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Why the IELTS Speaking Examiner Stops your Answer

Learn why the IELTS speaking examiner sometimes stops your answer before you have finished.

Why the IELTS speaking examiner stops your answer.

There are two main reasons why the IELTS speaking examiner might stop your answer.

  1. The main reason is that time is limited, and the examiner needs to move on to a new question.
  2. Another possible reason is that the English provided in your answer was sufficient and the examiner wants to use the time to test a new piece of language.
  3. The examiner wants to change topic.

It is important that you understand this fully:

  • The examiner is not testing your response or your reaction to changing questions.
  • The examiner does not test confidence.
  • Being off topic does not affect your score in IELTS speaking.
  • Task Response is a criterion for writing. It is not a criterion for speaking.
  • The examiner does not rapidly ask questions to test your ability to handle stress – this is not how IELTS speaking works.
  • The examiner is not testing your eye contact.

Always remember that the examiner is only testing 4 things: fluency, vocab, grammar and pronunciation. Nothing else is marked.

A student called Janet mentioned that may be the examiner feels that your answer is memorised and scripted. It is true that the examiner will look out for this. The examiner will know which answers were memorised and what your real level of English is by the end of the test by asking a range of questions and topics.

Will it lower your score?

No. 100% not. This is a choice made by the examiner to cover all language functions and direct the test in the way the examiner wants.

For this reason, when it happens, you should:

  1. be prepared for this and not be surprised.
  2. not be upset or worried about it.
  3. understand that the reason for the examiner moving on is NOT because you have made a mistake
  4. understand that this is a natural part of the IELTS speaking test
  5. focus on the next question.
  6. continue to be confident because you have done nothing wrong and your test is going as normal.

 

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Comments

  1. Recently I have seated for IELTS speaking test. Part 1 and 2 was excellent as I can say by self confidence of my speaking ability. But the thing changed on part 3. My examiner asked me some ques on social context following the cue card topic. Firstly, I couldn’t understand his prolonged ques,he stammered few times indeed (he wad older aged 55+), even I didnt ask him to repeat the ques again. However, he stopped me and asked me the following questions. But I could not satisfactorily provide the ans I planned. DOES IT HAVE ANY EFFECT ON MY SCORE? AND WHICH PART OF SPEAKING IS MOST PRIOR FOR THE EXAMINERS TO GIVE A GOOD SCORE?

    • Your score will be based on the English language you produced. If your English language went down in level in part 3, it might have a negative impact. It is 100% fine to ask the examiner to repeat the question – in fact it is a good strategy to use to give you thinking time. The score is based on your overall performance, not on each part.

  2. The examiner on my speaking test kept interrupting me by asking ” generally speaking”, infact she asked where I could meet people – I said “at church” and she asked if everyone goes to church, she further asked where people meet generally- I said online and she continued- conventional areas- her frequent interruptions now seemed like there were right and wrong answers and my composure was affected. Worse, I saw her writing 5.42, 5.62 , I don’t know what those meant but at that time I gave up thinking it was band 5 she scored.

    • 1. Any question that asks about people in general should produce the response of people in general and not about yourself. This is because the examiner is testing your ability to speak in third person. When she said “generally speaking” she was trying to help you produce the right language – not trying to criticise you.
      2. She is not interested in your ideas, she is interested in your English which means that explanation for ideas produces more language. Always explain and give more so that the examiner can hear your English.
      3. The examiner NEVER writes down scores. Examiners sometimes write down timing – you should ignore this.
      It sounds to me like you did not prepare fully for the test. You should know exactly what should and shouldn’t happen in the test – it is all available for free on this website – did you read all pages?

  3. Hi Liz,

    Just took my IELTS exam today. However, on the speaking part 3, the examiner told me that I did not answer the question which is why I had to rethink of the question and answer accordingly. Is this alright or it’s just a means for her to make me talk more? I believe we are not graded whether my answer is correct or not.

    • The examiner asks specific questions to test specific language. If you didn’t answer the question properly, it means you didn’t give the language that the examiner is testing. The examiner was giving you a second chance. Always listen for the language function in the question.

  4. Hello Liz,
    First attempt I got 6.5 in speaking
    Secong attempt: I got 7.0
    Third attempt: 5.5!!? The examiner didnt let me speak
    She would cut me short after every sentence. Even during cue card I was stopped after 2 sentences. HOW CAN I GET 5.5 AFTER GETTING 7.0 IN JUST A FEW WEEKS??

