Questions most often asked about the IELTS speaking test

1. How long should my answers be in Part 1 of the speaking test?

Your answers should be an average of three sentences in length. Note this is an average and I suggest you give shorter answers to difficult questions and longer answers to easier questions

2. Do I have to speak for a full 2 minutes in Part 2?

No, you can usually get full marks if you talk around 1.5 minutes. 1 minute is a little short and may limit the score you can receive.

3. How long should my answers be in Part 3 of the speaking test?

Your answers should be an average of five sentences in length. Give long answers whenever you can as this will reduce the number of questions you get asked [this part of the test is timed and lasts 4-5 minutes].

4. Can I ask the examiner questions?

You can ask the examiner to repeat a question one time in part. In part 2 of the test you can’t ask any questions about words on the cue card. In part 3 you can ask the examiner to repeat or rephrase a question if you can’t understand it.

5. Do I have to talk about every bullet point on the cue card in part 2?

No, those bullet points are there to help you with ideas. You can use them if you want to, but you can also use your own ideas.

6. Is body language and eye contact important for a high score?

The examiner is judging your English according to fluency, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar … Eye contact and body language are not directly assessed but you should remember that the examiners are human and if you have some extremely bad body language it’s possible that it will have some negative psychological influence on the score by the examiner.

7. What should I wear for the speaking test?

This is not only important and I suggest that you wear what you are most comfortable in. Try to address semiformal and avoid anything offensive like Nazi t-shirts.

8. Can I ask for the question to be repeated?

Yes. Just say “Can you repeat the question Please?”

Your score will not be lowered unless you do this excessively. Two times would be Ok but after this a negative impact will result on your score for vocabulary and/or fluency.

9. What happens if I talk about the wrong thing?

Your score will not be lowered unless you do this excessively. There is no score for content and the speaking is tested only on the language you produce and not the ideas in it.

The only major problem is likely to be if the examiner thinks that you don’t understand a word [lowering your vocabulary score] or you are giving a “prepared answer”. They tend not to like that at all and it may negatively impact on ALL four grading criteria.

10. Can I lie?

Of course. There is no reason why you cannot make up an answer. The best way to do this is to try and to use better words. Be slightly careful though as lying may put you under more pressure, not less. You want to be as relaxed as possible in the test.

11. What are those numbers the examiner is writing down?

Examiners are not supposed to write anything in the test. I have had several comments asking me about numbers candidates have seen being written down. In all probability, these numbers are just to do with the timing of the test and are nothing to do with your score.

12. Why is it recorded?

Your speaking test is recorded so that another examiner can check your score if there is a problem with it. You can, for instance, ask to have your score rechecked (at a price!) if you are unhappy with it.

13. Should I correct myself if I make a mistake?

My best advice her his to correct yourself if you can do so immediately. If you can’t- just move on for these reasons: It’s quite possible the examiner didn’t hear the mistake – they’re humans and don’t hear everything. The more you self-correct, the less fluent you become. Fluency is as important as accuracy. You can make yourself stressed by correcting yourself. Your corrected version may still be wrong or worse you might have changed something correct to something wrong!

14. Is it a good idea to prepare answers to common questions?

Yes, but be careful! You need to speak naturally in the test and if the examiner feels you have memorized answers they are going to ignore your answer; particularly in part 2…where examiners are told to completely ignore any part 2 answer that appears to be memorized. Seem natural through your body language, speed of speaking [memorized answers come out really fast], and have some slight hesitations where it might seem like you are thinking.

15. What should I do if I can’t come up with any ideas in Part 3?

It’s not a knowledge test you are being tested on your ability to communicate ideas, not the quality of those ideas. You don’t need to have great ideas, any ideas will do as long as the not too far off-topic. The key point is to show language to the examiner. If you really don’t have any ideas at all you can tell examiner this and a good examiner will try and help you by prompting you with ideas or rephrasing the question.

IELTS Mock Speaking Test over the Internet