IELTS Speaking Part 2: How to start your talk

Start your talk with confidence by paraphrasing your topic card in IELTS speaking part 2. This video lesson gives advice and tips about the best way to begin your part 2 talk with example paraphrasing techniques to demonstrate a good command of English to the examiner. Target band score 6 and above.

Recommended Lessons

IELTS Video Lesson: How to improve your IELTS speaking: click here
Topics for IELTS speaking part 2: click here


hello in this lesson I’m going to show

how to start your talk for IELTS speaking
part 2

now there is no right way all wrong way

to start your talk but I want to show
you a good way

to start and the topic we will use for
this lesson

is described a book you

recently read so let’s look at how to

here are to different ways to start

you could say I’d like to talk about

or I’m going to tell you about

now this one is a little bit more

formal and this one is less formal

but they are both fine the

IELTS Speaking test is not academic

it’s not formal so it’s okay to use

both of them you can also see here

that I’ve written I’d

and I’m so we don’t say

I would like to tell you about or

I am going to tell you about we say

I’d I’m and

this is to help you get a better band
score for your pronunciation

when you use the contraction I would

I’d this is better for your

now after this what

do you need to put well a lot of students

copy the words on that card and it’s not
very good to do that

if you want to get a band score

6 7 and above you need to show the

that you can use your own language

that you have flexible language

to paraphrase what is written on your

so it now let’s look at how we could

paraphrase that so here is one way

to paraphrase the information on the

I’d like to talk about a novel

which I read

two weeks ago so you can see that

the word book we paraphrased for the

novel now you need to

learn all the different types books

that you can’t read so was it a novel

was it fiction non-fiction was it a

was it a self-help book so that’s
one way to paraphrase

take this word and be more accurate

what kind of book was it you can also
see here

I have put clause into the sentence

and that will help you get a higher band
score for your grammar and

here we’ve got two weeks ago

so instead of repeating the word

we can give the time when

you did it two weeks ago 1 week ago

a month ago you can do that so that’s

a very nice way to paraphrase

and start your talk but we can improve

let’s have a look at one more and here’s
how we can improve

that start so you can see here that one
thing you can do

it give more information more

and we can use an adjective so here

I’ve used the adjective fascinating

which means really interesting

you could also put useful

exciting you can describe

the book more and you can also see that
I’ve changed

this the paraphrase here and instead of
giving the information

I have given a paraphrase which is “not

so long ago” and that in a direct
paraphrase for recently

it’s very nice to use that and it

also means that during your talk

you can give more information about exactly

when you read the book and that’s
a way to

develop and extend your talk so I hope
you understand now

one way a good way to start your talk

well that’s all for this to happen I’ll
see you again

in another IELTS lesson


  1. Hi Liz,
    I’m an ardent follower of your and I must thank you for your selfless service to your students.
    I did my speaking test today , but I’, a bit worried about one thing. I didn’t do some sort of introduction when i started answering the cue card question. I started by saying “it was about 8 years ago after i graduated from high school…”
    meanwhile my question was; decibe something that you’ve celebrated , who you celebrated it with…
    PS: I probably talked for more than 2 minutes. The examiner was even the one that stopped me.
    My question is; will it affect my score?
    Should i be worried?
    Thanks as i anticipate your reply.

    • It is 100% fine to just launch into your talk in that way. The advice on this video is to provide people with structure which in turn provides confidence and a starting point. But it is not an IELTS rule. There are no rules for what you need to put into your talk or how you structure it. The cue card contains a main topic and the prompts are optional guidelines which are useful to use. It is not possible to talk more than 2 mins in part 2 because the examiner controls the time very strictly to international rules – however it can feel like a long time. Good luck with your results!!

  2. Muhammad Azhar Imran says

    Thanks to your helpful videos, I was able to achieve the required score in IELTS. I gave my exam on 7th Dec, 2019.

