IELTS Speaking: Part 2 – Making a Choice

Making Choices 1

THINGS TO REMEMBER BEFORE –

(1) Speaking is assessed based on four things/criteria. Try to remember each of them when you are speaking. For Part 2, Coherence and Cohesion are particularly important because you have to speak for a long time and it easy to become disorganized or speak about things the examiner does not know.

(2) Remember (especially in Part 2), to explain anything that the examiner might not be familiar with. This might be an explanation of something specific from your culture or just something personal to you. Try to use phrases like, “By that I mean” or “It’s kind of like a…” or “In other words…”

NOTE – The following contains sample answers from Parts 2 and 3 of an IELTS Speaking test. Each question contains two sample answers: a simple one and an advanced one. Both answers feature important linking phrases in bold and topic-specific words in italics. Remember that both of these are important for your Coherence and Cohesion and your Lexical Resource (vocabulary) marks. The advanced version is written at a Band 9.0 level.

Making Choices

SAMPLE ANSWER ONE (Basic)

DESCRIBE AN IMPORTANT CHOICE YOU HAD TO MAKE IN YOUR LIFE

You should say:

  • When you had to make this choice
  • What you had to choose between
  • Whether you made a good choice
  • AND explain how you felt when you were making this choice

 

“Well, I’m quite young so I haven’t had to make any big decisions in my life so far. But I guess one of the biggest I’ve made is about what university to study at. Of course, I had to make this choice before I started university, so I was in my final year of high school.

I had two options to choose from. My dad is an engineer and he wanted me to study at the same university as he did. However, I’m not really interested in that and I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian. Unfortunately, this job is not very popular in my country and my dad thought it would be a waste of time and I wouldn’t find a good job.

Finally, I decided to study to be a vet. My dad wasn’t happy at first, but we made an agreement. If I got good grades in the first year, I could keep studying. But if I failed any of my classes or only got average marks, I would have to change my degree to engineering. After my first year, I got As in all my papers and I was able to keep studying. Now, I’m in my final year.

Now everything is fine, but when I was making the decision, it was really stressful. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad, but I also knew I didn’t want to study engineering or be an engineer for the rest of my life. It was so hard and I had trouble sleeping. But, once I had made the decision and told my parents, I felt much better because I knew I had made the right choice and I was going to be a good vet.”

COMMENTS – Even if your speaking is not strong (and you’re worried about being able to even speak for two minutes!), you can still get a good mark in Part 2 if you slow down and make sure that (i) your answer is clearly organised with lots of linking/signpost words (ii) you explain everything that the examiner might not know.

Making Choices 2

SAMPLE ANSWER TWO (Advanced)

DESCRIBE AN IMPORTANT CHOICE YOU HAD TO MAKE IN YOUR LIFE

You should say:

  • When you had to make this choice
  • What you had to choose between
  • Whether you made a good choice
  • AND explain how you felt when you were making this choice

“I’m not a very decisive person, so making tough decisions is always a challenge for me. I think the biggest one I’ve ever had to make was a few years ago when I had to decide what I was course I was going to pursue at university.

Now, I know that many people face a lot of pressure from their parents about what to study, but my parents were totally supportive. The only person I felt pressure from was me. I’ve always loved animals, but I’m also interested in people and what makes them tick – you know, how they think. So I had to choose between studying veterinary medicine – in other words, to become a vet – or studying psychology and maybe becoming a psychologist or a therapist – something like that.

It was such a hard decision, but finally I decided to study psychology. Now, I’m in my second year and I think it was a good choice. Mental health issues are not really talked about much in my country and I hope in the future I can help to bring awareness to this very important issues that effects many people and their friends and family.

Although, I’m at peace with my decision now, it was really nerve-wracking at the time. I guess in life we all have to make difficult decisions and you just have to trust yourself that you will make the right one.

COMMENT – Notice how the organisation of the “simple” and the “advanced” answers are quite similar. The main difference is in the use of advanced vocabulary and grammar as well as (hopefully!) clear pronunciation and good fluency. Practice speaking for a few minutes every day. Treat it like a mini-workout. You need to exercise your speaking muscles!

YOU MAY FIND SOME OF THE FOLLOWING RELATED LINKS USEFUL

Speaking Part One: Real Test Questions: Time

IELTS Speaking Real Test (2018): Part 3 – Replacing Things

IELTS Speaking Part 3 Real Test: Public Speaking

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