IELTS Speaking Marking Scheme for 9 Bands

Below are the standards which the examiner is checking to see in the examinee’s Speaking of English.
  1. Command over English
  2. Contents
  3. Knowledge
  4. Fluency
  5. Flow of sentences
  6. Grammar
  7. Face expression when explaining
  8. Arms, Hands, etc., and other gestures
  9. Interesting or not
  10. Overall Quality
Max. band = 8 for showing exceptional quality.

Sample IELTS Speaking Test Evaluation – 1 

Examiner’s Commentary

The student interviewed was Ilaria, an Italian female. The Speaking Test is in three sections. Let’s first look at the each of these sections in turn to identify the strong points as well as the weaknesses.

Section 1
Ilaria was very confident and gave full answers to all the questions. It started well when Ilaria gave a very full answer to the first question about her family and, without being prompted, went on to talk about where her family lived as well. This kind of full answer going further than the question asks is a good sign that the student is comfortable in English and can talk with easy fluency. The rest of Section 1 went equally well. Ilaria was not sporty so the questions from Topic 1 on Health and Exercise could not have suited her that well. In spite of this Ilaria gave full answers to all the questions. This is important as Ilaria showed that she could speak capably on a subject about which she knew little and had little interest in. On the other hand in Topic 2 Ilaria showed the examiner that she could answer the questions at length in English. Because of this Ilaria only needed 2 questions to be asked in Topic 2. Also in reply to the second question in Topic 2, Ilaria answers Yes, absolutely and then goes on to explain her answer without the need for the examiner to have to ask Why. This is often a good sign of a good, fluent candidate. Section 1 was very well answered by Ilaria and I do not feel that there were any bad points.

Section 2
Ilaria continued with the same fluency as Section 1. The examiner allowed Ilaria to talk for the full 2 minutes and she had no problem doing this. Not all IELTS interviews are this long but it is always up to the examiner to decide the length of the interview and not the candidate. Ilaria hardly took any of the one available minute for preparation. This is absolutely no problem. It is wholly up to the candidate to decide to take all or part of the minute. It does not affect the marking of the test in any way. However, the longer that a student has to prepare the talk, then the easier it will probably be for the student to speak well. Therefore I would always advise candidates to take advantage of the full minute. Ilaria does not talk that fast, says erm quite a lot and has frequent, short hesitations. None of these is a problem. It is not a mistake to speak slowly. Indeed, if candidates talk slowly, then they are less likely to make any fluency, grammatical or vocabulary errors and subsequently are more confident and comfortable. The hesitations and erms are only normal features of someone who has to talk for 2 minutes on a quickly prepared subject. Ilaria talked with some fluency on the subject in the question and covered the areas that the question asked to be talked about with detail and relevant examples. Finally the examiner asked a question to finish off Section 2. Ilaria gave a short answer to this and that is all that is required. This Section 2 is shorter than a lot of others but this is because Ilaria did not use the minute available for preparation. Again there are no bad parts in this section.

Section 3
In Topic 1 Ilaria’s answers were not as full as earlier. She does say though often that she didn’t know much about the subject. Despite this she still managed full answers to all the questions. However, as long as a student answers each question to some extent, the student can then wait for the question(s) that they can really take advantage of and speak longer about. Then in Topic 2 she had more to say and spoke at greater length in reply to the questions. So, although some answers were shorter than others, there are no bad parts to Section 3.

Marking
The marking of the IELTS Speaking Test is done in 4 parts. Below is how the examiner evaluates this student.
Pronunciation
Ilaria’s pronunciation of English is excellent which allows her to be easily understood at all times. There is a trace of an accent in her English but this does not interfere with intelligibility at any time.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
Ilaria accurately and appropriately uses a wide range of grammatical structures.
Lexical Resource
There is the occasional slightly inappropriate word choice but this does not happen very often and it does not affect the listener’s understanding.
Fluency and Coherence
Ilaria’s fluency and coherence is very good. Ilaria’s language is appropriate and the joining language is all correctly used. Ilaria’s answers to questions are logically developed and there is little repetition or self-correction.
Estimated IELTS Speaking Band: 9

Sample IELTS Speaking Test Evaluation – 2

Now compare the above candidate with this one and see the difference!


Examiner’s Commentary

The student interviewed was Sandra, a Colombian female. The Speaking Test is in three sections. First of all let’s look at each of these sections in turn to identify the strong and weak parts of the interview.

Section 1
Sandra was a little bit nervous and not very confident in her speech. She answered all the questions but some of the questions, particularly in Topic 2, could have been longer and better developed. Most people find that Section 1 of the IELTS Speaking Test is the easiest section and therefore students should take the opportunity to talk as long and as fully as they can while the questions are at their simplest. For example, the examiner asks Sandra about the advantages and disadvantages of living in her area. She talks about the climate as an advantage, which is good, and then mentions that her area is near other good places but she does not talk more about this. She could talk about other good things regarding her area and she did not even mention one disadvantage. This was wasting an opportunity. On the other hand she answered most of the questions quite well and this was certainly no disaster.

Section 2
In Section 2 Sandra managed to get over the one minute mark without any problems but it appeared as though it would have been hard for her to go any longer than she did. Like Ilaria in the recording for the Academic Speaking Test 1, Sandra did not make use of the one minute preparation time. It sounds as though the examiner got her started early but it was Sandra who indicated that she was ready to begin. By not taking the time to make notes on each part of the question, Sandra’s talk was a bit disjointed and lost coherence at times. Here is an example where using the one minute preparation time would have had great benefit. On the other hand Sandra did manage to answer most parts of the question. Looking at her actual speaking, Sandra often had long hesitations as she searched for things to say and to connect her ideas. The connections were not always clear and she shifted subject a couple of times in one sentence. If she could have finished each of the sentences by developing the subjects of each sentence and then change the subject coherently, it would have been a much better talk. Again, preparation would have benefited her. She did not lose marks for not preparing but the lack of coherence in her talk that the lack of preparation caused affected her score.

Section 3
Section 3 started very well with Sandra giving long and full answers to the questions in Topic 1. In Topic 2 however the answers were not as long and could have been better developed, speaking about the subjects in more depth. For example the last question was not really answered properly at all with Sandra only saying that holidays would change by having more amenities. If Topic 2 could have been answered as fully as Topic 1 then she would have made a much better
impression.

Marking
The Marking of the IELTS Speaking Test is done in 4 parts. Below is how the examiner evaluates this student.

Pronunciation
Sandra’s pronunciation was not that clear. There were areas where there were no problems but there were also times when her strong accent, intonation and stress problems caused difficulties for the listener.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy
Sandra’s grammar was often faulty. Sandra’s basic sentences were controlled fairly well but more complex grammar often broke down. There were lots of mistakes scattered throughout her speech as well, some of them quite basic.

Lexical Resource
Sandra’s vocabulary was good enough to discuss familiar and unfamiliar topics but she had limited flexibility. There were quite a few pauses where she had to stop to search for the right word and not always with success.

Fluency and Coherence
Sandra’s fluency and coherence was sometimes quite good and she showed the ability to talk independently and at some length to questions. On areas that she was not so sure about though her fluency and coherence sometimes broke down and this led to quite a lot of hesitation and a bit of repetition.

Estimated IELTS Speaking Band: 5
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