IELTS Speaking Section: Structure, Band Scores And Instructions
Academic institutions require non-native English speakers to take the IELT test in order to assess their understanding of English. IELTS is one of the most renowned English tests in the academic world. It is asked when enrolling in English speaking universities or when applying to institutions in English speaking countries. If you are currently training for the test and you’ve got general questions about the speaking section, stay tuned for what’s next.
In this article you’ll learn more about the specificities related to the IELTS speaking section such as:
How the IELTS speaking section is structured;
What is the purpose of the IELTS speaking section;
What themes you can expect during the test;
How to get the best results thanks to GlobalExam’s tips.
So let’s learn more about the IELTS speaking section. Start training for free!
What Is the IELTS Speaking Test and What Happens When You Take It?
The IELTS test evaluates your level of language comprehension as well as written and oral expressions. The Speaking test takes place with the examiner, which is different from other official English exams such as the TOEIC or the TOEFL for example.
During the Speaking Test, you’ll answer questions from a certified examiner and will have a guided conversation with them. Keep in mind that you are the one being evaluated. Therefore you’re going to be talking way more than the examiner, who is mainly there to listen to you.
To get a good score at the Speaking test you need to acquire automatic language skills. In addition, you will earn points for your accent and pronunciation.
IELTS Speaking Section: What Is the Format of the Test?
The test is 11 to 14 minutes long. There are three parts.
Part 1 of IELTS Speaking consists of questions about you, family, work and your interests. It is meant to relax you and get you talking.
Part 2 of IELTS Speaking consists of speaking about a given topic. The examiner will give the candidate a task card. The card asks you to speak about a particular topic.
There are points that you should cover in your talk. You will have one minute to prepare. Then you will have to speak for one-two minutes. Don’t speak for less time, you will lose marks. The examiner will stop you after two minutes.
Part 3 of IELTS Speaking consists of a longer discussion related to topic Part 2. This is the part where you get the share of your score. You need to go into depth and provide reasons, examples and analysis.
What Is the Purpose of the Test And What Skills Does It Assess?
The IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills. It is a proficiency test therefore it will evaluate the candidate’s ability to answer questions.
The speaking topics and questions are meant to make the candidate speak freely. The questions and topics are not intended to test how clever you are. Often, candidates will encounter a topic, and say, “This is a stupid topic.”
Nevertheless, thanks to this topic, the examiner will be able to assess your language level. He will be able to see how naturally and confidently you can talk about anything.
Are evaluated during the test:
Your fluency of speech and coherence (your speaking speed and ability to make sense)
Your lexical resource (how wide is your vocabulary range)
Your grammar and correct syntax (your ability to use a range of tenses and sentence structures accurately and clearly)
Your pronunciation (how correct is your English accent)
Things To Take Into Account When Answering IELTS Speaking Questions
Basically, the IELTS speaking test gives you the opportunity to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences. You need to speak at length on the given topic while using appropriate language for the topic.
You must organize your ideas in a coherent manner and justify your opinions with suitable examples and analysis. It isn’t about being right! Additionally, you need to demonstrate an ability to speculate as you might in a university seminar or business meeting.
IELTS Speaking Topics: What Themes and Subjects Can You Expect?
There are dozens and dozens of topics; however, none of them require specialized knowledge. You won’t be asked to describe an engineering or medical process, for example. Topics tend to be based on issues that frequently appear in English language media.
Remember, Part 1 topics are mainly introductions. They are the simplest part. Part 2 topics tend to be of a personal nature. You may be asked to describe a family member you admire or a festival in your country.
Part 3 requires you to discuss, speculate and explain, regarding the importance of family or how festivals define our society. This section will make or break your score.
How Is The Band Score Calculated for the IELTS Speaking Section?
Certified examiners assess your speaking. Your interview will be recorded and assessed later. The examiners who listen to your recording are given a rubric with the criteria for scoring on it.
The four criteria you’ll be assessed on during the IELTS Speaking Test are: fluency and coherence, lexical resources, grammatical range and accuracy and pronunciation.
Examiners report your score in ‘bands.’ Bands are a set of descriptors for a level. The bands range from 1-9. A band-one score would mean that you didn’t say anything.
A band score of five would be a person who can speak English with a limited range of vocabulary and grammar and makes many small errors. A band-nine score would indicate a speaker who has an essentially native level of speaking.
Fluency and coherence
Grammatical range and accuracy
speaks fluently with only rare repetition or self-correction and develops topics fully and in appropriate manner
uses idiomatic language naturally and accurately
uses a full range of structures naturally and in appropriate manner
uses a full range of pronunciation features with precision and subtlety and is effortless to understand
speaks fluently with only occasional repetition or self-correction
uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skillfully, with occasional non accuracies
produces a majority of error-free sentences with only very occasional basic/non-systematic errors
sustains flexible use of features, with only occasional lapses and is easy to understand throughout
may demonstrate language hesitation at times, or some repetition and/or self-correction and uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility
uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some incorrect choices
frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist
shows all the positive features of Band 6 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 8
is willing to speak at length, though may lose coherence at times due to occasional repetition, self-correction or hesitation
has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length and make meaning clear in spite of illogical choices and generally paraphrases successfully
may make frequent mistakes with complex structures though these rarely cause comprehension problems
can generally be understood throughout, though pronunciation errors on individual words or sounds reduces clarity at times
produces simple speech fluently, but more complex communication causes fluency problems because of repetition, self correction and/or slow speech
manages to talk about familiar and unfamiliar topics but uses words with limited flexibility
produces basic sentence forms and uses a limited range of more complex structures, but these usually contain errors and may cause some comprehension problem
shows all the positive features of Band 4 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 6
How To Prepare for the IELTS Questions Online With GlobalExam
Practice, practice, and more practice is a good beginning. There are numerous books, websites, courses, and tutors out there to help you.
On GlobalExam, you can find practice tests online for the IELTS in real exam conditions. Indeed, the content is developed by IELTS teachers, so the questions types will be the same on your test day. When you take the real test, you’ll be familiarized with the structure and questions.
The platform is interactive with a timer. All your answers are saved automatically to give you a score, along with the corrections at the end of each exercise. Each exercise and mock exam is marked, and the results are automatically recorded so you can see your progress.
You can compare your IELTS score from the beginning with the score you achieved after effective preparation. And you can take the equivalent of a complete mock IELTS test for free, just register!
IELTS specific vocabulary and grammar sheets are also available to help you improve your knowledge. There is an abundance of useful advice and tips on GlobalExam. Find iut online the IELTS test center location nearest to you.
The advantage of online training is being able to practice whenever you want, on any device that has an Internet connection! Check out our trial version for free, you just need to register to have access to a full mock exam!