IELTS: Why does the examiner keep asking questions?

In order for the examiner to assess how fluently and correctly you speak English, you should not be silent. And if you put water in your mouth, he can’t ask you directly to talk.

Imagine the situation:

Examiner: Good morning. Please sit down.
You: Good morning.


Examiner: Well?
You (smiling sheepishly): Well?

A long pause.

Examiner: You have twenty minutes. Speak.
You: About what?

Again, a pause.

The examiner doesn’t ask questions to catch or embarrass you. Awkwardness arises if you hear something wrong, while your interlocutor really tries to give you a chance to speak. Questions are needed so that you have something to talk about.

By answering them, you can demonstrate a high level of English proficiency. There is no point in giving monosyllabic answers. Put yourself in the place of the examiner. What IELTS score should this member receive?

Examiner: Are you studying or working?
Student: I’m learning.

Examiner: Okay. What are you learning?
Student: Science.

Examiner: How interesting. And what kind of science do you specialize in?
Student: In biology. 

It is quite difficult to evaluate such a student. The examiner feels confused, he will have to put a low score, based on how the candidate showed himself. Which is especially sad if the student has a much higher level.

Treat an interview as a speech during which you must demonstrate your English proficiency. An interview is an artificial situation for both you and the examiner. It’s not a lunch meeting at an expensive restaurant. And, most likely, you are not the first candidate, so the examiner is tired. So don’t let him overwork: show him that you have fantastic English, giving detailed answers to questions.
How do you answer the next question with a whole sentence (and not even one) with at least ten words? Think for a minute or two before you look at an example.

What are you?

Perfect answer:

“At the moment, I work as a cook in a restaurant. It’s just a temporary job. In three months, my master’s program at the University of Bristol will begin. I love working in a restaurant, but I understand it won’t be for long.”

Please note that the student answers the question and at the same time gives a lot of additional information. He mentions his current job, talks about plans for the future and makes it clear how he feels about his work.

It’s much better than just saying, “I’m a cook.”

Look at the following questions. Can you answer them with a detailed sentence – at least ten words? And to give an answer consisting of two sentences?

1. Do you read a lot?
2. Where are you from?
3. What time of day do you love the most?
4. Do you eat meat?
5. Would you prefer a holiday in a hiking camp or hotel?

And be sure to justify your answer.
The only way to answer questions in detail is to practice every day. Find a list of possible questions in an IELTS interview and think through the answers to them.

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