IELTS Speaking – band scores explained

How is your IELTS speaking band score calculated? This is an important question for any IELTS candidate because many mistakes can be avoided by knowing what the examiner is looking for and how your speaking is graded. This post gives you a brief outline of the grading criteria, how band scores are calculated and how examiners typically grade the speaking.

The 4 grading criteria

Fluency and coherence

How fluently you speak and how well you link your ideas  together


How accurate your pronunciation is

Lexical resource

How accurate and varied your vocabulary is

Grammatical range and accuracy

How accurate and varied your grammar is

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About IELTS marking

All IELTS marking takes place at the test centre by trained markers and examiners

Markers are trained to understand the IELTS marking policy and are required to demonstrate that they are marking to standard before they are allowed to mark Listening and Reading papers. Markers are re-tested every two years to ensure that their marking remains up to standard. Systematic monitoring and double marking of a proportion of answer sheets is carried out at each administration.

Examiners for the Writing and Speaking sub-tests are recruited and trained in line with agreed standards. They are required to demonstrate that they are marking to standard every two years in addition to on-going monitoring of their performance.

Candidates receive scores on a Band Scale from 1 to 9. A profile score is reported for each skill. The four individual scores are averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score. Overall Band Scores and scores for each sub-test (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) are reported in whole bands or half bands.

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Do computers mark tests?

A few students have asked me this question:

Are reading and listening tests marked by a computer?

I've checked several official IELTS sources, and the answer seems to be "no". All 4 parts of the test are marked by trained human examiners.