Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

In IELTS Speaking Part 2, you may be asked to talk about a difficult decision you had to make.

Today we’ll give you ideas for that challenging card.

We also teach high level vocabulary to use for questions related to making decisions.

One of our Instagram followers asked us to discuss vocabulary for decision making.

All of the words, phrases and idioms we teach in today’s episode are band 7 or higher.

Strategy for choosing a topic

If you are asked about a difficult decision, don’t choose an experience that will make you emotional.

It is very difficult to speak clearly if you are feeling deep emotions.

However, you should definitely get close to that!

Tell a story that is meaningful to you.

This will give you a chance to provide background information.

Discuss what led up to making the decision and why you made it.

Then you can share the results or consequences.

Check out our episode about how to provide the before, during and after of a story.

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#1: Decisions that are easy to make

no brainer: a decision that is easy to make and doesn’t strain your brain

  • I didn’t have time to plan dinner, so we’re eating leftovers. It’s a no brainer.

We shared more information about this phrase in Episode 580.

hasty decision: a quick decision that was too fast and led to a negative consequence

Hasty means fast, but has a connotation of being too fast.

  • I made the hasty decision to eat at this restaurant, but then I got food poisoning, so that was a bad call.
  • Don’t be hasty!

rash decision: a decision that you don’t think about before making it

knee jerk decision: automatic decision made without considering

For example, if your child asks for permission and you follow your first instinct and say no.

This is a knee jerk decision because you didn’t think about it at all before responding.

#2: Decisions where you are undecided

Sometimes you are stuck because you can see both sides.

It makes it difficult to decide.

to be split: undecided because you agree with both sides of an issue

  • I was split because I could see benefits to both sides.

to be in a quandary: having a very difficult time deciding on something

  • I was in a real quandary the other day when I couldn’t decide who to vote for.

weighing options: considering multiple possibilities

  • I need to decide which college to attend, but I’m weighing my options and thinking about which would be best.

keep my options open: delaying a decision to maintain options

  • I haven’t decided where to vacation this summer, because I want to keep my options open.

outcome: the result of a decision or action

  • The outcome of my choice to sleep in was that I was late for work!

Bonus idiom

choose the lesser of two evils: choosing the better of two unfavorable choices

This is a great idiom!

We use it when we’re faced with two options and don’t like either of them.

  • I didn’t like either restaurant my friends suggested, so I chose the lesser of the two evils.


There is a wealth of high level vocabulary that can be used when discussing decision making.

Choose 4 of these to add to your vocabulary notebook.

Practice using them so that you have mastered them before test day!

Your Vocabulary score is just one of 4 scoring sections for each IELTS test sections.

You need strategies for each of the scoring sections.

You also need to know what the Examiner is looking for.

Our 3 Keys IELTS Success System has everything you need to get a 7 or higher on the IELTS exam.

Sign up today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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