Speaking Part 1 Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​In both part 1 and part 2 of the speaking test the examiner is likely to ask you questions about your personal experiences. These types of questions invite you to talk about something which happened to you in the past.


Exercise 1

Which of the following questions are about the candidate’s personal experience? Select the correct choice from the list.

1. How often do you wear jewelry? Why?
2. Do you like to wear gold or silver jewelry? Why?
3. Have you ever given jewelry to someone as a gift?
4. Have you ever received jewelry as a gift?


Exercise 2

​Read the following question.
Have you ever given jewelry to someone as a gift?

​A candidate is answering the question. Organize the sentences in his answer from 1 to 5 and from 6 to 10.

Yes, I have actually, although not for a while.
I was really busy. I was studying all day and working till 11 at night as a waiter to cover my bills.
In fact, It was my mums birthday a few years ago, when I was at university, yes.
I had been so busy with my university studies and work that I had forgotten her birthday was coming up.
The last time was, let me see, it must have been back when I was at university.

Anyway, I rushed out after his call and went straight to a little jewelry shop in town.
Fortunately, the day before her birthday, my younger brother called me to see how I was and he reminded me about her birthday, which was lucky…or I would have completely forgotten!
I was finding it hard to pick out a good pair of earrings so I asked the girl working there and she suggested a good set which I bought. They look like little silver trees with tiny stones set in them.
She really likes earrings and necklaces that contain precious stones such as amber and amethyst, so that’s why I chose to get her jewelry.
My mum loved them so it was a good choice of present and she didn’t find out that I almost forgot her birthday!

The Complete Answer

Yes, I have actually, although not for a while.
The last time was, let me see, it must have been back when I was at university.
In fact, It was my mums birthday a few years ago, when I was at university, yes.

I was really busy. I was studying all day and working till 11 at night as a waiter to cover my bills.
I had been so busy with my university studies and work that I had forgotten her birthday was coming up..
Fortunately, the day before her birthday, my younger brother called me to see how I was and he reminded me about her birthday, which was lucky…or I would have completely forgotten!

Anyway, I rushed out after his call and went straight to a little jewelry shop in town.
She really likes earrings and necklaces that contain precious stones such as amber and amethyst, so that’s why I chose to get her jewelry.
I was finding it hard to pick out a good pair of earrings so I asked the girl working there and she suggested a good set which I bought. They look like little silver trees with tiny stones set in them.
My mum loved them so it was a good choice of present and she didn’t find out that I almost forgot her birthday!

When you answer a question about your experiences it is important that you use the correct verb tense. That’s what we will look at next.


Exercise 3

​Complete the following grammar details with words from the box.

Click or touch a word above
1. The is used to talk about past experiences. A definite time is not given.
Example – I have waited for my best friend for more than an hour before.

Form – have/has + past participle
Notice the speaker doesn’t say specifically when he had to wait for his best friend.


2. The is used to give background information about what was happening at the time of the story.
Example – I was waiting for him outside the library and the wind was blowing hard. He arrived late but he didn’t apologise.
Form –
Notice that the past continuous is not used to give the important details or the action of the narrative.


3. The is used to give the important detail or action of the narrative as it moves forward.
Example – We were waiting for him outside the library and the wind was blowing hard. He arrived late but he didn’t apologise.
Form –


4. We use the to ‘flash back’ and give details that occurred (happened) before the time of the story.
Example – He had lost his car keys and so he had taken the bus, which was much slower than taking his car.
Form –

The complete narrative –
My best friend is often late, ​have waited for him for more than an hour before. I was waiting for him outside the library and the wind was blowing hard. He arrived late but he didn’t apologise. He had lost his car keys and so he had taken the bus, which was much slower than taking his car.


Exercise 4

​An IELTS candidate is doing part 2 of the test. Read his cue card below.
Talk about a time when you went on a long journey that you enjoyed.
 
Mention:

  • Where you went on the journey.
  • Why you went on the journey.
  • Who you went with on the journey.

 
And mention why you enjoyed the journey.

