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

You may be asked on IELTS to describe a time your plans changed.

In order to get a 7 or higher, you need high level vocab!

Today we provide band 9 sample answers about altered holiday plans.

These are full of idioms and high level vocabulary!

Listen in so that you can be ready if you face this common IELTS Speaking question.

Where can you see a video of this episode?

Each week, we post the video of one of our podcasts on our YouTube channel!

If you see the video, you can see the nearly matching sweaters Jessica and I discussed.

This conversation is loaded with great vocabulary if you’re asked to describe clothing.

  • velour: soft fabric similar to crushed velvet

If you are a visual learner, or just want to see our quirky gestures and expressions, check out the videos!

There’s a bonus in this episode of seeing Aubrey’s Christmas elf in quarantine!

#1: Aubrey’s sample answer

She describes their Elf on the Shelf tradition.

Normally their elf, Juliet, visits Santa every night and each morning hides in a new spot.

Aubrey’s daughter, Georgia, had a full-on meltdown at the thought that Juliet might have Covid.

She was also devastated she wouldn’t be able to find Juliet each morning.

They realized it was an epic parent fail to put the elf in quarantine.

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Vocabulary for changing plans

All this vocabulary is very native and natural!

It’s usually disappointing and unexpected when plans change.

Use higher level vocabulary than “bad” or “not good.”

  • full-on: complete, huge
  • meltdown: breakdown of self-control
  • sob: cry

We often connote this with uncontrollably, as “sob uncontrollably.”

  • devastated: extremely disappointed
  • not gonna fly: idiom meaning not going to work

Check out Aubrey’s parenting podcast!

It’s called Accidental Parenting and she records it with her husband.

It’s about the wins and fails (but mostly fails) of parenting.

Parents don’t have an instruction book, and everyone’s advice is contradictory.

We’re all making it up as we go!

This is a great resource for improving listening and vocabulary for IELTS.

#2: Jessica’s sample answer

She describes all her plans that have had to change due to Covid-19.

bubble: environment, surroundings

I had to commit to staying in my safe bubble.

  • having blinders on: refusing to see anything you don’t want to see
  • flying blind: future is unsure, don’t know what is going to happen
  • wing it: make it up as you go; similar to “flying blind”
  • reality smacks you in the face: you’re faced with the reality
  • just around the corner: happening soon

The answer is sometimes just around the corner.

  • glimmer: just a little bit

I have a glimmer of hope!

Try to create an image in your mind to help you remember this.

In movies, you see a nugget of gold with a glimmer of light off it.


Questions asking you about plans changing are common on IELTS Speaking.

Today’s sample answers are full of native vocabulary and idioms.

Practice using these new words and phrases in a Speaking Part 2 answer!

Time yourself and make sure you can fill the full 2 minutes.

For all the strategies you need on IELTS, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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