IELTS Speaking Key Assessment Criteria | Prepare IELTS Exam

"IELTS Speaking" Key Assessment Criteria

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PI - Prepare IELTS

2024-04-04

Overview

Do you know that IELTS speaking is the last part of the IELTS exam, and how long does it take to obtain IELTS speaking and IELTS speaking scores? There are various other questions that a candidate has in mind while preparing for IELTS.

In this blog, you will learn about how to prepare for the IELTS speaking exam, the IELTS speaking score chart, and tips to help you score well on the test. The IELTS test is divided into four parts, and you will be asked questions about your opinions, experience, and views on various topics.

To get detailed information about the assessment criteria for the IELTS speaking section and ways to improve the IELTS speaking test, read the blog until the end!

Overview of IELTS Speaking Section

The Speaking test determines your use of spoken English, and it lasts between 11 and 14 minutes, during which you will need to discuss various general topics with an IELTS examiner. Your examiner will encourage you to speak while sitting in a quiet room. The examiner can also understand your accent to ensure you score best, and it is divided into 3 parts for the Speaking test. These three parts are - 

Part 1 - You have to answer questions about yourself and your family.

Part 2- You must speak on the topic the examiner will give you on the exam day.

Part 3 - You will have a long discussion with the examiner regarding the topic you speak about in part 2.

 

Now that you have learned what IELTS speaking is and how it is divided, it's time to learn more about these parts.

 

Part-1

Overview and Sample General Questions (4-5 minutes)

Overview of IELTS Speaking Part 1

The examiner asks for your name and ID card in this section. After that, the examiner will proceed with several general questions on topics you are familiar with, such as your interests, hometown, family, etc. Ensure you familiarise yourself with the number of IELTS-speaking topics.

This section aims to teach you how to talk about topics of general interest, such as regular situations, everyday life, and shared experiences.

 

Key points for Part 1

  • Take this part as a warm-up session, as it will take some of your nervousness and stress away.

  • If you didn’t understand or misunderstood the question, ask the examiner to rephrase or repeat it. This is always better than giving a wrong or unrelated answer.

  • Remember to keep your answer reasonably short; a two- or three-line answer would be enough, but ensure it addresses the question.

 

Sample General Questions and Answers

1. Where are you from?

I am from Jaipur, Rajasthan. It is my home town. I was born and raised in Jaipur only.

2. For which reason is your town (or city) famous?

Jaipur is also known as Pink City. It is famous for its historical forts, remarkable heritage, unique textiles, city traditions, celebration of festivals, etc.

3. How long have you been studying English?

I have been learning English since I was a small kid, as my parents admitted me to an English-medium school. However, recently, I have started to emphasise that I can improve it.

4. Do you have any hobbies?

My hobbies are clicking pictures of nature, reading fiction novels and newspapers, and doing craft work. However, I can no longer dedicate time to them as I am preparing for my exams.

 

Part-2

Answering the question related to the task card (4-5 minutes)

Overview of IELTS Speaking Part 2

In this session, you will get a card from your examiner on which your question will be written. This card will have a question related to your task with several points to address in your answer. You will be given only one minute to read and prepare your answer and are free to make any notes during that time.

After that, the one-minute preparation is over; you have to speak for about 1-2 minutes; if you exceed that time, the examiner will let you know. The examiner will ask questions about your topic as soon as you finish your answer.

 

Key points for Part 2

  • Generally, you have to cover four points, three of which are the man and the conclusion at the end. You should include all of them in your answer, even though you may not have much to say about some of them. Be accurate about the conclusive point, which you absolutely have to include in your response.

  • Make notes! This is the most essential point. Learn how to make notes to the point. This will help you to structure your answer well and avoid missing any parts.

  • Use the two minutes you are given the most. Use this time to show your good command over English. However, just like in the previous task, ensure to stay on topic.

 

Sample Card and Answer Part 2

It is a sample question with an answer to tell you what kind of question you can get and how to answer it.

Q. Describe the person in your family you admire the most and explain why you admire them so much.

You can say about: 

  • How you are related to them 

  • What they have achieved in their life

  • What are they doing right now

 

Sample Answer

I’d like to tell you about my uncle from my mother’s side. His name is Aakash; he is in his late fifties now. As we all do, he comes from a middle-class background and has to make his way in life. When he was twenty, he decided to get into the construction business. He started as a manual labourer and eventually worked his way up to the top of the company he worked for. Later in his life, he decided to start a company of his own, which still prospers today.

