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A student recently asked me whether it was okay to lie in IELTS speaking part two. What she really meant was whether everything you told the examiner had to be the truth. The golden rule of IELTS speaking is that the key purpose of the test is to demonstrate your fluency, your lexical range and your command of complex grammatical structures. The key purpose is not to inform and entertain the examiner.

It may happen that you are presented with a part two topic that you find difficult to answer based on your own experience. In such circumstances it is perfectly acceptable to be inventive. The chances are that the examiner will not realise that everything you are saying is not necessarily true. Even if he or she did suspect, you won’t get penalised.

During speaking practice with one of my students this week I presented him with the following part two topic:

Describe an antique or some other old object that your family has kept for a long time.

He described very eloquently a wristwatch which had been passed down through a number of generations. It had originally been bought by his great grandfather and now the student wore it on special occasions. He was able to tell me, using some interesting vocabulary and a variety of grammatical structures the history of the watch and why it was important to him. It was definitely a grade 7.5 performance, perhaps 8.

What he admitted later is that the watch does not exist. He simply could not think of an old object that had been kept in his family. His personal family circumstances were such that an object like this didn’t exist. Therefore he had been obliged to be totally inventive and he is lucky to be able to think quickly and imaginatively.

The best advice is to look at as many part two questions as you can find. Pick the ones that you would struggle to answer based on your own experience and practice preparing answers which might contain a few little white lies.