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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  1. 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??

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. Surya kamal shahi says:

    Thank u liz

  6. Thanks Liz for all of them!!!

  7. 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!!!


    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.

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

  10. 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?


    • 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.

  11. EkrimaAbdallah says:

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

  12. 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?

  13. Thanks Liz 👍☺

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

  15. 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.

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

  17. 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

    • 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/

  18. 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.

  19. 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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