IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|20. A valuable possession

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For each statement, decide how much you agree with it. Answer truthfully for the most accurate results

Collector or Hoarder?

1. A lot of the living area in my home is cluttered with possessions. (Consider the amount of clutter in your attic, kitchen, bedroom, bathrooms etc.)

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

2. Getting rid of my possessions — whether I’m throwing them out, donating them, or selling them — causes me distress and anxiety.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

3. I keep many possessions that I personally find to be unique or perfect.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

4. I buy the things I want, even if I can’t afford them or don’t have space to put them.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

5. My possessions are so disorganised that I often have a hard time finding what I am looking for.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

6. I avoid inviting people to my home because of the clutter.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

7. My possessions are a source of conflict with my family.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

8. I notice that other people in my family (for example, siblings, parents or distant relations) have a lot of clutter as well.

✔️ Not at all

✔️ Somewhat

✔️ Very much

Count how many times you chose «Very much’.

If you have 5-8 ‘Very much’, choose Card «High risk»

If you have 3-4 ‘Very much’, choose Card «Medium risk»

If you have 1-2 ‘Very much’, choose Card «Low risk»

Your possessions are very important to you, and though at times you feel like the clutter is out of control, it’s very difficult for you to throw things away.

Don’t let your possessions get the best of you! Organisation may not be your strong suit, so try to acquire less and recycle or donate items that you don’t need or no longer use.

Congratulations! Your home is clutter-free. The rest of us envy you!

Look at this Speaking Part 2 task and Kate’s, the IELTS candidate, notes. Then answer the questions below

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Describe something old that you or your family own and that you feel is important.

You should say:

  • what the item is;
  • what it looks like;
  • where it came from;
  • what it is/was used for

and explain why you feel the item is important.

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1. What do Kate’s notes consist of?

2. How are they organised?

3. How will they help Kate do the task?

Listen to Kate and tick the phrases describing how she has used her notes

Actually, there are a number of objects that I could talk about in my home, so it’s quite hard for me to decide what to choose. However, I’m going to talk about a very special necklace that I keep in my attic. First, I think I’ll tell you where it came from. Basically, it was an inheritance from my grandmother, who was 95 years old when she died! As far as I know, she’d been given it by someone — possibly an aunt — who’d bought it in a market in India. It’s a pity I didn’t ask my grandmother. I’d know its origins for certain if I’d asked her. Anyway, undoubtedly it’s pretty ancient now — probably an antique — although I’ve no idea what it’s worth. But, as my mother says, you can’t put a price on something that has sentimental value. If I were to lose it, I’d be really upset! Just looking at it I don’t think you get an idea of its age. You wouldn’t realise how old it was unless you examined it closely. I wouldn’t say that it’s strikingly beautiful or something you’d choose to put on to go out for the evening. It’s just a long line of blue beads that are quite chipped and faded now. They look pretty worthless — not as eye-catching as the gold necklace that I got for my 21st birthday! Actually, I don’t use the beads for anything because, as I said earlier, I don’t wear them. They’re not at all fashionable. In fact, I don’t really like beads, but, having said that. I’ll always keep them. If I were to throw the beads out, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. I’ll pass them onto my children, so that they become an equally important family treasure for them. It’s funny to think, but if it hadn’t been for my granny’s aunt, I wouldn’t have inherited that necklace.


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Listen again to Kate’s speaking and complete the extracts below by writing two or three words in each gap

Actually, there are a number of objects that I could talk about in my home, so it’s quite hard for me to decide what to choose. However, I’m going to talk about a very special necklace that I keep in my attic. First, I think I’ll tell you where it came from. Basically, it was an inheritance from my grandmother, who was 95 years old when she died! As far as I know, she’d been given it by someone — possibly an aunt — who’d bought it in a market in India. It’s a pity I didn’t ask my grandmother. I’d know its origins for certain if I’d asked her. Anyway, undoubtedly it’s pretty ancient now — probably an antique — although I’ve no idea what it’s worth. But, as my mother says, you can’t put a price on something that has sentimental value. If I were to lose it, I’d be really upset! Just looking at it I don’t think you get an idea of its age. You wouldn’t realise how old it was unless you examined it closely. I wouldn’t say that it’s strikingly beautiful or something you’d choose to put on to go out for the evening. It’s just a long line of blue beads that are quite chipped and faded now. They look pretty worthless — not as eye-catching as the gold necklace that I got for my 21st birthday! Actually, I don’t use the beads for anything because, as I said earlier, I don’t wear them. They’re not at all fashionable. In fact, I don’t really like beads, but, having said that. I’ll always keep them. If I were to throw the beads out, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. I’ll pass them onto my children, so that they become an equally important family treasure for them. It’s funny to think, but if it hadn’t been for my granny’s aunt, I wouldn’t have inherited that necklace.


Underline the sentences in the script containing conditionals. Identify which sentences refer to the present, future, or the past

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We can combine second and third conditionals if one part of the sentence refers to the present and the other part refers to the past:

🔹If she had passed the exam last summer (3rd conditional), she would be at university now. (2nd conditional)

🔹If I couldn’t speak French (2nd conditional), I wouldn’t have been given the job. (3rd conditional)

Alternative constructions

We can use these constructions to express second conditionals:

1. To express an unlikely conditional: If /Unless + subject + were + infinitive.

If I were to sell the necklace. I’d probably get a lot of money.

2. To say ‘if someone/something didn’t exist’: If it were not for + noun.

If it weren’t for my smart phone. I’d never keep in touch with all my friends.

3. To emphasise ‘if someone/something didn’t exist’: Were it not for + noun.

Were it not for Julie, we’d never finish the project.

