Speaking Test – Scoring

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      IELTS uses four scoring categories to assess your speaking skills. To help you understand the grading schema better, let’s take a look at each category.

      Fluency & Coherence
      Fluency and Coherence are measurements of a speaker’s ability to communicate logically, clearly, and without difficulty in English. For Fluency, a perfect Band score of 9 means the speaker doesn’t have to pause to recall words, or mentally review grammatical structures. The speaker can focus on the message she wishes to convey rather than the language needed to say it. Coherence is related to fluency, but slightly different. It measures how well a speaker’s ideas make sense together. A high Band score indicates that a person can use a variety of cohesive features and discourse markers with ease in order to articulate ideas in a clear and logical way.

      Lexical Resource
      This scoring category measures vocabulary. You will be assessed on your ability use words appropriately (in the right context) and accurately (with the correct meaning). IELTS Speaking rewards test-takers with large vocabularies. The examiner will be listening carefully to assess whether or not you can use a wide variety of words and phrases (which is good), or whether you use the same language over and over again (which is bad). Related to this, you will also be assessed on whether or not you can accurately paraphrase the examiner’s questions fluently.

      Grammatical Range
      Your grammar will be assessed on the Speaking exam. You should try to use a wide range of grammatical constructions appropriately and accurately. Keep in mind that your grammatical range score is not simply about avoiding grammar mistakes. Limiting errors is important. However, you can only reach a very high band score if you can also demonstrate that you have mastered complex sentence structures, verb tenses, and other advanced grammatical features.

      If your grammar skills are limited, or you have a lot of grammar mistakes when you speak, it is especially important that you record yourself when you answer practice questions. Listen for errors that you make regularly and think about how you can fix them. Get feedback on your grammar from a native English speaker if at all possible. If you have enough time before your exam (a few months or more), consider taking a class or investing in a good grammar book for self-study.

      IELTS Speaking also measures your pronunciation. Top Band scores only go to those test-takers whose pronunciation is “effortless” for a native English speaker to understand. Scores are reduced for mispronunciation, especially if pronunciation problems make it difficult to comprehend a speaker’s message.

      Keep in mind that pronunciation involves more than just articulating individual words correctly. Many students have even larger pronunciation problems at the sentence level. These problems occur when a student doesn’t have a feel for native-like rhythm or intonation patterns. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for most pronunciation issues. Generally, the best way to improve is to use your English in daily life.

      If you can’t use English on a regular basis, then it can be helpful to listen to recordings of English speakers. Pause the recordings occasionally and attempt to pronounce entire sentences exactly the same way as the speaker. Try to copy the speaker’s tone (the rise or fall of the voice). Also try to copy how the speaker speeds up, slows down, and pauses throughout the sentence. Even try to mimic the speaker’s emotion! You may feel a little silly doing this exercise, but that is actually a sign you’re doing it correctly! Over time, you will develop your ear to hear the sounds of English and reproduce them more accurately.

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