    Overall 7.5
    Listening 8, Reading 8, Writing 7, Speaking 7.5

    Frankly speaking, I didn’t study from any book, a friend of mine advised me to watch your videos, saying that’d be enough, he was absolutely right.
    It literally took me 5 days to do all the preparation. All I did was watch your tutorials here and on YouTube
    Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays

  3. Nguyen Zuga says

    Dear Ms Liz,
    Would you like to ask you a question?
    Is a good start of my talk by something like that,
    “So to start with, I’m going to talk about what the book is, and I think I would have to choose the thorn birds novel,…”
    Is too formal opening words?
    Best regards.

  4. Rahul Chaudhary says

    If examiner interrupts because I exceeded 2 min and I haven’t reached a conclusion yet, Do I still need to conclude the topic? If so, how do I conclude once he has already advised me to stop talking?

  5. Suketh Evani says

    Can I start by thanking the examiner for allowing me to speak on a specific topic?

    • That would be unusual and a little bit planned. You won’t impress the examiner that way. Just be natural. It isn’t normal to thank someone for a topic about “a book” or something like that. It isn’t an example of natural use of English.

  6. Hi Liz;

    Thanks for the great video! I have one question though. Usually there are 3-4 questions that we have to answer during the talk. My questions is do we have to answer those questions in order? Here is why I ask it. Let’s take the example in the video. Probably one of the questions below will be “What type of a book it was?” and when you paraphrase it like you did in the video it automatically answers that question. If that’s not the first question will it create a problem like will it decrease the score because we didn’t answer the questions in order?


    • There are no question on the cue card. Look again. What you can see is a main topic with prompts. The prompts are guidelines which you can use or not use as you wish. You task is to create your own talk by adding lots of detail, descriptions, comparisons, opinions, memories etc. The prompts are just basic structure to support you if you want – you will need to go well beyond them to showcase your English.

  7. Hii liz!
    I m confusing in how to start part 2
    As start with some general lines
    Talk about a book you read
    My answer as:
    Books play a vital role to get information. As well as they are stress buster. I had read various novel. But here I’d like to talk about….
    Is it right?

  8. Hi Liz ,I have the listening exam day after tomorrow. I have a doubt , suppose there is a question regarding the name of a website for example , http://www.——.com
    Can we still write the answer in all capital.
    Thanks for your advice.

    • Listening to what the audio says, Usually website are written in lower case – if the speaker says this, you must follow the directions.

      • Hi,
        I have an exam today only just and I am not sure If I would get the answer before that but finger crossed !!

        Is it fine if we use in cue card, like ” coming to the first ques, second que and third que of this”

        • It would be 100% inappropriate because there are NO questions on the cue card. There are prompts to help you structure your talk. Your talk a=should run smoothly and be delivered as a talk or a chat.

  9. Hi liz, thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. Really appreciate the help.
    My students asked me if they could begin the cue card section with “this topic reminds me or this cue card reminds me”. Well, i did say it would better not to but i was unable to explain clearly why. I assumed its because its supposed to be independently done? Could u help me by explaining your view?

    • They are asked to speak directly about the topic – it not about being reminded of anything. They are instructions to follow. The words “this reminds me” usually refer to a passing or indirect comment or situation – not from a direct command or an instruction. This means it isn’t really appropriate to start that way. The main topic is a direct instruction of what to talk about and the prompts are there as guidance.

      For these reasons, it is best to start directly: “I would like to talk about my favourite weather than I remember …”. We would use the verb “remember”, not “remind”. I suggest you ask them to look up the real meaning and usage of “it reminds me of..”.

  10. Mohammed Pervez says

    Hi Liz
    i had my speaking test on 29th Dec 2018, Topic was related to country,which country is good, how did i came to know about it, did u went to that country,

    Writing Task 1: write a letter to hotel manager that you forgot your clothes and mention where it is and how to send it back to you.
    writing Task 2- was on 5th Jan 2019
    And topic was : youngster should be advise to leave their house when there become Adult and some other say youngster should stay with family As long As possible,

  11. Hi Liz, Thank you for your indepth teaching. Can i use CAPITAL LETTERS for my reading and listening answers?

  12. Hi Liz,
    Can a magazine be called as a book? For questions related to books read in the past, can I talk about magazines I read in the past? I searched for answers in the internet but I could not find any satisfactory answer.

