Speaking for IELTS – stop giving boring lists!

How to make your answers in the IELTS speaking test more interesting, and get a higher band score


Common questions in the speaking test

In speaking part 3, the questions are more difficult because they're no longer about you.  In part 1, you might be asked about your favourite TV programme, but that won't happen in part 3.  One common question type in part 3 is the what type of question, like these:

  • What are the most popular types of TV programme in your country?
  • What are the most popular types of transport in your country?
  • What types of newspapers do you have in your country?
  • What types of music are popular with young people in your country?

What do you think of this answer?

What types of food are popular in your country?

People here eat rice, fish, seafood, and vegetables.

That what I'd call a boring list, and it's exactly what the examiner doesn't want to hear.

Here's what I recommend.  When you get a list question, for a mental list, like this

  • rice
  • meat
  • seafood

The for each one, give some extra information, and link them together – in bold – like this:

Like most Asian countries, here in Vietnam the staple diet is rice, so we have rice in some form with every meal.  For example, our most famous dish is Vietnamese beef noodles, and obviously, the noodles are made from rice.  Another popular type of food is meat, especially pork, which is something else that we eat every day.

This a great idea

This will help your speaking because

  • your answers will be more interesting
  • your answers will be longer. You are more likely to persuade the examiner that you can speak at length without noticeable effort
  • it’s easy to make complex sentences, using who, because, which, which is why.

So, if you’re serious about succeeding in IELTS, you’ll illustrate your answers instead of giving boring lists.


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8 years ago

Can you improve this answer?

Q What are the most popular types of TV programme in your country?

The most popular TV programmes in my country are soap operas, other sitcoms, and sport.

Leave your suggestions below