He is now happily retired, while several extended family members are employed in his company. We like to call it a family business.

I admire Uncle Aakash for his perseverance, resilience, and well-spirited nature. He is very friendly and approachable, the kind of person one enjoys working with.

 

Part 3 

Discussion (4-5 minutes)

The examiner will ask questions on the topic from Part 2 of your exam. As you discuss more abstract concepts and ideas, you will have the opportunity to use broader phrasing. Despite its resemblance to IELTS Speaking Part 1, this part has two key differences. First, you will be talking about things in general rather than your own experience. Second, your answers will have to be longer—think of them as mini-essays with introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions.

 

Key points for Part 3

  • Give examples. There is no better way to illustrate your point of view than by providing examples. However, remember that the question (and the answer) are more abstract in this part, so avoid establishing your examples based on personal experience.

  • Expand on your points. Don’t give secret arguments; develop them and provide them more concisely. Consider your Part 3 answer as a short essay with an introduction, main points, and conclusion.

  • Consider the vocabulary. As soon as you finish IELTS Speaking Part 2, you will have a broad idea of what topic you will get in Part 3. Use this knowledge to recall valid words and collocations of that topic.

 

Sample Question and Answer ( Importance of Family)

Q. How important are your family ties in your country?

In our culture, family ties are solid. Even extended families are as close to each other as nuclear ones. It is customary to have frequent get-togethers with relatives. We also have great respect for the elderly, and we tend to visit them as frequently as we can. So yes, I consider family ties one of the essential social aspects.

Q. Do you believe that people should keep in touch with their families? Why/why not?

Yes, they should! Our family is the closest people we will ever have in our life. We should do our best to get along with them, and even if we don’t, they are still our flesh and blood. Eventually, getting along well with our loved ones pays off; it is rewarding!

 

Questions related to Family and Friends 

Q. Who is more important to people: their family or their friends, and why?

Well, it depends on the person now, right? I mean, for most people, family should come first. But it might not be correct for every person in existence. Some families do not get on well; they have frequent arguments, and others do not live together.

Q. We cannot choose our family, but we can choose who to be friends with. The latter usually have specific shared interests with us, and valuing them makes much more sense. After all, the statement that blood is thicker than water lives for a reason.

Q. Do you agree that childhood friends are best? Why/ why not?

Honestly, I can’t say that I fully agree with this statement. Yes, a friendship that has withstood the test of time is something one should admire. But as we age, our character and interests develop, they change with time. 

 

This happens at different paces for people, so eventually, we might grow apart in terms of what we like and don’t like, where childhood friendship might not work. You become too different; you ultimately have no common interests and, therefore, no foundations for friendship. While this is not always the case, it appears very reasonable. That’s why I feel childhood friends are not always the best.

IELTS Speaking Assessment Criteria

There are four criteria for IELTS speaking assessments, each worth up to 25% of your final speaking score. The evaluation is done by checking against a list of conditions the candidate is supposed to fulfil for each level. Then, they will look at each standard and what they can expect from you. As we have stated earlier, there are four criteria, each with its Band 0 to Band 9 list of essentials. Let’s take a closer look at each of the four.

 

Coherence and Fluency

  • You should speak fluently without giving a long pause. While you speak, you should maintain ease of flow, the sentences should be logically connected so the listener does not get confused, and you should avoid self-correction and repetition.

  • To be fluent in your speech means to sound natural. Many students find it challenging to maintain a natural pace. As they try to speak more fluently, they make more mistakes. There are two ways of dealing with this situation.

 

The first one is long, and trying to keep practising. It includes a lot of reading to remember speech patterns and learning new words that will help you with your speech.

  • The second way is more manageable. Speak a little bit more slowly than you usually would. That’s it. Slowing down the pace gives you more time to think over your sentence. This also removes the pauses or at least makes them less noticeable. 

 

Making your speech hesitation-free will undoubtedly make a good impression on your examiners. You might want to increase the pace as you practise more and grow confident in your skills. Either way, remember that multiple pauses can negatively impact your score. 

