Learn IELTS Vocabulary: Apologies

Jul 2, 2024 | IELTS Test

IELTS Speaking Test Sample:  

Apologising is an important part of everyday life and so it is not surprising that this topic appears in the Speaking test.

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: Do you often apologise when you make a mistake?

Candidate: Yes, I do. I believe it’s important to acknowledge when I’ve done something wrong. It helps to maintain good relationships and shows that I respect the other person’s feelings. For example, if I’m late to meet a friend, I always make sure to apologise because I know it can be frustrating to wait.

Examiner: How do you feel when someone apologises to you?

Candidate: When someone apologises to me, I usually feel relieved and appreciated. It shows that they care about how their actions affected me. For instance, if a colleague at work apologises for missing a deadline, it makes it easier for me to understand their situation and work together to fix the problem.

Examiner: Is it easy for you to say sorry?

Candidate: It depends on the situation, but generally, yes, it is. I think it’s a crucial part of resolving conflicts and moving forward. Sometimes, it can be a bit challenging if I feel strongly about my point of view, but I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and understand their perspective. This makes it easier to apologise sincerely.

Part 2

Describe a time when you received some useful advice.

                You should say:

what the situation was

who gave you the advice

what the advice was

              and explain why it was so important to you.


I remember a time about a year ago when a good friend of mine apologised to me. It was during our final year at university. We were working on a group project together, and we had divided the tasks among ourselves. My friend was supposed to handle the research part, and I was in charge of compiling everything and creating the final presentation.

One evening, about two days before the deadline, I was working on my part when I realised that my friend hadn’t sent me the research materials yet. I called him, feeling quite stressed and anxious. He picked up and sounded really flustered. He admitted that he had completely forgotten about the research because he was swamped with other assignments and personal issues. He said, “I’m really sorry, I messed up. I know this is important, and I should have told you earlier.”

At first, I was pretty upset because it put a lot of pressure on me with the deadline so close. But then he explained what was going on in his life, and I realised he was genuinely sorry. He immediately started working on it and stayed up all night to finish the research. He kept updating me on his progress, and by the next morning, he had done a great job.

His apology meant a lot to me because it showed he cared about the project and our friendship. In the end, we managed to pull everything together, and our presentation went really well. It was a stressful situation, but his sincere apology and effort to make things right helped us get through it.

Part 3-style questions

Examiner: What kinds of people are most likely to say sorry?[Evaluate]

Candidate: Well, I think people who are really empathetic and care about their relationships are the ones who usually say sorry. They understand how important it is to keep things smooth and are sensitive to others’ feelings. Like, if someone has good people skills and is always thinking about how others feel, they’ll probably apologise quickly to avoid any drama.

Examiner: Why do some people find it difficult to apologise? [Evaluate]

Candidate: Some folks find it hard to apologise because of pride or the fear of looking weak. They might think that admitting they’re wrong makes them seem less capable. Plus, cultural factors can come into play too. In some cultures, saying sorry might be seen as l losing face . So, they avoid apologising to keep up their image.

Examiner: Can an apology always resolve a conflict? [Suggest]

Candidate: An apology can really help in resolving conflicts, but it’s not always enough on its own. It needs to be sincere, and you should be willing to make things right. Sometimes, the person you hurt might need time to get over it before they can fully accept your apology. Plus, ongoing communication and actions that show you’re committed to change are often needed to fully resolve the issue.

Definitions for IELTS Achievement Vocabulary


Part 1

acknowledge: To admit or accept that something is true or exists.
Example: She acknowledged her mistake and apologized.

maintain: To keep something the same.
Example: It’s important to maintain a healthy diet.

relieved: Feeling happy because something bad did not happen or is over.
Example: I was relieved when I found out the test was postponed.

appreciated: Feeling valued or thankful.
Example: I felt appreciated when my boss praised my hard work.

resolving: Finding a way to fix a problem.
Example: They are working on resolving their differences.

to put myself in the other person’s shoes: To imagine how someone else feels.
Example: I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes to understand their perspective.

Part 2

compiling: Collecting information from different places and putting it together.
Example: She is compiling a list of all the students’ contact information.

picked up: Answered a phone call.
Example: I called him, and he picked up immediately.

flustered: Feeling confused and nervous.
Example: She became flustered when she couldn’t find her keys.

swamped: Having too much work to do.
Example: He was swamped with assignments and couldn’t meet us.

personal issues: Problems in your personal life.
Example: She couldn’t focus on work because she was dealing with personal issues.

pull everything together: To organise everything to make it complete.
Example: Despite the chaos, we managed to pull everything together for the presentation.

Part 3

empathetic: Able to understand and share someone else’s feelings.
Example: She is very empathetic and always knows how to comfort her friends.

avoid any drama: To stay away from conflicts or emotional situations.
Example: He prefers to stay quiet to avoid any drama at work.

losing face: To lose respect or reputation.
Example: He feared losing face if he admitted his mistake in front of everyone.

get over it: To recover from something difficult.
Example: It took her a while to get over the breakup.

Practice Your IELTS Achievement/Goal Vocabulary 

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