Paraphrasing Helps Your IELTS Scores

Do you want to know how to get a higher IELTS score?

Then you need to know how the IELTS examiner will mark you!

This week English Teacher Online reveals how paraphrasing helps your IELTS scores reach 7 and above. We’ll identify the different ways people paraphrase and how it can help you in speaking, reading and writing exams. We’ll give you tips on how to spot a paraphrase and teach you to paraphrase with our fun IELTS Study Partners Paraphrase Game.

Paraphrasing is quite easy really. It doesn’t mean you have to use a lot of big words. It just means you have to use different words when talking or writing about your topics. You can still use the same words a few times but you should be able to express ideas in other ways too.

When Do I Paraphrase?

People often paraphrase in everyday life, like when we tell friends what happened on the weekend. We might summarize our days off work into a few sentences. If we did something exciting or saw a movie, we would paraphrase the event.

When we give a book summary, we paraphrase to tell someone what we’ve read and why we liked it. When retelling stories from newspapers or magazines, we paraphrase too.

In class at college or university you need to take notes during the lectures. Those notes are a type of paraphrasing. If a friend misses the class, you paraphrase what was taught in the lecture. When we write essays, we must paraphrase so we don’t commit plagiarism.

Why Do I Need To Paraphrase?

Examiners are looking to calculate and grade your vocabulary. If you keep repeating the same words over, it will show that your range of vocabulary is limited. You may only get a vocabulary score of 6 or 5.

When you are able to express yourself using a vast array of words, then you are much more likely to score a 7 and above.

Paraphrasing Examples

Let’s take an example, “party.” What synonyms or paraphrases do you know for party?

You could say gathering, event, celebration, reception, shindig, get together, fund-raiser, housewarming party, cocktail party, hen party, tea party, graduation party, gathering of friends to celebrate an event.

Keep mixing and matching words, plus add new ones. The key to paraphrasing is to become more specific about your ideas. Start simple and then expand. Practice so you have 2 or 3 ways to describe the important things in your life.

Paraphrasing on the IELTS Speaking Exam

In the speaking exam, you must show the examiner a range of vocabulary. Use some slang or idioms to get your message across, because the speaking questions are informal and personal. You need to speak in a natural style while mixing up your vocabulary. Paraphrasing helps to show the examiner how sophisticated your English language has become.

Paraphrasing in the IELTS Reading Exam

When the exam creators at IELTS find a piece of writing, they study the text and make questions. If they just copied the words and phrases from the source into the questions, it would be way too easy. That’s why they use synonyms and paraphrase. This means you need to be familiar with questions that have the same meaning as parts of the text but which are written in a different way.

Paraphrasing for the IELTS Writing Exam

You must paraphrase the test question in your essay, you must NOT copy it word for word. If you do, they will not count towards the 150 words required for task 1 or the 250 words needed for task 2.

How to Prepare for Paraphrasing

Look at some of the IELTS sample test questions in each of the sections. Paraphrase them by rewriting and rearranging the words; adding and removing words; and using synonyms in the sentences. Keep playing with the sentences until they contain completely different words but still keep the original meaning.

Write lists of words by topics in your vocabulary notebook. When you read interesting articles in the newspaper, or hear interesting phrases on TV, write them down.

Try to learn a few words every day. Study them so you completely understand and remember them – that way you will be able to reproduce them later.

Do you have any ideas for interesting paraphrases?

Leave a message in the comments section or play our paraphrase game on IELTS Study Partners.

We’re going to start our game by thinking of synonyms or paraphrases for, “a good party.”

Everyone in the group should try to add a new paraphrase in the game thread. I wonder how many synonyms and paraphrases we can write together?

IELTS Speaking Topics Part 3

IELTS Speaking Topics Part 3Welcome to part 3 of the IELTS speaking topics and answers trilogy presented by English Teacher Online. As always, our lessons are designed to help all self-motivated people become fluent in English.

