IELTS Examiner Explains How Speaking Test is Scored

For most IELTS test takers the only time they get to see their Speaking examiner is during their Speaking test. And then, your interaction is limited to the actual testing – there is no chance to chat or ask the examiner what he/she thought of your performance and why. All you get after the Speaking test is your overall score, and you don’t get an explanation why.

Today you have a very rare chance to see feedback from a real Speaking examiner where he explains the exact reasons why Alina (the test taker in this video) got her scores in each criterion, and how her overall score was worked out.

First, a short introduction: everyone, meet Adam. Adam was an active IELTS Speaking examiner for 10 years and has an enormous amount of experience in assessing test takers’ Speaking ability. You can be confident that his estimate is very close to your real IELTS score, and in the last 5 minutes of this video he is explaining what scores Alina would get in the real test and (the most useful part!) the reasons why. This is the kind of feedback you would NEVER get in an IELTS test, but learning from it can make ALL the difference to scoring higher!

IELTS Speaking ExaminerAdam said, “I’m pleased to be working with very reputable professionals at I was a speaking and writing examiner for 10 years and I’ve taught IELTS for 12 years. This video was made to show why Alina received a 5.5 and ways for her to improve. While you’re watching try to guess why she received a 5.5. Remember there are four categories, Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Pronunciation. We will do more of these videos with speakers from other countries and scores, so you can better understand what is expected before the next time you sit an IELTS Speaking test.”

In the video you’re about to watch Alina, an IELTS test taker from Russia, is taking an interactive Speaking test online. You will see the questions Adam is asking and Alina’s answers to them.

The breakdown of her score by the 4 IELTS criteria (Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Pronunciation) is shown at the end of the video, and also in her evaluation report here.

The questions are shown on the screen while Alina answers them. You will see that every question has a number (Q1, Q2, etc) and the examiner in his evaluation report is referring to Alina’s little mistakes in every question. It’s great to watch the entire video first, including Adam’s commentary where he talks about Alina’s performance and score, and then go back to the specific questions as you read the evaluation report. It will help you understand what exactly the examiner means when he says something like

Q4 – ‘family banding’ should be ‘family bonding’

Download Alina’s speaking evaluation report here.

It would be a good exercise for you to make a list of any mistakes or inaccuracies you hear while watching this video, and then compare your notes to the examiner’s feedback. What would you do better? What vocabulary could you use instead?

Try and answer the same questions in your own words, and perhaps even record yourself. It will provide an opportunity to listen to your pronunciation and see what needs work.

If you’d like to get your Speaking evaluated just like Alina did, you can – go here to learn how.

IELTS Speaking Band 7.5 Full Test with Examiner’s Feedback

The video you are about to watch features a Polish student, Magda, who is answering questions from Speaking Test 18 in “High Scorer’s Choice” IELTS Practice Tests book series.

Magda is doing a full simulated IELTS Speaking test with an examiner, who is asking her typical IELTS Speaking test questions. This video shows you what happens on the test day in the real examination room.

IELTS Speaking Test has 3 parts.

In Part 1 you should expect personal questions on familiar topics, for instance about your job or studies, your home, your family, etc.

Part 2 is different, because you receive a single topic to talk about for 1 to 2 minutes, with 4 bullet points you should cover in your speech. Another difference between Part 2 and the other parts is that in Part 2 you get 1 minute preparation time and you can write down some ideas to talk about. This doesn’t happen in Part 1 or Part 3.

Part 3 is a longer discussion where the examiner asks you questions related to Part 2 topic. You are expected to give longer, more elaborate answers and talk in-depth about the topics your examiner brings up.

Here is how you can learn from this Speaking test video

1. Get familiar with everything that happens in the Speaking test. It will help you feel prepared when it’s your turn.

2. Listen to the questions the examiner asks and how Magda answers them. Then think about what YOU would say in response to these questions.

3. Spot Magda’s mistakes and avoid them when you speak.

4. Go over Examiner’s Feedback below to learn how he rated Magda’s performance and why (he also points out some of her mistakes!)

5. You can even use this as a Listening exercise, and switch on subtitles on YouTube to understand every word on the recording.

Watch the video on YouTube here:

Examiner’s Feedback

This section shows you what goes on in the examiner’s mind when he rates a Speaking test. Make sure you read this before looking at the scores he gave Magda in every criterion, because this explains the reasons she got those scores.

Speaking Test, Part 1 – 0:22

In section 1, Magda showed that she had a good and confident command of English. Although she was occasionally a little hesitant (due to nervousness and to access ideas rather than language it seemed), she spoke mostly fluently and communicated what she wanted to say coherently all the way through. She also used some humour at appropriate times to express her feelings. Magda had a good resource of lexis and she only occasionally used an awkward word or phrase (i.e. “fast-pacing”). There were also some examples of higher-level language, i.e. “holistic view”). Magda’s grammar usage was varied and accurate. She had an almost negligible Polish accent, which did not affect communication in any way. Magda’s answers were slightly short. She just achieved the time required for section 1, but developing her answers more would have been more impressive.

Speaking Test, Part 2 – 4:24

Magda spoke clearly, coherently and fluently in section 2. She mostly spoke quite slowly, but this is not a problem – people talk at different speeds. Magda also again used humour to add to what she wanted to say. Her vocabulary range was again very good, though I felt that “and” was used too many times to help develop her monologue. Although it was not wrong, it sounded a bit awkward. Magda’s grammatical range was again good and accurate, though not without error, i.e. “vacations” and “how much sacrifices”. Magda’s accent was again non-intrusive and allowed excellent communication.

Speaking Test, Part 3 – 6:51

Magda produced a good section 3, though her fluency was affected by the more demanding questions. Her coherence was not really affected and she communicated her ideas without too many problems and she provided varied and intelligent answers. Magda’s lexical resource was again good and she showed she could access higher-level vocabulary, i.e. “psychological and physiological problems” and “impact significantly”. Her use of the conjunction “moreover” was well used too. There were, however, some moments of awkwardness as well, i.e. “consume themselves in frugal lifestyle” and “retiring people”. Magda’s grammatical range was again appropriately varied and her accuracy was very good, though not without error, i.e. “life expectancy is much, much bigger”, “support system” and “the least problems”. As in the previous sections, Magda’s pronunciation was excellent.

Magda’s IELTS Speaking score

The marking of the IELTS Speaking Test is done in 4 parts.

Fluency and Coherence 7
Lexical Resource 7
Grammatical Range and Accuracy 7
Pronunciation 9

Estimated IELTS Speaking Band 7.5

Need more Speaking tests with Examiner’s feedback? Find them in High Scorer’s Choice book series.

If you’d like to get your own Speaking evaluated, you can – go here to learn how.



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