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Should I Speak Fast or Slow?

Many students ask me if they should speak fast or slow in their IELTS speaking test. Some students think that if they speak more quickly, they will get better results. Before I answer the questions of how fast to talk, lets look more at how your speaking test is assessed.

All this falls under the criterion of ‘fluency‘ which accounts for 25% of your final marks for your IELTS speaking.. Fluency relates to the flow, smoothness and coherence of your speech.

Flow – this is about your ability to keep talking. If you are aiming for band score 6 and above, this will be important. You must show the ability to answer at length rather than just give short answers.

Smoothness – this relates to how often you break your speech with pauses, hesitations, self-corrections and silences. All of this interrupts the flow and stops the smoothness of your speech. If you are aiming for band score 6 and above, it is important  to avoid any long pauses and to avoid  repeating yourself.

Coherence – this is all about being understood. There is no point having a goof flow with smooth speech if you are not talking in any logical order. This means organising your ideas so that the listener can understand and also using some linking devices to help the listener follow what you are saying.

So, how fast should you speak? As long as you keep a steady pace, you will be fine. Avoid speaking very slow because the listener can get lost in what you are trying to say. Alternatively, don’t speak very fast as you may lose your coherence. So, keep a stead, even pace when you are talking, extend your answers, avoid long pauses, don’t repeat yourself too much, avoid correcting yourself more than once or twice and keep a logical order to what you are saying.

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  1. http://Akshay%20Sharma says

    Hello Liz,

    I have give ielts general training exam around 9 times and everytime I am getting 6.5 in speaking. I am able to clear all the other three modules every time but somehow in my speaking I am not getting 7 . Can you help me in this as I am not able to understand where I am lacking as according to me I am doing everything perfect.


    • http://Liz says

      Why don’t you list all the things you think you are doing perfect and then I can see if you are going the right way for the marking criteria.

  2. http://amandeep%20kaur says

    I got new topic in speaking 1on boats I have not heard about it before on 7th October

  3. http://Sourav says

    hlo liz
    I have ulcers on my tongue . i cannot speak clearly and my speaking tomarrow

  4. http://Rammu says

    Hello, Liz and team. First, thanks for everything. And my problem is; I’ve booked the exam the day after tomorrow but feeling quite low because of the common cold. And my voice is now completely changed and it heard like a rough one. Will it affect scoring? Because pronunciation is not good, I think. I can’t postpone the date too. And if I can request anything before the exam with the examiner? Help me, please.

    • http://Liz says

      The examiner will know that you have a cold but you will still be scored based on the language you produce during the test. You can contact your test center and ask them if you can postpone – I don’t know what their policies are for this. So, give them and call and try. Otherwise, go into the test positive, open, friendly and chatty 🙂

  5. http://Aboodles says

    Hey Liz! thanks for the great blog

    If I make a mistake while speaking (eg. used the wrong word / pronounced it wrong / used not so accurate grammar), would it be better to correct myself or just leave it the way it is?

    • http://Liz says

      It’s better to keep talking. Fluency is 25% of your marks so don’t stop talking unless it is a vital mistake which needs correcting.

      • http://Aboodles says

        Thanks for the reply! I did my test earlier this morning and luckily, I didn’t make any mistakes (well not ones that I am aware of) thus I didn’t need to correct myself! talked without pausing (got some good topics that I had background info on + knew advanced vocab related to it). I also spoke for 2 full minutes on speaking part 2 until the examiner interrupted! that was also the case with all parts as I gave long answers with examples and kept going on until asked to stop. I could tell my examiner was happy with my speaking so I am hoping for anything above a 7

        • http://Liz says

          That sounds good. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you 🙂 Let me know when your results arrive 🙂

  6. http://navdeep says

    Very good site for lelts practice

  7. http://Mayssam says

    hi Liz 🙂

    i wanna ask you STH about preparing the topics before the exam .
    Does the topic preparing mean writing down the whole answer of the Q’s or just list of ideas ?

    am practicing on Part 1 topics , So i take the Q’s and answer them by full sentences and then i do record the answer for many times , is that right ?

    • http://Liz says

      Never memorise answers. So, I recommend that you prepare ideas and just practice expressing your views relating to different questions. But don’t learn or write down sentences for a specific question. You can also record your answers and listen back to them – this is a good way to review your techniques and also review your English language accuracy and range.

  8. http://Mayssam says

    Hi liz,
    first of all, I’d like to thank for your efforts .
    I’m gonna take my IELTS tests on 3rd of June , and am really confused and afraid because it’s my first time .
    Do you think it’s enough to study your lessons about each test and practice until the exam day ??
    keep on mind that i dont have a tutor to assess my skills ( especially writing and speaking ) .
    and how could i know my skills level or my ENGLISH level in general ??

    plz answer me as fast as you can 🙂

    • http://Liz says

      If you can afford to do a practice speaking test at the British Council or IDP, then do that. The experience and also the feedback will help you. Otherwise, relax, review all aspects of part 1, 2 and 3. Prepare ideas for common topics and recent topics. Practise on your own at home by recording your answers and listening back, then recording again and again. Without a teacher, it is hard to know your level, this is the reason many students do more than one IELTS test.

