How to give a long answer in part 2

How to give long Answer in part 2

For the first of our three IELTS Speaking samples, I’m going to use one of the cue cards you saw on the introductory page.

 Describe something healthy you enjoy doing.

 You should say:

  • what you do
  • where you do it
  • who you do it with

 and explain why you think doing this is healthy.

If your mind likes to work in a structured way, you’ll probably find this method the easiest to use.

Step 1 – First, pick out the keywords from the bullet points. I’ve underlined them for you here:

what you do

where you do it

who you do it with

and explain why you think doing this is healthy.

So, we’re basically using the bullet points as they stand. However, it’s important that you know these two things:

  • You don’t have to use all the bullets points.
  • You can talk about other things as well.

You may find that you have plenty to say using the questions prompts ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ in the bullet points. In case you don’t have enough ideas, or one or more of the bullet points doesn’t fit with what you want to say about the topic, we’ll use the other two question words as well.

Here is the full list of all 6 question prompts:

  • what
  • where
  • who
  • why
  • when
  • how

I’ve underlined the two not included in these bullet points and we’ll also use these in the planning process.

You’ll find that some cue cards only use a couple of these question words. There’s an example in the practise cue cards at the bottom of the page. Where this is the case, you’ll be especially glad of this list to help you extend your answer.

Step 2 – Next make some notes using each underlined word as a headline. Do this as quickly as possible, ideally in 30 seconds.

If you think of something you really want to say that doesn’t fit under these headings, just write an extra heading – other – and jot it down under this. The key is to stay focussed on the topic.  

Sample notes for this cue card:


  • circuit training
  • different exercises – work whole body
  • varies each week – makes it interesting
  • sometimes do spin – really hard


  • TM Fitness Factory
  • Owned by Linda friend in club & son Tom


  • members of my rowing club
  • run by Chris, one of the members


  • every Tuesday evening


  • works every part of body
  • aerobic fitness
  • strong bones


  • to improve fitness for rowing
  • working out with other crew members creates team spirit
  • would do if not rowing as like to keep fit & stay healthy


  • can take it at your own level but like to push myself

Step 3 – Spend the remainder of your 1 minute planning time organising your notes.

Do these two things:

a) Decide which to talk about (you don’t have to use them all).

b) Put them in a logical order.

Here are our sample notes organised into a logical order.

circuit training

every Tuesday evening

members of my rowing club

TM Fitness Factory

owned by Linda, friend in rowing club, & son Tom

run by Chris, one of the members

varies each week which makes it interesting

different exercises – work whole body

aerobic fitness

sometimes do spin – really hard

working out with other crew members creates team spirit

can take it at your own level but like to push myself

would do if not rowing as like to keep fit & stay healthy

If you don’t have time to write them out again as I have here, write numbers beside them (1, 2, 3, 4…) to show the order in which you will talk about them. This will be enough to organise them in your mind.

When you first practise this method, give yourself plenty of time to make your notes as you get used to the technique. You’ll soon get quicker. Gradually cut down the time you allow yourself until you can do in the 1 minute you’ll have in the real Speaking test.

Step 4 – Give your talk.

You are now ready to give your 2 minute talk. Refer to your notes if you need to but it’s far better if you can talk without doing so. What you must not do is to read out your notes. Your speech will sound unnatural and won’t be fluent.

You’ll also run out of things to say before the 2 minutes is up as you’ll forget to develop each point as you’re talking.

The process of making notes and organising them the way I’ve shown you should fix the ideas in your mind ready for them to flow as you start speaking. The more you practise, the better you will get.

Here’s the first of our IELTS Speaking samples, created from the notes above. Can you see how it follows the order of the notes?

IELTS Speaking Sample

Describe something healthy you enjoy doing.

I’m a real fitness fanatic and do loads of things to stay fit and healthy but the one I’d like to tell you about is circuit training. I do this for an hour every Tuesday evening with a group from my rowing club.

We meet at TM Fitness, a gym owned by my friend and crewmate Linda and her son Tom. Tom actually runs the gym but we hire the hall and Chris, another of our rowers, leads the session.

The great thing about circuit training is that it involves lots of different types of activities so this keeps it interesting week by week. We’re never quite sure what we’ll be doing when we turn up.

With a conventional circuit, you work every part of the body in turn, doing aerobic activities and also body conditioning using weights. I like these types of circuits best. Sometimes, if there aren’t many of us there, we do a session on the spin cycles. This is really tough if you don’t get out on a bike very often as I don’t. I used to cycle a lot but don’t have time since I took up rowing. Anyway, spin is hard but I always feel good afterwards.

One of my favourite pieces of equipment is the punch bag. If you’ve had a stressful day at work, putting on a pair of boxing gloves and thumping the bag gets rid of all the negative energy.

I really enjoy exercising with other crew members from my rowing club. It helps to create a team spirit and we encourage and motivate each another. Our rowing club has members of all ages from teenagers to several people in their 60’s and everyone works out at their own level. I like to really push myself so that I get the most out of the session. There’s no point in going if you’re not going to get the greatest benefit out of it that you can.

There can be no doubt that circuit training keeps me aerobically fit and also gives me a strong body. Although I do it mainly to improve my fitness for rowing, I enjoy it so much that I think I’d still keep going even if I gave up rowing.

Would it matter if a few points were out of order in your talk?  Of course not. Your notes are just a guide to help you along. Glance at them if you need to, to keep you on track and to help you to remember all your ideas. The most important thing is to talk naturally as if you were explaining things to a friend.