    • For part 2, you can adapt the topic. You just say “I’m going to talk about a magazine because I don’t read books…” . It is still the topic of reading so you haven’t changed the main topic which is fine.

  13. Hi Liz,
    During my speaking test in Part 2, instead of starting my talk as ” I’d like to talk about…….”,
    I started my talk directly as by saying “Last year I made a plan to…………..”
    So I want to know that will this affect my speaking score or not ??

    • There are no rules about how to start your talk. My video above shows options and recommendations. It is no problem to start “Last year …”

  14. Mahabubur Rahman says

    Hello Liz,

    Hope you are well. I am asking you about different topics answer about part 2. Do you have that? I am preparing myself for the exam. So please provide me the details to get a good score from the examination.
    Actually i need different topics answer about part 2 speaking.

    I would appreciate if i get the information.


  15. Lais Borin says

    Hi Liz,

    I did my IELTS exam yesterday, I wanted to say thank you because you really helped me a lot! I watched all your lessons, read your blog, you are just amazing!

    In the speaking part 2 the examiner asked me to talk about a comic actor in my country (which is Brazil). Just wanted to share because I never saw this anywhere 🙂

    Anyway, thank you again!


  16. Akshayah says

    Hii liz , my speaking test is tomorrow and I want to know whether the examiner would ask me to introduce myself?
    Expecting ur answer.
    Thank you 😊

  17. Hi
    I had my speaking test today, the examiner asked to describe main thing which can be knowldgable to me but not on school or college. I started by expalining it through a story but 2 minutes were over without me answering all the main questions!

    Is it going to affect my score?

    Note that I felt that I did very well in the other parts except part 2

    • There are NO questions in speaking part 2. You are given a cue card with prompts on – no questions at all. You can decide the content of your talk – you do not need to use the prompts. But your talk should be based on the main topic on the card.

  18. Jon Albert Dizon says

    Hi Liz! Good day! If I am asked what books do I read and I answer that I don’t read books but newspaper and internet articles is it an inappropriate response or not? I spend most of my time in reading online, so I don’t get any exposure to books physically. Thank you very much for your time.

  19. Abdullayev Laziz says

    Dear Liz,
    I am writing with regards to one question that I am in great dilemma: Is it still acceptable to speak about 1:20-1:40 minutes in Part 2 to achieve 7 or it drammatically decreases the total score? It is quite ambiguous that in some example interviews the example says that the candidate should speak 1 to 2 minutes, yet many IELTS teachers advise that it is very important to continue unless the examiner stops to get higher score.
    Thanks in advance.

    • The IELTS rules are that you speaking between 1 and 2 mins. This means part 2 cannot last less than 1 min and cannot last more than 2 mins. Part 2 is your chance to demonstrate fluency which is about speaking at length. It is also a chance for you to control the content of your answers – adding past memories, future hopes, comparisons, descriptions, conditional sentences etc etc. This means you have 1 mins to prepare and think about what language you wish to illustrate to the examiner. Why would you want to cut that short? The more language you demonstrate, the better your chances of a higher score. However, your marks for fluency are not based on part 2 – they are based on your performance through the whole test. So, do you need to speak for 2 mins? No you don’t. Is it a good idea to aim for 2 mins? Yes, it is. Is it a good chance to use part 2 to showcase your skills? Yes, it is. Are teachers giving good advice to aim for 2 mins? Yes, they are. BUT, teachers also need to show people how to do that easily to boost your score. If you don’t learn how to do this, it becomes difficult. Is it possible to get a good score if you speak under 2 mins? Yes, it is. But you will miss a good opportunity if you don’t show willingness to speak at length and you don’t add those language features (grammar and vocab) to your talk. I hope you are now clear.

  20. Hi mam
    I want to ask you that today i had my speaking test and examiner asked me One question that which my favourite wild animals… I answered him that Lion is my fav wild animal.he is also known as king of jungle and everyone have Fear from him… Is it wrong ans? And let me know mam that as said jungle instead of forest will it be pointed?