​Complete the candidate’s response by typing the correct form of the verb into the blank space below.
Picture

1. I love travelling and so I 1. (be) on numerous long journeys in my life but I want to tell you about the first long journey which I went on. After I finished university I 2. (look) for a job and I 3. (enjoy) the glorious summer weather. I was having trouble finding work but I 4. (want) to make the most of the summer so I 5. (decide) to take a trip. The problem was that I was almost broke – I 6. (spend) all my money at university! Luckily, however, I 7. (have) a tent and a small camping stove as well as a sleeping bag and two functioning legs! I 8. (book) a ticket back from northern Spain for 2 and a half months in the future. Then I 9. (walk) out of my house. I 10. (walk) all the way to Santiago in Northern Spain. People have done this hike for hundreds of years as it is an important Christian pilgrimage. For me it 11. (be) just a great way to spend the summer. I 12. (travel) on my own but I met loads of other people along the way. When you travel alone, you are more open to meeting new people and so I 13. (meet) lots of great people who I am still in contact with. By the time I 14. (reach) southern Spain, I 15. (hike)in a group with 3 others. Well, in the end we 16. (get) to Santiago and I 17. (go) to the church where you receive a certificate to say that you 18. (complete) the walk and I 19. the cathedral. It was the time of the city fiesta so there 20. (be) lots of live street performances 21. (happen). After a week there it was time to fly home. I didn’t stay at home for long though as I moved to France shortly after this trip. I fondly remember this as one of the best journeys I have ever been on and it cost me next to nothing.

Listen and Check your Answers

Speaking Personal Experiences.mp3
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​I love travelling and so I have been on numerous long journeys in my life but I want to tell you about the first long journey which I went on. After I finished university I was looking for a job and I was enjoying the glorious summer weather. I was having trouble finding work but I wanted to make the most of the summer so I decided to take a trip. The problem was that I was almost broke – I had spent all my money at university! Luckily, however, I had a tent and a small camping stove as well as a sleeping bag and two functioning legs! I

booked a ticket back from northern Spain for 2 and a half months in the future. Then I walked out of my house. I walked all the way to Santiago in Northern Spain. People have done this hike for hundreds of years as it is an important Christian pilgrimage. For me it was just a great way to spend the summer. I traveled on my own but I met loads of other people along the way. When you travel alone, you are more open to meeting new people and so I met lots of great people who I am still in contact with. By the time I reached southern Spain, I was hiking in a group with 3 others.

​Well, in the end we got to Santiago and I went to the church where you receive a certificate to say that you have completed the walk and I visited the cathedral. It was the time of the city fiesta so there were lots of live street performances happening. After a week there it was time to fly home. I didn’t stay at home for long though as I moved to France shortly after this trip. I fondly remember this as one of the best journeys I have ever been on and it cost me next to nothing.

Our Notes

  1. Notice how the majority of verbs in the story are in the past simple.
  2. Notice that the past perfect is used to describe something which happened before the time the story is about in 6.
  3. Notice how the past continuous is used to talk about long duration actions in the past. For example, in question 15.
  4. Notice that the present perfect is used in 18. refers to an important experience.


Exercise 5

​Click on a word in the text which has the following meaning.

I love travelling and so I have been on numerous long journeys in my life but I want to tell you about the first long journey which I went on. After I finished university I was looking for a job and I 3. Was enjoying the glorious summer weather. I was having trouble finding work but I wanted to make the most of the summer so I decided to take a trip. The problem was that I was almost broke I had spent all my money at university! Luckily, however, I had a tent and a small camping stove as well as a sleeping bag and two functioning legs! I booked a ticket back from northern Spain for 2 and a half months in the future. Then I walked out of my house. I walked all the way to Santiago in Northern Spain. People have done this hike for hundreds of years as it is an important Christian pilgrimage. For me it was just a great way to spend the summer. I travelled on my own but I met loads of other people along the way. When you travel alone, you are more open to meeting new people and so I met lots of great people who I am still in contact with. By the time I reached southern Spain, I was hiking in a group with 3 others. Well, in the end we got to Santiago and I went to the church where you receive a certificate to say that you have completed the walk and I visited the cathedral. It was the time of the city fiesta so there were lots of live street performances happening. After a week there it was time to fly home. I didn’t stay at home for long though as I moved to France shortly after this trip. I fondly remember this as one of the best journeys I have ever been on and it cost me next to nothing.  
Click or touch a word above
An adjective meaning many
An adjective meaning great/amazing
An adjective meaning you have no money
An adjective meaning that something/things work
A religious journey such as the Muslim Haj (noun)
Music or drama which you can see in the city.
An adverb/verb collocation that presents a positive memory
A phrase that means ‘almost zero’

​If you want to practice your use of past tenses, why not write about your experience of a long journey that you have been on and enjoyed in the comments section.