send out letters/spam emails for the purpose of advertising? *

8.     Television and Radio

l       What kind of entertainment do you prefer, TV or radio? (Why?)  

l       How are radio programs and television programs different?

l       What programs do you like to watch/listen to?  

l       When do you watch TV/listen to the radio?  

l       In China, has television/radio changed much in the past few years?  (How?)

l       How do you think TV/radio broadcasts in China could be improved?  

l       Do you prefer TV news or news on the radio? (Why?) *

9.  Daily Routine

l       Tell me something about your daily routine.  

l       (If you do not work) For you, what's the best time of day for studying?

l       (If you work) For you, what's the best time of day (or, day of the week) for working?

l       What part of the (= your) day do you like best? (Why?)  (= What part of your daily routine makes you the happiest?)

l       If you could make one change to your daily routine, what would it be?

l       If you had more free time, what would you do?

l       Do you get together with your fellow students/work colleagues  (=classmates/workmates) after classes/work? (What do you do?)  [This question is possibly in the Work/Studies topic.]

10.  Travel

l       Do you like to travel (in your holidays or free time)? (Why?)

l       Do you think it's important to travel during your holidays? (Why?/Why not?)

l       Do you think it's necessary to travel in order to enjoy your holidays? (Why?/Why not?)

l       Where do you like to go? (If you say you like to travel or do, in fact travel in your holidays.)