Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

When we are practicing for the Speaking exam, we must remember what the examiner wants.

Today, we are going to focus on hitting that 7 or higher on the Speaking test in two ways:

  • Fluency and Coherence (having organized, specific ideas)
  • Vocabulary (not repeating words/ideas, using specific vocabulary)

The best way to hit a 7 or higher on Speaking Part 2 is to tell a story.

For some kinds of questions, this is easy, such as describing a movie, TV show, or book.

However, we can also turn our 2-minute answer into a story when we are asked to describe a situation or event.

Often, these questions begin with, “Describe a time/occasion when…”.

Below we’ll look at Speaking Part 2 on the exam, step by step.


Step 1:

Before you give your answer, you have one minute to plan and take notes.

The examiner will tell you the topic, hand you the booklet with the topic card on it, and also give you a pencil and piece of paper.

Then, you have a full minute to write down your ideas.

This is a crucial time, and I’ve seen many students who do not use this time well.

This is your chance to plan your answer so write down everything you think of- details, words, examples, everything.

When you choose to tell a story as your Part 2 answer, this first planning stage is easier as well.

Just start at the beginning of the story, and move through the story in your head, writing notes on everything that comes to mind.

Remember, there are no bad ideas!

Let’s look at an example:

Describe the last movie you saw in the cinema.

My notes:


  • Jupiter Ascending
  • mina kunis, channing tatum, future, sci-fi
  • maid in new york, russian, dad killed
  • lives with mom, aunt, all maids
  • tatum werewolf alien, comes earth
  • aliens try kill mina, saved
  • space family controls all planets, uses people as medicine, never grow old
  • three siblings control all, want kill/mary mina, she owns earth, forget why
  • lots action, flying shooting, earth, tatum rocket rollerblades
  • he saves her, they fall in love, she’s still maid


Now, you can see all the specific details I wrote down in my notes.

Also, my notes are organized by bullet point, from the beginning of the movie to the end.

Also notice that I did not remember everything (this was not the best written movie!), and that is fine.

Again, your ideas are never wrong on the Speaking exam– all the examiner wants is to hear you speak English.


Step 2:

After one minute for note taking, the examiner will ask you to start talking.

When you are talking, you must use linking words.

You are allowed to look at your notes, so you should do this if you forget what to say.

That is why you take notes! Use them, and keep talking!

An example answer with linking words looks like this:
Today I will tell you about a movie I saw recently named Jupiter Ascending, by the Wachowskis, the people that made the Matrix movies.

The Matrix movies are classics, but, sadly, in my humble opinion, they have not been able to replicate that genius.

Especially in this movie, Jupiter Ascending.

It was really pretty, but the story, writing and dialogue left a lot to be desired.

So, it starred Mina Kunis as a maid of Russian descent who lives with her mom and aunt in a small room in New York, very poor.

Channing Tatum is the other big name, and he’s a werewolf alien hybrid creature, who has crazy rocket rollerblades that he flies around on.

We find out in the beginning of the movie that Mina’s dad was a scientist, killed in Russia, although we don’t know why, and her mom came to America.

She actually gave birth to Mina/Jupiter on the ship.

There are many additional characters, but the ones that matter are three siblings who are, I think, sort of royalty in space, and they actually own all the planets.

For some reason, I forget why exactly, they have to get Mina in order to harvest Earth.

Oh, by the way, by “harvest” I mean they destroy the planet and use all the life as fuel for their immortality.

Yeah, pretty crazy.

Anyway, about 20 minutes into this disaster of a film, Channing wolf comes to Earth, saves Mina, but then loses her as one of the siblings grabs her.

One brother wants to kill her, the other brother tries to marry her, and the sister tries to befriend her.

The whole complex tale culminates in lots of shooting action and explosions on Earth that no Earthling seems to notice, with Channing rocketing around on his ridiculous rollerblades.

Of course, in the end, Mina and Earth are saved, her and Channing Tatum fall in love, even though he’s half dog, and she chooses to still be a maid.

All completely unbelievable, and this is from a girl who really digs her sci-fi.


Step 3:

Read my answer again and write down all the linking words/phrases.

Then, use them to practice telling your own story.


Good luck and have fun!

Get more episodes and articles on IELTS Speaking here.


What questions do you have about today’s activity?

Please let us know in the comments below.

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