Need to overcome shyness in business English? This lesson is for you too!

If you have questions or need assistance with any aspect of English, please email:

Today’s lesson explains how part 2 leads into IELTS speaking topics part 3. It provides sample questions for you to practice on your own, in a IELTS study group and with a teacher.

The Topic From Part 2

In part 2 of the speaking exam you are given a topic to talk about. You have one minute to prepare some notes about what you want to say. Then you should be ready to talk for one to two minutes.

At the end of your long turn, the examiner may ask a follow-up question which you should give a short answer to.

Leads Into Part 3

The examiner will ask you more follow-up questions in part 3 and you should talk more generally. The examiner can respond to what you say so there are no specific questions for you to practice. Part 3 is a discussion between you and the examiner so you need to anticipate the kind of questions that may be asked.

Preparing For What’s NOT on The Card

Let’s study some more part 2 questions, but this time we are going to anticipate the kind of questions that are not on the card.

Topic: A Useful Electronic Device

In part 2, the examiner will say something like, “Here’s a paper and pencil for making notes. Here’s your topic card. I’d like you to describe an electronic device (not a mobile phone) that you would like to own.”

On the task card:

Describe a useful electronic device you would like to own. You should say:

What it is.

How it would help your life.

If it would be expensive to buy.

And explain why you would like it.

Remember to use your full 1 minute to make good notes – to help you talk for almost 2 minutes…

When you have taken your long turn to speak, the examiner may ask a follow up question like,

“Do you think you will own this thing?”

Give a short answer and get ready to start part 3.

The examiner will say something like,

“Thank you. May I have the task card, paper and pencil back?”

You are now about to start part 3.

IELTS Speaking Topics Part 3

The examiner will continue, “We’ve been talking about a useful electronic device you’d like to own and now I’d like to DISCUSS one or two more general questions related to this.”

Part 3 is the discussion stage of the speaking test and we can anticipate what the follow-up questions might be like.

Discussion Questions – Maybe?

“What are the most popular electronic devices in [your country] at the moment?

“Do you think people spend too much money on electronic devices?”

“What kind of device do you think will be popular in the future?”

“What would the world be like without computers?”

“In what ways can electronic devices make our lives easier/harder?”

“Should children be taught to use computers at school?”

50 Word Answers With Reasons

Your answers to the discussion questions in part 3 should be about 50 words long. Remember to always give reasons with your answers. Why, how, where, when, who and what are the words YOU should use to PROMPT yourself.

Practice answering the part 3 questions about electronic devices. Use the how and why prompts to write 50-100 word answers. Edit your work so the final answer is 40-60 words long. Remember to write in a natural speaking style.

Still need some help preparing an IELTS speaking topics part 3 answer? There is a sample answer below but,

Try to write your own answer first!

Examiner: “Do you think computers make it easier to study?”

Student: “Yes, I definitely think computers make it easier to study these days. Researching information is much easier with the Internet because you can bookmark webpages for future reference. Writing essays is a lot easier too. Being able to cut and paste sections of text means you can easily reorganize your work. Compared to years ago, when you had a pile of books on your desk – making notes with a pen and paper, I think computers make it much easier to study.”

IELTS Speaking Topics Part 3 Review

While practicing for part 3, you probably won’t have enough time to write answers for all the topics. Once you feel confident with the format of the test, work with a study partner in real time conversations. Only write answers to prepare for a question that you can’t speak about naturally.

Remember, it’s a speaking test so practice talking through your answers with a study partner or teacher.

Problem Question – 4 Point Plan

1. Try to speak through the problem.

2. Write the answer down – in a natural speaking style.

3. Discuss your problem in the IELTS Study Partners group.

4. Email: and ask for a discount using the “IELTS” discount code.

If you are aged 16-19 and want to study abroad, click here to find the best places to study in the UK.

