Top Tips for IELTS

Part 2 speaking about a group

This lesson features a model of part 2 question about speaking about a group. As well as giving you the chance to listen to my version of this, I also give you a quick lesson on how

  • some useful vocabulary and grammar
  • you can tell a story in this part of IELTS
  • simple colloquial language helps you

The question

This is the question you are asked to talk about. As ever, you should note that there is one topic and different “wh questions” should cover in your answer with one explanation task at the end.

Describe a group or a club you joined. You should say:

  • what the group was
  • when you joined the group
  • where the group met

And explain why you enjoyed being part of the group


Why tell a story

There are different approaches to the second part of the speaking test – one is to tell a story. This can be a good idea because:

  • it can help you relax in the exam – all you are doing is what people do – tell stories about their lives
  • people tend to speak more naturally when they are telling a story and this can help your choice of language and pronunciation
  • it gives you more to say -sometimes the cue card is not very helpful and if you only concentrate on it you may not have enough to say

Two tips on telling stories

One problem with telling stories is that you can get lost and forget what you are talking about. As it happens, this is the one part of IELTS where it doesn’t matter so much if you don’t exactly answer the question. There is no Task Response mark in speaking – so you can add in extra details that are not asked for. But here is the tip:

finish your story by coming back to main point

– this will make you sound more coherent (and there are marks for coherence). With a little practice, this is easy enough to do – you just need to remember how you started or look down at the cue card.

The second tip is simple:

talk about what you know

There are people who are comfortable making things up, but really you are better off speaking about yourself and what you really know – rather than try to make something up so you can use all sorts of “clever” language. Listen to my band 9.0 version below and you should see what I mean. I talk about IELTS!

Listen to my version and read the transcript

Speaking about a group


Read the transcript

Speaking about a group

I’m going to talk about an online community I joined and helped set up to help me study for this exam. I’ve been studying for IELTS for quite some time now and it’s a really big part of life because I’m trying to emigrate to Australia. I started out just studying by myself with some books and getting advice from sites on the internet. That was okay but it was rather lonely and I was beginning to lose motivation because I didn’t have a study partner.

So about two months back I decided to look for people to work with online because I didn’t know anyone in my personal life who was also studying for IELTS. That was a great decision. It’s just so easy to connect with people on social networks nowadays – that’s how modern relationships work I guess. I signed up to a number of different forums and eventually I found a site where I could find a speaking and study partner for the test.

I worked with a few different people and we formed our own little self-help group. There were around 12 of us and we came from all over the world We used to give ourselves speaking practice on Skype – which was useful for swapping ideas and language and that sort of thingbut the best bit about it really was just having someone to talk to. If I was getting a bit down I knew there was someone out there who would encourage me and just give me support – be a shoulder to cry on!

So that’s the story of the group I set up. It was one of best decisions I ever made and I think I’m going to stay in contact with the people I met there well beyond the exam. We formed a really close bond

Notes on grammar

See how I vary my tenses. The question is about the past, but I naturally use a whole range of different tenses. Variation is good.

I don’t use difficult or complex connecting phrases. See the amount of times I use “and” “but” and “because”. When you are speaking, these should be the most common linking words you use. This helps the rhythm of your speech: say something – pause – and – say something else.

Notes on vocabulary

There are some useful “group” words there too help you, but the words I have highlighted are the more colloquial and idiomatic structures. These will impress and make your speaking sound much more natural. Some of them are quite advanced, e.g.

a shoulder to cry on

get a bit down

but many are short simple words and these can make a real difference. See these examples:

quite some time (a long time)

rather lonely (the rather is stylish and adds meaning)

two months back (colloquial for ago)

just so easy (the just makes all the difference)

I guess

well beyond (a long time after)

This is the sort of language that is bound to impress examiners, simple though it may seem.



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3 Responses to Part 2 speaking about a group

  1. zara March 11, 2014 at 11:56 am #


    This is exactly the same idea i discussed in my test but not as good as yours:-)
    And believe me i got this topic consecutively twice in my test and it was the one that got me 8 last time:-)


    • Dominic Cole March 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Ah but Zara I am a native speaker – I should expect to get band score 9.0. If I didn’t, I’d certainly apply for a re-mark! Don’t be disappointed with 8.0 – almost no non-native speaker gets above that.

      I hope it comes through: the real message here is that telling a story is a great way to approach this task – it can help your speaking sound much more natural which is the goal if you are looking for a high score.

      And, yes, it does quite often happen that you get the same question twice. Or the same examiner!

  2. Phúc Hảo Lê Thị March 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    Speaking and writing are very wonderful and accurate.I think that you have a lot of experiences about writing skills. I like writing skills very much because it’s interesting and difficult. I am very hard working, sensitive, and patients. I study fairly good for this subject. I guess I get 7.0 mark.

    What a pity ! I wish I met you soon, I may get 8 to 9 scores beacause you teach too excellent and easy understand. After IELTS exam, I know you.

    However, I will continue to learn you improve and broaden knowedge in order to get Master’s degree in this link. Thanks a lot. Thanks for your sharing. See you soon !

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