When the IELTS examiner asks “Why?”. . .

In the IELTS Speaking test, the examiner usually wants to find out the reasons for your response. He wants to see if you are prepared to argue your case logically and explain it in a calm and coherent manner. Do you have the words and phrases at your disposal to make yourself understood? By providing a differently structured/worded explanation if necessary? The examiner may continue to probe and, in the process, rattle you and make you nervous.

But don’t worry. It will not affect your score if you answer confidently, concisely yet comprehensively. Speak while giving adequate pauses, don’t sound unnatural, and don’t rush to speak just because the examiner is coming hard at you with rapid-fire follow-up questions.

IELTS always checks the same things:

  • the relevance and coherent nature of your response
  • whether it has been sufficiently “extended” (elaborated),
  • whether you have a good command of the English language. This includes, though is not limited to,
  1. vocabulary
  2. syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a language)
  3. grammatical range & accuracy

Finally, a word of advice. It may so transpire that after a point, you don’t feel confident enough, or somehow feel incapable of providing further reasons to justify your response. Don’t worry. You can, if you so wish, simply smile at your examiner and say, “You have an opinion. I have a different opinion. Let’s call it quits. Let’s agree to disagree.” Or words to that effect.

Why? Because it immediately tells the examiner that you can handle situations when you are cornered and possess adequate knowledge of the English language to beat an honourable retreat from a tight situation.

Some of my students have adopted this strategy successfully. Use this sparingly, and only when faced with the situation that we are discussing. Of course, the assumption here has always been that you are a somewhat fluent speaker in English in the first place.

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