Will Wearing A Mask Affect My IELTS Speaking Score? - IELTS University (Singapore)

Will Wearing A Mask Affect My IELTS Speaking Score?

Due to the Covid pandemic, all IELTS test takers are required to wear a mask by law before entering any test centre. Although wearing a mask, is an effective way to stop the spread of the disease, it’s not exactly comfortable to wear, especially during a 3-hour test. I’ve heard a number of concerns from students, who were worried that wearing a mask would somehow affect their speaking score. In this article, we will debunk this myth.

What Happens During The Speaking Test

Unlike other popular language proficiency exams, the IELTS speaking test is a one on one, in person interview with a human examiner. The test is not delivered through any piece of computer equipment and the scores are based on the judgment of actual people and not an algorithm. The examiner will ask you a series of questions, that are separated into 3 specific sections. Your responses will be based on the examiners assessment of a predefined set of criteria for the test.

Why A Mask Won’t Affect Your Speaking Score

The IELTS examiners are English language experts, who are trained to base their assessments of candidates on clearly defined, publicly available criteria. To add to this, they themselves are regularly assessed to make sure that they main the quality and integrity of the speaking exam.

These examiners are therefore able to are able to distinguish subtleties of the English language and linguistic features necessary for effective communication, even when you wear a mask, and they will be able to let you know if your mask is affecting, the way your responses are understood. You can also request that an examiner repeat or reword a question, in case their mask hindered your understanding of what was asked. This is not possible with an algorithm or microphone as used in other language tests

This all works together to ensure that all speaking scores are fair and that an issue like wearing a mask is highly unlikely to affect your score. This all means that it is highly unlikely that a mask would somehow hinder how your responses are received.

How Can You Overcome Being Uncomfortable While Speaking With A Mask?

I particularly feel flustered when having to speak for long periods of time with a mask on. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be to do so under exam conditions. Unfortunately at the moment, it is extremely necessary to do so. One of the ways to get around this issue is to include practicing for the speaking test while wearing a mask. You could even try recording yourself and listening back to the audio to determine how clear your responses were.

Get An Outside Opinion

For the speaking module, in particular, getting expert guidance is the key to success. Even under normal circumstances, it is really difficult for second language learners to objectively assess their own weaknesses and practice responses. A trained professional will be able to provide you with valuable feedback and keep you up to date with all the IELTS Covid changes.