    • I wouldn’t worry about it. Your vocabulary score is based on your whole performance in the test, not one question. Also the word “jungle” is still very good 🙂

  21. I have speaking test after 2 days. Can you mention some key tips

  22. Can I talk about the academic book which I have recently read. Instead of a novel.

    • If you do that, you will need to explain why at the start of your talk. For example, “I’m going to talk about a book I’ve read but it isn’t a novel. I don’t really read novels because …………… so the book I’m going to talk about is an academic book….”
      However, if you talk about your subject, it doesn’t show flexibility in the English language. It only shows that you can talk about your subject but not anything else – that isn’t high level English. So, also add information about other books you have read that are not related to your topic to show the examiner a range of vocab and topics.

  23. can we use “I beg your pardon” in speaking part for not understanding a meaning.

  24. Harshal Goyal says

    Hello mam,
    My examination is on 11th november and speaking is on 9th november. I want to know that , can I ask the meaning of any word which I don’t know, to examiner?or meaning of the question which I am not able to understand? This is the only barrier in my speaking part, please help and reply ASAP.


  25. can we ask examiner to change the topic in Part 2 and 3?

  26. I’m having my speaking test tomorrow… And I’m very much nervous….. Please give me some tips what to do If i cannot answer the question…

    • If you can’t answer, just explain why. The examiner doesn’t care about your ideas. The examiner just wants to hear your English.

  27. Thanks Liz for the time you are creating for this website.
    Pls i want to know the appropriate verb to use in answering this question, Do you have photograph of when you are a child? If I answer, Yes I had pictures of my childhood. OR yes I have pictures of my childhood. Which one is correct?

  28. Hi Liz,

    I’m having my exam tomorrow and your website has been of a great aid to me. I was wondering if Filler Words during Speaking test would have negative impact on my score.


    • They will have a positive impact on your score. You can say “Well let me think…. I suppose that …” or “I’ve never thought about that before, let me see …” (of course you need to use these with appropriate questions). Doing this shows fluency because you are not breaking your speech. If you use these all the time, they will lower your score. But if you use them from time to time, it’s natural. Even I use them on some questions and I’m band score 9 🙂

  29. Dear Liz,

    I must say that you’re a SUPER teacher. I had my speaking test about two hours ago and it went on well. Big thanks to you.

    Part 1
    My name
    Where I am from
    Questions relating to my profession.
    Do I need to work harder? Why?

    Part 2
    What was the special thing I had which I had to wait for?

    What was the thing?

    Why did I have to wait for it for that long?

    How did I feel when I got it?

    Part 3

    House chores; the ones I like and the ones I do not like. Why?

    Patience;are people of the past more patient than the new generation? Why?

    And finally, INNOVATION! I wish I read your last lesson before this. But…
    The question was if people would have to wait (exercise patience) for innovation, what do I think will happen?

    I didn’t give the relevant points… Feeling bad about it right now.


    I love you.

  30. Any one please suggest me the best way to introduce ourself while speaking?

  31. Hello,Everyone my test is on 29 july,
    Can someone post recent questions about LRWS

  32. kamaljeet kaur says

    Thnks mam

  33. Hello Liz,

    I have recently given speaking test. In part two, I was asked to speak about a shop newly opened near my home. Instead that I spoke about a supermarket recently opened in my town. And my whole answer cover supermarket.

    Will my answer be considered off-topic in this case??

    And how they will mark if rest of marking sections are expected correct

  34. Hi, Liz,
    I regret to find your website lately. I want to share my experience with you.

    one month ago, I took IELTS Speaking test and I only got 6. I suppose, I got that since I gave wrong answer.

    In part two, I was asked to answer my future plan that did not have any correlations with my work and study. Unfortunately, I answered about business and I have already answered that I am a business consultant when examiner asked about my job in Part 1.

    My question : Is it possible that my wrong answer (had correlation with my work) totally decreasing my speaking score?

    Thanks a lot

    • Your score is not based on any information you give for speaking. Your score is based only on the language you produce – not the ideas. The band score 6 will be due to your fluency, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Judging from your message to me, you make frequent grammar errors – this will lower your score. Think about the level of your English.