 

Coherence is something that shows how much sense your speech makes. That includes:

  • Relevance of your answer is necessary, and you must address the question; it's not something you like talking about right now. 

 

It is common for students to misunderstand the question, which can result in a completely irrelevant reply. So, if you do not understand the question, do not hesitate to ask for a rephrase.

  • Discourse features are words or terms that signal connections between different parts of a text or conversation. They connect ideas, organise information, and show the speaker or writer’s attitude towards the content. 

While not essential to a sentence's meaning, discourse markers are important in creating a well-flowing, easy-to-understand answer. Examples of discourse features include ‘nevertheless’, ‘however’, ‘fortunately/unfortunately’, ‘in addition’, and so on. 

 

Cohesion is a connector that signifies how naturally or logically your sentences are connected. A few examples are:

  • Conjunctions are words that link clauses or sentences together, such as ‘but’, ‘and, ‘so’, and ‘or’.

  • Pronouns replace nouns in a sentence, such as ‘she’, ‘he’, ‘it’, and ‘they’. They also allow you to avoid word repeat.

  • Adverbs. They change adjectives, verbs, or other adverbs, such as ‘meanwhile’, ‘therefore’, and ‘however’.

  • Reference. This is when a word or phrase refers to something mentioned earlier or establishes a connection, such as ‘The dog that was barking earlier ran into the yard’.

 

Collocations 

  • Good use of collocation is essential in your IELTS speaking assessment. Collocation is a particular word or phrase grouped together, which makes your speech effortless.

 

Expanding and developing your vocabulary is a long and boring process that lasts as long as you study the speech.

  • Using synonyms for words that students overuse in their speech and repeating phrases such as ‘good’, ‘very’ or ‘like’ repeatedly will not help you get good marks, so getting to know a few synonyms is an easy way to get a higher band.

  • Examiners want you to use particular lexical elements to get a specific score. For example, to get Band 8 and higher for this standard, you must use less familiar words, phrases, and structures without hesitancy. 

  • Examiners hope you will effortlessly create more complex phrases at higher bands, indicating a more comprehensive lexical content and a more suitable command of English overall. Collocations, phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions are all required to get Band 7 and higher. 

 

Grammatical Structure and Accuracy

  • You are expected to show a good command of grammatical structures and use those structures appropriately. Your speech should not contain grammatical errors, specifically those that make it more challenging to understand your answer. You must also show flexibility while using grammar.

  • You cannot learn English grammar in a day or overnight. Avoid using complex grammar aspects if you do not know how they work. Using simple structures that are accurate and appropriate is much better than a complex phrase with several mistakes that become impossible to understand.

  • Pay attention when you tense. For instance, use simple tense for universally valid things. Do not use continuous tense if you don’t know why you are using it; it is a common mistake. Show that you can express several events using past perfect, present perfect and past simple.

  • An essential part of the assessment is the presence of so-called ‘systematic errors.’ These mistakes occur more than once in students' responses to parts 1, 2, and 3. If this is the case, the highest score is 7. It is worth noting that you should prevent occasional inaccuracies that happen only once; if not, you can score 9. In other words, the examiner can tolerate occasional mistakes, which will hardly affect your score.

  • Two primary mistakes that frequently occur among candidates are the use of articles and poor subject-verb agreement. These are tolerated by Band 7. Make sure to brush significantly, especially the articles.

 

Pronunciation

  • Your pronunciation should be consistent so the examiner can easily get what you are trying to say. It should also be easy to understand, and you don't need a perfect British or American accent. If your pronunciation is clear and easy to understand, your point will not be deducted. 

  • If you have trouble pronouncing certain sounds (‘th’ is a typical example), don’t try to avoid them in your speech. It will be tough for you to exclude words with that sound. Either find a pronunciation tutor or make sure you pronounce the problematic sound at least understandably and do not cause confusion (thinking-sinking).

 

The rule of consistency in pronunciation is applied to spelling and vocabulary in writing. 

  • Practise regularly- Practice speaking with others and using audio or video recordings to evaluate your progress. It will help you construct confidence and improve your fluency over time.

