Understanding the Criteria used to Grade Speaking

Understanding the Criteria used to Grade Speaking


IELTS Speaking scores are calculated using 4 criteria:

  1. Fluency and coherence = how clear and structured is your speech.

Fluency and Coherence refer to how well the students can speak at a normal speed without too much hesitation. It also includes putting sentences and ideas in a logical order and using cohesive devices (including linking words, pronouns, and conjunctions, etc.) appropriately so that what they say is not difficult to follow.

To increase score:

    • connect your sentences by linking words and sign points.
    • extend your answers, add all the relevant details.
    • speak smoothly and continuously.
    • use pausing correctly.


  1. Lexical Resource = how good is your vocabulary.

Lexical Resource refers to the range of vocabulary which is used and how accurately and appropriately the candidate uses the vocabulary to express meaning. It also includes the ability to express oneself using alternative vocabulary when a particular word is not known.

To increase score:

    • use a wide range of vocabulary.
    • discuss different topics freely, using appropriate words.
    • speak formally or semi-formally.
    • choose words accurately.
    • use idiomatic language.


  1. Pronunciation = how naturally you sound.

Pronunciation refers to the candidate’s ability to speak in a way that can be understood without too much effort.

To increase score:

    • pronounce words as clearly as possible.
    • record your speech and work on the words that you spell incorrectly.
    • stress words and sentences correctly.
    • use correct intonations.
    • try to be easily understood by the examiner.


  1. Grammatical Range and Accuracy = how good is your grammar.

Grammatical range and accuracy refer to the range of grammar used and how accurately and appropriately the candidate uses it.

To increase score:

    • avoid grammatical mistakes.
    • try to use more advanced grammatical structures (passive voicedirect speechdifferent tenses, and conditional sentences, etc)

Please download speaking band descriptors in the “Materials” tab for further information.

Click here to download the PDF speaking-band-descriptors