  35. Hi liz , can I paraphrase word book to diary , like what you do books to novel . and thanks 🙂

    • No. The word “novel” is not a synonym for “book”. The word novel is a type of book which contains a story. A diary is another type of book which you write your experiences in – it is not a reading book. Look up the word diary and you will see it is not appropriate to use.

  36. Thanks for all your valuable tips..

  37. Ms.LIZ
    In listening part if there are diagram or matching I will be more confuse and can’t answer
    help me for that and if there is any strategy just let me know.

  38. If we make only 1 grammatical mistake in the whole speaking test, how much will it affect the band score?

    • It won’t affect your score. Your score is calculated through the whole test and band score 8 means that the majority of sentences are error free which means one mistake or even two or three is allowed. However, your score for grammar is also based on range – this means the different tenses and sentence structures you use. Avoiding errors is just one step, not the only step.

      • Also I said “Sir” two to three times..Can it affect my band score?

        • It is an example of incorrect use of English vocabulary to call the examiner Sir. However, mistakes are not counted individually – just generally over the whole test.

  39. Hi, thanks for your wonderful sessions on different modules. Would you please share any of your videos on Self introduction in the speaking session.

  40. Can we use ‘No sooner…than’ phrase in speaking test to get higher band score?

  41. Hi Liz, thanks so much for all the effort that you have been putting in this website… I spent a lot with private teacher who was good, however not as good as your material and lessons… And also you do almost everything for free, it is just amazing. I had my speaking test last week I was very nervous and definitely it is going to affect my score. I had put my head down in test 2, I just felt more comfortable and my concentration improved also my ideas and fluency. My question is: Is it can be bad? To put the head down.?

    • An interesting question. Teachers will give you different answers. Sure, it’s good to keep eye contact but it isn’t actually necessary. Your score is decided on the language you produce and nothing else affects your score at all. So, it shouldn’t matter if you look at the examiner or not. Lets wait for your results. If your results are lower than you think then consider a remark. When your speaking is remarked, the recording is sent to a senior examiner who will listen to the recording and of course not know anything about body language. A good examiner should not be influenced by body language. Fingers crossed you do well 🙂

  42. hello Liz I had my exam on 20 January the cue card was talk about your favorite meal
    I answered it’s as pizza and describe different things about it like I have it it resturents with m relatives friends subliNg etc.. is it right or wrong answer ?? however I speak for two minutes with a one pause …how much bands can I get

    • Thanks for sharing 🙂 The examiner will not mark you on your choice of topic. There is no right or wrong information in speaking. You are marked only on the language you produce so it is impossible to predict your score without hearing your test.

  43. Hello! I just had my Speaking test and I am confussed about what happened in my last question. After the examiner read the question, I instantly made a comment like “you mean the economic aspect?”. The examiner didn’t answer it but instead, she told me “Thank you very much, that is the end of the test.” Did she tell me that due to the time limit, making her to read the question and interrupt me right after, or because she was dissapointed that I made a question? Let me also note that I had already made two questions, asking her to repeat a word I didn’t listen in Part 1.

    • Unless I hear the whole speaking test and see the timing, it is not possible to say. However, my guess is that the time was at an end and there is nothing the examiner can do except finish the test. If that was the case, it would not affect your score.

  44. Dear Liz
    First of all, thanks for all your lovely lessons
    Now, I’ve learnt from you that when preparing to answer Speaking part of the test, first I should write down questions prompts and it will help extending the answer.

    but during my speaking time am I able to look for the notes i took?

    • In speaking part 2 (not part 1 or part 3), you are given a cue card with a topic and a list of prompts. The examiner will also give you a pen and paper. You have 1 min to write notes on the paper. Yes, you should look at both the examiner and your notes while you speak. You need to look at your notes to make sure you cover everything you want in your talk.

  45. If a candidate is having stammering problem from birth,can he score 7 in speaking?what if we attach a certificate of stammering from a recognised speech therapist?

