www.ielts.org has a public version of Band Descriptors which have been given below for your information. You can download and use them to understand each band score. Reference: www.ieltsessentials.com
Writing Band Descriptors
If you are planning to take an IELTS test, you have to download the Writing Band Descriptors given above. This is an important resource to keep handy as you prepare for your IELTS test, as it will give you a good sense of how IELTS examiners evaluate and assign band scores for the Writing tasks.
Below you will find some information about the meaning of the Writing band descriptors and what IELTS examiners are looking for when evaluating the Writing tasks.
Firstly, let’s review a few key things to keep in mind as you prepare for your test:
- There are two versions of the IELTS test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Before registering for your test, you must determine which version of the test you will take.
- There are two Writing tasks on both versions of the IELTS. Writing Task 1 on the General Training test is a letter to a friend, manager, landlord, etc.
- Writing Task 1 on the Academic test is describing a table, graph, chart, or diagram. Writing Task 2 on both versions of the test is an essay.
- The band score descriptors range from Band 1 – 9.
There are four different and distinct categories for the band descriptors for both Task 1 and Task 2:
- Task achievement/response
- Coherence and cohesion
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy
Each category above has specific criteria that your examiner will look at when evaluating your writing.
This considers the thoroughness of the response. Some important points to keep in mind related to task achievement/response include:
Purpose of letter (Task 1 – General Training test) – Is the purpose of the letter clear?
Key features/bullet points – Are the key features and bullet points from the question included in the response?
Tone – Is the tone of the letter appropriate and consistent throughout? Keep in mind that the tone of our writing may vary depending on the audience.
Overview (Task 1 – Academic test) – Is there an overview (i.e. a summary without all of the specific details)? Is there information about the key points (trends, data, etc.)?
Development of position (Task 2 – both tests) – Is the writer’s position developed and is it clear? Are the main ideas included, and are the ideas developed? Is the most relevant information included?
Coherence and cohesion
This considers the organization and progression of the answer. Some important points to keep in mind related to coherence and cohesion include:
Organization (Task 1 Academic and Task 2 essays) – Is there an introduction, a body (including reasons and support), and a conclusion? Are these sections clear and organized?
Cohesive devices (i.e. pronouns, conjunctions, articles, etc.) – Are cohesive devices included and used effectively?
Referencing (replacing a noun/noun phrase with a pronoun) and substitution (not repeating the same thing, but rather substituting forms for words and phrases) – Is referencing and substitution used correctly?
Use of paragraphs – Are paragraphs used effectively? Are the paragraphs well-organized?
Lexical Resource considers the variety and use of vocabulary. Some important points the examiner will be looking at include:
Range of vocabulary – What range of vocabulary is used in the response?
Errors – Are there errors in spelling, word form and word choice?
Grammatical range and accuracy
Popularly called as GRA, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, considers the sentence forms (i.e. simple sentences vs. complex sentence forms) used in the response. Some important things to keep in mind:
Range of structures – What kinds of sentence forms are used? Is there a variety used?
Errors – Are there errors in grammar and punctuation ?
The above provides a sense of the kinds of things your IELTS examiner will consider when evaluating the Writing tasks. To help prepare for your IELTS test, take some time to familiarize yourself with the online public version of the band descriptors. There is no question that becoming acquainted with these descriptors will help you better understand what IELTS examiners look for when evaluating the Writing tasks.
Speaking Band Descriptors
There is a good chance that if you are reading this blog post you probably understand the importance of preparing for your IELTS test. One thing I tell anyone who asks is to take advantage of the vast amount of information available to help you get ready for your IELTS test.
One of the most important pieces of information available is the IELTS band descriptors for the Speaking section of the test. You can find the IELTS assessment criteria and band descriptors above. I recommend becoming familiar with these as they will help you get ready for your test. This blog post gives an overview of the Speaking band descriptors.
What are the Speaking band descriptors?
The band descriptors for the Speaking test are broken into four categories for both versions of the IELTS test (Academic and General Training):
- Fluency and coherence
- Lexical resource
- Grammatical range and accuracy
How are the Speaking band descriptors used?
Your IELTS Speaking examiner will use these descriptors to evaluate your speaking. Your examiner will carefully consider the descriptors, then assign a band score for each one. The band scores range from 0 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).
What do the band descriptors mean?
Let’s take a closer look at what each of the band descriptors means and how your IELTS examiner will use them to evaluate your speaking.
1. Fluency and coherence
A few things to consider about this descriptor:
Fluency – Your examiner will look at how fluent you are – how much you speak, how your words, ideas, and thoughts flow together, as well as how much you hesitate, self-correct and repeat yourself.
Speaking naturally – Another important part of this descriptor is how natural you sound when speaking. There are many ways to sound natural, including your vocabulary and how your words are connected. I suggest taking some time to consider how to use connecting words – those wonderful words that connect and organize your ideas, help you move to another point, etc.
Some examples of connecting words include:
Well, I believe…
This is a very small sample, and I strongly suggest taking time to research and review how using these words can help you sound more fluent.
2. Lexical resource
With this descriptor, your examiner will be listening for the following:
Your words – Your examiner will consider the kinds of words you use, whether they help make your ideas clear, and whether the words are understandable, appropriate, and relevant to the topic.
Paraphrasing, idiomatic language, and less common language – The use of paraphrasing, idiomatic, and less common words are all important at higher levels (Band 7 and up). A word of caution: being able to paraphrase, use idiomatic and less common language is not something that happens overnight. It takes study and practice, so before using this kind of language give yourself plenty of time and practice to understand the proper use and form.
3. Grammatical range and accuracy
Keep in mind the following for this Speaking descriptor:
Sentence structure and variation – When speaking, think about the proper use of sentences – their structure, as well as using a mix of simple and complex structures.
The number of errors – It is also important to try to limit the number of grammatical errors in your speaking. For higher band scores, there must be a good number of error-free sentences in your speaking.
Some things to consider related to pronunciation include:
How well you are understood – Your examiner will be listening for how easy it is to understand you, and how clearly (and correctly) you pronounce words. Please keep in mind that you are not expected to change your accent to sound more like a native English speaker; however, you must pronounce words clearly and correctly.
Final words of advice
When preparing for your IELTS test keep in mind that, as outlined above, there are many things your IELTS examiner will be listening for. While I suggest not getting bogged down with the details, it is important to take some time before your test to become familiar with the descriptors, so you have a good idea what your IELTS examiner will be listening for.