I have said many times that the best way to study IELTS is to concentrate on different topics. One topic that could arise in the test is pets. You could argue that this is a sub-topic of animals but I do think that it is distinct and involves different questions. In any case, our lesson today will explore the IELTS topic of pets.
In this article, I am going to look at how pets could appear in the different parts of the IELTS exam, including the speaking test. We will also briefly look at the writing test as well as some information about how pets could appear in the reading and listening tests. But first, let’s learn some vocabulary:
When it comes to talking about pets, the obvious thing is to learn the names of the different animals that are frequently kept as pets. I’m sure that you learned “cat” and “dog” in kindergarten so I won’t bother wasting your time with that sort of vocabulary. 😁
Instead, I would like to show you this PPT that I made of different kinds of pets. In fact, that was a whole lesson that I used to do with my students in China. They loved it! You can skip through the different tasks and go straight to the names of the animals if you like.
I altered this for IELTS teachers here and there is also a video version here.
Also, this PPT works best when you download it and use it on your computer. That way you can see a picture of the animal and then guess its name. This is much better for helping you remember the animals.
It is also a good idea to download an app called Anki and then you can add some cards (manually or with pre-made packs) specially devoted to pets. This will help you retain the information better.
Pets in IELTS Speaking
It is quite common to find the pets topic in IELTS speaking because this is the sort of thing that occurs in many people’s daily life. In particular, pets are really common in the United Kingdom and IELTS is a British exam. As such, there are certain cultural biases and this is one such example.
(I should note here that pets are not such a popular thing in some parts of the world, and I discussed this in an old article about whether IELTS is unfair to some people.)
Pets could occur in any of the three parts of the speaking test, but honestly it is much more likely to occur in part one. This is because these are simple, personal questions that could include:
- Have you ever had a pet?
- Do you want to own a pet one day?
- Why do people like having pets?
You might find that it occurs in part two, but it would not say something like “Describe a pet you have owned…” because not everyone has owned a pet. However, it may say something like, “Describe a pet that people commonly own” or “Describe an animal that is often kept as a pet.”
In that case, you would really be describing an animal and so you would follow the sort of guidelines required when describing any other kind of animal. I discussed these in this video:
Asking and Answering Questions about Pets
Ok, let’s practice a little. I will show you some reported questions about pets from IELTS speaking tests in the past. You should think about these answers in your head and then I will show you my sample answers.
Q: Do people in your country typically keep pets in their homes?
A: I’m from Scotland and people there are really enthusiastic about pets. I would guess that half of the population has a cat or dog, and things like hamsters, goldfish, and budgies are also really popular. So yes, in my country it is really normal for people to have pets at home.
Q: Is there any kind of pet that you would like to have?
A: I love most animals and part of my really would like to have an exotic pet… but I know that it is not fair on the animal, so I would never do it. I suppose I would like to have a dog sometime in the future. I really like dogs but I currently do not have the time or space to have one.
Q: Did you have a pet when you were a child?
A: I actually had a few pets. First, there was a goldfish that my parents bought for me when I was very young, and later I had a couple of rabbits. I wanted more animals but my dad did not like cats and dogs so I had to wait until I was an adult before having more pets.
Q: Are there any kinds of animals that should not be kept as pets?
A: Of course! Most animals should not be kept as pets. I think that certain animals domesticated themselves over hundreds or thousands of years and it is reasonable to keep them because they are no longer truly wild. But animals belong in nature and it is cruel to keep them confined in a home or cage.
Let’s see how the pets topic may occur in IELTS speaking part 3. For this section of the test, it is normal to have questions about age, gender, and other difficult issues. Here are some sample questions and answers about the IELTS topic of pets:
Q: Why do some people think that it is a good idea to give you children pets?
A: Well, it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their child compassion and understanding, and one of the time-tested ways to do this is by giving them a pet to look after. Ideally, this should be something like a goldfish or rabbit that is pretty easy to take care of. There are lots of lessons that a child can learn from this sort of experience, including how to feed the animal and clean it, and how to be gentle around other living things. If the experience is handled well, I think that having a pet could be a tremendously positive experience for more kids. That’s why parents are so keen to bring animals into the house.