    • Did you ever get a remark? Did you consider that? It is 100% normal for the examiner to interrupt your answers in part 1 and part 3. The examiner is testing specific language and if you already supplied it, the examiner will quickly move to the next question. Why didn’t you know this and be prepared for it? Proper preparation means you know everything that will happen. However interrupting you on the cue card when you have 2 mins to speak is actually against the rules for IELTS – the examiner isn’t allowed to do it. Your score is based on the English you produce and ever test will result in different English produced which is the reasons for different band scores. Next time you do your speaking test, spend more time preparing so you know how to maximise your score in the right way, what might happen in the test and what your rights are.

  5. Hey Liz. My speaking test was today.. According to me I was fluent in majority of questions. Just in section 3 my examiner was repeating one or two questions to get more detail out of me, and in the last question while giving example I fumbled and had to cut it short.Will that affect my score?

    • Your score is based on your overall performance. Your score cannot be predicted or assessed based on a few comments. Good luck with your results and stop worrying – it’s over now.

  6. MASROOR Hossain says:

    I am from Bangladesh. I gave my IELTS speaking on 4th January. I did well in part one. My topic in cue card was an interesting old person that I met. I did cover all the questions in the cue card. I stopped accidentally during my speech in part 2, but I was told to continue, and I continued speaking till the end of part 2. In part 3, however, I told the examiner to repeat the question twice owing to its difficulty, and when I tried to answer, he just moved on. Will that affect my score in speaking?

    • It is fine to ask for questions to be repeated. However, I don’t understand your comment about answering questions on the cue card. There are NO questions on the cue card. There are prompts and you do not need to follow them or use them all – that is not your task. You don’t get a high score because you covered them all.

  7. jayaprakash says:

    hello liz ,
    i gave my speaking test on 3rd jan 2019. she initially asked me where i am from and later i was asked about few questions on gardens and environment.
    in 2nd part examiner asked about some environmentalist and why he or she inspires you?
    i just gave name of my senior who is concerned about nature and explained how she inspires me.
    but i spoke about 1min 40 seconds only. will this affect my overall band score ?

  8. Hi Liz,

    You are a source of inspiration. Your blog is very helpful and descriptive.
    Today was my speaking exam. I was asked general questions first, then about my workplace environment. In section 1, I was asked about parks and gardens, why you go there and when you visited a park last time. Then I was asked if I travel by car and when last time I took a cab and why?
    In section 2, The cue card was about a language you want to learn other than English, why so and how you will learn this language? Section 3 was a difficult one and I was asked further questions on language – do you think that everybody should learn a foreign language and why? How foreign languages are influencing our local language? How a teacher can help students learn a language easily?

  9. Hi Liz,

    I had my LRW exam on 10th Nov. In general writing task 1, the question was to write a letter to your manager to organize a party – explain the occasion, some of your ideas for party and asking your manager to give his views. (I don’t remember the exact wordings). In writing task 2, the topic was garbage or rubbish is increasing across the globe. Why this is so and what can be done to avoid this problem.

  10. Mohammad Newaj says:

    I had my speaking exam today (14.11.18). I gave it from Bangladesh. The examiner who took my exam was so rude that she did not let me answer any question fully. She stopped me in every single question that made me become nervous. Yes i have repeated many things twice, I’ve used formal and normal vocabularies and I also maintained my eye contact. I was confident, and were answering every question with examples, but due to her rudeness, I could not generate more innovative ideas. My question to liz is, Will I loose all my marks just because I repeated same words twice as well as due to less complex vocabulary, and incomplete sentences? How much can I get? If you could comment with an estimation, I’ll really be thankful.

    • I do not understand your comments. The examiner was not being rude. It is 100% normal that the examiner will interrupt your answers to ask a new question. That is the nature of IELTS speaking. It is the examiner who controls the timing and the questions – not you. Why did you enter your test without knowing this? You should have been fully prepared to be interrupted. Vocabulary counts for 25% of your marks. Scores cannot be predicted without hearing the full speaking test.

