IELTS Test Part 3: Speaking Strategies


Buy time to think:

One of the biggest problems in this part of the test is that the questions can be quite challenging. You may struggle to think of what you want to say, let alone how you are going to say it. There are some strategies you can use to deal with this situation.


Start with a memorized set phrase:

Use some memorized set phrases to buy time to think about what you are going to say:

1. Off the top of my head I would say…

2. Well, it’s difficult to say, but …

3. That’s an interesting question and I think I would have to say that…

4. Mmm … I’m not really sure, but…

5. Actually, that’s not something I’ve really thought about, but…

6. I don’t really know much about that, but…

[Lots of set phrases for different types of questions are explained in the next section.]


Ask for the question to be rephrased:

Another way to buy time is to pretend you didn’t understand the question and ask the examiner to rephrase it. While the examiner is doing this you can think about what you want to say. This won’t lower your grade, unless you do it repeatedly in which case it’s going to start to lower your score for vocabulary. You could say something like:

“I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that, could you please rephrase it”

Additional strategies are covered in the full-version of my speaking book

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