Here's a useful question from a student called Tuan:
In the book 'Complete IELTS', it says that in speaking part 3 the examinee should talk about the subject in general, not in a personal way.
Example question: How popular is art as a school subject?
The book advises me to say this:
On the whole, I think most children enjoy art, although they do seem to go off it a bit when they get older. I guess that's to be expected.
The book says I shouldn't say this:
Well, in my primary school, children loved it. I loved making things, for example, and in my secondary school, students hated it; we couldn't see the point when we had so many other things to do.
Simon, do you agree with this advice?
Here's my reply:
The examiner just wants to hear a good answer. If the question is general rather than personal, like the example above, it makes sense to answer in a general way. It seems strange to go straight into a personal example about your own primary school.
However, there is nothing wrong with including a personal example after giving a general answer. I tell my students to follow three steps when answering part 3 speaking questions: first answer the question (in a general way), then explain your answer, then support your answer with an example (which could be a personal example).