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

Are you worried about using the present perfect on your IELTS Speaking test?

Many students get stressed when it comes to grammar tenses like this one.

Today we’ll show you how to use the present perfect and the simple past to respond to typical Speaking questions for a 7 or higher.

We’ll give you some simple and easy rules to follow on the test.

We use present perfect to describe achievements and accomplishments in the past.

How is present perfect different from simple past?

With the present perfect it doesn’t matter when the accomplishment happened. For example, “I have traveled to more than 30 countries.”

With the simple past, the time that the event happened is important and the specific details are given. For example, “I went to Mexico in 2005 and I ate Mexican food.”

In Speaking Part 2 when you introduce a story and at the beginning you might use present perfect to introduce the overall experience and then when you get into specific details you can use the simple past.

You should mix in both tenses to get a more dynamic and interesting answer and a higher grammar score.

Sample Answers:

Q: Do you enjoy going to museums?

A: Yes, I have been to many museums. When I lived in New York I went to a museum every week. When I went to Italy I also spent a lot of time at museums because they are famous there. I think it’s great to go to museums and see works of art that we don’t get to see every day.

Q: What books do you enjoy reading?

A: Good question. I love reading books. I have always loved reading science fiction and horror. I have read every book by Steven King. The last book I read by him was Full Dark No Stars. I read it and scared myself before I fell asleep every night.

With both of these sample answers we mixed the present perfect and the simple past in the same idea to introduce different parts of the answer and to add details and main ideas. This is what you need to do on your Speaking test. Practice writing down our sample answers here and create your own using the same grammar structures.

What questions do you have about using present perfect and simple past on the IELTS Speaking test?

Let us know in the comments below.

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