ielts-yasi.englishlab.net  

Updated Oct. 12, 2013

                                                                

IELTS Speaking Test Grading Criteria

 

Introduction

Examiners look at five different things in order to determine a candidate's score:

1.     Pronunciation

2.     Grammar

3.     Vocabulary

4.     Fluency and Coherence
Example 1

Pronunciation

5

Grammar

4

Vocabulary

5

Fluency & Coherence

5

Average = 19/4 = 4.75 

                = Band 4.5

Example 2 

Pronunciation

6

Grammar

5

Vocabulary

6

Fluency & Coherence

5

Average = 22/4 = 5.5 

             =  Band 5.5

Example 3 

Pronunciation

7

Grammar

7

Vocabulary

8

Fluency & Coherence

7

Average = 29/4 = 7.25 

                = Band 7.0

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SUMMARY OF THE MAIN POINTS ON THIS PAGE

Pronunciation

  1. basic word pronunciation;

  2. linked speech sounds;

  3. correct and appropriate sentence stress (i.e., which word or words in a sentence are stressed more than others); and,

  4. appropriate use of intonation (rising and falling) to emphasize meaning.

Grammar

Vocabulary

Fluency

Coherence

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 1. Pronunciation

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2. Grammar

COMPLEX SENTENCES IS AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF THE GRAMMAR SUB-SCORE AND YOU SHOULD STUDY THIS TOPIC. You cannot get a 6 for grammar if you don't make it obvious that you can speak using many complex sentences.

A Band 5 candidate tries to make only a few complex sentences, usually just using ‘and’ or ‘but’ as conjunctions. When they try to use more difficult joining words or phrases, they often make mistakes.

A Band 6 can make complex sentences with a (limited) range of joining words and phrases but there still might be several, but not so serious errors. 

A Band 7 can make a wide range of complex sentences with only a few errors. 

And a Band 8 makes a wide range of complex sentences with almost no errors.

A Band 8 candidate can effortlessly use these and similar grammatical structures with very few or no errors. 

A Band 7 can use these but might make a few minor errors.

A Band 6 tries to use some of these but makes several errors. However, these are usually errors that do not impede communication. The key point here is to try and to be correct most of the time but not necessarily correct every time. If you never attempt more complex grammatical structures because you are afraid of making any mistake, it will give you fewer points than if you at least showed the examiner that you know about the existence of these structures.

A Band 5 cannot use (or is afraid to attempt to use) many of these higher-level grammatical forms. If a Band 5 candidate does attempt a more complex grammatical structure, he or she makes errors most of the time and sometimes attempts to remake sentences, trying to get the grammar correct. 

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 3. Vocabulary

Most candidates in China get a 5 or a 6 for vocabulary. 

Examiners look at several aspects of vocabulary:

 

For more information on improving your vocabulary, go to IMPROVING YOUR VOCABULARY.

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 4. Fluency and Coherence

Fluency  

For fluency, examiners notice three related things; continuity, speed and smoothness.

 

Continuity

 

Speed

 

Smoothness

 

Smoothness is actually related to speed. If you don't use the two methods mentioned below to "smooth" your speech, it will be harder to speak at a natural speed. Two of the main ways to make your speech smoother are: a) to link your words and, b) to use contractions.

 

 

a) Linked Speech

 

In natural spoken English, most words are not spoken as single words but are linked with the preceding and following words. If you try to say each word individually, it will not sound ‘smooth’ and it will almost certainly be too slow. One of the main examples of linking is the pronunciation of words that begin with a vowel sound. For example, the sentence, “I’m an accountant” has two words that begin with a vowel, "an" and "accountant" and the sentence is spoken as:

 

             

                                                                 

 

What you see in this example is that a syllable in English doesn’t begin with a vowel sound (unless it’s at the beginning of a sentence or after a comma or another natural pause). Instead, the syllable begins with the previous consonant before that vowel. This is why we have the word, ‘an’ to create a consonant just before a vowel sound.

 

That sentence has five syllables, with the sentence stress on the syllable, ‘ccoun’. When you say this sentence, it almost sounds like one word:

 

                                                                                                   

 

b) Contracted Speech  (缩写式)

 

In natural spoken English, we use the contracted forms of some verb constructions very often, or even most of the time. Examples of contractions are: “I’m” = “I am”; “He’ll” = “He will”; and, “I’d” = “I would”. We use the full forms to show emphasis or when we want to speak especially clearly for some reason, such as when stating a name. 

 

The contracted forms are a faster way to speak and they are spoken in a smoother way than two separate words. Therefore, using contractions improves your fluency.

 

In the IELTS Speaking test, you should try to use the contracted forms at least 50% of the time. But don’t worry if you use the full form sometimes (caused by your old habits of speech). Certainly, don't correct yourself if you use the full form. Using the full form is not considered to be 'wrong' – it is simply more natural and therefore more suitable to use the contractions most of the time.

 

Speaking contracted English is not well taught in English classes in China, probably because there is no speaking test in high school.

 

(On this website, I often use contracted English in order to give a conversational and less formal tone to my writing. Normally, contracted forms are not used in serious writing but it is suitable to use contracted forms in written English that has a conversational tone, for example, in a letter to a friend.)

 

See CONTRACTED SPEECH for more on this topic. 

 

Also see IMPROVING YOUR FLUENCY

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Coherence

Extended (or 'developed') answers are also more coherent because they help the listener (or reader) better understand your meaning. For instance, adding an example of what you mean helps the listener understand. The more "understandable" or "clear" your answer is, the more it can be called "a coherent" answer.

If you've got a lot of money and especially if you think you can get a good job when you come back to China, studying for an MBA overseas could be a good idea. On the other hand, it might not be the wisest decision if your family has to make financial sacrifices to allow you to study overseas because many returning MBA's can't find good-paying positions in China.

The words, ‘On the other hand’ is the linking phrase. It tells the listener (or reader) that the second sentence is an alternative idea to the first sentence. (There are different linking phrases, representing different meanings.) This linking phrase does two things: it serves as an introduction to the second sentence and it links to the idea of the first sentence. Overall, the linking phrase makes it easier for the listener to understand your meaning in the remainder of the second sentence.

 

    

Go here to read more about improving your coherence: IMPROVING COHERENCE

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