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Test format – Speaking

11–14 minutes

The speaking section assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

  1. Part 1 - the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.
  2. Part 2 - you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.
  3. Part 3 - you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

IELTS Speaking description

Paper Format

The Speaking test consists of an oral interview between the test takers' and an examiner. All Speaking tests are recorded.

Timing

11–14 minutes

Task types

There are three parts to the test and each part fulfils a specific function in terms of interaction pattern, task input and test takers output.

IELTS Speaking - How it's marked

Marking and assessment

Speaking performances are assessed by certificated IELTS examiners. All IELTS examiners hold relevant teaching qualifications and are recruited as examiners by the test centres and approved by the British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia.

Scores are reported in whole and half bands. Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe spoken performance at the nine IELTS bands. These are available on the How IELTS is scored page.

Fluency and coherence

This refers to the ability to talk with normal levels of continuity, rate and effort and to link ideas and language together to form coherent, connected speech. The key indicators of fluency are speech rate and speech continuity. The key indicators of coherence are logical sequencing of sentences, clear marking of stages in a discussion, narration or argument, and the use of cohesive devices (e.g. connectors, pronouns and conjunctions) within and between sentences.

Lexical resource

This criterion refers to the range of vocabulary used and the precision with which meanings and attitudes can be expressed. The key indicators are the variety of words used, the adequacy and appropriacy of the words used and the ability to circumlocute (get round a vocabulary gap by using other words) with or without noticeable hesitation.

Grammatical range and accuracy

This refers to the range and the accurate and appropriate use of the test takers' grammatical resource. The key indicators of grammatical range are the length and complexity of the spoken sentences, the appropriate use of subordinate clauses, and the range of sentence structures, especially to move elements around for information focus. The key indicators of grammatical accuracy are the number of grammatical errors in a given amount of speech and the communicative effect of error.

Pronunciation

This criterion refers to the ability to produce comprehensible speech to fulfil the Speaking test requirements. The key indicators will be the amount of strain caused to the listener, the amount of the speech which is unintelligible and the noticeability of L1 influence.

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