Would I lose marks in IELTS Speaking if I spoke for less than a minute?

This question was asked by one of my students who felt quite anxious about completing Part 2 of the IELTS Speaking test. The quick answer this is: yes.

Understandably, many candidates are under a lot of pressure to make use of the 2 minutes to talk about the topic given to them. If you are a good English speaker and a natural story teller, then you may find that you can sail through this part of the test quite easily without having to use the 1-minute preparation time. However, there are a couple of reasons why you should talk for 2 minutes:

Reason 1

In the Fluency and Coherence criterion, you will need to “speak at length” to achieve at least a Band 6. Speaking for less than a minute does not quite meet this standard and so, you may be stuck at a Band 5 ceiling for this part of the test. However, you may want to take comfort in the fact that your examiner does not look at Part 2 alone. Parts 1 and 3 also play important roles in determining what your final score for IELTS Speaking will be.

Reason 2

Speaking for a full 2 minutes will enable your examiner to collect evidence on not only your Fluency and Coherence, but also the other criteria as well. If you speak for shorter than a minute, you will not have provided adequate evidence for your assessor to give you a fair score on your performance. Even though you will still have the opportunity to fulfil these criteria in Part 3, you are treading on dangerous ground by not demonstrating these in Part 2.

If you find that you do not have much knowledge or experience about the topic, you can either:

  1. lie and use your imagination to create an answer, or
  2. be truthful and say “To be honest, I don’t really know what to say about this topic as I don’t have much knowledge about / experience in ..” Go on to explain why. Any language that you use during the speaking test, including admitting that you don’t know how to answer a question, will be considered in your final band score.

So, it does not really matter even if you have covered all the bullet points in the task booklet. If you speak for shorter than 2 minutes, you stand a likely chance of losing marks in your IELTS Speaking score. You certainly really do not want to risk that!


Until next time!

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