IELTS Speaking Test Sample:
Describing a memorable event in your life is probably something you do quite often – but how well can you do it in English?
Read the following speaking-style questions, paying close attention to words you don’t know and the words in bold. There are definitions for the words in bold at the end of the page.
Before you read the conversation, you might like to download this free PDF quiz and have a go at completing the blanks.
Part 1-style questions
Examiner: What is the most important festival in your country?
Candidate: The most celebrated holiday in the UK is Christmas – we love to get festive. It’s a time to blow off some steam at the end of the year, cherish some quality time with family and friends and to eat lots of food!
Examiner: What do you enjoy most about this festival?
Candidate: Christmas brings people together. I know lots of people who like to go carol singing together before midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Although some people prefer to spend the evening in the pub – the 24th can be quite a raucous night in the town centre.
Examiner: Do you eat any special kind of food during New Year?
Candidate: In my family, we tend to just kick back and order a takeaway on the 31st, but in some cultures, food makes for an important New Year’s tradition. I’ve heard that in Spain, they eat 12 grapes at midnight – one for each chime of the clock.
Describe a memorable event in your life.
You should say:
- where the event took place
- where the event took place
- what happened exactly
and explain why this event was memorable for you.
One of my most memorable life events was a ceremony in the early 2000s when I was a child. My mother was in a choir, and they were singing at an event to mark Remembrance Day at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. It’s a big venue – it’s usually used for theatre productions. The choir needed two children to walk across the stage towards each other, wearing football shirts to represent the Christmas Day football match during World War II. My mother persuaded me to be one of those kids.
There were thousands of people watching us, in complete silence, so it was pretty daunting! Thankfully, neither of us tripped over our feet or did anything else too embarrassing. It’s a really important occasion for lots of people, so it was rewarding to be a part of it. And quite a formative experience!
Part 3-style questions
Examiner: Can you compare the difference between public and private ceremonies in your country? [Compare]
Candidate: Public ceremonies, like days of remembrance, are usually respected by most of the country. Like weddings and funerals, private ceremonies might be only a small gathering of a few people, or they might be a much larger congregation of several hundred people.
Examiner: What is the importance of ceremony to individuals and society? [Comment on]
Candidate: Ceremonies are ways for people to formalise life events in the presence of witnesses. That’s important because it sets them in stone.
Examiner: Do you think ceremonies will change much in the future?[Speculate]
Candidate: Very much so! Assuming the pandemic subsides this year, we’ll see a societal shift back towards large gatherings in person. In 2020, of course, most ceremonies were held virtually.
Definitions for IELTS Achievement Vocabulary
Festive – cheerful, happy, at Christmas
Blow off some steam Virtually – relax, let out stress
Cherish – enjoy and appreciate
Quality time – enjoying time spent with other people
Carol singing – singing Christmas songs, usually outdoors in a group
Midnight mass – traditional church service on Christmas Eve
Raucous – loud
Kick back – relax
Takeaway – food delivery
Chime (of a clock) – the sound a clock makes on each hour
Ceremony – formal occasion
Choir – organised group of singers
Remembrance Day – day of respect for soldiers lost at war
Venue – place where an event happens, like a concert or comedy shows
Theatre production – planning and performing a live show on stage
Kids – children
Daunting – scary
Rewarding – satisfying
Formative – important in developing a person
Remembrance – remembering, respecting
Gathering (noun) – group, usually smaller
Congregation – group, usually larger
Formalise – make formal
Set (something) in stone – Make difficult or impossible to change
Subside – become less intense
Societal – in society
Virtually – online
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