Speaking Test Strategies 16 Confirming questions

young man, Asian, class, raising hand, group
Confirm the question

This lesson will focus on confirming, rephrasing and active listening.


Listening skills are not simply about hearing every single word the other person says the first time they say it. There are other things we do to make us better listeners, whether we are native or non-native speakers—things such as confirming, rephrasing and active listening. In a speaking test, you can use these to buy time while you are thinking. or if you don't fully understand the meaning or nuance of the question. 

Warm Up: 

Let's work on confirming a question, using this example:

What do you think of the rapid trend of urbanization?

How could you confirm this question? 


The following strategies are potential ways to confirm or clarify. You may find certain ones suit you better than others, but please practice each strategy with your teacher. 

Your teacher will ask you a question for each strategy.

  1. Repeat a key word or phrase. Be sure to use plenty of word stress for the repeated language.
  2. Clarify one part of the question by asking what is meant by a certain word or phrase.
  3. Rephrase the question by repeating it in your own words, using synonyms and similar phrases.
  4. Ask the interviewer to repeat the whole question. This should generally be avoided, but if you didn't hear or understand the question at all, it's better to ask for it to be repeated than to answer the wrong question.

NOTE: An advanced strategy is to disagree with the premise of the question. This is probably a rare case, but it can be a powerful way to control an interview.


Now practice clarifying each of these questions. Don't give a full answer—you only need to:

  1. respond immediately;
  2. confirm the question; and
  3. give an initial claim.

Some of these questions may be strange, specific or surprising, so make sure you understand exactly what it is that your interviewer is asking.