The topic of family and friends is a common one in the IELTS exam. It can arise in any section, but it’s probably most common in the speaking test. Being able to talk fluently about your family and friends is therefore important. In today’s article, I will show you how to boost your IELTS score by mastering this topic.

family tree for ielts

Family and Friends Vocabulary

There are certain words I’m going to assume that all my readers already know:

  • Mother
  • Father
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Best friend

And so on.

These are the basics and you should be confident enough to talk simply about your family or friends with this vocabulary. However, there are some words that are a bit more advanced and may make your English sound more fluent.

Check out this PPT I made that includes some really important IELTS vocabulary for talking about friends and family:

Speaking Test

In the speaking exam, the topic of family or friends could come up at any time. In parts one and two you might be asked to talk about:

  • Your experiences as a child
  • Things you do with your friends
  • An influential family member
  • Your best friend and how you met

In part three the questions would of course get more abstract and challenging, and require more complex answers:

  • The best age to get married
  • Gender roles at home
  • Personality traits and relationship success
  • Discipline and children
  • The role of elderly people in society

Let’s tackle some of these questions using vocabulary from the PPT above.

Part 1

Q: Do you live with your parents?

A: No, I moved out of my parents’ house last year. Now I’m living with a few of my BFFs in an apartment near my university.

Q: What do you do with your friends on the weekend?

A: My besties and I go into town and hang out at the mall. Sometimes we catch a movie at the cinema.

Part 2

Describe a family, other than your own, that you know well.

You should say:

  • How you know this family
  • Who the members of the family are
  • What they do and what they’re interested in

And explain how you feel about the family


There’s a family I knew growing up who stayed across the street from me. They were very different to my family because the mother and father were very strict with their daughters. While I was allowed to go out with my friends and come home late, they were usually made to stay at home and study all the time. There were two daughters and they were twins, although you would hardly know it because their personalities were so different. I wish I’d known them better because they seemed pretty nice, but their parents scared me a little. The girls were quite shy but sometimes they’d play tennis in the front garden. Their parents did allow them to go and play tennis with other kids, which was a shame. I don’t really know what happened to them because my family moved away when I was eleven and I never saw those people again. I always felt sorry for the girls because they had so little freedom, but I could tell that their parents really cared for them and just tried to protect them.

You might also be asked about your friends, in which case you could answer with information like this:

Part 3

Q: Is it wrong for parents to hit their children?

A: I think that’s probably never acceptable for a parent to hit a child because there are so many other better ways to instill discipline. When a child gets hit by their mum or dad – even just a light smack – it scares them and probably does psychological damage.

Writing Test

The topic of family and friends may also appear in the IELTS writing exam. In this case it would come up in Task 2 and probably relate to a discussion about the role of parents and the protection of children. Often you will be asked about your opinion relating to gender roles in a marriage. Here are some examples of questions that might appear in the IELTS writing task 2:

Some people believe that children should be allowed to stay at home and play until they are six or seven years old. Others believe that it is important for young children to go to school as soon as possible. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Some people think that mothers should spend most of their time raising their children, and therefore the government should support them financially. Do you agree or disagree?

It is generally acknowledged that families are now not as close as they used to be. Give some reasons why this change has happened and suggest how families could be brought closer together. Include any relevant examples from your experience.

These days more fathers stay at home and take care of their children while mothers go out to work. What could be the reasons for this? Do you think it is a positive or a negative development?

As these sorts of questions are very common, you should try to prepare by writing practice essays often in your spare time. Pay attention to the time when you are practising. It is easy to write a good essay in 90 minutes, but can you do it in 40 minutes?

It is important for this section of the exam that you can adequately structure your essay. Also make sure to read the question fully and answer it precisely. Don’t just write an essay about the topic of family or else you may end up being penalized for failing to address the actual question.

Finally, take a look at this sample essay on the topic of family. It may help you construct your own essay and give you some ideas or inspiration.

Listening Test

The first two sections of the IELTS listening exam will concern social issues and so you are quite likely to hear people talking about friendship or similar issues. Being familiar with the right vocabulary for discussing friends may help you interpret this section more easily.


Family and friends is an important topic for the IELTS exam. You should devote some time to learning vocabulary related to this time, and also to looking at common questions for the various parts of the exam. In the end, all your effort will be worthwhile.