Even for the most confident speakers, delivering a long turn in part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test can be a nerve-wracking experience. And that’s perfectly normal. Part 2 of the Speaking test is known as the “Individual long turn”.
Here, you’ll be given a card with a topic and asked to talk about it for 2 minutes. The examiner will use a timer to time your long turn and before you start you will have one minute to prepare for your topic. You can try this yourself after reading this article with a timed online IELTS Progress Check practice test.
When you are asked to start speaking, it’s common for many to stress about what to say and how to say it without any encouragement or prompting. So, the first step to performing better is learning how to deal with nerves. At the same time, you can also explore and try things to help you be prepared and succeed.
Read on to learn more about tips and strategies from our IELTS experts to help you perform better in the long turn of the IELTS Speaking test.
Strategy 1 – Use the 1 minute preparation time
You are given 1 minute to think about what you’re going to say in the long turn. Use this time well to take notes on the topic you have been given. Keep writing until the examiner asks you to start your long turn.
Sample task card
Describe something you own which is very important to you. You should say:
- where you got it from
- how long you have had it
- what you use it for
- and explain why it is important to you
Every task card will have a topic that you’ll have to expand on. It will also include three bullet points, and a final question. You should take notes and focus on all the question words on the task card – where, how long, what, why
A simple tip is to list all your notes based on the questions. In the example below, I list my notes to describe something I own – my piano.
|Music store||33 years||to play||love music|
|Ireland||after university||teach||only item from home|
Good news is you won’t be tested on what you write, so don’t worry about spelling. Write all that comes to mind based on the questions and use abbreviations or signs to help you focus on what you should speak about. Try to cover as much as you can including examples, names, dates, colour, design and so on.
What if I only talk about the first 2 bullet points in the 2 minutes and don’t cover all the questions?
Test takers sometimes worry that they have not covered all the points on their task card and run out of time. Remember that the examiner will interrupt you at the 2-minute mark. Don’t worry if this happens, as you have already shown the examiner that you can speak at length, appropriately extending your description.
Am I allowed to ask my Speaking examiner for an alternative Speaking topic?
No, you’re not allowed to change the topic. If you’re given a topic that is not relevant to you, switch your topic angle. For instance, if you are asked to describe your car and you don’t own one, here’s what you can do.
You can begin by answering ” I don’t own a car yet but I hope to in the next 10 years. The reason I haven’t bought a car yet is because they are expensive and I much prefer to use public transportation. I like travelling on the train best.”
Like the example above, you can use the entire 2 mins to talk about why you don’t own a car, the disadvantages of owning a car and why public transportation is better.
Strategy 2 – Speak with a normal speech rate, not too fast, not too slow
When you start speaking, watch your pace. It’s very common for test takers to speak very quickly at the beginning of their long turn because they are nervous. Then they stop suddenly, when they run out of things to say.
If you still have time, the examiner will prompt you and ask if you have anything more to add. This is a clear sign to keep speaking about the topic. The examiner will listen quietly to what you have to say, as this is your time to show that you can speak at length on a topic.
Changing how fast you talk, and the pacing of your speech, can make a dramatic impact on your performance. Have a list of memorised phrases like “Today, I would like to describe … to you.” as it will help you calm down and start your 2 minute talk. Breathe between sentences, this will help with you manage your stress and rhythm.
If you need more time to process what to say next, or how to articulate your words, don’t worry, there are some tips to help you. These tips are strategies we use every day when we don’t know exactly what we want to say. Here are 7 tips to help you to sound more fluent as you are able to keep speaking in a logical way.
Use stalling phrases (What else can I say about that, well, another thing that I can remember is…)
Refer directly to your task card – read out the prompt, changing the structure as you read it (and…what did I use it for, well, that’s interesting, I actually used it for…)
If the examiner is pausing and waiting for you to keep speaking, acknowledge that you still have more time left (Oh, I still have more time left! Well, to describe my piano in more detail, it is quite large and…)
If the examiner asks you if you have anything more to say, always say ‘yes’ and then continue speaking.
