May 2015 Speaking topics (number 3)

New IELTS speaking topics (May, 2015) in Greece, as our student, E.K. , who sat the exam  remembers them :
Speaking test

Part 1
What is your full name?
Where are you from?
Do you watch TV? What kind of shows do you usually watch?
Part 2
Describe an educational series you watched in the past. Please say :
What was is about?
When and where did you watch it?
What did you learn from it?
Why did you like it?
Part 3
Do you prefer to watch national or foreign tv shows?
Do you think that advertisements influence people? What about children?
Do you think that advertisements targeting children should be limited?
Do you prefer to watch the same types of shows as you did in the past?

More May 2015 Speaking topics

New IELTS speaking topics (May, 2015) in Greece, as our student, M.K. , who sat the exam  remembers them :
Speaking test

What is your full name?
Do you work or study?
What do you find more interesting about your studies?
Do you like to eat fruit and vegetable?
Did you like to eat them when you were a child?
Why do you think it is important to eat fruit and vegetables?
Is it easy for people in your area to find fresh fruit and salads?
Do you think it is important to help people? Have you ever helped someone?
Did your parents teach you to help people when you were a child?
Has anyone helped you recently?
Cue card
Describe a person that you believe is well dressed. Please say :
who is this person?
What kind of clothes does he/she wear?
Explain why you think this person is well dressed
Part 3
Should we be well dressed always?
In which ways can we do our shopping?
Some people believe it is not so good to shop online. What is your opinion?
Have you ever bought something online?
What are the main differences between shopping online and shopping in a store?

New May 2015 Speaking topics

New IELTS speaking topics (May, 2015) in Greece, as our student, D.D , who sat the exam  remembers them :
Speaking test

Part 1
Do you live in an appartment or a house?
Do you like it? Why?
Are there any shops nearby?
Do you look at the sky?
Do you prefer the sky in the day or at night?
What do you watch on tv?
Do children watch a lot of tv in Greece?
Part 2
Describe a place you have visited and would like to visit again. Please say :
  • where is it?
  • when did you visit it?
  • why would you visit it again?
Part 3
Can you tell me what the benefits of short or long trips are?
When some people visit the same place for the second time, do they feel disappointed? If so, why?

Reading section: Prioritizing!

Continuing with the ‘Managing you time effectively’ posts, this time I want to address both the time you should allocate for each task as well as the necessity, sometimes, to prioritize the order in which you complete your answers to increase your final score.

For my first example, I am using IELTS Volume 7, test 3, reading 3.images

There are 3 tasks. The first one is a T/F/NG, the second is a matching exercise and the 3rd one is a general one (multiple choice) asking for a possible title for the reading text. What should your strategy be?

  • Prioritize your answers! We know that, generally speaking, the questions follow the ‘flow’ of the text (this is not always true, especially in the more recent texts but it is generally true – I will address this issue on a different post). If you look at this text, you will see that it takes up 2 pages and it is followed by two long tasks and one last task which is a general question. The T/F/NG task probably covers the first page and the second task covers the second page. The T/F/NG task generally requires some more time because you need to find ‘keywords’, scan the text to locate them and then spend a bit more time to compare the statements with what you have found in the text. In this case, if you read through the 2 tasks you can notice that the 2nd one is definitely easier because it asks for 6 ‘resolutions’. If you then look at the 2nd page, you will find that the page begins with a reference to these 6 resolutions. If you start with this task, you are going to have more chances of answering it quite fast because it is easy to locate the information. So, there you go! The next thing to do would be to decide about your time.
  • Strategically allocate your time: If the questions are divided in this way, then it is easy to decide how much to spend on each of them. You have about 20’ for all of them and 2 tasks with an equal number of questions. So, you should spend less than 10’ on the second one since it seems easier and this will give you more time for the first one.

The last one is a question you can answer after you reflect back on the whole text, so it shouldn’t take you more than a minute to do so. Time yourself, especially when you practice at home!!

What happens if it is not that easy though? How can we make decisions about prioritizing the tasks we answer to achieve the best possible score?

If you look, for example, at Reading 2, again in test 3, same volume, you may have to make different choices. What do I mean? Here, you have to deal with the heading section in the beginning, two more tasks with tables and a general question in the end. The Headings Section is generally considered  a difficult one. So, how are you going to prioritize which one to start with and how much time to dedicate to each? My suggestions would be:

  • Decide where you will not spend time: Start with the Headings Sections because it will give you the possibility to read the text anyway. Yet, because this section tends to be more difficult, chances are that, you are going to miss a few headings anyway (unless your knowledge level is high already). In total, there are 6. The rest of the tasks count for 7 more points. Also, the other tasks offer you more possibilities to track down the correct answers easier. Why? Questions 20 and 21 in the table mention numbers, which makes it easier for you to scan the text and find them. Also, questions 22-25 mention native American names (unusual names and therefore they stand out in a text), which again makes your search easier. The last question refers back to the whole text, so, it should not take up a lot of time to answer.
  • Time yourself : So, how much time should you dedicate on each task? If you are aiming at 6-6.5 overall for the whole Reading section, I would advise you not to spend more than 10’ in the Heading Section. Try to find as many headings as possible but my guess is that, aiming for a 6-6.5, would not give you more than 3-4 correct answers. So, after these 10’, you should make sure you are already on the next tasks because these ones can ensure you a better score! So, read the Headings section, try to match the headings, but if it seems too difficult, just move on!

