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.



Thanks Peter for your very prompt reply.
Are you saying that my marks will be deducted if I didn't answer the questions? Oh dear..
What I really meant was how do we approach a difficult question? One particular topic may seem 'general' and easy for one person but can be considered as unfamiliar or uninteresting to another person. Every individual prefers to talk about certain topics and doesn't like to talk about some other topics. Therefore, there will be a topic which will appear tough for someone to talk about.
So, how do we approach this situation? What can we do to perform well during the speaking test if we have to talk about an unfamiliar topic? I guess what makes it a lot harder is the time constraint during exam.

Best wishes,

Hello Aida117,

In general, you will not get full marks if you don't answer the question. It sounds to me like you are equating something familiar or general with something interesting. You might not find it interesting to speak about someone you admire, but there must be someone you admire in your life – this is a universal human experience. Even if it's difficult for you to think of someone you admire, you can imagine what it would be like and speak as if you do. And you can admire anyone – someone in your family, a friend or even someone you don't know or who is dead (e.g. Gandhi). On the other hand, if the question were for you to speak about, for example, the causes of the Spanish Civil War, that would require knowledge that is not universally held. You won't find that kind of topic on the IELTS.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

Thanks for your explanation.
I think I get the idea now ;)


The eye contact between them is funny and make sense!
But i would like to know if the body lanuage affect my performance possitively there or not?

Hello ewb,

No, you are assessed on the language you produce, not on your body language.

You can find more information on the IELTS exam on the British Council's site for IELTS candidates, TakeIELTS.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Simple but valuable to non-native speakers like me.

this video is so funny, thanks for sharing

This is the tip I give students all the time. I think it is a combination of them being tired and also wanting the exam to be over as quickly as possible.

I also find that students tend to answer the questions they want rather than the question actually asked. This often leads to them not answering the question properly and going off on a tangent especially in part 2.


Hello Christopher,

Thanks for your tips on this and the other pages. I'm sure you'll have noticed that the links did not come through. We monitor all comments before they are published to keep LearnEnglish free from spam. I'm sure the pages you referred to are valuable, but we are simply too small a team to be able to investigate all the links that come through.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi my english is a little weak, especially in speaking. there are not the english environment. please advice me that how I can improve it and there the educator mentioned above at some videos and I can't find those please indicate me on.