Q: Do you think that governments should place a complete ban on own exotic animals as pets?
A: Absolutely. There is no question that these animals belong in the wild and that locking them up in houses or cages is utterly despicable. The people that do this should be punished. These animals need many miles of territory to roam and daily stimulation from the experiences that they naturally have. When we put them in cages, we destroy their minds and bodies, and there is no excuse for this. In addition, it is also dangerous for people. Some rich kids in Saudi Arabia collect lions and tigers, but these have been responsible for mauling staff at their homes. This sort of thing has to stop immediately.
IELTS Writing Topic: Pets
To be honest, I cannot remember ever seeing an IELTS writing task 2 essay question about pets… but that does not mean it is not possible. This topic could be raised, although I feel that it is more likely you would see a question about animals in general.
If there was a question, it might look something like this:
Some people believe that having a pet such as a cat or a dog helps old people to live a more enjoyable life and to stay healthier.
How do you think old people benefit from having a pet?
Do you think there are any problems related to old people who have pets?
As you can see, that was a two-part question. It is pretty straightforward and you would answer it by devoting each of the body paragraphs to each of the questions. You might plan your essay like this:
|Intro||Broad statement about old people and pets. |
Provide essay statement.
|Body Para 1||Topic sentence: companionship |
|Body Para 2||Topic sentence: it can be a lot of effort |
|Conclusion||Refer back to main ideas and offer suggestion: certain pets are good and others are bad for old people|
Sample Answer: A Task 1 Letter about Pets
Ok, next we shall look at a model answer to a question from the IELTS General Writing Test. In this case, it requires you to write a letter about pets.
Here is the question:
A friend has agreed to look after your house and pet while you are on holiday. Write a letter to your friend. In your letter
– give contact details for when you are away
– give instructions about how to care for your pet
– describe other household duties
This is how I would answer that question. Notice that this is an informal letter because it is written to one of my friends. Notice also that there is little in the way of “advanced vocabulary” because I only write what is necessary. In this case, I devoted my efforts to explaining the details of looking after a cat. You don’t need to be a vet to do this!
Thanks again for agreeing to look in on Barry while I’m in Thailand for the week. I really appreciate it. I’d just like to give you a little extra info that I’d forgotten to mention when we spoke last time.
Barry’s pretty easy to look after. He gets fed twice a day from the bag of kibble under the sink. If he whines, don’t bother giving him any more, as he’s just trying to manipulate you. Like most cats, he can look after himself, but he gets a bit lonely, so it’ll be good to have you there for him every now and then.
As for the house, you can water my plants whenever you think they look a bit dry, and please remember to bring in the Amazon packages before noon, or else the local kids might steal them.
If there’s any problem or if you have any questions, you can send me a message on WhatsApp or Messenger. I know you already have both of those.
Improve your Writing Score
If you really need to boost your IELTS writing score, you should consider having an expert correct your essays. This is the only way to find all of your mistakes and then get advice about improving. My writing correction service is the best one available and it is very affordable.
IELTS Topics for Reading and Listening: Pets
Of course, it is possible for pets to appear in the reading or listening exams, too. For reading, it could be that there is an article about pets (or one specific kind of pet), but for listening it is more likely that you would encounter a conversation about a pet and have to fill in the details.
You can see a sample listening question here:
This screenshot was taken from here. You can click that link if you want to do the practice test.
As for IELTS reading, there is an example test here that is about dogs.
So is it worthwhile learning lots of vocabulary about pets before your next IELTS test date? I would say “YES” but it depends on you. If you do not like pets or come from a culture where they are not common, you should not waste too much time learning about all the different names for animals. However, if you love animals or pets are common in your area, you should learn some words that can help you talk about them more.
As for the reading and listening parts, you would not be expected to know about pet capibaras or even what a gerbil is. These are just not important words. You would be expected to know the more common animals and then also some words about pet ownership. You can find all of that in my PPT above.
Let me know if you have any questions. Just write them as comments below.