How IELTS Speaking Scores are Calculated – A comprehensive guide


How IELTS Speaking Band Score is Calculated (1)
How IELTS Speaking Band Score is Calculated (1)

Understanding the IELTS Speaking Score: Decoding the Evaluation Process


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a widely recognized test designed to assess a candidate’s English language proficiency for study, work, or immigration purposes. One of the components of the IELTS exam is the Speaking test, which evaluates an individual’s ability to communicate effectively in spoken English. The Speaking test is conducted in the form of a one-on-one interview with an examiner and is divided into three parts. In this article, we will delve into the evaluation process and the criteria used to calculate the IELTS Speaking score.

The Structure of the IELTS Speaking Test

Before we explore the scoring criteria, let’s briefly understand the structure of the IELTS Speaking test. The test consists of three parts and takes about 11-14 minutes to complete:

Part 1: Introduction and Interview

  • In this part, the examiner introduces themselves and asks the candidate some personal questions about familiar topics like their home, family, studies, hobbies, etc. This segment aims to put the candidate at ease and initiate a comfortable conversation.

Part 2: Individual Long Turn

  • Here, the candidate receives a cue card with a topic written on it and has one minute to prepare. They must then speak about the topic for 1-2 minutes. Afterward, the examiner may ask one or two follow-up questions related to the topic. Check here our Comprehensive guide to IELTS speaking cue card test.

Part 3: Two-Way Discussion

  • In the final part, the examiner and the candidate engage in a more extended discussion related to the topic in Part 2. This segment assesses the candidate’s ability to express opinions, elaborate on ideas, and engage in more abstract discussions.

Looking for some common topics for IELTS speaking test? Check our detailed article on Common topics for IELTS speaking test 2023.

Scoring Criteria for the IELTS Speaking Test

The IELTS Speaking test is assessed based on four key criteria, each of which carries equal weight in determining the candidate’s score. These criteria are:

  1. Fluency and Coherence: This criterion assesses how smoothly and continuously the candidate can speak. It evaluates their ability to maintain a natural flow of speech, use appropriate discourse markers, and organize their thoughts coherently. A candidate who can speak without hesitation and effectively connect ideas will score higher in this category.
  2. Lexical Resource: The lexical resource evaluates the candidate’s vocabulary range and their ability to use words and phrases accurately. Examiners look for candidates who can express themselves precisely, use less common words when appropriate, and avoid overusing certain terms. Candidates with a varied and accurate vocabulary receive higher scores.
  3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy: In this category, the candidate’s grammatical proficiency is assessed. Examiners consider the range of grammar structures used, the complexity of sentences, and the level of accuracy. Candidates who can use a wide variety of grammar structures correctly are more likely to score well.
  4. Pronunciation: Pronunciation assesses the candidate’s ability to produce clear and intelligible speech. While accents are not a concern, clear pronunciation is crucial for effective communication. Examiners focus on the candidate’s ability to articulate sounds, stress words and sentences appropriately, and maintain a natural rhythm.

Scoring Scale and Overall Band Score: Each of the four criteria is scored on a scale of 0 to 9, with 0 indicating “Did not attempt the test” and 9 being “Expert User.” The individual scores are then averaged to calculate the overall band score for the Speaking test. For instance, if a candidate scores 7 for Fluency and Coherence, 8 for Lexical Resource, 6 for Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and 7 for Pronunciation, the average would be (7 + 8 + 6 + 7) / 4 = 7.

Tips to Improve Your IELTS Speaking Score:

  • Practice speaking English regularly with native speakers or language partners to enhance fluency.
  • Enrich your vocabulary by reading extensively and using new words in different contexts.
  • Work on grammar through exercises and seek feedback on your writing and speaking.
  • Focus on clear pronunciation and practice word stress and intonation patterns.
  • Participate in mock speaking tests to become familiar with the test format and gain confidence.

In conclusion, the IELTS Speaking test evaluates a candidate’s ability to communicate effectively in spoken English across various topics. Understanding the scoring criteria can help candidates identify areas of improvement and work towards achieving their desired IELTS Speaking score. With consistent practice and dedication, test-takers can enhance their language skills and perform well in the Speaking test.

Here are a few additional points to consider regarding the IELTS Speaking test and some essential tips to excel in this section:

  1. Speak Naturally and Confidently: During the Speaking test, aim to speak in a natural and confident manner. Avoid memorizing prepared answers or sounding overly rehearsed. Examiners appreciate genuine responses and the ability to communicate comfortably on various topics.
  2. Answer the Question Directly: When responding to the examiner’s questions, make sure to address them directly. While it’s essential to elaborate on your answers, ensure that you don’t stray too far from the original question. Staying on topic demonstrates your ability to comprehend and respond appropriately.
  3. Use Examples and Details: To showcase your language skills and impress the examiner, incorporate relevant examples and details into your responses. Providing specific information and anecdotes can enhance your score in Lexical Resource and Fluency and Coherence.
  4. Practice Mindful Pausing: While fluency is essential, speaking too rapidly can lead to errors or lack of coherence. Practice mindful pausing to gather your thoughts and organize your responses effectively. This will also help you avoid unnecessary fillers like “um” and “uh.”
  5. Develop Strategies for Part 2: In Part 2 of the Speaking test, where you have to speak for 1-2 minutes on a given topic, prepare a mental structure to approach your response. Use the one-minute preparation time wisely to jot down key points and ideas. This will ensure you cover all aspects of the topic coherently.
  6. Active Listening: During the two-way discussion in Part 3, actively listen to the examiner’s questions and comments. Engage in a genuine conversation by responding thoughtfully to their inquiries and showing interest in the discussion.
  7. Get Feedback and Evaluation: Practicing with a tutor or language partner can be immensely beneficial. They can provide feedback on your speaking skills, identify areas for improvement, and simulate the test environment to reduce nervousness.
  8. Familiarize Yourself with Different Topics: The Speaking test covers a wide range of topics, from personal experiences to abstract ideas. Expand your knowledge on various subjects to feel more confident in handling different types of questions.
  9. Record and Analyze Your Practice Sessions: Recording your practice sessions allows you to assess your performance objectively. Listen to the recordings and identify areas where you can enhance your fluency, vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.
  10. Stay Calm and Confident on Test Day: Lastly, on the day of the test, remain calm and composed. Nervousness can affect your performance, so take deep breaths before you start the Speaking test. Remember, the examiner is there to evaluate your language skills, not judge you personally.

By keeping these tips in mind and dedicating sufficient time to practice, you can boost your confidence and perform admirably in the IELTS Speaking test. Remember that consistent effort and a positive mindset are key to achieving your desired score in this crucial component of the IELTS exam. Good luck!