Should I tell the Truth in the IELTS Speaking test?

Telling the truth in the IELTS speaking test is a challenging concept for most test-takers. Mainly because they are afraid of losing marks if they lie! Of course, this could have been true if IELTS was a lie-detecting test, but it is not!

So, lying by itself doesn’t cost you marks but to fully understand the concept, you need to know how IELTS speaking is marked in the first place.

This article will examine if you should tell the truth in IELTS speaking by reviewing marking criteria. Then you can make up your mind and perform in a way that achieves your desired band score.

Marking Criteria for IELTS Speaking

IELTS speaking is a conversation with a certified examiner divided into three parts. In the first part, you are often asked about your background in life, hobbies, education, and work which lasts 4-5 minutes. The second part is about a topic given on a card with three prompts. You have 2 minutes to talk about it till the third part that the examiner asks more questions about the same topic in a 4-5 minutes conversation.

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers in IELTS speaking. There is only your spoken English language skill that is being evaluated! The examiner is looking for certain qualities in your responses to mark your speaking skill for IELTS purposes that can be summarized in the following four criteria:

1- Fluency and Coherence

This refers to the flow of your speech and its relevance to the topic. It is the pace at which you speak and how connected your sentences are without unnecessary pauses to think or find words. Your speech should also be structured in terms of the order of ideas and reasons you give in relevance to the topic.

You should use linking words and discourse markers to add details while making your speech smooth and continuous. The objective is to speak naturally so the examiner can easily comprehend without extra effort. They will need to see you speaking, so avoid yes or no short answers. Instead, try to elaborate and provide supporting information. You should also be spontaneous to make your speech enjoyable.

Now, if you are asked about a topic in which you have no personal experience, such as visiting a museum, you won’t have a memory to describe, so your answer will be short that won’t provide evidence of your speaking skill. But if you decide not to tell the truth in IELTS speaking, you will need to think more than usual to come up with ideas such as remembering the museum you have seen on the TV. This will interrupt your speech and hurt the fluency of your speaking. It might also change the tone of your voice very visibly.

So, if you have an excellent memory, imagination and storytelling skill, then you can come up with a white lie and make your answer more exciting and elaborative. This will undoubtedly help your mark! The point is stretching the truth will facilitate the delivery of your idea in a long enough time frame, but running out of ideas will interrupt your thought process and speech flow.

2- Lexical resource

Your speech is made of words, and the more diverse they are, the more skill you reveal. They should also be formal or semi-formal for IELTS purposes while you use idiomatic language to sound natural.

If you spontaneously decide not to tell the truth in IELTS speaking, you might enter into an unknown territory that requires words you are not entirely familiar with. Your range of vocabulary might be limited in that area, so you end up repeating a few words or, even worse, using the wrong words! In that case, you will lose marks, not for the lie but the lack of vocabulary range! So, tell a white lie only if you can deliver it with relevant words and phrases; otherwise, stick to the truth that you perfectly know!

3- Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The tenses and structures clarify your intention and idea, so you must use them generously and correctly. The more advanced structures you use, the more skill you reveal, which translates to a higher mark.

Suppose you do not tell the truth in IELTS speaking. In that case, you should be careful to arrange the sequence of events correctly so the tenses and the main event won’t contradict each other, specifically if the topic is about a historical fact. This will require more effort to avoid mistakes that might be interruptive for your tone and speech flow!

4- Pronunciation

No matter how interesting your answer is or how expanded your range of vocabulary and grammar are, if you can’t pronounce them clearly, you haven’t delivered your idea. You don’t have to sound native, but you should sound clear and understandable. This depends on the intonation of your speaking.

If you do not tell the truth in IELTS speaking, you might lose your speech equilibrium and mess up your pronunciation, resulting in a lower band score. But if you can keep your calm and not return to the way you speak in your first language, then you can stretch the truth to make your answer appealing!


The truth is that you have been asked by some organization such as a university, an overseas employer, or a foreign country to take IELTS and prove your ability to communicate in the English language, not to prove you are a good and honest person!

On the other hand, the examiner needs to assess your speaking skill against four clearly defined criteria, so you need to give them enough of your speech. If the truth doesn’t provide long enough speech, the examiner won’t see your actual speaking skill. But if a stretched version of the truth can tell an exciting story, the examiner has enough material to mark.

In the end, it is your choice, and only taking an IELTS mock test will help you make that choice. A mock test that has an accurate speaking section with a certified examiner!

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