Avoid fillers (eh…, uh…, em…, er…) as they are meaningless and show that you are struggling to produce language and ideas.
Use hesitation devices to show that you can use a wider range of cohesive devices and can think logically (well, let me think, let’s see, it was a long time ago but…, another thing I remember about it was…, that reminds me about another time that I..).
Make sure you build your vocabulary using mind maps, so you can easily think of the right words to describe your topic. We have articles that help you expand your vocabulary. Have a look at the 100 New English Words And Phrases in 2020.
Strategy 3 – Organise what to say
Demonstrate that you can organise what you want to say, by using linking devices (and, so, but, or) and discourse markers (unfortunately, actually, however, for example, consequently, at that time). These words will make your speech easy to listen to, as it is logical and makes sense.
Use your task card as a guide and explore the topic in different ways. You will always be asked question words to describe what you are going to say. So, start at the beginning by commenting on the topic and then move on to each bullet point.
Introduce your long turn by paraphrasing the topic:
Even though I said the piano was made in Germany, I actually got it in Ireland. It was so long ago, I don’t really remember the exact place where I bought it. It was probably in a popular music store in Dublin, where I lived at the time. It was a pretty major purchase as I had to save up for quite a few years to afford it. When I was younger, I was a music student at university, so I was keen to continue playing the piano, in order to have a nice pastime at home.
As I mentioned, I have had it for a long time, possibly 33 years, or maybe more, a life-time! Even though I migrated from Ireland to Australia, I paid to have it shipped over, it was definitely worth the expense. The piano has been moved from house to house since then and always takes pride of place in my home.
What do I use it for? Well, obviously to play music. I’m not as good on the piano as I used to be, because unfortunately I don’t practice enough. As they say, practice makes perfect, and I am definitely not perfect. I really need to play it more often, but life gets in the way.
It is very important to me because it’s something I have had for my entire adult life. I was very proud that I had saved enough money to buy it, so I really wanted to make sure I kept it. My children have learned how to play the piano, so it has been well used. Hopefully, some day, I will teach my grandchildren how to play it as well.
Note the discourse markers used in the example above, showing that the long turn is organised; talking about a time in the past and how it impacts the present.
Speaking in a fluent and coherent manner will mean that you can get a higher band score. Study the IELTS Speaking band descriptors so you know what features the examiner will be looking for.
Strategy 4 – Practice makes perfect
It’s important to practise your long turn making sure that you can speak on any topic for two minutes.
If you record yourself reading the example above, you will notice that it is very close to 2 minutes. Your speech rate is too slow if it takes much longer. Remember that the examiner will interrupt when the 2 minutes are up. If you haven’t finished what you were trying to say, don’t worry, you have successfully spoken at length for your long turn.
Individual Long Turn Practice
Materials needed: Note paper, pencil, recorder and timer (mobile phone)
Choose one of the topics below:
- Set up your timer to time yourself for 3 minutes (1 minute preparation, 2 minutes long turn).
- In the first minute, take notes on the topic.
- Start your long turn on the second minute and see if you can keep speaking for 2 full minutes.
- Listen to your recording and pay attention to breaks, pauses, hesitations and the use of fillers.
- Repeat the process practising all 3 topics until you can speak at a normal rate for the full 2 minutes.
Long Turn Topics
|Describe something you own which is very important to you||Describe a holiday you had that you really enjoyed||Describe an item that you would really like to buy|
|where you got it from||when you went||what the item is|
|how long you have had it||where you went||where you would buy it from|
|what you use it for||who you went with||what you would use it for|
|explain why it is important to you||explain why you enjoyed it so much||explain why you really want to buy it|
If you feel you would like to do some official practice, why not get coaching for the IELTS Speaking Test. It’s an official preparation tool from IDP Education for test takers who need to boost their Speaking band score.
Practice your speaking skills with one-on-one coaching with an official IELTS expert and get personalised feedback on your mock Speaking test with suggestions and resources to improve your spoken English
With targeted practice like this, you will become more fluent and will be able to achieve the goals you have set!