What part of IELTS do you want to study next? Message me and I will write a lesson for you. You can also share your thought in the comment section.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Following on from last week’s first part of IELTS Speaking Topics and Answers, English Teacher Online is proud to present the second episode in our trilogy to help you pass the IELTS speaking test. You can find part 3 here.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

IELTS speaking part 2 is also called “The Long Turn.” It gives you the opportunity to speak for longer about a single topic. You are given a card which asks you to describe a topic. There are prompts to key points that you need to talk about. IELTS speaking part 2 assesses how far you have become fluent in English.

The examiner will give you one minute to prepare the topic on the card. You are provided with a pencil and paper to make notes.

You will have to talk for 1 or 2 minutes. Then, the examiner will ask you some follow-up questions on the same topic. In total, IELTS speaking part 2 takes between 3 and 4 minutes.

Prepare To Practice

English Teacher Online has prepared six practice topics that may appear on your test. You are advised to practice each of them.  First, read the questions and plan your information. Next, write your answers in a natural speaking style. Use a dictionary to find words that are missing from your vocabulary. Finally, check your grammar and, if you need help, ask a teacher.

Each topic has 3 questions which you can use as a guide to write an introduction, main answer and conclusion. Write between 300 and 500 words so you can easily talk for one minute plus.

Practicing The Topics

When your topic is fully prepared, you should practice reading it in a natural speaking voice. Ask your study partner to listen as you talk for 1 to 2 minutes. Your study partner acts as the examiner who should ask one or two questions in the follow-up section. Record yourself if you can.

IELTS Speaking Part 2 Topics

Books Topic Card

Describe a book you have recently read.

What kind of book is it?

Introduce the book’s title and the author’s name. Say when it was published and try to make a connection, like why the author wrote the book. Find out what other books the author has written and try to link things back to why you chose to read the book. Talk about the genre (romance, adventure, comedy, horror, etc). These things will all help to make a good introduction.

What is the book about?

Explain the setting for the book and the characters in it. Don’t give the whole story away – just try to explain the main theme of the book. Talk about how it made you feel as you read certain parts of the book. Show the examiner that the book took you on a journey because you understand the author’s message. This is the main part of your talk so plan it well.

Why did you like it?

Sell the book in the concluding paragraph. Talk about how quickly you read it or how the writing style grabbed you. This is your chance to talk about your own life experiences by making links back to the book. Make sure you choose the right book so you can do this last part well.

Follow-Up Questions

What function do books have in society?

Do you think books will ever go out of fashion?

Problem Questions I Just Can’t Answer!

What If I Never Read Books?

You can answer any question by being creative. For example, “recently” could mean the last book you read 10 years ago. It does not have to be a story book so you could talk about an academic book. If you read an IELTS preparation book or a cookery book, then talk about one of those. Your examiner is testing your English speaking fluency, not your knowledge of literature. Remember, you can make things up in IELTS.

The more you practise, the better prepared you will be. Make sure to practise the questions you know least about! Here are some topics that appear in the IELTS speaking part 2.

Exercise Topic Card

Describe a form of physical exercise.


What sort of exercise is it?

How is the exercise done?

What kind of people do this exercise?

Follow-Up Questions

Why is exercise important?

What are the dangers of not exercising enough?

Communication Topic Card

Describe an important letter you recently received?


When did you receive the letter?

Who sent you the letter?

Why was it important?

Follow-Up Questions

What is the significance of handwriting?

How does the popularity of computers threaten people’s ability to write letters?

Gifts Topic Card

Describe a gift that you recently gave to someone.


Who did you give the gift to?

What was the gift?

Why did you choose that gift?

Follow-Up Questions

How is gift-giving different in some cultures?

Why are brand names important for sales?

How does the media influence our choice of gifts?

Journey Topic Card

Describe a journey that didn’t go to plan.


Where were you going?

What form of travel was it?

What went wrong?

If you could do it again, what would you do differently?

Follow-Up Questions

What is your favourite form of travel?

How has travel changed over the last 50 years?

Community Topic Card

Describe one of your close neighbours.


