IELTS Speaking Marking Criteria

Speaking is a skill that many learners of English have difficulty with. Preparing for a speaking test is often challenging. Learners are often worried about not having people they can practise speaking with and are concerned about how they can improve their language skills. In this article, we look at the IELTS speaking test and consider learners can develop language skills while they prepare for the test.

How can I improve my speaking performance?

The first step to improving your performance in the speaking test is to understand exactly what the examiners are listening for and grading you on. Your speaking grade is based on 4 different areas of importance. Knowing and understanding these 4 areas, can help you to identify what you need improve, and also how you can improve it. Information about the 4 areas is freely available on the official ielts website. You can download or look at a pdf file of the 4 areas here: Speaking Band Descriptors Public Version

What are the 4 areas?

The 4 areas are:

  1. Fluency and coherence
  2. Lexical resource
  3. Grammatical range and accuracy
  4. Pronunciation

What does each area represent?

1. Fluency and coherence. This refers to your ability to speak smoothly, without long pauses and repetition. It also refers to your ability to organise your speech in a way that makes it easy for a listener to understand and follow you. Fluency is not only about speaking as fast as you can or saying as much as possible.

2. Lexical Resource. This category refers to your ability to use a wide range of vocabulary. When examiners listen to you, they will assess your use of individual words, word combinations (also known as collocations), and also your use of expressions and phrases. A candidate who accurately uses a greater selection of vocabulary will receive a higher score. If you use a limited range of vocabulary, and if you do not use, or attempt to use, collocations and expressions or phrases, you will receive a lower score.

3. Grammatical range and accuracy. This refers to the complexity of the grammar within your speech. If you use a wide variety of grammar, and you do so without making mistakes, you will receive a higher score. If you use a limited variety of simple grammar, you will receive a lower score. Simple grammar, would include short sentences in simple tenses, such as present simple, present continuous and past simple. A candidate who uses more complex grammar will score more highly than a candidate who limits themselves to simple language, even if they make mistakes.

4. Pronunciation. This is not only about your ability to pronounce individual sounds and words, but also your ability to pronounce groups of words together. The pronunciation of words can change when they are spoken in combination with other words, and also when they spoken at speed.

How can I identify the areas I need to improve and raise my scores?

Our IELTS speaking course includes two practice speaking tests. You will receive predicted scores and feedback in each of the four areas highlighted above. You will have access to a number of activities that focus on what to do to raise your scores. The speaking course uses high-quality HTML5 voice recorders throughout and is designed by highly-qualified and experienced teachers. To review the course syllabus, click here.

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