IELTS Life Skills A2 Guide

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The first questions you are going to be asked are:

  • What’s your name?
  • How do you spell it?
  • What can I call you?
  • Where are you from?

You should make sure that you can answer these questions very easily in English.

Phase 1a: Familiar Questions

The next questions are going to come from a file of familiar questions that the examiner uses. These are on familiar topics which means that you should be able to talk about these quite easily. You will be asked two or three questions.

Example Questions

  • What do you do?
  • Do you enjoy your work/study?
  • What profession would you like to have in the future?
  • What sorts of food do you like eating most?
  • Do you prefer cooking at home or eating out?


Try to give two or three sentence answers, rather than just one or two words.

Phase 1b

In the second phase of the test, you are given a topic to speak about for 60 seconds. Before you start speaking, you will have 60 seconds to plan what you are going to say.

After speaking, your partner will ask you two questions about what you said. Equally, you will be expected to ask two questions about their talk.

Example Topics

You are going to talk about:

  • pictures or paintings you like looking at and why;
  • animals you like and why;
  • the type of stories you liked as a child and why you liked them;
  • something interesting you heard in the news and why you thought it was interesting.


Before you do the exam, practise speaking about some of these topics and make sure you can talk about them for a minute without much difficulty.

In the minute you have to prepare, make notes. Don’t write full sentences as you will only be able to write one or two sentences at most. It’s better to have 10 words that will help you speak.

Listen to your partner when they are speaking and write questions as you go so you don’t forget them. You can just make notes of the questions rather than writing them in full form.

It is great if you can ask questions that show you were listening. You can do this with a phrase like “you said that…”

When the examiner says “thank you”, stop speaking. The examiner has to make sure the exam stays on the correct timings.

Phase 2a

In this part you will listen to two recordings twice. Each time you will be expected to answer questions. You will be told the questions before you listen.

You can make notes as you listen and you don’t need to answer in full sentences when asked by the examiner.

First Listening

The first question will be about either who the speaker is, where the speakers are or the topic of the conversation.

You will typically be given three pictures to chose from.

For example, you could be asked if the speakers are in:

  • a school;
  • a hospital; or
  • a church.

Second Listening

For the second listening, you will be asked to note two details. This could be a number and a word. For example, if the conversation is in a school, you could be asked “What subject does Mrs Black teach and which room is she in?”


Make sure you understand the examiner’s question before the recording starts. If you don’t understand, ask them to repeat the question.

For the first listening, they are unlikely to say the answer exactly. You need to work this answer out from the words that they use. If the conversation is in a hospital, for example, you will hear words like doctor, nurse, sick, get better, medicine, etc.

For the second listening, you need specific details. You might hear some possible answers that are designed to distract you. 

Phase 2b

In the final part of the test, you will discuss a topic with your partner. The examiner will tell you what the topic is.

Example Topics

Talk to each other about:

  • where you like to study and what helps you to study;
  • the people you live with or the people who live near you.


Remember that you both need to speak during this task. If you start, try to make a couple of points and then ask your partner what they think. Then if there is time left, you can respond to their points.

If you find that your partner is talking too much, try to interject politely. You can use a phrase like “excuse me, could I just say…”

This part of the test should sound like a conversation. You can ask your partner questions like “why do you think that?”

Ending the Test

At the end of the test, you can simply say “thank you” to the examiner. Don’t ask the examiner how you did because they will not be allowed to tell you.

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