  11. Anna Gupta says:

    Hey Liz,
    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful ideas with us. I did my speaking test today, but the examiner seemed to be in a hurry. I really felt that the test was for 5 minutes. I felt interrupted at all stages. I am kinda nervous about this. I was asked on a favorite place where i like to study, i gave two examples of this, one was when I was a child and the other one was from my college days, I rambled about a garden and the library. I was short of words for the library, but again rambled and rambled. She asked me where I am from and I talked about my town. She forgot to ask me about my ID and did so afterwards….. Then on cooking….scared about the interruptions though….

    • Interruptions are 100% normal. The examiner is checking specific language functions which are often completed in just the first sentence or so. Each question has a different target. The examiner can’t interrupt your talk. You have 2 mins to speak and the examiner can’t take that away from you. That is your chance to speak without interruption to demonstrate the ability to speak at length. You can choose to finish early, but the examiner can’t choose to interrupt you in part 2.

  12. Idy Udofot says:

    Hello Liz thanks for your lessons.
    I did my ielts speaking test today and while I was in section 1, he had to stop the exam and told me the speaker was not recording. We were almost rounding up section one when this happened. He said he I’ll ask the same questions again. But this time I repeated the same things I said the first time.
    I am a bit worried if this will be see as though I memorized the answer?

    Secondly, in part 2 was told to talk about an animal I would like to have. Why and like it and where I first saw it.
    After answering and narrating the topic, I realized I finished before 2 mins. But I answered all parts of this section as shown in the booklet. I am a bit worried as well.

  13. When I have given my speaking test examiner didn’t clearly end conversation aftr the answer of last question then I asked him may I go.. he said yes u r free Will this thing effect my band score ????

  14. P VENKATESWARA RAO says:

    I was interrupted in sec three by the examiner of speaking of more personal preference in music than general she said this 2-3 times will it effect my score

  15. Hello liz first of all i want to thank you alot for this useful website its very helpful second i have a question i did my speaking test today ,however when the test has finished the examiner interrupted me and said the time is up but i looked at her but ahe allowed me to continue my idea she said its ok u may continue then she said thats all thank you so i want tonask you that fhe last idea is not so good will this effect my score thanks alot

  16. Hi Liz,

    I have so exhausted to take the IELTS.
    I have been taking since last year and it is already more than 15 times to just get 6.0 each sections.
    I’m sure that my English has improved well, especially, reading, writing, and listening.
    Speaking is also my strength which I have reached more than 6.0 in most tests.
    However, I sit the IELTS last Tuesday, and the result just came this morning. The speaking scored 5.0… I just do not understand how come the examiner marked it so low..
    I really don’t know what to do now to improve the speaking, because I have studied over one year and how come they marked 5.0 even I got 5.5 at the FIRST one..
    Really don’t know the difference between the scores.

    Could you please give me some advises and how can I get improved and be stable in speaking?

    Kind regards,

    Yoshi

    • Do you understand what the examiner is looking for? Do you focus on presenting good ideas? What is your main focus when you take the test and when you prepare at home? Tell me these things and I might be able to give you some advice.

  17. At the end of my speaking exam teacher said Goodbye to me
    What its mean?

    • Is this a real question? You are asking why a polite person says “goodbye” when you leave the room???? It is normal to do that.

      • When i have given the speaking test then when i was stand up from there and i was jst leaving from the room the teacher said to me goodbye so tell me what it’s exact meaning?

        • You don’t know the meaning of “goodbye”? Please check in your dictionary. It is normal to say this before someone leaves the room.

  18. Gurkamal says:

    Hlo mam,
    My speaking test was on 31st may and in part 1 and 3 in some questions i was going off the topic so my examiner used to repeat the questions so that he can get correct answer from me and i tried so want to know how much this thing will affect my band score??

  19. Hi Liz,

    Thank you very much for all your videos. It is really useful. I have finished my speaking test today. Tomorrow My LRW test is scheduled.

    The conversation went very well. I was interrupted very often. The below were the questions I was asked.

    1What is your full name
    2.Describe your hometown
    3.What do you do for your job? Describe the nature of your job
    4. How do you plan for your holidays?
    5.What is the best holiday you had ever?Why
    6.Which country do you wish to visit in the future?
    7.Which way of living is good? Village or city
    8. Do you think people eating good foods? Is technology affecting people’s food habits
    9. Describe your Job, your job skills, why are you interested in doing your job
    10 What are a different kind of Jobs people opt for? Give your opinion
    11. Which job is paid more?
    12 Describe a city which you visited lastly.