  9. http://Rohit%20Gupta says

    Hey Liz,
    I took my speaking exam today. It all went fine according to me.
    however, in section 3, she asked me a question which I probably misunderstood and started speaking quickly(i wasn’t aware). she immediately corrected me and after 2-second pause, i gave right answer…

    can you please tell me how this can affect my score.. plz reply I am feeling very tensed…. Thanks in advance…

    • http://Liz says

      There is no right or wrong answer. So, it doesn’t matter for your score. The hesitation will only count if you often hesitated during your test.

      • http://Rohit%20Gupta says

        let me explain,
        she asked me about “is it advantageous if adults are living with their parents??” but I started answering adults living with children so she stopped me right there…. and then i explained right question….

        • http://Liz says

          As I said, there is no right or wrong answer. It doesn’t matter if you misunderstand the question at all. You are given a mark based on the English words you use – your English language – nothing more.

    • http://Shipra%20kaushal says

      Hi Liz,
      I need your paid notes to prepare for IELTS GT spkg,
      Also need the recent spkg topics which would be coming in month of May and June.
      I hv also written you an email. Request you to pls check the same.

      Shipra Kaushal.

  10. Type of Test: General Training
    Date of Test:7th April 2017
    Location: British Council Doha, Qatar
    1. Greeting
    3.Id check

    1.Where do you live in Doha
    2.Do you like the place
    3.Would you prefer to live in future in the same place

    4. Do you wear a watch/how important is to you wearing a watch
    5.Watch as part of your childhood
    6.Have you been gifted as a watch when and by who
    7. why some people buy expensive watches

    8.what do you think about robots
    9.would you like to have a robot at home
    10.your childhood movies with robot
    11.would you like to have a robot driver

    A time you couldn’t use your mobile phone
    Cue card:
    when why where how did you feel about it

    1.how electronic communication is helpful
    2. storing personal information over the internet advantages/disadvantages
    3.how elders and youngsters make use of their mobile phones
    4.is communication over internet good or bad
    5.is electronic devices like mobile phones helpful
    6.is taking photograph from a mobile a good idea

    I think i have tried to bring in all the questions in short. my speaking test went fine, won’t categorize it as good for now as somehow i feel i might have rushed in with the answers here and there a time or two. also i feel i self corrected myself twice.
    I was able to create ideas bring in words and speak at a stretch at good length.Yet i’m bit nervous what the results might be.
    Last time i had an 8 in speaking hope it comes well this time too.Thank you Liz for the extraordinary efforts you have made to make this blog so helpful with useful tips videos and posts.Your work is commendable and it has helped me and many others to get a good band with in IELTS in a simple and easy way.
    Two moths back i scored an overall of 8.5 band with (R-9, L-8, W-6.5, S-8) and all thanks to you . This second attempt is to increase the score in my Writing module, hope i’ll score better this time.Wish me luck and thank you again.

    • http://Liz says

      Thanks for sharing 🙂 I really hope you hit your desired band score this time!! Keep us informed 🙂

  11. http://Md.%20Abul%20hossain says

    just a great

  12. http://Aladin says

    Hey liz, first of all I would like to heartily convey my sincere gratitude towards your valuable contributions that aids towards the success of many candidates taking IELTS around the world. However, I have a question in mind concerned with the speaking test, I had my speaking test yesterday and i didnt realy use the cue card i was been given. Do u think this will reduce my band score in the speaking test?
    Thank you,

    • As long as you spoke on the main topic, it doesn’t really matter if you use the prompts or not. However, if you changed the topic completely because you wanted to give a talk you had prepared, the examiner will mark you down.

  13. http://Gamer says

    Hey Liz. Your lessons are really helpful. I have given IELTS once on 18th June and got an overall score of 6.5 but only 5 in Speaking. I need atleast 5.5 in speaking. I realised that I fumble alot. Please help me. My exam is on 3rd September.

    Thanks and regards

  14. http://Shahriar says

    I took IELTS 2 times, first time was in Iran and second time was in canada after 6 months that I was in English atmosphere and I worked a lot on my English ability.
    It’s amazing that my score for speaking was 6 for each exam and I’m wondering how it’s possible. I’ve completely changed from that moment and I don’t know how IELTS managers claim that the assessment criterion for speaking is the same for all the test centers.

  15. http://Babaruche says

    Dear Liz, your help to IELTS candidates is hugely invaluable and appreciated.
    I’m preparing to take IELTS exam in September. Please, give me a clue or link on ‘how to greet the examiner and how to answer questions on the cue card’.
    Many thanks.

  16. http://Rajwinder says

    can i ask the examinee to repeat the question in speaking?if yes. them for how many times??

    • http://Liz says

      There is no fixed number. If you frequently don’t understand the question then of course it will impact your test results.

  17. http://Gagandeep%20kaur%20chahal says

    How listening scores are counted …u ask in a question that students not lose marks by wrong answers then how marks lose

  18. http://sindu says

    When I did my speaking test the examiner was asking questions very fast so I had to speak very fast. If I get slow she would jump to other question. I didn’t speak full 2 min for task 2 I got 6.5 .Pls help

    • http://Liz says
    • http://jan says

      Dame thing happened to me. I just had my speaking test. What happened was that, when the examiner asks me follow up questions I can only say definitely yes then he’s going to ask another quest again so I was not able to even extend My answers. It was fast paced like we’re running out of time. I didn’t even finish speaking a full 30 seconds during the part 2. Im so worried right now that I may get to get a band score lower than 6 in speaking while I get other categories above 7. Fooled

  19. gud

  20. just great!

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