Asking to Repeat the question in IELTS speaking

Some people ask if it is ok to ask the examiner to repeat the question in IELTS speaking. Can you ask for the question to be repeated? Will you get a lower mark if you ask for the question to be repeated?

Can I ask the IELTS examiner to repeat the question without it affecting my score?

The answer is simple:

  1. It’s fine to ask for the question to be repeated.
  2. It won’t affect your marks.
  3. You are not marked on your understanding in IELTS speaking. You are not marked down if you go off topic. It’s ok to go off topic in IELTS speaking. You are not marked for your ideas.
  4. Your IELTS speaking score is based on four criterion:
    1. Fluency
    2. Vocabulary
    3. Grammar
    4. Pronunciation
  5. This means only your language is marked in IELTS speaking.

What questions can you ask the examiner?

In part 1, you can ask the examiner to repeat the question. It is useful to give you time to think. In part 3, you can ask the examiner to explain what they mean. This means they can rephrase the question so you can understand it better. However, you can’t ask for a new topic.

Learn more about what questions you can and can’t ask: Asking the examiner questions


Getting Band 9 in Speaking

Get useful tips about how one student got Band Score 9 in IELTS Speaking:

Click here: How I got band score 9

Get all Liz’s Model Answers and Tips for IELTS Speaking

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  1. I had a IELTS speaking test today, and i think the test went okay. One thing I noticed was that examiner was scribbling some numbers on her pad which were 4.14,5.45 and 8.18. If it were 4 sets of number then i would definitely understand for 4 testing parameters but it were just 3 sets of numbers and also it was done for prior 3 candidates as well.Do you have any hint what does those numbers mean?

  2. Wow this is a news for me thanks for sharing this because i realized i’ve been so strict with my students answer.

    • It’s important for students to know when it’s useful to ask questions and when it won’t work. It also gives them confidence šŸ™‚

  3. Hi Liz
    I have a problem
    In the speaking test the topics was about the activities that I do on the sea, but I did not see the word sea so I talked about my activities in general with hobbies
    Does this greatly reduce my score to match?
    Please told me

    • You are not marked on your ideas or the content – only on your language.

      • Ohhhhh thank you Liz very much
        I love u

      • Hi liz, may I ask you one question please today was my speaking and when examiner was taking the my speaking test than they were writing 223.334.23.on their nnotes what is it means and what is overall my speaking band score plz can you tell me I asked this question to many person but they cannot explain

        • It is not about your score. It is probably about timing. Don’t pay attention to notes made by the examiner – they won’t write your scores until the end of your test.

  4. Ahmed Raza says:

    Dear Liz,

    I have speaking test next week and confused with speaking topic on Family. I live with my wife and kids. But my parents and siblings live in home town. I think my answer to the below question would be:
    Describe your family ?

    I live with my 3 children and wife. In my immediate family, we are 8 in total , 4 brothers , 2 sisters and my parents.

    please advice

    • That doesn’t showcase your English. The examiner is not asking for information. The examiner is not asking to check your details. The examiner is asking in order to mark your English language and decide your band score. Do you think that shows high level English? Try this: “I am married with 3 children and I also have strong connections to my extended family, who I see most weekends.”
      Start thinking about language and showing your range.

  5. It’s fine to ask the examiner to repeat the question. It’s true it’s a test but at the same time it’s a conversation, which would not be complete if there is no correct feedback. Hence, it should have no negative impact on your Band Score.

  6. Yes, I think we can ask once ….

  7. Yes we can ask

  8. Sunnatillo says:

    I feel that it’s reasonable if we couldn’t catch the question for the 1st time and it doesn’t affect our results.

  9. To ask the to repeat the question may be OK once.

  10. I think that asked to repeat the question from examiner is not a reason to loss marks.if we don’t hear question clearly we can’t give the correct answer.

  11. Saroj Khadka says:

    Yes, i think its ok to repeat qns bcz its a better way to stay in conversation….