    I was interrupted very often for most of the questions above. For Few questions, I couldn’t complete the sentence. It was just like a rapid fire round. But I felt like, I did well.

    Thanks
    Jeya

  20. Jay Gotecha says:

    Hi Liz,

    I had my IELTS Speaking Test today.

    While I read above, where you mentioned that examiner would interrupt /cut me down. But I felt she cut me down even before I could finish my sentence, to the extent where I was answering on where I am from.

    Practically every question I was interrupted and switched to next. Is there any thing to worry ? I felt I was quite good with the speaking exam, well yes I did fumble on a couple of occasions, thats about it.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks,
    Jay

    • As I said, it’s perfectly fine. You obviously have a good level of English and the examiner was skipping forward to challenge you further. This is a good thing, it offers you better questions which will allow you to demonstrate a higher level of English.

  21. Hi Liz, I had my speaking test today and I just had a q. I got a bunch of questions on society and we proceeded to talk about th government. I was just wondering are some topics like the rulers in the UAE controversial? I only meant to state facts and this was the last question in Part 3 so I was a little confused when the examiner cut me off and thanked me for the test.

    • IELTS avoid talking about politics. But it is common to talk about social policies, such as “should the government spend more money on education” or “is the government dong enough to protect the environment”. It is very unusual to talk about particular people in the government – that isn’t the purpose of IELTS at all.

  22. Hi Liz
    I was just wondering why in ielts speaking section they record our test? Do they run it through some software to get the result/band score?

  23. Nikitha Mathew says:

    Hi Ms. Liz
    I had my speaking test 2 days back and I am really upset about what happened on the test day. While I was answering my examiner , she kept stopping me by hand gestures and then she moved on with the next question. Is this common among examiners or was I treated differently. I would have been totally ok if she had interrupted me , but giving hand gestures to stop my speech made me we very uncomfortable as the recorded version of my speaking test will sound as if I stopped abruptly.

    • It is 100% normal. This is the reason I wrote the page above to explain that this will happen in your test. It is normal that the examiner will use gestures to stop you and then ask a new question. It doesn’t affect your score. You should be prepared for this before you enter the test room.

  24. hey liz,
    I had my ielts speaking test today . the surprising thing is that part 2 in the exam I was already knew it before the exam. so when the examiner tell me just take 1 min to prepare , I took around 10 sec and start to speak , but this is not only because I already knew the question but also I prefer to speak and after that the words will came into my mind. but I”m quite sure that I did”t finish all the time and suddenly the examiner interrupts me by saying ” do u speak ti anyone before about this topic” so I was panic and tens then I replied no I did not. then she told me lets move to part 3.
    now I”m worry that she might think that I memorized the whole story but actually no I was only know the headlines of the topic and start to speak hoping that the words will came in my mind . also I want to know of this will affect my grads or not?
    thanks in advance

    • The examiner is always looking for memorised answer because they won’t accept a memorised answer. If your speaking part 2 was equal in language to your part 1 and part 3, it’s fine. But if your part 2 was a lot better than part 1 and part 3, it might be a problem because it looks like a memorised answer. It’s always best to use that 1 mins preparation so that your answer doesn’t appear memorised and also so that you can plan to add some interesting grammar features. However, I don’t think you should worry. Wait until your results. You can always appeal if you think the results are unfair. Please let me know your results when they arrive 🙂

  25. Hello mam!! Hope u are in pink of your health!!
    I had my exam on 22nd of Dec 2017. I used number of good words like apprentice, superannuated, vicinity, littering, prospects, trash, etc.. but i used word “some” with drizzling… and also said “take away my blood” instead of take my blood… would i be punished??

  26. Hie liz
    I just took my speaking exam two days ago.During my speaking the examiner smilled more oftenly after my responses.Someone tell me thats those where symbols that I made more mistakes but I dont remember.Is this going to lower my score please help me im a bit nervous about that.

  27. Thank you so much, Liz, I took the exam 2 weeks ago and I was shocked because of my listening score. I got 5.5 since I was expected at least 7.
    If I applied for a remarking, how would it be and what do you think the reasons for that score although I am sure that I answered well.

