In this lesson, we cover different advanced strategies you can use for difficult IELTS Speaking questions.
For example, I explain when you can ask IELTS speaking examiners to rephrase the question and teach you what to say when you need more thinking time, don’t understand the question, or can’t think of an answer.
Common Speaking Problems
- Don’t understand the question
- Need more time to think of an answer
- Understand the question but can’t think an answer.
If You Don’t Understand the Question
Speaking Part 1: The examiner can’t rephrase the a difficult IELTS Speaking question, but they can repeat it.
- “Sorry, could you repeat the question please?”, or…
- “Sorry, could you say that again?”, or…
- “Sorry, I missed that last part. Could you repeat the question?” (for long questions)
Speaking Part 2: The examiner can’t help you. But you should be able to understand the questions.
Speaking Part 3: The examiner can rephrase the question.
- “Sorry, would you be able to rephrase that question?”
- “Sorry, would you be able to say that question in a different way?”
IELTS Master Advice: In all three parts, don’t get stuck on any questions. If you still don’t understand, just try your best and then get ready for the next question.
If You Need More Time to Think
Speaking Part 1: These questions are usually easier, so repeating the question and using short hesitation markers is probably your best strategy. Of course, it’s best to answer these without hesitation if you can.
- “What kind of work am I doing? Actually, …”, or…
- “My family? Well, … ”, or…
- “Let’s see, …”
Speaking Part 2: You have one minute to prepare. Good luck! 🙂
Speaking Part 3: These questions are longer and more difficult, so you can use different hesitation markers. Repeating the question yourself is also a good strategy.
- “Hmmm, some ways that people commute in my country, well…”
- “That’s a really interesting question…,
- “I’ve never thought about this before but I think…”
IELTS Master Advice: Don’t use these hesitation markers for every question.
If You Understand But Can’t Answer
Speaking Part 1: You should be able to answer these questions. If you need to make something up, do it.
- “My favorite movie? Well I really liked ‘Titanic’. It was such a moving film.”
Speaking Part 2: Again, you may need to “make something up” for this part. Try to choose an area that is easy for you to talk about. Perhaps you can think of something closely related.
- Favorite Smartphone App: “Actually I don’t have a smartphone, but I know Facebook is available on them so probably that. On Facebook…”
- Body of Water: “To be honest, I haven’t been to the ocean since I was 5 so my memory of the time isn’t too great, but…”
Speaking Part 3: First try to have the examiner rephrase the question. If you still don’t know, do your best to answer anyway or answer something very closely related.
- “How easy is it to find a home in my country? I’ve actually lived in 5 different countries but I can talk about this one. ”
- “Honestly I don’t like reading novels or factual books, but if I had to choose, I suppose novels because…”
IELTS Master Advice: Sometimes there will be questions that you can’t answer directly. Try to find a way to answer these questions that’s as close to the original as possible. Don’t worry if you can’t answer everything correctly.
Difficult IELTS Speaking Questions Action Step
Find a set of speaking questions.
- Either by yourself or with a friend, practice using the strategies we’ve learned today for responding 1) “if you don’t understand the question”, 2) “if you need more time to think, and 3) “If you understand but can’t answer directly”
Tell me in the comments what you learned from this video and what you want to see next.