Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach Aubrey Carter

Congratulations to 3 Keys IELTS student Lucia!

When she first joined our study system, she posted in the Facebook group her goal to get an Overall 7.5.

That is exactly what she got!

You can hear her story on episode 861 of the Ielts Energy podcast!

Today’s question

We’ve had a few subscriber questions as well as questions from personal coach students asking:

What should I do when I don’t understand a question on the IELTS exam.

If you don’t know a word at all, can you ask the Examiner the meaning?

Will it affect my score to ask the Examiner to repeat or rephrase a question?

Watch the video now!

Do IELTS questions have difficult, uncommon words?

There usually aren’t uncommon, high-level words in the questions on the IELTS exam.

If you are fully prepared, you will understand the words in the questions.

If you have any doubt about being ready for the Speaking exam, sign up for our upcoming webclass How to be 100% Certain of a 7+ for IELTS Speaking (in Uncertain Times).

It will be April 25th and April 27th and space is limited, so claim your spot!

What should you do if you don’t understand a word in the question?

There is a chance, however, that one or two words in the questions will be unfamiliar.

It is fine if you don’t know a word, or are unclear about the meaning of a question, as long as you ask naturally for clarification.

Let’s say you get the question:

  • Tell me about your current accommodation.

If you’re not familiar with that word, you can say, “Sorry, I’m not exactly sure what accommodation means. Can you explain it?

You can also say one of the following:

  • Can you give an example?
  • Can you paraphrase that?
  • Could you please use a synonym?

The Examiner will then rephrase the question by saying something like:

  • Tell me about the house or apartment where you are currently living.

Strategies Created By a Former Examiner

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Should you guess at words you’re unsure about?

Never try to pretend you know what a word means and just guess.

Your answer will likely not be related to the question.

This brings down your fluency and vocabulary scores on the Speaking exam.

Are you unfamiliar with a lot of the vocabulary on the IELTS practice questions?

If so, this probably means your vocabulary is not quite at the 7 and higher level.

Make sure you are fully prepared before going in the room, by completing a vocabulary notebook.

Also, read and listen widely to multiple sources of English.

If you want to be absolutely certain you will get a 7 or higher on the Speaking exam, sign up for our webclass!


Never guess at words you don’t understand on the IELTS exam!

Instead, use today’s phrases to ask the Examiner to explain or clarify the question.

It will not lower your score to ask for a word to be explained.

It will, however, affect your score if you guess at a word’s meaning and are wrong.

To be 100% certain you will get a 7 or higher on the IELTS exam, sign up for our free live webclass.

Space is limited and it won’t be recorded, so sign up today!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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