    • It sounds like you possibly wrote the answers incorrectly. Maybe you missed using “a” or used “a” at the wrong time. I have never heard of mistakes with marking listening or reading – of course, anything is possible.

  28. Even I too had the same experience while I was attending speaking test.My examiner asked me a range of questions unrelated with part 2 in part3. Part 2 was happy childhood experience but he asked me questions related history, advertising,home and movies etc

  29. Surya kamal shahi says:

    Thank u liz

  30. Thanks Liz for all of them!!!

  31. Akoto gift says:

    Thanks Liz so very much for all your efforts, i regret not discovering you earlier. Seriously, am amazed with everything about you. I equally love the way you smile and explain things bit by bit. Am so exited that I have leant so much from your blog and videos in just a short while. In addition, thanks also for giving me hope because I have confidence issue plus eye contact because am a very shy person and I have been scared if I will scale through but with this tips now am good to goooooo!!!

  32. MOHAMMED SALIM SALIM UDDIN says:

    Dear Madam,

    I have one question to you. Perhaps, my question is the IDP and British council are same? if they take same date exam. secondly, are they provide same question across the world?
    Thanks in advanced.

  33. hi liz im gonna hav the exam next month but i dont how to start preparing for it ….im looking for your advice

  34. Hi Liz
    I would like to know that the examiner who conduct the interview has any influnce to result? Otherway, someone else independently listen the recording and give marks?

    Cheers

    • The examiner will ask the questions and decide the score at the end of the test. If you are not happy with your score and you want a remark, a different senior examiner will listen to the recording and remark it.

  35. EkrimaAbdallah says:

    Thank’s liz
    I hope you agood life
    You are doing avery good helpping to us
    With my best wishes
    Yours sencerlly

  36. SUMESH NAIR says:

    Thank you mam.I am going to appear for the test on 2nd Dec.I have a doubt regarding WT 2.How many ideas I can write in a main body paragraph?Is it a good idea to use personal pronouns in the task 2 essay?

  37. Thanks Liz 👍☺

  38. Thank you Teacher Liz for giving us inputs on how to pass Iets Exam.. Godbless you

  39. Frank Reuben says:

    Waoo! 😀That’s great to hear.
    I thought the examiner will judge us based on eye contact, but I’m suprised to hear they don’t.
    But I think it’s important to keep an eye contact with the examiner.
    What about gestures, do they judge us based on that too?

    Hope to hear from you Liz.
    Also thanks for the selfless work you have been doing.

    • The speaking examiners only mark what comes out of your mouth 🙂 Nothing else affects your score. Eye contact is not required but as you know it is recommended. Body language will not affect your score. You should behave naturally at all times in the speaking test. The speaking test is informal, so you must be natural, chatty, using body language (if you usually do) and just keep talking until the examiner stops you 🙂 I hope this will help you feel more comfortable in the test to know that you can and should relax. Also don’t worry if the examiner is grumpy – it happens sometimes.

  40. Thanks Liz,
    Quite useful tips.
    Will asking for question repetition impact the speaking score??

  41. Thank u again liz for such important things
    But i’m suprised that being off topic doesn’t affect on speaking scores.i had no idea about this.Thank u
    GURDEEP

    • Really? You didn’t know?
      Your speaking score is based on: fluency, grammar, vocab and pronunciation (ideas and content play no part)
      Your writing score is: Task Response (ideas, content, development of ideas), CC (paragraphs, linking), grammar and vocab.
      You can see writing and speaking are not marked in the same way at all. See this page: http://ieltsliz.com/ielts-band-scores/

  42. hi liz,
    I highly appreciate the inputs provided by you on ielts and the fabulous youtube videos with great tips and tricks for all the sections of IELTS.
    I have lot of confusion while attempting the True/False/Not given question type.(esp. between false and not given )
    In last test there was a passage on flat earth and there was a reference given of some historical book from Netherlands and in the question they asked “Dutch “says so in the historical book……
    so weather this a false or not given since as per the passage Dutch is not mentioned (it said Netherland) or given but one may conclude the same. So do we have to infer and interpret it as one and the same ?

    • Try to avoid matching words or spotting opposite words. The entire meaning of the statement and the entire meaning of the passage must be considered. So, it is not possible to comment based on only two words you have provided.

  43. Thank you so much mam.. for giving clarification on this point. My exam is on 30th nov, hoping to do well and score higher band.

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