When did you meet your neighbour?

How often do you see your neighbour?

Explain why they are a good neighbour or not?

Follow-Up Questions

What is the difference between neighbours and friends?

How can being a good neighbour help improve a community?

Childhood Topic Card

Describe a game you played in your childhood.


What type of game was it?

How did you play it, with who?

What impact did it have on your growth?

You may also explain why you don’t play it anymore.

Follow-Up Questions

What benefits can we get from playing children’s games?

What are the differences between children’s games now and in the past?

Top Tip For Success

1. Read a question and plan your information.

2. Write 300 to 500 words in a natural speaking style.

3. Each topic has 3 questions to guide your writing.

3.i. Introduction.

3.ii. Main answer.

3.iii. Conclusion.

4. Use a dictionary and increase your vocabulary.

5. Check your grammar and make corrections.

6. Ask a friend or teacher to check your work.

7. Practice reading it in a natural speaking voice.

8. Ask your study partner to listen as you talk for 1-2 minutes.

9. Record yourself.

10. Repeat this plan for another topic card.

Use this “IELTS” promotion code to get your 50% discount off IELTS speaking part 2 lessons with Teacher Steve.

Well done, you are ready for IELTS speaking topics part 3.

Please tell us what you think in the comments section, especially what lesson you need next. We are always happy to write lessons that help you pass your IELTS.

If you are aged 16-19 and want to study abroad, click here to find the best places to study in the UK.

IELTS Speaking Topics and Answers

English Teacher Online researches and creates the best IELTS preparation materials so you can work or study in the UK. Our IELTS speaking topics and answers lesson is free and designed to help you become fluent in English.

Today’s lesson prepares you for part 1 of the IELTS speaking test. First, you will write answers to some typical part 1 questions. Then find someone (our teachers are available) to check your grammar and sentence structure before you do practice interviews with a friend. When you are ready to work with a teacher please email:

IELTS Speaking Preparation

The IELTS speaking section consists of a three-part interview with an examiner; the introductory interview, short talk and a two-way discussion. The speaking test usually last for 12-15 minutes and the examiner will record your interview. You are expected to speak at length in response to questions on common and unfamiliar topics. You are assessed on a nine-band scale for fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

Interview (Part 1)

The first part of the speaking test lasts for 4 to 5 minutes and begins with an introductory interview. The examiner asks a number of questions about familiar topics such as your studies, work or hobbies.

The Long Turn (Part 2)

IELTS speaking part 2 lasts for 3 to 4 minutes and focuses on you talking about one subject. You are given a card with a familiar topic and several prompts. You then have one minute to make notes on what you want to say before speaking for two minutes on the given topic. You do not have a choice of subjects but you can base your answers on your own experiences, such as a person you know or an event you have experienced. The examiner may ask you a brief question at the end.

Discussion (Part 3)

The final part of the speaking test lasts for 4 to 5 minutes and is a discussion between you and the examiner. The questions in part 3 will be connected to the topic in part 2 but you will be encouraged to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

This lesson today helps prepare you for part 1 of the IELTS speaking test and is the foundation for lessons 2 and 3.

What are IELTS Speaking Topics and Answers?
Warm-Up: “What’s Your Name?”

Familiarize yourself with these warm-up questions and prepare full sentence answers in a Word document. Make sure you ask someone to check your grammar before you start doing practice interviews.

Could you tell me your full name please?

May I see your identification card please? [hand the examiner your card and smile]

What shall I call you?

Does your name have any special meaning?

Is your name important to you?

Why do so many people change their names?

It is important that you answer in full sentences so write your answers for each question. Even if your answer starts with a no, try to give a good reason why not!  It’s impossible to know what questions you will get in your actual test so study them all. Remember that it all helps you to become fluent in English.

Hometown or Place of Birth

Where do you come from?

Where do you live?

What type of place is it?

What was it like growing up there?

Has it changed much since you were a child?

