IELTS Speaking in detail

A detailed look at the paper with links to related resources.

Part 1 – Introduction and interview

Task type and format

In this part, the examiner introduces him/herself and checks the test takers’ identity. Then the examiner asks the test takers general questions on some familiar topics such as home, family, work, studies, interests. To ensure consistency, questions are taken from a scripted examiner frame.
Part 1 lasts for 4–5 minutes.

Task focus

This part of the test focuses on the test takers’ ability to communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences or situations by answering a range of questions.

No. of questions


Marking and assessment

IELTS Speaking – How it’s marked

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 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. Public versions of these descriptors are available on the How IELTS is scored page.

Fluency and coherence

This criterion 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 the test takers can use 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 criterion 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.

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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