Today, I am going to teach you about a slightly different sort of IELTS topic. Normally, we look at big topics like the environment, sports, education, and so on. However, today I would like to look at a smaller topic – perhaps a sub-topic – that is quite interesting. This is the topic of anger.
In this lesson, I will give you advice on the types of questions that might appear, as well as useful language to describe anger.
Anger IELTS Speaking Part 1
In the first part of the IELTS speaking test, you might encounter some questions about the topic of anger. These questions would be quite simple and require just a short answer. You might be asked:
- Do you often get angry?
- What sort of things make you angry?
- Are you a patient person?
- What kind of jobs require the most patience?
- Are you more or less patient when you are angry?
- What sort of things make people angry?
- Is it wrong to show strong emotions when you are annoyed?
You can see that these are mostly quite personal and although not all of them involve the words “anger” or “angry,” they relate strongly to the topic. (The ones about “patience” are a bit tangential, but it is related.)
To questions like this, you can give short answers that do not go into excessive depth. View this part of the test as an informal conversation between two people rather than a serious examination. For example, you might give answers like these:
Do you often get angry?
No, I think I’m a pretty calm person. Sometimes I feel a little angry but mostly I’m able to control my emotions.
What sort of things make you angry?
I tend to get angry about things that are unfair. Hypocrisy makes me really mad because it is so frustrating.
In each of these answers, I have given just two sentences. This is fine for part 1 of the IELTS speaking test. The first sentence responds directly to the question and the second explains a little more.
In terms of language, you can see that I have used some useful words and phrases:
I’m a pretty calm person
I’m able to control my emotions
Hypocrisy makes me really mad
These are words and phrases that are specific to the topic, so they are perfect to use. “mad” is another word for “angry” so it is a good way to add some variety to the answer, rather than repeating “angry” or “anger.”
Other Words That Mean “Angry”
Here are some synonyms for “angry” that you can use in your IELTS answers:
- Cross (British English)
IELTS Speaking Part 2: Anger Cue Cards
If the topic of anger arose in part of the IELTS speaking test, then you would be asked to describe something that made you angry. This could, of course, be phrased in different ways. You would need to read the cue card very carefully to tell what sort of answer you should give.
For example, some cue cards might say “describe a situation that made you angry” but others might be more general: “describe something that makes you angry.” This second form could be an object or even a person or animal, while the first would be a situation.
Note also that it is not always about you getting angry. You could even be asked about someone else getting angry.
Here are two examples, with sample answers to go with them.
Sample Answer #1: Describe something that made you angry
Describe a situation that made you angry. You should say
– when it happened
– what happened
– how you felt
and whether or not you still feel angry about it.
I often get angry when faced with the feeling of helplessness, which is something that arises in situations involving bureaucracy or hypocrisy. One such incident happened about ten years ago when I was travelling in the United States. I was in a city called Cleveland and I needed to leave for another city in another state. I booked a bus ticket for a certain time and then several hours before the bus was meant to leave, I went to the bus station.
When it was nearly time to get on the bus, I stood up and joined the queue. Eventually, the bus got full and left, but I was still in the queue. I spoke to a security guard and he put his hand on his gun and screamed at me. Then, I went to the customer service desk and explained my situation. I said that I had bought a ticket but not been given a seat on a bus. The women at the counter just laughed and told me that I should have arrived earlier.
I was very angry about this situation because it is extremely unfair that a person could buy a ticket and then not be given a seat on the bus. It is even worse that the company’s staff were so rude about it. I felt totally helpless at that time because there were no more buses that day and so I was trapped unfairly in a difficult and quite dangerous situation. Ultimately, I had to spend a lot of money to get where I needed to go, and all of that was because of some unfair rules. I wrote many letters to the company demanding an apology and refund but received nothing. It still makes me angry to think about it even ten years later.
Some useful language from this answer:
- helplessness / helpless
- unfair / unfairly
- demanding an apology
Also note that I have told this story in an engaging way rather than repeat “and then… next… finally…” because this is not a formal, academic sort of answer. Instead, I have presented this situation in a realistic way. This requires careful use of verb tenses.
Sample Answer #2: Describe a time when someone got angry with you
Describe a time when someone got angry with you. You should say:
– when it was
– who got angry with you
– what you did that made this person angry
and explain how you felt about it.
As a teacher, I sometimes have to deal with angry students. About five years ago, I had one student whose enraged outburst left a mark on me. This student had been caught cheating, which was very common because I was teaching at a Chinese university. When I discovered that he had copied his whole essay from the internet, I failed him. He discovered this during one of our classes and he exploded with fury. He marched up to the front of the class and denied that he had been cheating. I showed him the website from which he had copied his essay and this made him embarrassed. He tore up his essay and threw it in the air, then started crying.
The experience was somewhat memorable because of the histrionics he displayed but it was not terribly unusual. I often had students cheat, deny it, and then react strongly in some way. However, most of them would quietly accept that they had done wrong. This student’s explosive outburst stuck in my mind. At the time, I found it mildly amusing, to be honest, because he had brought this whole situation upon himself with his dishonesty. However, after several years I feel a little sorry for him. He was the product of a society that strongly encourages cheating and he was only doing what he had been taught to do. I hope that he learned something from it, though.
Here are some of the useful words and phrases from my answer:
- exploded with fury
- feel sorry for (someone/something)
Again, I have tried to tell the story in a casual, simple way. It is more engaging for the listener and also easier to tell the story naturally and effectively. There is no difficult language here except “histrionics,” which is a pretty uncommon word. You could also replace it with “melodramatic behaviour.”