Can you tell me some famous landscapes or scenic spots in your hometown?

Please tell me some history about your hometown?

Personal Background and Information

Are you a student or do you have a job?

Practice answering this question with where you study or work and what you do too!

Depending on your answer, the examiner will ask follow up questions. It is always better to offer the information freely.


I’d just like to ask you some questions about your studies.

What are you studying?

Why did you choose that particular course?

What job would you like when you have completed all your studies?

If you can answer all of these questions in one paragraph, you will impress the interviewer and probably get a higher IELTS score.


I’d just like to ask you some questions about your work.

What work do you do?

What do you enjoy most about your work?

What are your main duties?

Is there any other work you would like to do in the future?

Free Time Hobbies

I’d like to move on and ask you some questions about your free time.

What type of activities do you like to do in your free time?

How long have you been interested in these activities?

Do you like to do these activities alone or with other people? (Why?)

Always try to answer the 3 questions in a full paragraph. Show the examiner that you understand the lead question and that you are prepared to offer information freely. Be prepared for a follow up question, such as;

Do you think people have enough free time? (Why?)

Watch Out For The Curve Ball

These questions may be phrased in many different ways so (while your information won’t change) try rearranging your answers to fit each question.

What do you usually do in your spare time?

Do you prefer to be alone or with your friends?

What do you usually do on weekends or weekdays?

What do you like to do when you go out?

Turn the Question to Your Advantage

Sometimes you will get a question that really stuns you and may not have an answer for. We can practice and turn any question into your ideal lead in. For example, (the examiner may be planning to ask)

Do you like reading? (Why?)

What kind of books do you prefer?

You may not like reading or have a different answer prepared – so you could answer;

“Reading is an important activity that many people find rewarding. Personally, I just don’t have enough time to read these days because I spend most of my free time …….”

If the examiner were to push me and ask me another book question I could answer, “When I was young, I liked to read history books so I could read those again, however, because I do a lot of ……. I would probably spend my free time reading about that because ……..”

It is always possible to turn the question to your advantage but it does take practice. Here are some more topics you should study in depth.


I’d like to move on and ask you some questions about your family.

How many people are there in your family?

Do you all live in the same house?

What things do you like doing together?

Who is your favourite family member? (Why?)


Let’s move on and talk about being on time for appointments.

Is being late acceptable in your culture? (Why?)

Are you ever late for appointments? (Why?)

What type of excuses do you think are acceptable? (Why?)

How do you feel when someone is late for an appointment with you?


Let’s change the topic and talk about your neighbours.

Do you know the people who live next door to you?

How often do you see each other?

What kind of relationship do you have?

How can neighbours be helpful?

What kind of problems can people have with their neighbours in a big city?


Moving to a new topic, I’d like to discuss cooking and meals with you.

Do you enjoy cooking? (Why/why not?)

What type of things can you cook? (Why?)

What kinds of food are popular in your country?

Is it an important part of your culture to have dinner parties? (Why?)

Do you prefer to eat with other people or on your own? (Why?)


I’d like to discuss your night time dreams with you.

Do you dream much at night?

Do you often remember your dreams?

Do you think we can learn anything from dreams? (Why?)

Do people in your country talk about their dreams? (Why?)

Do you think that dreams can come true?

Newspapers and Magazines

Okay, let’s change the topic and discuss magazines and newspapers.

Which do you prefer reading, newspapers or magazines? (Why?)

What type of stories do you like to read about? (Why?)

Do you think reading a magazine or a newspaper can help you learn a language? (Why?)

Why do you think some people prefer magazines to newspapers?


Let’s move to a different topic and talk about comedy and humour.

What type of programmes do you find funny on TV?

Which types of programmes are most popular in your country? (Why?)

What kind of things make you laugh? (Why?)

Do you like to make people laugh? (How?)

Do you think it is important to have a sense of humour? (Why?)

