Extending your answers

In order to show the examiner your full range of speaking ability, you should attempt to extend your answers wherever possible. This is particularly important in Parts 2 and 3 of the IELTS Speaking test, which examine your ability to develop and expand your answers with little or no assistance from the examiner.

You can extend your answers in many ways. For example, depending on the question, you might be able to give reasons or examples. It is a good idea to begin your answer with a summary phrase (a short phrase that answers the question directly), and then to extend your answer.

Let’s look at an example of how to extend your answer. Read the following example question from Part 3 of the Speaking test.

How important is good health?

First, let’s check that we understand the question. This question asks you to what extent you think good health is important (e.g., very important, not so important).

Now look at the following answers to this question.

1. Good health is extremely important.

This answer is very short. The candidate, Andres, gives a summary phrase (‘Good health is extremely important’) but he does not extend the answer further.

2. Good health is extremely important for many reasons but mainly because I don’t think that other things in life have much value if you don’t have good health.

This answer gives a summary phrase and a reason (‘other things in life don’t have much value if you don’ t have good health’). However, it is still a short answer. The candidate, Judy, could try to extend her answer further.

3. Good health is extremely important because I don’t think that other things in life have much value if you don’t have good health. For example, some health problems can cause pain or tiredness that lasts for a long time.

This answer has been extended further than the previous example. It gives a summary phrase, a reasonand an example (‘some health problems can cause pain or tiredness that lasts for a long time’). However, the candidate, Mustapha, could still try to extend his answer further.

4. Good health is extremely important because I don’t think that other things in life have much value if you don’t have good health. For example, some health problems can cause pain or tiredness that lasts for a long time. As a result, those people may not be able to enjoy their life as much or do a number of activities that healthy people can do.

This answer is effective. The candidate, Esperanza, has extended her answer by giving:

  • summary phrase (‘Good health is extremely important’)
  • reason (‘life has less value if you have bad health’)
  • some examples of health problems (‘pain or tiredness’)
  • a result of these health problems (‘unable to enjoy life as much or do certain activities’).

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