Tuesday, March 19, 2019

IELTS Training Tips: How to Talk about Something You Don’t Know

There is no telling what topic you’ll be asked to discuss in the IELTS speaking exam. It can be something you know like the back of your hand or something that you’ve never heard of before. If it’s the latter, don’t panic. Read on to find out why and what you can do during your IELTS training to be prepared for this test scenario.

Why There's Nothing to Worry About 

The IELTS speaking test evaluates your ability to communicate your ideas verbally. The content of your response has little to no bearing on your score. So, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about the topic you must discuss. You just have to talk about it as best as you can. 

The IELTS Philippines examiner also doesn’t care if your opinions about the topic don’t match with theirs. They’ll score you based solely on how well you delivered your answers.

ielts philippines

How to Maximize the Situation

Achieve a high band score in the IELTS speaking exam. Practice the following tips during your IELTS training period to enhance your test performance.

        ·         Buy yourself time.

Give yourself a moment to think by responding with any of the following statements.

o   “That’s an interesting question. Let me think about it for a moment.”
o   “That’s an intriguing concept. Give me a few moments to think about it.”
o   “While this is not the first time I’ve heard about this issue, it is the first time I had to establish my opinion about it. Let me think about it for a moment.”

You can also come up with a variation of your own. Just make sure to keep your version is short and to the point.

        ·         Ask if you don’t understand.

If confusion about certain parts of the question or topic is what’s keeping you from coming up with an answer, don’t hesitate to ask the examiner to repeat, rephrase, or clarify the question. Doing so won’t affect your score unless you do it for every question. Here are some phrases that you can use.

o   “Can you repeat the question, please?”
o   “I’m sorry, but can you explain the question, please?”
o   “I’m sorry. I don’t understand the question.”

         ·         Get creative.

Yes, you can make up information to support your answer. Just make sure it supports your response adequately, and you deliver it well. For example, the question is about local popular films. If you’re not an avid movie-goer, you can start your response like this:

“To be honest, I don’t watch local movies that much. I prefer watching western films. But, I think my friends enjoy the ones about…”

The information that you’ll relay about your friends’ film preferences may or may not be true. That’s fine. You just have to demonstrate your linguistic skills.

        ·         Don’t stray from the topic.

Doing so will make you miss the “Task Accomplishment” criteria of the speaking test. So, stick to the subject. Consider the previous sample response about the local movies question. Instead of discussing western movies, it goes on to elaborate on local films through the speaker’s friends. Follow this strategy when you take the test.

Do you want to find out if you’re ready to tackle any topic for the high-stakes exam? Enroll in a top training provider of IELTS in the Philippines. Not only will you get the chance to test your skills and strategies against an accurate mock test, but you’ll also gain pointers from IELTS experts


“IELTS Energy 251: Speaking Part 1: What If I Don’t Know the Answer?” IELTS All Ears English. May 18, 2016. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://ielts.allearsenglish.com/ielts-energy-251-speaking-part-1-dont-know-answer/

Pell, Chris. “Ten Don'ts for the IELTS Speaking Test.” British Council. April 27, 2015. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/ten-donts-ielts-speaking-test

Princy. “What if I Have No Experience of the Topic in IELTS Speaking Part 2?.” IELTS Buddy. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://www.ieltsbuddy.com/what-if-i-have-no-experience-of-an-ielts-speaking-topic.html

Quapp, Ange. “What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say on the IELTS Speaking Exam.” IELTS Canada Test. February 17, 2016. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://ieltscanadatest.com/2016/02/what-to-say-when-you-dont-know-what-to-say-on-the-ielts-speaking-exam/

“What if I Don't Know What to Say in the Speaking Test?” IELTS Essentials. December 11, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://www.ieltsessentials.com/global/blog/2017/12/11/what-if-i-dont-know-what-to-say-in-the-speaking-test


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