How to Ask for Clarification in IELTS Speaking

Many Students believe that they cannot ask questions in the IELTS speaking test. Actually, you can ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question. Here are several useful tips on how to ask for clarification in IELTS Speaking!

Ask for clarification in IELTS speaking -magoosh


Ask for repeating a question

Examiners are allowed to repeat the questions in part 1 and part 3. If you do not understand a question or miss a word, just politely ask them to repeat the question or the word. Here are some expressions that you can use!

Sorry, I didn’t get the question. Could you say it again please?

Sorry, can you repeat the question please?

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Sorry, would you mind repeating the question?

Sorry, what was the last word?

Remember, asking for repeating a question is better than pretending that you understand it and saying meaningless answers.


Different from part 1 and part 3, part 2 doesn’t involve listening because the question is on a card. If there is any unfamiliar word on the card, do not ask the examiner to explain it for you. Try to guess the meaning by yourself. Check out our post on how to deal with unknown words to learn more information!

Ask for rephrasing a question

In part 3, you can ask for rephrasing a question if you don’t understand it. Here are two examples!

Sorry, could you explain that question in another way?

Sorry, I didn’t get the question. Could you say it in a different way?

If you still have confusion…

If you still don’t understand the question the second time, do not ask for clarification again. Just talk about something related to the question because saying something is better than nothing. You can start your answer by saying: “I’m afraid that I’m not quite familiar with this topic, but I guess…” or “Sorry, I don’t know much about… because… but I guess…” Then forget this question and try to do your best on other questions.

Other Tips

Do not ask the examiner to repeat or rephrase every single question.

Do not ask questions such as “What is your opinion?” It is a test, not a two-way discussion.

Do not keep silent when you are thinking. You can paraphrase the question to save extra time to think.

Check out our post on how to paraphrase on the IELTS! If you need more time, just honestly tell the examiner by saying That’s a tricky question, please give me a second.


By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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2 Responses to How to Ask for Clarification in IELTS Speaking

  1. Sengheang March 9, 2017 at 5:35 am #

    how many time will it be formal to ask for a repetition of the question?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 9, 2017 at 7:41 am #

      You should only ask for repetition or clarification once. If you ask more than once, the interviewer may not agree to keep repeating or clarifying, and you may lose points. Instead, if you don’t fully understand a question the second time, give a response that’s related to the question in some way. In other words, if you don’t fully understand a question after asking for clarification once, just respond to the parts of the question that you do understand.

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