misunderstandings

If you don’t understand the examiner in the speaking test

If you don’t understand the examiner in the speaking test

If you don't understand the examiner in the speaking testWhat do you do if you don’t understand what the examiner has just said in the IELTS speaking test? Saying ‘Errr…what?’ is a sure shortcut to getting a low mark, so here are some alternatives:

The examiner says:

Can you suggest ways we could be more ******* of the environment?

The problem:


You don’t know what ******* means.

The solution:

Sorry, I’m not too sure what you mean by (******* )

Why?

It is common in any language when speaking on any topic to occasionally need clarification of something somone has said. You will NOT lose points for this, and could actually be awarded positive points for responding calmly and accurately.

The examiner says:

Do you think there are any ways the older generation can educate people about environmental issues?

The problem:

You’ve no idea what to say about this topic.


The solution:

Well, that’s not something I’ve ever really thought about, but I suppose…

Why?

It gives you time to think about a response, even if what you say is not a direct answer to the question. You could refer to education or the environment in general, or simply talk about what older people can offer in the way of education generally.

The examiner says:

Do you think environmental protection groups should be ******* by the government

The problem:

You think ******* means ‘supported’ but you’re not 100% sure.

The solution:


If by ********* you mean supported, then…

Why?

If you tell the examiner what you think the word means before starting to reply, even if you are wrong about the word the examiner will still be able to follow the logic of what you are talking about.

The examiner says:

Tell me about your family.

The problem:

You’ve just made a mistake. You said ‘my family has four people’.

The solution:

Sorry, I mean there are four people in my family.

Why?

Being able to self-correct is considered as a positive aspect of your speaking, so don’t ignore mistakes you’ve made – go back, fix them, then move on.

The examiner says:

Whatdyouthinkabout **************?

The problem:

That was so fast you didn’t understand any of it!

The solution:

I’m sorry, could you say that again?

Why?

The speaking test is only assessing your speaking, not your listening – you will not lose marks for asking the examiner to speak more clearly or to repeat something you didn’t follow.

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