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Updated Oct. 22, 2015


(I used to call this, "The Introduction Phase of the Test" but I think "The ID check" is more suitable.)

Note that EVERY candidate is asked these questions, exactly (or almost exactly) as they are written here.


The Standard Introduction Questions

1.  Good morning (good afternoon). My name’s X. Can you tell me your full name, please?  (= Please tell me your name.)

2.  What can I call you? (= What shall I call you? = What should I call you? = What would you like me to call you?)

3.  Can you tell me where you’re from? (= Where are you from?)

4.  Can I see your identification, please? (= Could I see your identification, please? = May I see your identification, please?)


(The examiner is usually referred to as "he" on this page because writing, "he or she" is too cumbersome. Actually, about 40% of the examiners are female.)


The ‘Introductory’ phase of the test consists of a greeting from the examiner, followed by four questions. The main purpose of this part is to check the candidate’s identity. At the same time, the examiner begins to get an impression of the candidate’s English ability.

This is is not really part of the test or, it can be considered to be only "indirectly" part of the test.

You should not give long, detailed answers because:

a)  Long, detailed answers are not appropriate for these questions and,

b)  The examiner wants to do the ID check quite quickly, in about 20 to 30 seconds.

Since this is the very beginning of the test and since the examiner wants to do this part quickly, try to avoid causing the examiner to ask you to repeat what you just said.

The four questions are standard questions that are used in every test. Therefore, since we know exactly what the questions will be, it is a good idea to look at them now in order to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.

When the examiner first turns on the tape recorder, he makes a short statement into the tape recorder, stating such information as the date, location and the candidate’s name. (Yes, he already knows your name.)

  1. Then the examiner says something like: Good morning. My name’s John. Could you tell me your full name, please?

Your name will (usually) be written as, "Wang Jianfeng" on the application form, which is what the examiner is looking at as you say your name.

Not only that, adding the words, “... but you can call me ...” in a situation where someone is verifying your identity is a little unsuitable. If a policeman or a bank clerk asked you, “Can you tell me your full name, please?” would you answer with, “My name is Wang Jianfeng but you can call me Robert”?


  1. Then the examiner will say: “What can I call you?” (Or, “What shall I call you?”)

With this question, the examiner is indicating that he or she would like to address you in the test with some name that is shorter and friendlier than your full name. This is a sign that the test will not be very formal and serious but will instead, to some extent, have some of the features of a friendly chat.

However, as I mentioned above, it is better to wait for the examiner to set the tone of the test with this second question, than for you to make the decision on the formality level of the test by saying, "... but you can call me ....". Let the examiner be in charge of the test.

‘Can’ is pronounced as ‘kćn’, a) when we ask a question – “Can you help me?”, “Can you swim?” and, b) when we want to emphasize, for example, when we say, “Yes, I can.” However, it is pronounced as ‘kən’ or even, “k’n” when we speak sentences such as: “I can speak English”, “I can drive a car” and “She can play the piano.”

Some examiners will not notice the pronunciation of this word but even those who don’t notice will still feel that your English sounds natural if you say, ‘kən’ or sounds a little unnatural if you say, ‘kćn’.


  1. The third question that the examiner will ask you is: “Could you tell me where you’re from?”  (Or, “Can you tell me where you’re from?”)

Again, this is an indirect question, which really means, “Please tell me where you’re from.” So don’t begin your answer with, “Yes.” 

Describing Qingdao as ‘beautiful’ is not a major problem and you shouldn’t worry too much about making that kind of slightly inappropriate reply. The major problem with that answer is that you could cause the examiner to suspect that your answer came from an IELTS book, instead of being your own, original language. On the other hand, if you said, I’m from the famous historical city of Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province the answer would be more acceptable because the words, ‘famous’ and ‘historical’ sound more like facts rather than opinions.


  1. The final introduction question is: “Could I see your identification, please?” You should have your 身份证 in your hand or on the table in front of you, ready to give to the examiner.


Final Notes

Memorized answers here are suitable because your answers will be very short. On the other hand, I strongly suggest you do not attempt to 100% memorize long patches of English (including long sentences) for the rest of the test. Partial memorization of long patches of English, (e.g., 50%) might be successful but you need to be very careful and you need to be a good actor. Examiners are looking for evidence of long memorized content, and there are several ways that they can detect this. If the examiner is sure that you have spoken memorized material several times, you will lose big points, no matter how good your answers are. Almost everyone who speaks more than just a little memorized material in the test would get a higher score if they had just spoken naturally, i.e., if they had created their answers in the test, as they spoke. Even if you speak just one memorized answer and the examiner can detect it, then he or she will be watching you carefully for everything else you say after that, to see if you speak more memorized material.

When you learn a language, it is suitable and in fact necessary to memorize short things such as short word combinations and even some short sentences, but that is not the same as memorizing longer statements to speak in the Speaking test.