IELTS Speaking Assessment Criteria

In the IELTS Speaking Test, you will be interviewed by an examiner for 11-14 minutes. The test has three parts and you are not allowed to use a dictionary. IELTS Academic and IELTS General students take the same test and it is marked in the same way.

Requirements from universities and immigration agencies vary. Most students will need at least a band score 6 for undergraduate study. For postgraduate study or immigration, a band score 7 is generally required. 

One of the first things you should do is read the marking criteria to see what the examiners expect. This is really important, as you need to know what they are looking for in the band 7+ boxes. 

You should be able to give the examiners exactly what they want, in order to get a 7+ band score. 

In the IELTS Speaking Test, you will be assessed on the four main areas >>

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

What Is Your Level?

Look at the table below and according to the skill level where are you?

Think realistically about where your speaking level is at now and then plan how you can improve. Whether it is through self-study or having lessons with a native speaking English teacher, you must figure out a study plan that will allow you to improve. 


Band Score 7 Marking Criteria >>

Fluency and Coherence

In this section, you must be able to:

 'Speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence. May demonstrate language related hesitation at times, or some self-repetition and/or self-correction. uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility.'

This means that the student will be able to answer the question well, extending their answers, explaining and giving examples. Band score 7 students will be able to use discourse markers where it is appropriate. 

Lexical Resource

In this section, you must be able to:

'Uses vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics. Uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, wit some inappropriate choices. Uses paraphrase effectively.'

This means that the student would be able to answer questions on a range of topics using a wide range of vocabulary. They would also be able to use idioms where appropriate, as well as collocations. Some minor errors are still permitted. 

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In this section, you must be able to:

'Uses a range of complex structures with some flexibility. Frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist.'

This means that the student will be able to use a variety of sentence structures and are able to form complex sentences. The majority of sentences would be error free, with some allowance for minor grammatical errors. 

Pronunciation

In this section, you must be able to:

'Shows all the positive features of Band 6 and some, but not all of the positive features of Band 8.'

The band 6 positive features include - 'Uses a wide range of pronunciation features / Shows some effective use of features / Can generally be understood throughout.'

The band 8 positive features include - 'Uses a wide range of pronunciation features / Sustains flexible use of features, with only occasional lapses. Is easy to understand throughout.'

This means that to score a band 7 the examiner must be able to understand the student clearly and that they talk in a natural sounding way. Make sure that you practice speaking in English about a range of topics, using word stress and intonation.


Band Score 8 Marking Criteria >>

Fluency and Coherence

In this section, you must be able to:

'Speaks fluently with only occasional repetition or self-correction; hesitation is usually content related and only rarely to search for language. Develops topics coherently and appropriately.'

This means the student will be able to answer the question well, extending their answers, explaining and giving examples. Band score 8 students will be able to use discourse markers where it is appropriate. A band 8 student will be able to develop their answer to the question fully, giving a very well explained and detailed answer. 

Lexical Resource

In this section, you must be able to:

'Uses a wide vocabulary resource readily and flexibly to convey precise meaning. Uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skilfully, with occasional inaccuracies. Uses paraphrase effectively as required.'

Band 8 students have a wealth of vocabulary and are able to use it well when speaking about almost any topic. They can use expressions and are able to use terms that are appropriate for the answer. The make hardly any errors when speaking. 

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In this section, you must be able to:

'Uses a wide range of structures flexibly. Produces a majority of error-free sentences with only very occasional inappropriaces or basic/non-systematic errors.' 

This means that the student will be able to use a variety of sentence structures and is able to form complex sentences. The majority of sentences will be error free, with some allowance for minor grammatical errors.

Pronunciation

In this section, you must be able to:

'Uses a wide range of pronunciation features. Sustains flexible use of features, with only occasional lapses. Is easy to understand throughout; L1 accent has minimal effect on intelligibility.'

A band 8 student will be easy for the examiner to understand with minor errors. They will be able to talk with ease about all subjects, placing word stress where appropriate and using intonation naturally


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If you need help preparing for the IELTS Test, join the IELTS Achieve Academy and see how we can assist you to achieve your desired band score. We offer an essay correction service, mock exams and online courses.