What You Need To Know About the
IELTS Scoring Guide

September 7, 2016 by Ashlee Fisher

For additional information on the IELTS assessment, download the PDF’s below which will outline the speaking and writing tasks criteria:

Speaking Band Score Descriptors

Writing Band Score Descriptors

IELTS Speaking Samples:

Watch the IELTS speaking test samples below and read the examiner comments to see the difference between a band score of 5, 6, and 7.

BAND 5 – IELTS Speaking Test Sample (Part 2)
Tina, Vietnam

Part 2: Interest and hobbies – Examiner Comments

This test taker is able to maintain the flow of speech for the most of the time but there are hesitations as well as some repetition and self-correction. This, together with the fact that she describes several interests rather than one interest, makes her hard to follow at times and leads to some loss of coherence (before when I live in Vietnam I often go to…church and or some association… er… I can… er… I often ask my friends to… er… to contribute… er... er… and give a hand to help the poor people... or the old people because I think the old people are so … my… is look like my grandparents so I want to take good care for them). She can use markers accurately but within a narrow range (first; so; because; as well; in the future).

Her rather limited range of vocabulary is just adequate for this part of the test. She manages to talk at some length about these familiar topics and produces some good items (widen my knowledge; to overcome or try to get over the problem; contribute; take good care). She makes some errors in usage (do volunteers).

She uses a narrow range of sentence patterns, but there are a few instances of “if” and “when” clauses. She produces basic structures with reasonable accuracy but verb tense errors and omissions are frequent (I can shopping; before when I live in Vietnam I often go…; in picnic; I enjoy with it).

She has quite a strong accent with a number of poorly formed sounds and systemic omission of word endings (lee a han for “lend a hand”. Rhythm is often syllable-timed and utterances are sometimes delivered too rapidly which causes some difficulty for the listening.

Despite this test taker’s ability to keep going throughout her long turn, her grammatical limitations and pronunciation problems restrict her rating to Band 5.

BAND 6 – IELTS Speaking Test Sample (Part 3)
Xin, China

Part 3: Famous people – Examiner Comments

This test taker is able to give extended responses. He uses a range of markers (you mean; you know; it’s really a hard question; in this way) and other cohesive features, such a referencing, but he use only a narrow range of linking words (so; because). He repeats himself quite a lot and self-corrects, but coherence is only occasionally threatened.

He has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length and his ideas and opinions are quite clearly conveyed (change the world; focus on the real things; use reputation to gain a lot of profit). Vocabulary is sometimes inappropriate but meaning can be worked out from the context (have a silence instead of “have privacy”; signature instead of “autograph”; act well instead of “behave well”).

He produces a mix of simple and complex structures, although his attempts at longer, more complex sentence forms tend to contain errors. Mistakes in verb tenses, subject/verb agreement and prepositions are quite frequent, but these do not impede communication.

His pronunciation is generally clear and there is some effective use of stress and intonation. However, his speech is mainly syllable-timed, so his rhythm is rather mechanical. Some words are mispronounced (uerally for “usually”) or are wrongly stressed (profit). This reduces clarity at times, but understanding generally requires little effort.

This test taker is a clear example of a Band 6.

BAND 7 – IELTS Speaking Test Sample (Part 3)
Hendrik, Germany

Part 3: Famous people – Examiner Comments

This test taker can maintain the flow of speech without noticeable effort and there is no loss of coherence. He uses a variety of linking words and markers (I would say; that’s a good question; as I said; as long as), but he overuses the filler (yeah) and sometimes referencing is inaccurate (for the one or the other reasons).

He uses a wide range of vocabulary, including some less common and idiomatic items and effective collocation (easy to blame; global warming; financial crisis; he stands for something; can’t stand the pressure). However sometimes he lacks precision in his choice of words and expressions (Greek instead f “Greece”; on the other side of the lake; environmentally people/things; a big branch).

His grammar displays a good range of both simple and complex structures. Many of his sentences are error-free but he makes some mistakes in subject/very agreement (people who wants; the people who admires him), articles (the normal person), and relative pronouns (everything what happens).

His pronunciation is clear and easy to follow. He uses both sentence stress and intonation effectively to convey meaning (you can’t blame a soccer play but it’s easy to blame the politicians). He does have a noticeable accent, however, and his mispronunciation of a few words results in occasional loss of clarity (wole model for “role model”; wong for “wrong” seft the planet for “serve the planet”).

This test taker is a clear example of a Band 7.

 Assessment criteria for Listening and Reading

IELTS Listening and Reading papers containing 40 items and each correct item is awarded one mark. The maximum raw score that is achievable by a candidate is 40. Band scores are awarded to candidates on their raw scores – both the listening and reading sections will have band scores that range from Band 1 to Band 9.

Ashlee has been involved in the ESL world for over ten years and has now planted her roots in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nothing gives her more pleasure than watching students and candidates reach their language and IELTS goals.

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