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. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Rajwinder says:

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

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

  6. Gagandeep kaur chahal says:

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

  7. 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

    • 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

  8. gud

  9. just great!

  10. I tend to listen carefully to the IELTS exaimner’s rate of fluency and to adjust my speaking flow to her. That way I do not sound too fast or slow to her because I copy her language rhythem! Have a look at youtube real IELTS tests, examiners are also different in the way they speak. The one who is naturally slow prefers students to be slow but obviously coherent and the opposit is correct.

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