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

Are you ready to talk about a holiday for 2 full minutes for Speaking Part 2?

Holidays and traditions are extremely common topics for this part of the Speaking exam.

You need to have high level vocabulary to respond.

We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season!

  • smack dab: exactly located

Where else can you see this episode?

We also recorded video, so you can see this episode on YouTube!

It helps to see video of sample answers.

You can see how much we use facial expressions and hand gestures.

This is natural!

It’s all part of being a natural speaker to get a high score.

Aubrey’s sample Part 2 answer

Describe a holiday where something surprising happened.

Aubrey describes a Thanksgiving when she drove 15 hours to Idaho to surprise her parents and siblings.

It was a magical holiday because it snowed!

Being from Arizona, her family never sees snow, so this was a special treat.

Driving home was a bit treacherous, because the roads were slick and icy.

  • treacherous: dangerous
  • slick: slippery and ice-covered

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How did Aubrey fill the 2 minutes?

She told a story!

Notice in her answer how she provides what happened before, during and after.

She describes packing up and keeping it a secret so they could surprise everyone.

Details are then given about surprising her mom and the games they played together.

Because the time was not up, she continued by describing the drive home.

What makes this a high scoring answer?

She used high level vocabulary to increase her Vocabulary score.

  • treacherous: dangerous
  • slick: slippery and ice-covered

She also used a variety of transitions.

  • First of all
  • Then
  • Subsequently

Additionally, she spoke for the entire 2 minutes without pauses or hesitation.

These increase her Fluency and Coherence score.

Jessica’s sample Part 2 answer

Describe your favorite holiday tradition.

Jessica first talks about how much she loves Christmas.

She thinks it’s a magical time of year.

She then describes Thanksgiving dinner as her favorite holiday tradition.

Additionally, she discusses the tradition of breaking the turkey’s wishbone.

What makes this a high scoring answer?

She used some great idiomatic language.

If the fancy strikes: an idiom meaning “if you feel like it” or “if you want to.”

I swear: used for emphasis

I swear, it’s the best gravy in the world!

Speaking about surprises on IELTS

You may be asked to discuss surprises on IELTS

In this video, Aubrey answers two IELTS Speaking Part 1 questions:

  • Do you like surprises?
  • Have you ever thrown a surprise party?

Aubrey describes a bash she threw for her husband’s 40th birthday.

She also shares how much she loves being surprised.

Parallels to avoid vocabulary repetition

Synonyms for surprised:

  • dumbfounded
  • astounded
  • awestruck
  • flabbergasted

Synonyms for sneaky:

  • stealthy
  • furtive

Idioms for making someone feel special:

  • on cloud nine
  • feel like a million dollars

Watch the video now!


There is a good chance you will be asked about holidays or vacations on IELTS.

These topics are recycled very often!

If you are asked something related on Speaking Part 2, tell a story!

Be sure to share the beginning, middle and end.

You need high scoring vocabulary and transitions!

For more strategies, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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