  • Speak clearly,  don’t rush- Take your time to form each word carefully and pronounce each speech sound accurately. Avoid rushing your words together, and respect silent letters and stressed speech sounds.

  • Pay attention to the rhythm and emphasis- make sure that you emphasise the right parts of the words and maintain a smooth and continuous rhythm. It will contribute to a more natural flow and make it easier for the listener.

  • Use intonation to your advantage- by increasing and decreasing your pitch; you can highlight certain parts of your answer. This will help the examiner follow your response better and make you sound more engaging and natural.

IELTS Speaking Tips

Here are some IELTS speaking tips that can help you to score better.

  • The best advice one can give you is to rehearse more. The better you practise speaking, the better your communication skills will be. Practise it with your friends, try online services like Chatroulette, or join your local conversation clubs.

  • Work on your vocabulary to broaden it by reading English newspapers, books, and magazines. You can also watch YouTube videos on topics related to IELTS speaking. Write down the words that are new to you and try to use them in your conversation.

  • You can record yourself while speaking, which can also help you improve your pronunciation if you pay attention to how you pronounce your words and sounds. You can even mimic a native English speaker and practice pronouncing words correctly.

  • Coherence and cohesion are essential to ensure your ideas are logically connected and well-organised. Remember that non-systematic mistakes are not punishable. 

  • You can also think of joining a coaching class. Their well-trained tutors can help you with your English language, provide feedback on your performance, and help you work on your weaker areas.

  • Always remember the time limitations in every part. Ensure you know how much time you have to answer all questions. Keep your answer short and clear, and avoid rambling.

  • Listen carefully to the questions. If you didn’t hear the question correctly or fail to understand it, you can always ask to repeat or rephrase it because answering it incorrectly is heavily penalised.

  • Avoid memorising answers, or else you will sound like a robot. It is essential to be natural and spontaneous while speaking.

Conclusion

In summary, IELTS speaking is face-to-face, and informal discussions with an IELTS examiner are the same for academic and general training. The IELTS speaking exam has three parts and takes 11 to 15 minutes. It may be conducted either on the same day as the other tests or a week before or after the different parts of the test.

We hope you liked reading the blog. If you want complete knowledge about “IELTS speaking” key assessment criteria, we recommend you sign up for our IELTS Courses designed by our experts. Please contact Prepare IELTS exam (PI) expert counsellors for further guidance. Our team of education experts is dedicated to assisting you in the best possible way for the IELTS exam. You can also get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at info@prepareieltsexam.com or call us at +91 9773398388.

FAQs

Practice speaking with others and using audio or video recordings to evaluate your progress. It will help you construct confidence and improve your fluency over time.

However, you cannot do so if you do not have any personal experience with the question. Instead, just explain why you do not have this experience and speculate.

If you take an IELTS Computer test, the listening, writing and reading parts of the IELTS exam are completed on a computer, but the IELTS Speaking exam is completed face-to-face with an IELTS examiner.

IELTS may be required to enter your desired course at an educational institution. It is also used in many countries as part of their migration assessment. If you are unsure why you might need to take the IELTS test or what score you need, reach the organisation you are applying to.

Everyone speaks with an accent, and you are not forced to change your accent for the IELTS exam. Instead, try to speak at a natural pace and clearly so that the examiner can understand you. Rehearsing your English daily and listening to different native speaker accents will help you pronounce difficult words more clearly.

The parts of the listening, reading, and writing exam are completed instantly the same day after each other. However, in some test centres, you will have to sit for the speaking exam on the same day, or it can be held seven days before or after your test date. If you take IELTS on the computer, the Speaking exam will be taken on the same day, before or after the other three parts.

They may ask you where you are from, but it will not affect your score. The accent is not a problem unless you lack some natural features of English, such as sounds or rhythm.

Yes, you can request the examiner to repeat the question. You can even request clarification if you don't understand what they are trying to ask.

In Part 2, the examiner will stop you for precisely 2 minutes. This is a good thing because you have shown a lot of language. For instance, if you only speak for a minute or a half, the examiner might say, "Can you tell me anything more about that?" to encourage you to keep speaking.

No, you don’t have to speak particularly in American or British English. You can speak at your natural pace and accent, but be clear so the examiner can easily understand you.

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