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IELTS Speaking band scores

The IELTS Speaking test assesses your ability to communicate in English. The examiner awards band scores for your spoken English language skills. The Speaking test will take place in a face-to-face interview with a qualified IELTS examiner in a quiet room. Examiners assess your performance against four criteria:

  • fluency and coherence

  • lexical resource

  • grammatical range and accuracy

  • pronunciation.

Your Speaking results are given as band scores ranging from a band 0 to a band 9. Your IELTS Speaking band score will contribute to your overall IELTS band score.

Who marks the IELTS Speaking test?

Your Speaking test is assessed by an expert examiner. That's to ensure the highest level of accuracy and fairness in the marks awarded.

IELTS Speaking Coaching

Practice and improve your speaking band score with one-on-one coaching with official IELTS Speaking Coaching.

What assessment criteria are used by IELTS Speaking test examiners?

Your examiner will use the four assessment criteria to assess your speaking performance.

The assessment criteria used by IELTS examiners are the same for both the General Training and Academic tests.

1.) Fluency and coherence

This means your ability to keep speaking and if you need to hesitate, self-correct and repeat yourself to keep going. 

Your examiner will look at how coherent you sound - how your words, ideas and thoughts flow together, using a range of words and phrases to connect and organise your ideas, help you move on to another point

2.) Lexical resource

This means your ability to choose the right words and phrases to express yourself clearly.

The examiner looks at the kinds of words you use, whether they help make your ideas clear, and whether the words are understandable, appropriate and relevant to the topic.

The use of idiomatic language and less common words are important at higher levels (band 7 and up). This doesn’t mean that you need to use very uncommon words, or phrases and clichés that you have memorised. It takes time and practice to use idiomatic language naturally when discussing a variety of topics.

The examiner also assesses your ability to paraphrase, saying what you mean using different words when you can’t think of the right word or phrase.

3.) Grammatical range and accuracy

This means your ability to produce speech that is grammatically correct using both simple and complex sentence structures.

It is also important to try and limit the number of grammatical errors you make. Become aware of the errors you usually make (e.g. articles, prepositions, subject/verb agreement) so you can make sure that your sentences are accurate.

4.) Pronunciation

This descriptor assesses how easy it is to understand what you say, and you are assessed on the range of pronunciation features you can use, including stress, intonation and rhythm. 

This measures how well you are understood and how clearly (and correctly) you pronounce words. 

Read this article to learn more about the Speaking band descriptors

To learn more about the assessment criteria IELTS examiners use and how they are scored, check the table below.

You can also download the IELTS Speaking test assessment criteria as a PDF.

Band scores

Speaking band scores

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Hear from IELTS expert, Don, as he talks about the IELTS assessment criteria and official IELTS band scores.