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First, try to understand why you cannot answer:

  • You may feel nervous

  • You may not understand the question or a part of the question

  • You know very little about the topic or you might not know anything

Don’t need to know the answer

Remember that IELTS questions are designed for everyone to answer. There are questions on various topics from different areas, but it does not require special training or knowledge to answer.

Stay calm

If you are asked a question that you do not know how to answer, calm down and take a deep breath. Use phrases that you will save time to think about: “That’s an interesting question” “Let me think about that for a moment”

Ask the examiner to paraphrase or repeat the question

If you are not sure you understand the question or how to answer it, feel free to ask the examiner to repeat or paraphrase the question. You can ask the examiner for help using the following sentences: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question” “Can you explain the question, please?” Although it is natural to ask for clarification, be careful not to do this for every question.

Don’t be quiet

Being quiet does not help to show your language skills. Saying too little (or not saying anything) will not be enough to mark your speaking ability. So even if you have no idea, try to say something by doing your best.

Be creative

If you are asked to talk about something you know very little about, try to make up something that shows your speaking skill. For example, if the question is about museums and you haven’t been to a museum, try to think about someone who loves or has experience in museums. If you are asked to describe a popular museum in your country, you might say: “To be honest, I have never been to a museum, but I think my parents enjoy going to the museum in my city to see things about my country’s history.”

This may or may not be true, or you can only guess your family’s feelings. The important thing is to make an effort to show your language skills by answering.

The important thing is not your thoughts, your speaking skills

IELTS does not test your opinion or the content of your answer. Rather, it only evaluates your language ability. The examiner does not need to agree with what you say and does not care if this is true. The important thing is how well you express yourself, your ideas, and your thoughts.

Questions, questions, and questions

The Speaking test consists of three parts. If you are unable to answer a question the way you want, try not to be distracted or stressed because you will have other questions to answer and more opportunities to show your speaking skills.

Get some information

It’s a great idea to take some time to learn the evaluation criteria used in the IELTS test before your test. Also, be sure to look at the sample test questions and answers. Mastering various information before the test helps you feel more comfortable on the test day. Try to focus, stay calm, and make effort to answer the questions in your IELTS Speaking test.

You learned how to answer all questions in the IELTS Speaking test. If you would like to get help from an IELTS expert, check out IELTS Speaking Assist.