Type 4: “Types of” Questions [IELTS speaking test – Part 1]

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Question Type 4: Types of

Another common type of questions in IELTS speaking test Part One is “types of” questions.

For example:

“Tell me about the different types of public transport in your city.”

The most common problem with these questions is shown in the following answer:

“In my city there are many types of public transport, for example, buses, taxis, motorcycle taxis, trains, planes, ferries and mini-buses.”

In this answer, the candidate lists seven types of public transport. However, the answer is 100% content and there is no evidence of native-speaker style language. Some candidates may believe that get one mark for every type of transport that they list but this is not true.

One reason for this answer is that in spoken Vietnamese it is quite common to give these “list” style answers.

A good answer to these questions should be structured and developed in the following way.

Begin with an opening phrase:

  • Well actually…
  • Of course, you know…
  • Sure, obviously…
  • Of course, it goes without saying…
  • OK, certainly…

Then use one of the following:

  • …there’s quite a mixed variety of…
  • …there’s quite an extensive diversity of…
  • …there’s quite a wide range of…
  • …there’s quite a diverse mixture..
  • …there’s a fairly broad range of…

So the opening line might be:

“Of course, it goes without saying that there’s quite a mixed variety of public transport in my city.”

Now use the following structure to introduce the first type:

  • But I guess the most adj. …would probably be…
  • However, I suppose the most adj. …could possibly be…
  • Though I think the most adj. …would potentially be…
  • Yet I imagine the most adj. …may well be…
  • Still, I suspect that the most adj. …could perhaps be…

In these structures you will need to select an adjective which fits the question. Here are some possible adjective suggestions:

common 

commonplace 

influential

popular

frequent

prevalent

fashionable

trendy

notorious

famous

well-known

crucial

widely-used

widely-known

prominent

important

significant

widespread

standard

conventional

celebrated

hip

with-it

commonly-used

usual

customary

commonly-known

current

fashionable

notable

best-selling

up-to-date

renowned

So the first sentence could be:

“Of course, it goes without saying that there’s quite a mixed variety of public transport in my city. Though I think the most commonly-used would potentially be buses.”

Now use a phrase to add a detail:

  • The thing with buses is that…
  • I assume buses are so + adj. because…
  • The point I want to add about buses is that…
  • And what you have to realize with buses is that…
  • And the explanation for this could be that…
  • And the basis of this is that…

So the first part of the answer could be:

“Of course, it goes without saying that there’s quite a mixed variety of public transport in my city. Though I think the most commonly-used would potentially be buses. And the explanation for this could be that they are so cheap and reliable. The average bus fare in my city is about one yuan for a single journey.

Notice that the detail sentence doesn’t repeal the word “buses”, instead it uses the pronoun “they” (some answers will need “it”).

Also notice that the detail sentence uses a linking word “in fact” to make a complex structure.

Now use a linking phrase to introduce a second type.

  • Besides (buses), …
  • As well as (buses), …
  • In addition to (buses), …
  • Another kind of (public transport) would be…
  • Another form of (public transport) worth mentioning could be…
  • A second variety of (public transport) would be something like…
  • A subsequent category would be something like…

So the next part of the answer might be:

“As well as buses, a second variety of public transport would be something like taxis.”

Add a linking phrase to develop the second type:

  • And the main characteristic of (taxis) is that…
  • And the unique aspect of (taxis) is that…
  • And one exceptional aspect with (taxis) is that…

Add the detail with a linking word to form a complex sentence:

“As well as buses, a second variety of public transport would be something like taxis. And one exceptional aspect with (taxis) is that they are certainly the quickest way to get around town. So if you‘re in a hurry then taxis are the best bet (= the best choice).”

Now you need to add a vague end line:

  • And of course there‘s the usual things like…
  • And obviously you can also find things like…
  • Likewise, as might be expected, there are things like…
  • And naturally, there are things like…

So the final sentence might be:

“Likewise, as might be expected, there‘s things like ferries, motorcycle taxis and trains, although these are not as widely-used as the first two that I mentioned.”

So the finished structure might look something like:

“Of course, it goes without saying there’s quite an extensive diversity of… (topic) Still, I suspect that the most + adj. could perhaps be… (type) And what you have to realize with… (type l) is that… In fact / so / but / because… (detail)

Another form of… (topic) worth mentioning could be… (type 2) And the main characteristic of (type 2) is that… (detail) (+ linking word / complex structure). And naturally, there‘s things like… (2 or 3 other types)”

Use the complete model structure to answer the following questions:

  • Tell me about the types of sports that are popular in your country.
  • What kinds of restaurants are popular in your country?
  • What types of shops can be found in your local area?
  • What types of things do people collect in your country?
  • What hobbies are common in your country?
  • What types of TV programm1es are popular in your country?

Now design your own structure using the language options provided in this section.

Summary of Types of Questions

Don’t repeat the adjective used in the question. Example:

“What kinds of restaurants are popular in your country?”

In your answer, don’t use “popular”. Example:

“Yet I imagine the most widespread may well be…”

Sometimes candidates struggle to find content for these questions, because they generalize their answer too much.  Example:

“What kinds of restaurants are popular in your country?”

If you say “Chinese restaurants”, this is far too general and it is difficult to introduce other types of restaurants.

See the individual topic sections later in the book for vocabulary ideas on types and kinds of particular topics.