  12. I think asking question in case do not understand examiner will not reduce marks.

  13. i think we can ask

  14. Sunil Kumar says:

    There is nothing wrong in asking examiner to repeat the question in case you don’t understand in first instance.
    “I beg your pardon ”
    “May i request you to kindly repeat the question”
    in my view are appropriate sentences to use here.

  15. I asked examiner to repeat not once but thrice and it doesn’t have any impact on my score. I got band 8 .

    • Congratulations Meghana,
      Would you please share how you were asking the examiner to repeat the question.

  16. I think its better to listen carefully after all its a test. I guess it all depends on the examiner and we cannot predict if asking question will be okay or not. All we can do is be careful while listening to examiner.

  17. Papy says:
    I think it is not a problem asking the examiner to repeat or to paraphrase some thing or a question during a speaking section . We need to ask in a way that shows some flexibility in our speaking than guessing .

  18. Hi Liz
    In my opinion asking your examiner to repeat the question have no effect on a student’s score,unless if the student asks more than two times.Failing to understand the question for more that two times enhances the examiner to skip to the next question having the notion that you have a listening problem.

  19. Joshua Q. Laryea says:

    There There’s nothing wrong with compelling your examiner to repeat him/herself.

  20. For first one I would say, It should be ok because some time we may not get the question correctly so instead of answering it wrong, better to say pardon.
    and the second probably it won’t be make a impact on your marks.


  21. malav sejpal says:

    no, according to me they will not cut the bands, if students say for repeat the question.

  22. Yes I think it’s right to ask the examiner to repeat a question for you to enable you understand the question well before answering

  23. Yes,it’s ok ,but in a polite way, notmore than two times for example when you say mark ,are you asking about the band?. For sure it will not deduct our score moreover he may feel that we are well interested in giving correct opinion.

  24. Aseem goel says:

    It is fine to ask the examiner to reapeat the question but in a polite manner ( could you plz repeat the question or excuse me plz)… never show a surprised expression…

  25. Eman Elshekh says:

    Yes, I think when I find any dificulty to understand the question, I can ask the examiner to say it again. Also, I think this behaviour will have no influence on my marks.

    Thanks for your precious time.

  26. Mohamad Nasani says:

    No of course you should ask the examiner to repeat and you don’t lose marks

  27. 1. yes you may ask the examiner to repeat the question. does not lower your mark.

  28. Umbareen Ammar says:

    I feel it is better to make sure one is attentive and does not miss out on any important point.
    I have scored a band 9 on speaking and I tried my best to address the question carefully with a wide range of vocabulary and varied expression.

  29. Mojisola Nwankpa says:

    Its okay to ask but not more than will not decrease your bands score

  30. 1.yes… it is important to ask the question twice. cz every student is not of same quality. 2.may be ill get a lower mark if I do this

  31. Sorry I meant to say whether and not weather

  32. pardon please

  33. Well, if you are not too sure of what the teacher is asking you, and your asnwer is your key to passing an exam, you shouldn’t doubt weather to ask or not, definetely you should ask. Then if you aswer correctly the mark should not be lower because you didn’t understand at first.

  34. Priya Chadha says:

    1. Yes, its ok to ask the examiner to repeat the question in order to understand it but do not ask frequently. You must say, “Sir/Mam, will you please repeat the question.”

    2. No, asking atmost 2 times will not reduce your score but to urge reiterate it repeatedly will definitely lower your band score.

  35. Setu Bandhan Saha says:

    1. In my opinion, it is even better to ask again rather than going off topic.So it will be a good choice to ask the examiner if the question is not being understood.
    2. It should not even consider as a criteria to judge the test takers only because s/he couldn’t understanding the question.So i think this will not have any effect on the test.

  36. I think it is fine to ask the examiner to repeat a question that the candidate did not hear clearly rather than the option is giving a wrong answer. What I think is wrong is for the candidate to ask the examiner to do it for every question. Just once should not lead to a lower mark.

