Now that you have read about how to perform at your best in part 1 of the test, read on to see how you can keep up this performance in part 2. When you have completed this article, finish up the series by reading about how to perform better in the part 3 discussion .
Even the best prepared test taker can suffer from nerves in part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test. In part 2 of the Speaking test, you will be given a card with a topic and asked to talk about it for 2 minutes. The examiner will use a timer to time your long turn and before you start you will have one minute to prepare for your topic.
When you are asked to start speaking, you might feel self-conscious and nervous, as you have to speak on your own without any encouragement or prompting. This feeling is normal, so learning how to deal with nerves is the first step to performing better.
Read on to see what strategies our IELTS experts have come up with to help you prepare better for the long turn in the IELTS Speaking test.
Strategy 1 - Use the 1 minute preparation time
You are given 1 minute to think about what you are going to say in the long turn. Use this time to take notes on the topic you have been given. Keep writing until the examiner asks you to start your long turn.
Describe something you own which is very important to you. You should say:
where you got it from
how long you have had it
what you use it for
and explain why it is important to you.
Every task card will have a topic that you will have to describe followed by three bullet points, and a final question.
You should take notes on the three bullet points and on the final question.
A simple tip is to draw a cross on the piece of paper and take 4 sets of notes or to draw lines dividing your note paper into 4 columns. This will take about 4 seconds, so you have time to write some notes focusing on the question words on the task card - where, how long, what, why.
In the following notes, I am describing something that I own that is very important to me - my piano.
only item from home
You are not tested on what you write, so don't worry about spelling. You might like to use abbreviations or signs that will help you speak.
These notes will make you focus more on what you should speak about, so write as much as you can including examples, names, dates and so on.
FAQ: What if I only talk about the first 2 bullet points in the 2 minutes and don't cover all the questions?
Test takers sometimes worry that they have not covered all the points on their task card and run out of time. Remember that the examiner will interrupt you at the 2-minute mark. Don't worry if this happens, as you have already shown the examiner that you can speak at length, appropriately extending your description.
Strategy 2 - Speak with a normal speech rate, not too fast, not too slow
Some test takers start speaking very quickly at the beginning of their long turn because they are nervous. Then they stop suddenly, with nothing else to say. Only a minute or so has been reached, so the examiner, who is looking at the timer, will wait for the test taker to keep going, and if they don't, they will be asked if they have anything more to say. This is a clear signal to keep speaking about the topic. The examiner will listen quietly to what you have to say, as this is your time to show that you can speak at length on a topic.
Start off with a measured pace, not too fast and not too slow. If it helps to calm you down, start your talk with a memorised phrase - 'Today, I would like to describe ... to you.'
Breathe between sentences, this will help with your pace and will also help with your stress and rhythm.
If you stop, don't worry, there are some tips to help you. These tips are strategies we use every day to hide that we don't know exactly what we want to say. Listen carefully to politicians, they do it all the time! These tips will help you to sound more fluent as you are able to keep speaking in a logical way.
Use stalling phrases (What else can I say about that, well, another thing that I can remember is...)
Refer directly to your task card - read out the prompt, changing the structure as you read it (and...what did I use it for, well, that's interesting, I actually used it for...)
If the examiner is pausing and waiting for you to keep speaking, acknowledge that you still have more time left (Oh, I still have more time left! Well, to describe my piano in more detail, it is quite large and...)
If the examiner asks you if you have anything more to say, always say 'yes' and then continue speaking.
Avoid fillers (eh..., uh..., em..., er...) as they are meaningless and show that you are struggling to produce language and ideas.
Use hesitation devices to show that you can use a wider range of cohesive devices and can think logically (well, let me think, let's see, it was a long time ago but..., another thing I remember about it was..., that reminds me about another time that I..).
Make sure you build your vocabulary using mind maps, so you can easily think of the right words to describe your topic.
