How to talk about an unfamiliar topic in Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test

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For Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test, your examiner will ask you to talk for two (2) minutes on a given topic.  These topics are general and, therefore, you do not need to have specific knowledge about it.  However, you might be asked to talk about a topic that you are unfamiliar with. If this happens, what can you do? 

Tip 1: Use your imagination

For example, maybe the topic is about sports: 

“Tell us about a time you watched your favourite sports player.”

It is possible that you don’t enjoy sports and have never had a favorite sports player!  Therefore, you really don’t think that you can speak for 2 minutes on this subject.  What can you do? 

The first thing you can do is use your imagination and make something up. For example, think about a famous sport in your country and make up a name for someone that plays it Remember, the test is about your language skills, not if what you are saying is true or not!

Tip 2: Choose a related/connected topic

If you are not comfortable making something up, then the next best thing you can do is talk about a related topic.  You will not lose any marks if you do not keep exactly on-topicif the new topic is somehow connected to the original question. 

How is this done? Here are some helpful points to show you how to talk about a different, related topic. Let’s use the same example:

“Tell us about a time you watched your favorite sports player.”

  1. First, tell the examiner that you don’t have a favorite sports player but that you do enjoy walking in nature. 
  2. Tell the examiner that you are instead going to talk about walking in nature. 
  3. Talk for the full two (2) minutes on your new (but connected) topic. 

The topics in Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test are very general and you may not have a problem thinking of something to talk about for two (2) full minutes.  However, if you do find you have little to talk about, remember that you can always go slightly off-topic and talk about something related!

Tip 3: Remember! Speak for the full 2 minutes

Remember that the examiner wants to hear your language skills during the IELTS Speaking test and it is very important that there are no periods of silence during those two minutes

Saying nothing will lose you marks but changing topics will not. 

Tip 4: Prepare for Part 2 of IELTS Speaking

Check out this post for more help with preparing for your exam.

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