IELTS Speaking: I don’t understand the question – Advice & Tips
Are you worried that you won’t understand the question in the IELTS Speaking section? Do you want to know if you should ask the examiner to repeat the question? So, let’s see what you can do if you ever find yourself in this situation!
It is not unusual for you to be stumped by a question asked by the examiner, or you may mishear the question and would like the examiner to repeat it.
So, can you ask the examiner to repeat the question?
Yes, you can definitely ask the examiner to repeat the question. However, it is not advisable to say ‘I don’t understand the question’. This question will make the examiner feel that you struggle to understand the English language during the examination.
How to ask the examiner to repeat the question?
Here are some simple ways to ask the examiner to repeat the question without saying you don’t understand.
- Sorry, could you say that again, please?
- I beg your pardon. Could you please repeat the question?
- Could you please repeat this question?
- I beg your pardon. I didn’t hear the question. Could you say that again?
- Sorry, what did you say? Could you be louder?
- Sorry, I missed that. Could you please repeat the question?
- Sorry, I didn’t quite hear the question. Could you say that again, please?
There are some excellent methods for requesting that the examiner repeat the question. It is necessary that you practise these responses so that you will be prepared with a range of options to deal with the situation (if you don’t understand anything). In addition, these responses will help you boost your confidence and demonstrate that you know a variety of words for dealing with questions that you don’t understand. However, don’t ask these questions over and over again. If you continuously ask the examiner to repeat the question, he or she can conclude that you are having difficulty understanding English words.
Can you request the examiner to explain the question?
In part 1, the examiner is not permitted to assist you. However, he or she can repeat the question. Simply ask, “Sorry, could you repeat the question, please?” If you don’t understand even after that, consider saying something about the topic or some of the words you learnt related to the topic.
In part 2, you will be given a cue card with questions written on it. However, if you don’t understand a word mentioned in the cue card, don’t ask the examiner for help; he or she is not permitted to help you.
In part 3, the discussion round, it is acceptable to ask questions. The examiner will repeat the question using different phrases to make it easier for you to understand. For example, you could just simply ask, ‘I beg your pardon, could you please repeat the question?’ This won’t negatively affect your score, but don’t repeat it too much.
Will your scores be negatively affected if you ask the examiner to repeat the question?
IELTS Speaking test evaluates your performance based on the marking criteria mentioned below:
- Fluency and Coherence
- Lexical Resources
Each of these criteria mentioned above contributes 25% to your overall speaking score. So it is clear that you won’t be penalized if you don’t understand a question. So, don’t be shy about asking the examiner to repeat.