In Part 2 the examiner gives the student a card with a topic and some questions. The student has 1 minute to prepare and then must talk for 2-3 minutes on the topic.
What if I don’t understand the topic?
It is unlikely you will totally misunderstand the question: the ‘ideas’ underneath should give you a good idea as to what the topic is (even if you do not understand every word in the question).
Changing the card is impossible. It is possible to ask the examiner to about a word you don’t understand, but generally it is not considered a good idea (it gets things off to a bad start).
What if I don’t know anything about the topic?
This is a worry for a lot of students. The simple solution is to remember that the examiner doesn’t really care what you know about the topic: it is an English ability exam.
Students can shift the topic onto areas they do know – for example a person who hasn’t been to a concert can move the subject to an instrument he/she plays. The skill is knowing phrases that can do this.
It is a good idea to learn a few phrases to change ideas before the exam (eg. ‘I have to say I’m not an expert. However,…)
Style of Questions
The card has a basic question, and a couple of ideas the student should consider. Pay attention to the ideas.
Some of the questions may ask for personal experience, whilst some may be more about opinions.
The question will concentrate on the past, present or future tense. The answer, however, is not limited to one tense.
In theory the topic could be anything but, as in the writing (part 2) there are some general areas that are more likely.
IELTS dedicated site dcielts.com puts the main topics as follows:
What makes a good teacher?
Describe a strong-willed person you know.
Talk about someone who has influenced your life.
Describe a restaurant or bar you often visit.
What do you think makes a good park?
Talk about your first school.
What sort of movies are you interested in?
What activities do you usually do on holiday?
Talk about a favourite hobby you had as a child.
What was the last trip you went on?
Talk about a news event that you think changed the world.
Describe a decision you made that has changed your life.
Talk about a country you would like to visit.
Who will be the next person you visit?
Talk about how you think your hometown will change in the future.
Talk about something you own that brings back a happy memory.
Describe something in your house that is valuable to you.
What has been the best present you have received?