Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

What determines your Fluency score on IELTS Speaking?

It’s vital that you understand this score.

It’s one of the easiest to increase!

Today you’ll learn what the Fluency and Coherence score is all about.

You’ll also get answers to two listener questions about this score.

For a complete understanding of every IELTS score, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS.

Question #1: How long to speak

We often get questions about Speaking Part 2.

You have likely heard conflicting advice about how long you need to speak.

Today’s first question deals with this.

What if you speak for 1-1.5 mins but cover all the points with good grammar and coherence?

If you don’t speak for the full two minutes, the highest you will score is 6.

This is because you’re not showing the ability to continue or ‘fluency.’

Even if you use great linking words and grammar, you must show you can speak for 2 full minutes.

They want to see that you can speak at length on any topic.

Should you answer the Part 2 bullets?

You will be provided with 3 bullet points with your Part 2 question.

These are guidelines of things you can speak about.

The Examiner usually doesn’t read these.

They don’t care about whether you cover all the points.

If you limit yourself to these, you may not be able to speak for 2 minutes.

Instead, we recommend you tell a story.

Share details! Get personal!

Ending Part 2 before two minutes

On IELTS Speaking Part 2, if you pause before 2 minutes have expired, the examiner won’t help.

They may wave their hand to indicate you should continue.

They may also say “Can you tell me more about the topic?”

Beyond that, they cannot help.

This can get awkward.

To avoid this situation, speak until the examiner interrupts you.

Don’t summarize your answer or provide a conclusion.

Tell a story and provide more details until the examiner tells you that your time is up.

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Question #2: Pauses

Another big part of the Fluency and Coherence score is related to pauses.

You cannot hesitate or have long pauses to score 7+.

Instead, you must demonstrate a natural flow of speech.

In Speaking Part 2 I paused for 3 seconds and continued.

I fear it will have a great impact on my overall performance.

If you only have a slight pause 1-2 times it’s ok.

Slight pauses are a part of natural, native speech.

However, you cannot pause more than this and there can be no long stretches of silence.

Filler phrases

In order to avoid pauses and hesitations, you need filler phrases.

These are things you can say to fill the silence.

Memorize general phrases that can be used before many different questions.

Learn informal filler phrases for Part 1 and Part 2.

You must also learn formal filler phrases for Part 3.

We have done many episodes providing filler phrases.

You can find them here.

To be honest…

Remember that every filler phrase still has meaning.

Some work well for most any question.

Believe it or not, I was just talking to my friend about this the other day…

However, most of them don’t make sense in every situation.

For example, only say, “To be honest…” when providing an appropriate answer.

  • Your opinion
  • Your feelings
  • If saying something that might be disappointing or surprising


Fluency and Coherence is one of the easiest scores to increase!

You just need to know what the examiner is looking for.

You then need strategies such as using filler phrases and speaking for the full 2 minutes on Part 2.

It is also vital that you improve your overall English in order to eliminate pauses.

To improve these Speaking scores, you need strategies!

Sign up for 3 Keys IELTS for the best online IELTS course!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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