Even if you are asked what seems like a yes–no question, you are expected to say more.

The IELTS interview gives you roughly 10 to 15 minutes of time to display your English speaking skills to the examiner. If you give one-word or very short answers to questions you are not giving the examiner much with which to assess you.

Even if you are asked what seems like a yes–no question you are expected to say more than a simple “yes" or “no”. You should try to develop what you say by, for example, giving reasons, opinions or describing something in more detail.

In the video clip Joao is asked to tell the examiner something he likes about his job. He answers by saying “the people”, which shows that he has understood the question, but it doesn’t show off any of his English skills. What he needs to do, which eventually he does with some prompting from the examiner, is to develop his answer and describe in more detail why he likes the people he works with.

A good tip for candidates is to look for signals from the examiner. Often you can see from the examiner’s facial expression or manner if you have said enough or not.



Hi. I'm April. I am going to take ielts exam on 21th April. I am in troubles with speaking skill. I do not have partner who is native speakers to practice. It's difficult to correct mistakes and make my voice more naturally.

hi. i'm vietnamese too. nice to know you. :)

Hello April,

I'd highly recommend you consult TakeIELTS, where you'll find lots of information, advice and even some free practice materials that will help you prepare. You might also want to read the advice on improving your speaking on our Frequently asked questions page.

If you're able to take one, and IELTS preparation class at a British Council centre in Vietnam would also help you prepare as much as you can for the test.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi . im lynh and studying in university and i want to ask . i study ielts in some center english , but my level can not higher . Then i decide to study by myself . i dont know why , although i made a lot of books ( colins for ielts , vocabulary , writing ,.... ) . can you give me some advise ? and what do ?

Hello lynh,

It's difficult for us to give you any specific advice without knowing you better, but there's some general advice on our FAQ page that might help you, and for more information and practice materials related to the IELTS, I'd recommend TakeIELTS.

I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

im quite tired coz my level very weak and its cant rise . thanks , Kirk . I will try to change my method .

There's a situation that I'm wondering about:
In some cases there's no need to travel to make or have an interview (for a job application for example) you can do it by phone or use skype what's more common.
The fact that both participants (interviewer and interviewee) are far away of each other makes the interviewer speak or use, in some cases, unfamiliar words and/or accent. That can maybe frustrate the interviewee and decrease his chances and also he can understand a part of the question and his answer will be incomplete.
1. How can I ask that person to speak clearly?
2. Is it advisable to let the interviewer know that?


Hello Sphynx,

In general, I think it's important to tell the interviewer if you're having a difficult time understanding him or her. I expect that most will be quite understanding, especially as it is often more difficult to understand someone over the computer or phone. Questions like yours are really best for a career counselor, but I'd say it's a good idea to say if you have a hard time understanding someone. A couple of sentences you could use to do this are:

I'm afraid that I'm having a hard time understanding you.
I'm afraid that the connection is making it difficult for me to understand you.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to ask a question here.
What if I don't have an answer to a particular question. For example, if the question asks: "tell me about someone you admire". So if I genuinely didn't have someone that I admired, how should I approach this question? Can I talk about the topic in a slightly different way; for example, can I say I don't have anyone I admired and give reasons why it is so? - I think I will have a lot more to say this way, however I realized that I won't be answering any of the questions. Is this a good approach or not? Or, should I just make up the answer?

Hello Aida117,

In the exam you will receive a speaking card which has more than just one question on it. There are prompts such as 'Why do you admire them?' / 'What have they done that is admirable?' / 'Do other people generally admire this person?' and so on. If you don't answer the question then it's very hard to address the other points.

The questions are generally very open, and designed so that everyone can provide an answer. For example, for the question you quote a real person, a historical person, a fictional person or a person from your family - there's a very wide range!

For more information on the IELTS exam, including the speaking part, please take a look at the British Council's site for IETLS candidates, TakeIELTS.

Best wishes and good luck!


The LearnEnglish Team