  37. Marius GHITA says:

    No, will not be OK!
    The examiner is talking well and clear; so, the applicant will lose a mark.
    I do not know if will be OK to ask the examiner to rephrase the question?!

  38. It’s Speaking test rather Listening so better to ask if someone needs clarity in question

  39. Vaibhav Kanchan says:

    I think that it will not affect your scoring as long as you ask the examiner to not repeat more questions. But if you are asking them to repeat questions more frequently, them it will give a bad impression like you are not a good listener and not paying much attention.

  40. Disha Trivedi says:

    Of Course…!! We can ask the examiner to repeat the question.
    and i don’t think so it affects candidates marks..!

  41. 1, yes


  42. Lateef abiodun says:

    It is ok to ask the examiner to repeat the question. Though polite words should be used.
    If the question is couteously requested,it will not affect your mark at all.that is my opinion.

  43. Gaurav chauhan says:

    No,there is not any mark deduction while asking repeat the question to the examiner.

    But if we repeatedly ask questions at that time may be we get lowerark.

  44. Yes we can ask the examiner to repeat the question once or twice . As it is part of communication ,even native speakers does they won’t reduce marks as long as we are able to communicate

  45. Hung Nguyen says:

    For sure, candidates can ask but not too often as this means your communications skills aren’t up to par. Maybe just ask the examiner one or two during the test.

  46. Lateef abiodun says:

    It is ok to ask the examiner to repeat the question. Though polite words should be used. Thanks

  47. Yes it is ok to ask the examiner to repeat and it doesn’t affect the result

  48. My opinion is we can ask because some times we can’t understand the question


    1. I think there is nothing wrong in asking the Examiner to come again or repeat himself/herself if you dont hear or understand what has been said.

    2. since it is not wrong to do the above mentioned, it will also not attract any penalty, hence, it will not reduce the candidates’ scores

  50. enes dereli says:

    I think it is okey to ask the examiner to repeat the question, instead of answer wrong. In all languages, asking for repeat is so natural, isn’t it? Thank you.

  51. Yes i think so its perfectly alright to ask them to repeat the question .but not evertime .it would not show you in good light of u keep asking to repeat the question everytime its been put to you . Cheers

  52. Nwogu Emmanuel says:

    I think asking to repeat the question would attract a negative effect on one’s score,because it shows that the candidate didn’t pay adequate attention, or didn’t understand what was asked.

  53. Anonymous says:

    It is fine if you just ask him or her once, I reckon

  54. Raghuveer says:

    Hi Liz,

    In my opinion it should be OK and even otherwise we must ask examiner to repeat the questions to give proper and a good answer, or else the answers would be irrelevant. So, better to request to repeat.

    For the second question, I have read somewhere (must be on this site) that there won’t be any deduction for your request to repeat question.


  55. Dear Liz,
    I’ve been told there are no problem but, honestly I think it will affect the score.
    Kind regards

  56. 1. Yes we could ask for couple of time to repeat the question in speaking part 3.
    2. It won’t affect the score if it does not ask more thank 2 time.
    This is my thinking and knowledge. Awaiting for write answers

  57. 1) Certainly yes. It may not cost any negative approach.
    2) no poor grade may b rewarded in such case

  58. I am planning to ask to my examiner for clarification. And I know that this will be a plus because I will be using good English. For example I will ask something like that ‘Sorry teacher If you don’t mind could you please rephrase the question’.

  59. It’s okay I think for one or two times but is you can’t get the accent if the exaninar and if you keep asking for repeating the question then you fall the marks.

  60. I think it’s ok to ask examiner to repeat the question because may not hear him/her good, also I don’t think will impact on the score,

  61. It doesn’t matter to ask to repeat but not too many times. Because you have to understand what questions is.
    Please liz, many times to ask is okay?

  62. Deepshikha says:

    I think it is okay to ask the examiner politely to repeat any question. It helps one buy some time to scrutinize thoughts about the subject and be a little more prepared to start talking.

