It is important to know how to give both long and short answers.

A lot of students struggle to give long answers because they don’t know what to talk about.

Developing basic answers

It is a very good idea to expand the scope of answers – don’t limit responses to one idea.

Here are some ideas:

1. Think about all the basic questions
2. Expand time: use the past, present and future (and how they have changed/stayed the same)
3. Give examples
4. Remember different groups think differently from you

Think about all the basic questions

This is particularly good for part 1, although useful for all parts.

A question may only use one question word, but an answer can think about far more:

Why? Who? When? Where? Which? What? How? How often? How long?

Question: What sports do you enjoy?
Answer: I’m quite fond of basketball: I usually play it once or twice a week with my friends at university, usually for two or three hours each time.

Expand time

This is useful in any part, and allows the student to show multiple tenses.

Consider the past, the present, and the future. What did you used to do? What do you do now? Will this change in the future?

Question: What was the last holiday you went on?
Answer: The last holiday I went on was a family trip to Italy. We went to Turin and Milan, which was very pleasant. I really enjoyed the food. My wife has always been in love with Italy so she was really happy. We will probably go back soon, although next year we’re going to go to Morocco.

Give examples

Examples not only help support opinions (which sounds smarter) but gives more about which to talk.

There are different types of examples to consider:

– real examples (such as famous people, statistics)?
– personal examples (from your own life)
– hypothetical examples (imagined situations)

Question: Do you think the internet is changing how we shop?
Answer: Yes, I think it is. The internet is cheaper, more convenient, open 24/7, and has a wider choice. You can even buy vegetables online. I read somewhere that internet grocery shopping has increased something like 100% in the last 5 years. I tried that myself recently, and it was quite good. I bought some bananas and avocados and they came on time, no problem. I might try it again.

Remember different groups

This is very useful in parts 2 & 3.

IELTS questions are often open to discuss general ideas. Take advantage of this and don’t only think of yourself:

– younger generation vs. older generation
– different generations within your family
– poor vs. rich
– your country vs. other countries
– your region vs. other regions
– ethnic vs. cultural groups
– male vs. female

Question: Do you think traveling abroad can help a country’s population?
Answer: I think so because traveling abroad can help you learn about other countries, other cultures, and give you a broader mind. You can learn a lot more about the world by seeing it than by reading about it, especially in some countries where the government tells you what to think. I think I’m quite lucky in a way because when I think about my parents’ and grandparents’ generation they never had the chance to go overseas, and if you ask them about other countries they don’t know very much. Younger people in this country tend to have more money and more opportunities and I think it gives them a better education. So yes, I think it does help.