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Friday, January 04, 2019


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My experience of making speaking assessments is it works like this:
1) A quick impression of what level we are dealing with.
2) Deciding which two possible levels to choose between, for example, Band 6.5 or 7.0.
3) Checking which of the two is correct and confirming the score.

That said, the assessment can be over relatively quickly for lower scores such as 4.5 or 5.0. It may be pretty obvious that communication is somewhat restricted, so a long discussion is not necessary, although an examiner may go through the motions.

Choosing between 8.5 or 9.0 is much more difficult and requires the whole interview time. There is a difference between being just about able to participate in a discussion, and being fully able to make your point clearly and present a good strong argument logically when your views are challenged. It takes time to slowly work up to the top level and see where the interviewee bombs out.

Yes, I agree with everything you've said Oleg. Thanks for adding your thoughts!

Sir, why most of score in speaking test is between 5 and 5.5? some says that I have done well , I have given answers to all questions but not getting the score above six? what is the reason for this ?


Some possible reasons:

"Transcription is incredibly important for many reasons including:

1. Identifying level 7 vocabulary (or normally lack of it) and simple words you repeat too much
2. Picking up simple errors (although getting a native speaker to correct it is far more preferable)
3. Getting an idea of 'how much' language you are providing. Very slow speaking can produce very little language to grade (and also affect FC and P)
4. Seeing how you 'link' your ideas. Are you using 'native-like' linking, such as 'well' 'you know' 'actually' 'personally' etc, or are you, like most candidates, saying nothing?

This is how examiners grade the LR and GR boxes - by simply looking at (really, listening to) the language and seeing if it fulfils the level 7 criteria (or higher).

Finally, remember that this is only around half the test score. The other half is related to how you deliver the language (FC and P)." per sjm



"Accent is a contentious issue in IELTS. Technically speaking, even if natives have a very strong 'accent' (such as some Scottish or even Irish speakers) then they can be penalised, even heavily for a lack of intelligibility. Examiners have to make a decision on whether the 'average native speaker' would have difficulties in understanding the candidate. wherever they come from. This is very difficult to do.

Accent alone is not supposed to affect the score, if the candidate is intelligible, however accent does usually affect the features of pronunciation. For example, if a candidate cannot pronounce the schwa correctly, then this will usually mean that they cannot produce weak sounds and in turn this can have a dramatic effect on word and sentence stress." sjm


"The first thing an IELTS examiner notices in the speaking test is the sound of your voice, in particular, your fluency (pausing, repetition, and speed variation), and the clarity and rhythm of your pronunciation. In particular, examiners are comparing you to a native speaker."



"I know it was extremely difficult for me to study in isolation far away from any English-speaking environment. Therefore, your blog has been the most frequently visited site over the past year and I’ve benefited considerably from it. You’re such a decent person who have been dedicating yourself to this fabulous blog for so many years. I can see that a huge amount of your leisure time has been sacrificed for it. Like some others, I also had a look at other methods when I was depressed but in the end I have to say your approach is arguably the most reliable and sensible one. The lesson to it is that candidates really can’t count on a ‘magic’ way to help them achieve a high score. When we fail, we are likely to be surrounded by loads of rumour which tempt us to a seemingly effective shortcut. But in fact there’s no shortcut at all. We have to be very immersed and commit a certain amount of time on a daily basis to using the language if we do want to become a confident speaker of English. I believe everybody will see a real improvement in their English knowledge and skill through this, and Simon’s lessons can certainly help you to get a better grasp of English!" James Z

Pachu, if you really think that you are being short-changed by the system, then you will need to find a native English teacher to assess your speaking and give you some honest feedback. Whether some people say that you have done well is neither here not there. What matters is what an examiner would think. It is not all about answering the questions; half the marks are for how you answer them in terms of fluency and pronunciation, these are crucial for a good score.

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