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IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors: Fluency and Coherence

Updated on June 19, 2013

Fluency and Coherence

IELTS(International English Language Testing System) is the world's leading test of English for higher education, immigration and employment. Below is some information about what the band descriptors requires a student to do and some advice for students.

One of the biggest problems for students is the fact that most of them are unwilling to talk. Students generally get a low score in this section because of short or one word answers. If the student only gives short answers, even if it is during part one, they should not expect a good score. This is due to the fact that this is a test and in an English speaking test students should be showing off their English speaking ability rather then giving short answers or worse, repeating the question in the answer. A band 6 candidate does not do this, Repetition, self-correction and hesitation are not so important, as long as they are not limited in quantity and in their effect on communication. At least 3 sentences are recommended for even part 1 answers.

Too many students think that fluency in English means that they have to be able to talk really fast. This is not necessarily true and also may have adverse effects on score since the examiner may miss some things which the student is saying because of the student is speaking too fast. It may be true that students only have less than 15 minutes and the quantity of what the students say is important but the quality of what they say is also just as important. Fluency means speaking at a natural speaking pace, not like a broken machine.

Talking slow is also not advised. Students only have a limited amount of time and talking for at least 75% of that time is recommended. One thing that students tend to do is stay silent for about 5 to 10 seconds before talking in the part 2 presentation or only say 2 sentences in the first minute. Remember, students only have a set amount of time in this test.

Students should be using a range of connectives and discourse markers. Even if they use it inappropriately, the attempt is difference between a 5 and 6 in fluency and coherence. If a 6 is all a student needs, do not worry about accuracy as much as range. Many students neglect this point.

Lexical Resource

Grammatical Range and Accuracy



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