How To Do IELTS Speaking Task 2 - The Long Turn

Lesson Aim: To provide you with a reliable technique you can use to speak for 2-4 minutes in part 2 of the IELTS speaking test.

A lot of people find this part of the speaking test the hardest. They are not sure how to speak for so long about just one topic, or what to do in the one minute preparation time that candidates are given.

The technique I am going to show you now will enable you to use your one minute to plan so that you only talk about areas that you are confident about. This will mean that you will be able to speak for the full 2 minutes much more easily.

First, a typical question card that you might be given could look like this:

Describe a person who has been an important influence in your life.

You should say:

  • Who this person is and how long you have known him or her
  • Why you chose this person
  • How this person has influenced your life

and explain how you feel about him or her.

Notice there are three bullet points that you can use to give you ideas of what to talk about. However, you do NOT have to talk about those bullet points. If you did, your answers might be very short and a bit unnatural.

Here is a better way to do this task. Use the BEST technique. I have been teaching this to my students for a long time now and it has really helped students to score well.

Here is what BEST stands for:

B is for bullet points – You do not have to speak about all of them or any of them at all. However, there is normally one that students can pick out that they have something to talk about. So, circle the bullet point that you are most confident about and ignore the others.

E is for example – Can you think of any examples you could talk about related to the topic. Remember, you only have to talk about the topic, so talking about a personal example is a great way to think of something to say. You are usually then able to give more detail and feeling to your answer which often leads to using a wider range of vocabulary which is another bonus of using this method.

S is for story – Can you think of a story that you have related to this topic. If you can, get ready to tell it. Stories are a great way to speak at length and show off your ability to speak independently on your own. As you may have told the story before you may already be confident about telling it.

T is for tenses – Can you think about something from the past, present, or future to say about this topic? If you can then this is a great opportunity for you to use different tenses and impress the examiner.

In the one minute you have to prepare, I recommend that you write this acronym down on the blank paper you will be given and then write a keyword or phrase down for each one that will remind you of what to talk about. You can also note down any vocabulary that you think would be particularly useful in your answers.

Now, you should have something that looks a bit like this:

Bullets - answer bullet point 1 (decades, mentor)

Example - passed my driving test because of their help (generous, guidance)

Story - that time they saved me from getting hurt on holiday (severe leg wound, traumatic injury) 

Tenses - how often i see them now, in the future i hope to pay them back by... (grateful, indebted)

The great thing about this is that all of the topics you have now planned to talk about you are already confident about. You have ignored all of the bullets that are a bit awkward and selected memorable stories and examples that link in well to the topic. You have also created an opportunity for yourself to talk about different tenses too.

Now, when the examiner asks you to talk you should have no problem speaking at length. Make sure you practice like this with a variety of different question cards so that you get used to the process before test day.

You should now be able to go into your speaking test full of confidence!

Here are some sample questions to try: Sample IELTS speaking test questions

British Council - Sample speaking test questions

IDP IELTS - Sample speaking test questions

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