How to Buy Time in the Speaking Test

There might be times during the Speaking Test when you’re not sure how to answer the examiner’s question. What should you do in this situation?

a)    Should you just stay silent and look at the examiner expectantly?
b)    Say the first thing that comes into your head that is vaguely related to the topic?
c)    Say: “I don’t know. Next question.”
d)    Use a ‘filler’ expression to buy yourself some time to think of an answer?

Here the best approach would be to use option d). Using a ‘filler’ expression such as ‘well’ or ‘you know’ is natural when native speakers are having a conversation and they’re not sure what to say or how to reply. Using these expressions gives you a few seconds to come up with an idea.

Here are some common expressions that can be used to buy more time – but remember – only use them if you really need to and don’t overuse them as this will not sound natural.

Well … I’ve never really thought about that, but, yes, I think that …

Well … I’m not sure about that. Maybe ….

You know … I think that...

That’s a good question. Let me think about that a moment, well… in my opinion …

That’s an interesting question.

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