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March 27, 2015


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Hi Simon

Somebody, actually my IELTS teacher told me that in Speaking we need to use lots of redundant words such as "i guess that" "Well certainly in some ways" "I suppose that" etc.
That is an answer from him:
"Well in fact that, if i think about it, i guess that in many ways it's fairly important, especially when you consider that a healthy diet can help to prevent a variety of diseases and health problems such as diabetes and obesity. But you also have to understand that eating unhealthy food in modern societies is not overly harmful. In fact unhealthy food is often taster than healthy food so i guess it's fine to eat a little junk food now and then. So all in all i guess my answer would have to be yes and no."

I think this answer is quite strange because it seems to be too sluggish. Could you please comment this answer?


I'm not sure what 'sluggish' means here....

It's not often I agree with IELTS teachers, but your teacher here is giving excellent advice. Here are some reasons:

1. These expressions are part of native speech. if you listen to natives speaking you will hear a lot these (often referred to as discourse markers) that help them manage their information. To reach the higher levels of IELTS, these types of expressions can sound very natural (when they are used in the right situation and with the right intonation and delivery)

2. They are not 'redundant'. The convey meaning, especially communicating different levels of certainty. Candidates under 7 struggle to do this. Phrases like 'I guess that' and 'I suppose that' indicate that the speaker is not entirely sure of the answer, and ''Well certainly in some ways' indicates a form of 'hedging' - saying that you agree but not in all situations.

3. They are directly assessed in the test in the following areas: Coherence - the candidate uses linking and discourse markers to manage their speaking Pronunciation (assuming they are delivered with natural pronunciation) and even Vocabulary (they do give the impression of less common vocabulary.

Anything you can do to produce more 'native level' speech should assist your score. This includes using discourse markers and other 'management devices' as well as native like pronunciation and fluency features, and natural vocabulary. Simon is absolutely correct - we don't care too much about 'complex grammar' in speaking because natives don't really use it themselves.

Dear Simon,

Thank you very much for your useful posts. I have a question regarding the IELTS speaking part 2.

Generally, we need to introduce different reasons and experiences in this task. In any task there are almost four questions need to be answered by the candidate. For example, we should describe when, how, what, why, etc.

My questions is, is this important to follow the order of questions written in the cue card or can we answer all questions in any order?

Kind Regards,


Sometimes when we face unusual questions in Part III like about community or society & culture (similar to what I had in my recent speaking test), your 'Get to the point' idea itself sounds difficult as I could not speak with enough contents.
How come I can focus on complex structures in these kind of scenarios?



There is no requirement to address the four comments under the Task question in Part 2 and definitely not in any order. Nevertheless, if you did want to address those questions, then you should perhaps follow that order because it is logically sequenced and you may lose coherence if you don't.


Forget about complex structures (see Simon's posts). For Part 3 especially you need to develop a way to answer a question with uncertainty. No examiner expects you to have full answers for every question in Part 3.

Hello. I have gained so much informtion from your website all the time. I really appreciate you!!

Speaking and writing are my big concerns thesedays.I need to get 8 on both. I got 7 on speaking and 7.5 on writing.

what do you think the major difference between band score of 7 and 8 on speaking?I fell lost now :(

please help me out !!


These are actually my thoughts as well. Let the sofisticated structures come to your mind by themselves if you answer your questions detailed enough.

Thanks Simon !

I want to improve my speaking skill specially for ielts exam within few months and I want to make friends who can speak English well.My Skype Id- mithun_dey85

if some body wants to speak english for ielts class improve than add me on skypee my id-- arjun.acharya27

It is a very nice post. It indeed helped me to understand what a complex sentence structure is.
I am sure that it will help to me to boost my score if i practice them precisely with out any errors in the examination.

Thanks Simon.

I have just received my ielts scores,and at the beginning,i would like to thank you Simon for your effort.My scores came as I was expecting,L8,R7,W7,and unfortunately S 6.5.overall 7.I used your style in writing and i would say that simplicity really may lead to excellence ,except forgetting to write a personal example :). I did not do well at the speaking ,but i will give it another try a month later.At least now I feel more confident ,and I know my weakpoints.

Mithun Dey and arjun

I think it will be efficient way, if we prepare cooperatively assisting with each other. This is my e-mail: nmuslimbek1996@gmail.com. Contact me.

The way for our goal lies on the way of working together rather than doing it alone.

Sir ... Plzz tell me how to be fluent.....i have given my speaking test ..and i only able to score 5 only..:((..well there was a cue card that a person whose wrk u admire,instead of it i made my words regarding to a person... Was i out of topic?!?!? Plzz help i want to be above six ..and i have filled my exam again 4 august..

Dear Simon

This is an example from the PDF that illustrates sentence types
The woman who called my mom sells cosmetics.

I want to ask if we ca wirte with comma like this
The woman ,who called my mom , sells cosmetics.

it would be right or not


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