    I read in some of your earlier blogs that it doesn’t affect the score. It should not actually.

  63. Sabeen Ansari says:

    Yes , If we do this we will get lower marks.

  64. Bassam Saeed says:

    I reckon it is yes, actually I think I may get mark if you use formal words \ sentences to ask him for repeating or rephrasing the question. what do you think Liz?

  65. Hema rani says:

    It’s ok to ask examiner to repeat question in case didn’t understand.
    It will not affect on scoring.

  66. Absolutely no..There is no harm to ask the speaking examiner to repeat the question.Even in our mother tongue language we often ask the speaker to repeat what he or she says. Thus, this will never affect the score attainment.

  67. Sanjitha Joshi says:

    I think there is no issue in asking the examiner to repeat the question. It won’t effect the marks as well. Without clarification you won’t be able to answer the question. Rather than giving wrong answer it is good to ask the question again

  68. Asking for the examiner to repeat the question or to reword a question is fine as long as you do not do it repeatedly. Actually, if the wording of your request is precise and polite, this gives you the chance to show off your language skills and your diplomacy.

  69. Kashif abbasi says:

    I don’t think so that it has impact on overall speaking score

  70. It is okay for 1-2 times…

  71. I think it’s fine to ask the examiner to repeat a question. And I don’t think this affects the scoring. As long as you can give a clear answer to the question, it’s fine.

  72. Hello Liz,

    I hope you are doing well and thanks for the nice and useful tutorials on YouTube.

    I believe we can ask to repeat the question for one or two times in a polite manner. But asking for more may cause trouble and may loss bands.

    Looking forward for your valuable thoughts on it.

    Deepak Kheterpal

  73. Nancy Kago says:

    It is in order to ask the examiner to repeat the question to enable task accomplishment

  74. Paul Ekhorutomwen says:

    It is acceptable to ask for a repeat.
    Also, marks aren’t deducted if done in moderation.

  75. Ramandeep kaur says:

    I Dnt think anyone would get lower marks for this

  76. Yes i think it will reduce marks

  77. Vaneet verma says:

    Sorry but its just another question out of track. I gave ielts exam 4 years ago in which after asking my name the examiner pronounced my surname incorrect and i thought of interrupting her as it was wrong. But the interviewwer was so irritated on the fact that how can she be wrong and how dare I asked her to double check the mistake???

  78. It should not be a problem asking the examiner for clarity as it happens in a normal conversation even with native speakers. But if it is too much then it will be seen as a student problem to understand the language.

  79. It is better to ask to repeat the question in polite way like pardon sir or madam
    I don’t think there should be deduction of marks for this

  80. Yes,of course we must ask to repeat .If we cannot understand.

  81. Owais Urooj says:

    I do not personally think asking the examiner to repeat the question once again would be a negative impact impact or would lead to losing marks as possibly, the candidate could misheard or could not collect the exact questions.
    This is my view about your posted question, Liz.
    Would be happy to see your answer which will be more definite.

  82. oluwatosin says:

    Waiting for your reply liz

  83. Vaneet verma says:

    I think it does matter if you ask the exmainer to repeat the question and there is a chance of loosing the marks too…

  84. Yes, if we cannot under stand question we can ask again.It is not affeect in mark

  85. Lamin N Darboe says:

    In my opinion, I think it is completely fine to ask the examiner to repeat any question you don’t hear clearly or you don’t understand fully so he/she could breakdown for you for better comprehension.

  86. I think it’s ok to ask it,it will not get a lower mark.

  87. Bhavin Patel says:

    I think it’s fine to ask to repeat the question, in fact it shows that you care to understand the question well. However, we should not ask to repeat for many questions. It may affect your score as it shows that you are not good listener. I think it’s OK for 1 to 2 questions.

  88. 1 ) yes it is ok .
    2 ) no

  89. Yes we can ask for if we don’t hear the question properly

  90. Ajay jaiswal says:

    I think we can ask once…..

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