  46. Sorry Liz, I posted my question in an essay section. My question is: How one should deal a speaking topic when he or she has a very little knowledge about it?

    • The answer to your question is – preparation! You should be preparing ideas for all common topics. In part 1, nearly all topics are common topics which appear in everyday life. Even if the topic is difficult, for example, “Flowers”, you can still expand your answers. Here’s an example: “What’s your favourite flower?” Answer = “I don’t really have a favourite flower but I usually go for flowers which have a nice scent or a striking appearance.” This answer still shows a good range of vocabulary and a complex sentence. All questions are just opportunities to showcase your language skills.

  47. Sudhakar yadav Medam says

    Dear liz,

    in speaking part 2, will they consider the preparation work done by student about the topic( in notepad by pen or pencil).
    Is there any marks for that.

    • You will be given a pencil and piece of paper to prepare your talk. You will have 1 min to do this. You can look at your notes while you speak. The examiner will not use that paper and will not read your notes. Your notes are for you alone.

  48. When l give speaking then l cannot elaborate my ideas approtiatly. How can i elaborate my ideas

    • You should be preparing ideas for all different topics before your test. It is essential that you have a list of ideas to use for both speaking and writing.

  49. Hi Liz,
    There is a particular vocabulary for a shopping done during waiting to pay from till. What do we call for that marketing.

  50. Hi Ms. Liz,
    I have some questions. I will be taking my Ielts test this coming Jan. 14 for the 4th time so I really want to make good this time and praying would be the last. I have difficulty is speaking specially if I really don’t have any idea on the question in part 2. like this cue card: Describe a piece of art you like. I not into arts. can I say “I’m not into art. so I’d like to tell you something how I feel about arts and if given a chance I would like to see personally the authentic painting of Mona Liza.” then I will go on why it interest me. is that ok?
    another question that confuse me. like this cue card. Describe an old person you know. Can I describe a dead person?
    thanks for all the help.

    • You can choose to take the talk in the direction you want.
      All the best

      • i am really having hard time in speaking tes. i got 6 but i need a 7. i will post some questions that i still remember for others.
        jan 14, 2016 test date
        reading is quite hard. i got 6 but previously i got 8.
        speaking part 1.
        1. can you swim.?
        2. is swimming popular in your country?
        3. do you think children need to learn how to swim.
        part 2 cue card
        describe the event in your lifw that you look up the sky…. (somwthing like that i cannot remember the exact line)
        how thw sky look like
        what event

        part 3
        1. do you think it is reasonable for the government to spend so much money in research about universe.
        2. how the study of star apply in our everyday life.
        3. do you love looking at the syar?
        i hope the next time i will sit on the test i can get 7 already.

  51. Kyrollos Hana says

    Dear Ma’am,
    I would like to know your opinion too about my different scores in the different sections of the IELTS. I got 6.5 in overall band score, 6 in writing, 6.5 in listening and 6.5 in reading. I would like to clarify for you that I took the academic IELTS test. I only failed to achieve the required score in speaking section as I previously mentioned. I studied by myself for about one month to get that score. I would like so much to improve my score in the next time with the help of your valuable resources and your guidance.
    Thank you so much!

    • Work through all pages and tips on my speaking page. Make sure you prepare ideas for all topics given and do the practice tests.
      All the best

  52. Kyrollos Hana says

    I would like to ask how to improve my score in speaking from 6.5 to 7. I got 6.5 in the last time I took the IELTS but I need at minimum 7 to achieve the required score that I need. Thank you!

    • Speaking is all about your level of English language and the number of errors you make. If you use a range of appropriate vocabulary and a range of grammar tenses, you will get a high score in vocabulary and grammar. For fluency, add more to all answers and especially a lot more information to your talk. For pronunciation, if you are clear and easy to understand and use intonation, you’ll be fine. Think about where you are going wrong.
      All the best

      • Kyrollos Hana says

        Thank you so much for your answer. I am going to plan, discover more of my weakness so I can fix and overcome it. I am sure that your sources are going to help me a lot and unfortunately I didn’t find before I took my last IELTS exam.

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