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

IELTS examiners have very strict guidelines they must follow.

Some of their limitations could throw you off!

Being aware of these guidelines will help you know what to expect on test day.

Today we share insider examiner details.

We share what the examiner can say during the speaking exam.

With this knowledge, you’ll be more prepared to succeed on IELTS.

Question #1: When to stop speaking

Many students ask if their score will be affected by when they stop speaking.

  • How long should answers be in each section
  • What happens if the examiner stops you
  • What happens if the examiner doesn’t stop you

Your answers in Part 1 and Part 3 should be about one minute.

If you speak too long, the examiner will stop you.

They will usually say, “Thank you,” and ask the next question.

Your score is not lowered if the examiner stops you.

In fact, this shows your fluency!

What the examiner can say

In part 1 and part 3, if your answer is too short, the examiner can only ask, “Why?”

For example, you may be asked, “What do you like about your job?”

If your only answer is, “I like the people,” the examiner might say, “Why?”

This is to encourage you to share more details.

Keep in mind that “Why?” might not make sense as an answer.

Your question could be, “What do you eat for breakfast?”

If the answer you provide is, “Eggs,” the examiner might ask, “Why?”

This would be a strange thing for someone to ask.

We don’t usually ask someone to defend their breakfast choices.

However, they’re only allowed to ask, “Why?”

Don’t let this throw you off!

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How answer length helps Fluency/Coherence scores

The IELTS Speaking exam is testing several things.

  • Vocabulary
  • Pronunciation
  • Grammar
  • Fluency

As you can imagine, the fluency score is about how fluent you are.

You cannot use unnatural pauses or hesitation.

Additionally, the more you can speak on any given topic, the more fluent you are!

Because of this, you cannot just give short answers.

You must share details!

Don’t be afraid to get personal!

However, keep in mind you can’t repeat ideas.

Each idea you share must be new and different.

Question #2: Pausing during Speaking Part 2

We received a question from Nirmal Patel about pausing during Speaking Part 2.

I just took my IELTS today and I paused in part 2. The examiner asked me to explain more on the topic and then I spoke little more. Apart from this, part 1 and 3 were very good. Will I get 6 band score??

The good new is, this won’t necessarily lower your score.

If you stop speaking before two minutes, the examiner will encourage you to continue.

They will likely say:

  • Can you say anything else about the topic?”

They may also just wave their hand indicating for you to continue.

However, if the examiner has to do this more than once it can affect your fluency score.

How long IELTS examiners expect you to speak

On Speaking Part 2, you must speak for the full 2 minutes.

Describe a time you had a problem while traveling.

For Speaking Part 2, after two minutes, the examiner will stop you.

You should plan on speaking until they stop you.

That time is vital for you to use high level and idiomatic language!

A good strategy is to not provide a conclusion.

If you share a conclusion too early, it may be difficult to continue speaking afterward.

The power of sample answers

Hundreds of sample answers can be found at All Ears English!

  • IELTS Energy podcast
  • IELTS Energy TV on YouTube

This is a great resource to get an idea of how long an answer should be.

Do not memorize sample answers!

Practice answering them yourself with personal details.

Takeaway

It’s extremely helpful to know what to expect on test day.

Knowing examiners can only ask, “Why?” on Speaking Part 1 and 2 will help you expect it.

Additionally, it’s useful to know how long answers should be in the different sections.

Use sample answers to practice and get a feel for the length.

This will help you feel more prepared.

Feeling prepared will increase your confidence!

For all the strategies you need, check out our online IELTS course!

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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