The Interviewer

Don’t be surprised if the interviewer is straight faced or serious – they don’t want to give an unfair advantage to particular students. They may not even know about the things you and are talking about. It doesn’t matter – their job to keep the interview moving along. Even if they really like you and are fascinated by your answers, they will probably just say, “Thanks, now I would like to change topics and …”

Just remember, it’s nothing personal, they are just doing their job. It’s your job to be ready for their questions and that’s where English Teacher Online can help.

What Next?

Don’t worry too much about what questions you will be asked in part 1. Start by identifying the common IELTS speaking topics and answers above. Write down your personal responses in full sentences. Try to make each answer a 5 sentence paragraph – it’s better to have too much than too little. Why not join our IELTS Study Partners group on Facebook?

IELTS Discount

When you are ready to practice with a teacher please email: and ask for a discount using the “IELTS” discount code.

Google Hangouts is a great place to study because we can work with Google Docs at the same time. I will help you edit and refine your answers so that you are totally prepared for your IELTS speaking test.

Go to IELTS speaking part 2.

How to Study for Final Exams

Hi and welcome to another “how to special” from English Teacher Online, the site that helps you become fluent in English. This week I’m going to tell you how to study for final exams in a month or a week.

So the first tip is to start early. You should have been preparing for your final tests since day one of school. But hey! Some students don’t like that so let’s start studying in the final month.

In the final month make sure you attend all the review sessions and get all the review sheets. If school is closed, message a classmate and ask them to send copies to you. It’s obvious but if you have missed any school, you must go see your teacher and ask for the missing work. There is no short cut to doing assignments in the first place. Catch up on all the missing work as quickly as you can.

Study groups will start to form in the final month before exams. Make sure you know what subjects you need to do group work for and who you want to study with. Study groups are great for researching things that do not appear on the review sheets. This is especially important in higher education and for exams where you have to find past papers. Study groups can cover more ground together.

Looking at past papers is not cheating and is the wise thing to do. Don’t expect questions to be the same every year but if some questions keep coming up on a regular basis then you may want to spend more time reviewing them. If you are in a five student study group, find the top five most frequently asked questions and take one each. Come back to the group and share your research to give everyone the best chance of getting a top grade.

Create a schedule and then follow it. Some exams maybe more difficult than others or worth more of your overall grade. Make sure you give proper thought when planning your schedule. Split the more difficult and high priority subjects into smaller chunks. Fit your other easier subjects around them to give you variety. When you keep to your schedule and check off manageable goals, you will grow in confidence and have an appetite to study more often.

As you move into the final week, say no to cramming! Keep studying in shorter forty-minute sessions that resemble your normal school schedule. Take a ten-minute break between study sessions and get your body moving. Your brain needs to recharge when you break so have a quick dance or go for a brisk ten-minute walk.

Eat super foods to boost your brain power, high carb, high fiber, slow-digesting foods like nuts and muesli. What you eat in the week leading up to finals actually matters so try to avoid high fat, low carb food. Don’t eat too much meat, eggs, cheese or cream. Go for a healthy balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables right through your final week of review for finals. If you find this too hard, you can promise to treat yourself with all the bad stuff once your final exams are finished!

Don’t force yourself to study in the same room, discover some nice new study locations and move between them. Find places with plenty of fresh air, natural lighting and more interesting backgrounds.

Try to avoid studying late into the night. Your body needs to get into a routine that prepares you for those early morning exams. Always get a good nights sleep so you can practice waking up on time!

Practice your tests and quiz yourself. You have found past papers, prepared your answers properly and organized it all for each subject. The last thing to do is practice writing those final tests. You can quiz friends or use flash cards as a fun preparation activity but there is nothing better than timing yourself as you write practice answers.

When you follow these instructions you will be well prepared for each subject. All that’s left is to, get a good night’s sleep, wake up early, have a good breakfast and go pass that test!

Want to know how to study for an IELTS exam? Check this post too.

If you need help studying for exams, please leave a comment or email me: