Not knowing what to say in the IELTS Speaking test is one of the most typical worries that candidates have before the test. There are three possible situations that you may be worried about:
1. You understand the question but you have no ideas or opinions on the topic.
2. You understand the question and have you ideas but you don’t know how to express them in English.
3. You didn’t understand the question so you don’t know how to answer.
In this post, we’re going to look at first situation and some strategies that may help.
Here’s the hypothetical scenario. The examiner asks you a question. You understand the question but you don’t know what to say. This could be because …
- You do not know much about the topic.
- You don’t care about the topic.
- You are just nervous and YOUR MIND HAS GONE BLANK (= you don’t have any ideas).
It’s true that people who enjoy talking a lot and expressing their opinions in real life might find it easier to talk about random, boring topics. But what can you do if you are not one of these people? Is it the end of your dreams?
Don’t worry, it’s not a total disaster. There are some simple expressions you will give you confidence going into the exam. For example, let’s say the examiner asks you about sport and you have no idea what to say. You can say:
I’m sorry, I’m completely unfamiliar with that topic.
I don’t know much about sports.
Well, I’m not really interested in sports.
These expressions will give you time to think and follow up with your best true or invented opinion, for example:
Examiner: Which sports are popular in your country?
Candidate: Well, I’m not really interested in sports, but …. I guess football is quite popular.
But if you really don’t know what to say, it’s better to say “I’m sorry, I’m completely unfamiliar with that topic” than to say nothing.