Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Perhaps halfway through your answer, you suddenly realize you’re talking about the wrong thing.

This happens all the time, as testing anxiety can interfere with your comprehension of the examiner’s question.

For example, recently, a student was asked about a job she wanted to do, and she started talking about jogging.

She’d misheard ‘job‘ as ‘jog‘, and never corrected herself.

Another IELTS candidate thought the examiner said ‘ride‘ instead of ‘write‘, and his answers were completely off-topic.

Yet another case in point was the student who was asked about ‘ads, as in advertisements, and talked about the things that made him ‘mad.

So, what should you do if you think you’re answering the question incorrectly?

First, before you even begin your answer, if you are at all unsure as to the question, ask for clarification.

You can say, “Sorry, did you say ____?” or, “Forgive me, I thought you said ____. Is that right?


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Sometimes, though, you only realize your mistake on the second or third question.

In Speaking Part 1, you are asked 4 questions about one topic.

Maybe you only recognize your error after answering incorrectly.

As always,  you should be direct and honest with the examiner.

You can say, “Oh, gosh. I see now. You’re asking about _______, not ______. I feel like a dunce.

Then, continue to answer the current question.

Above all, don’t let a slight misunderstanding on your part cause you more anxiety. People make mistakes all the time, and the examiner will understand.

You won’t lose points if you verbalize your mistake and correct yourself.

However, you will lose points of you never admit that you misheard, and let the examiner think you just didn’t understand the vocabulary in the question.

Are there any IELTS situations that you’re unsure how to handle?

Leave us your question in the comments section below!


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