Concluding, if we needed to summarize our steps, we would have to say that, depending on the texts that we have in front of us, we need to:

  1. Have a good look at all the tasks we have to complete,
  2. Decide which ones will bring us a higher score in total (because of their easiness to trace when scanning your text – clear keywords, for example)
  3. Make sure you do not spend more time than you should on a task that looks already difficult. Spend your time wisely!
  4. And, of course, do not forget to combine your search between the tasks, whenever this is possible, of course!

Good luck!!

Book Review : Top IELTS Speaking Tips (Written by Jenny Bedwell and Phil Wade)

This is a new column on this blog : book/e-book reviews. The first one to review is by  Jenny Bedwell and Phil Wade


This e-book contains all the important information an IELTS candidate needs to get acquainted with the speaking section of the exam. It starts with an introduction to its format and continues with a comprehensive section about important tips regarding the 3 sections, the Dos and Don’ts and finally, mistakes that should be avoided.
All in all, this is a very comprehensive e-book and I would highly recommend it as IELTS candidates would definitely profit from it.

New IELTS speaking topics (January, 2015) in Greece

New IELTS speaking topics (January, 2015) in Greece, as our student, M.K. , who sat the exam  remembers them :
Speaking test

Part 1
Do you work/study?
What is the most important festival or celebration in your town or country?
What is your favourite Greek festival?
Would you like it if there were more Greek festivals and celebrations?
Do you take care of your health? How? What do you do?
Do you think that the government promotes health, for example, through education?
Part 2
Describe  a traditional festival in your country. Please say :
  • What do people do?
  • Who usually takes part in it?
  • Why do people do it?
  • Has it changed over the years? How?

Part 3

  • Do you think that some festivals or celebrations in your country  have lost their original meaning? Which ones? Why?
  • Are there any old traditions  in your country disappearing? Why ? Can something be done to prevent it?


How to manage your time effectively when dealing with the IELTS Reading section

IELTS is a graded test. This is the main reason why the time to complete the reading tasks seems limited, a lot of times, at least to some students who aim to achieve a score between 5 and 6/6.5. Effective time management is of primary importance, therefore, in this particular exam. So, how can we help learners develop the right techniques?


One of these is to find ways to combine  our search for information for all or  most  of the reading tasks right from the beginning.  To the degree, of course, that  this is  possible. Reading text 1 in test 1 of the book Cambridge IELTS 8 (Official  Examination Papers from University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations) is ideal  to illustrate exactly this. The title of the reading passage is “A Chronicle of  timekeeping’.


Before starting to read the text, it is advisable to look at all the tasks first. Always!  We need to make sure we know the types of tasks that each time we are required to answer. DON’T start by reading thecambridge-ielts-8-self-study-pack-students-book-with-answers-and-audio-c-ds-2-17-728 text first! In this particular text, following it are 3 tasks : the first one asks students to identify the paragraphs that contain information similar to the specific statements that follow. The second asks students to match the statements with specific nationalities. Finally, the third one is a flow chart. So, what are the techniques we can apply which can save us time? In short, while we are scanning our text for task 1, we can also do part of the search we need to do for the other 2 tasks and save time, in this way.



cambridge-ielts-8-self-study-pack-students-book-with-answers-and-audio-c-ds-2-19-728In the first task,for example,  we need to read each statement, circle the key words and then scan each paragraph to locate the relevant information. While we are doing this, we might as well ‘partly’ search for the information we also need for task 2 and then also for task 3. What do I mean? Questions 5-8 (task 2)  involve matching the nationalities in the box with each event. So, a suggestion is that, while scanning the text for the 1st task, we can save time by circling the names of the nationalities each time we locate them in the text. Just the names of nationalities! This alone can save us about 1-2 minutes which we can use to answer one more question.  If we need roughly 20’ for each text, you can imagine what difference these 1-2’ can make!


Moving on to the 3rd one, a flowchart, we need to remember 2 facts about this type of exercise. cambridge-ielts-8-self-study-pack-students-book-with-answers-and-audio-c-ds-2-20-728Flowcharts always have headings which can help us identify easily the relevant information in the text. The heading includes a date, a number and/or a name which makes our search even easier. The 2nd fact is that the information related to the flowchart can always be found in a specific place in the text, in one or two paragraphs, usually one after the other, and not sparsely in the text. Plus, since this is the 3rd task, the information we are looking for is probably around the end of the whole text. So, it’s rather concentrated.

So, summarising :

  1. First, we look at all the tasks and try to find ways of combining our search for all our 2-3 tasks simultaneously
  2. While scanning the text for locating the answers to task 1 , we can also scan the text and circle the nationalities for task 2
  3. At the same time, using keywords from the heading of task 3, we try to locate which paragraphs contain the information we will need for the flowchart completion
  4. After these steps, we can focus on each task separately

We always need to make the best use of our time (approximately 20’ for each text). Deciding right from the beginning the ways in which we can combine our search for all tasks involved can save us valuable time which can help us in the end to answer 1-2 more questions that we wouldn’t have time to answer otherwise. Yet, we also need to bear in mind this is not possible with ALL the reading texts. Not only is the process not the same with all texts, but also it is not always possible nor easy to combine our search. Still, we should always try to find ways to organise our time wisely!