Strategy 3 - Organise your long turn
When you start talking, it's good to start at the beginning of what you want to say, and then move logically to the end of your long turn. Show the examiner that you can organise what you want to say, by using linking devices (and, so, but, or) and discourse markers (unfortunately, actually, however, for example, consequently, at that time). These devices will make your long turn easy to listen to, as it is logical and makes sense.
Use your task card as a guide. Remember there are always four things to talk about, exploring the topic in different ways. You will always be asked question words to describe what you are going to say. So, start at the beginning by commenting on the topic and then move on to each bullet point.
Introduce your long turn by paraphrasing the topic:
Today, I'm going to talk about something that I own that is really important to me. It's my piano, an upright piano which was made in Germany. It's a beautiful colour, dark mahogany and is still in very good condition.
Start at the first bullet point and then keep going in a logical manner
Even though I said the piano was made in Germany, I actually got it in Ireland. It was so long ago, I don't really remember the exact place where I bought it. It was probably in a popular music store in Dublin, where I lived at the time. It was a pretty major purchase as I had to save up for quite a few years to afford it. When I was younger, I was a music student at university, so I was keen to continue playing the piano, in order to have a nice pastime at home.
As I mentioned, I have had it for a long time, possibly 33 years, or maybe more, a life-time! Even though I migrated from Ireland to Australia, I paid to have it shipped over, it was definitely worth the expense. The piano has been moved from house to house since then and always takes pride of place in my home.
What do I use it for? Well, obviously to play music. I'm not as good on the piano as I used to be, because unfortunately I don't practice enough. As they say, practice makes perfect, and I am definitely not perfect. I really need to play it more often, but life gets in the way.
It is very important to me because it's something I have had for my entire adult life. I was very proud that I had saved enough money to buy it, so I really wanted to make sure I kept it. My children have learned how to play the piano, so it has been well used. Hopefully, some day, I will teach my grandchildren how to play it as well.
Note the discourse markers used in the example above, showing that the long turn is organised; talking about a time in the past and how it impacts the present.
Speaking in a fluent and coherent manner will mean that you can get a higher band score. Study the IELTS Speaking band descriptors so you know what features the examiner will be looking for.
Strategy 4 - Practice makes perfect
It is important to practise your long turn making sure that you can speak on a familiar topic for two minutes.
If you record yourself reading the example above, you will notice that it is very close to 2 minutes. If it takes much longer, your speech rate is too slow. Remember that the examiner will interrupt when the 2 minutes are up. If you haven't finished what you were trying to say, don't worry, you have successfully spoken at length for your long turn.
Individual Long turn Practice
Materials needed: Note paper, pencil, recorder and timer (mobile phone)
Choose one of the topics below.
Set up your timer to time yourself for 3 minutes (1 minute preparation, 2 minutes long turn).
In the first minute, take notes on the topic.
Start your long turn on the second minute and see if you can keep speaking for 2 full minutes.
Listen to your recording and pay attention to breaks, pauses, hesitations and the use of fillers.
Repeat the process practising all 3 topics until you can speak at a normal rate for the full 2 minutes.
Long Turn Topics
Describe something you own which is very important to you
Describe a holiday you had that you really enjoyed
Describe an item that you would really like to buy
where you got it from
when you went
what the item is
how long you have had it
where you went
where you would buy it from
what you use it for
who you went with
what you would use it for
explain why it is important to you
explain why you enjoyed it so much
explain why you really want to buy it
Once you have practised these topics, make up your own topic cards thinking about familiar topics connected to education, transport, sport, health, the environment, tourism, history, music, leisure activities, hobbies and so on.
If you feel you would like to do some official practice, why not try an official IELTS practice test, IELTS Progress Check . These practice tests are available for Academic and General Training test takers and include a Speaking test. The test is not a face-to-face test as in the real IELTS test; however it is realistic in terms of test questions, timing and delivery. The examiner questions are pre-recorded, and timed responses are recorded and uploaded for an official IELTS marker to rate. Try a test today to see if you can speak for the full 2 minutes.
With targeted practice like this, you will become more fluent and will be able to achieve the goals you have set!