We can use these constructions to express third conditionals:

4. To emphasise a third conditional: Had + subject + (not) +past participle.

Had we had more time, we would have been able to finish the work.

5. To say ‘if someone/something hadn’t existed’: If it hadn’t been for + noun

I couldn’t have written the article if it hadn’t been for his research…

6. To emphasise ‘if someone/something hadn’t existed’: Had it not been for + noun.

Had it not been for Saleem’s help, I wouldn’t have known how to address the problem.


Complete these sentences by putting the verb in brackets into the correct conditional form

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Read the task in the green box, make brief notes and speak on the topic for about 2 minutes

Describe something old that you or your family own and that you feel is important.

You should say:

  • what the item is;
  • what it looks like and where it came from;
  • what it is/was used for

and explain why you feel the item is important.


Exam tips

Speaking Part 2

1. Use a range of strategies – such as giving reasons and examples, talking about the point you can say most about first, quoting someone else, referring back to something you have already mentioned, etc. – to help you speak for the full two minutes.

2. Use a range of advanced grammatical structures to raise your score.

Read Kenny’s answer to the question in the green box. Then underline the reason he gives and circle the example he uses to illustrate the reason

pic7_IELTS|Upper-Int|L20

Why do you think some people like to keep old things, while others don’t have any interest in doing this?

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Listen to Margarete and John answering the same questions and tick the phrases introducing the reasons and examples

Examiner Margarete John

Examiner: Why do you think some people like to keep old things, while others don’t have any interest in doing this?
Margarete: Actually, I’m sure there are all sorts of reasons, but perhaps the main one is space. You know, if I were to live in a small apartment, I wouldn’t be able to store much. On the whole, people who are hoarders tend to have large attics or spare rooms or cupboards where they can put things.
John: I think it must be a question of personality … and by that I mean, well, some people are really sentimental, so they don’t like to throw away things like cards or presents — even though they don’t want them any more. I guess, you know, were they to throw them away, they’d feel a sense of loss. Whereas other people, maybe, don’t care that much — they’re just happy to focus on the present.


In John’s answer the words in bold are stressed. Choose the right option describing the function of stress in each case

Sentence stress 2

Speakers use stress to emphasise certain elements in their speech, for example to:

A. highlight a reference;

B. emphasise an aspect of their answer;

C. make a contrast.

Sometimes you need to stress a whole phrase to draw particular attention to it.

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John: I think it must be a question of personality … and by that I mean, well, some people are really sentimental, so they don’t like to throw away things like cards or presents — even though they don’t want them any more. I guess, you know, were they to throw them away, they’d feel a sense of loss. Whereas other people, maybe, don’t care that much — they’re just happy just to focus on the present.


Listen to Kenny’s answer and underline the words he stresses. Why do you think he stresses these words?

Well, old things are full of memories, and I think that’s the main reason why people keep them. Perhaps the most obvious example is photographs. I mean, although people might get rid of the ones that they don’t like themselves in, they often keep others because they remind them of a special person or event.

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Look at the Part 3 questions and list some possible ideas and vocabulary for answers. Then answer the questions

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Speaking Part 3

Ancient objects

  1. What features distinguish modern-day objects from ancient ones?
  2. Why do some items increase in value as they get older, while others do not?
  3. What present-day items might be interesting to archaeologists in the future?

Our historical past

  1. Apart from keeping old objects, how else can we keep in touch with our past?
  2. How important is it for human beings to maintain their links with the past?
  3. In what ways can the events of the past help us to understand our future?


Tick the requirements that you have managed to meet


Exam tips

Speaking Part 3

1. Listen carefully to the questions and try to give reasons and examples in your answer.

2. Use stress to highlight important information.

If you open the lesson plan you will be able to assign separate pages as homework or all the homework pages at once.

  • Warm-up
  • An inherited thing
  • A gran's necklace
  • A purely hypothetical idea
  • What I value
  • Being persuasive
  • What is especially stressed
  • Speaking about the past
  • Homework
  • Homework
  • A purely hypothetical idea
  • Being persuasive
  • What is especially stressed
  • Speaking about the past
  1. 1. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|1. Being a high achiever
  2. 2. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|2. University life
  3. 3. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|3. Getting a qualification
  4. 4. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|4. Career plans
  5. 5. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 1
  6. 6. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|5. Perceiving colours
  7. 7. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|6. The art of colour
  8. 8. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|7. The best colour
  9. 9. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|8. Adding colour
  10. 10. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 2
  11. 11. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|9. In therapy
  12. 12. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|10. Placebo effect
  13. 13. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|11. Changing life expectancy
  14. 14. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|12. Leading a healthy life
  15. 15. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 3
  16. 16. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|13. Works of art
  17. 17. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|14. Aboriginal art
  18. 18. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|15. Being good at arts
  19. 19. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|16. What is a masterpiece?
  20. 20. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 4
  21. 21. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|17. Collecting fossils
  22. 22. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|18. Evolution and survival
  23. 23. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|19. The Earth's interior
  24. 24. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|20. A valuable possession
  25. 25. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 5
  26. 26. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|21. The role of technology
  27. 27. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|22. Film making and technology
  28. 28. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|23. The impact of IT on society
  29. 29. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|24. Number one website
  30. 30. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 6
  31. 31. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|25. Environmental issues
  32. 32. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|26. Wildlife wonders
  33. 33. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|27. Endangered species
  34. 34. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|28. A symbol of a nation
  35. 35. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 7
  36. 36. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|29. Exploring space
  37. 37. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|30. Observing the stars
  38. 38. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|31. Space tourism prospects
  39. 39. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|32. Extraterrestrial phenomena
  40. 40. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Revise and Check 8
  41. 41. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Exam Part 1
  42. 42. IELTS|Upper-Intermediate|Exam Part 2