I received an email from Gurpreet in India. Gurpreet writes: “How can I get band 6+ in speaking?”. This is a very general question and cannot be answered in one blog post. So I’m going to rephrase it as: “How good does my English need to be to get band 6+?”
The Speaking test scoring criteria
Before I answer this question, let’s review how the IELTS Speaking test is scored. If you have been reading my blog, you already know that the IELTS Speaking test is scored according to 4 criteria:
- Fluency and coherence
- Lexical resource (= vocabulary range and accuracy)
- Grammatical range and accuracy
A Band 6 candidate
Now let’s imagine a Band 6 candidate called Victor. Here is a description of Victor’s performance for each of the criteria:
Fluency and coherence
Victor is generally able to speak at length without hesitating too much. However, he sometimes has fluency problems because he repeats himself and makes lots of self-corrections.
Victor’s vocabulary is wide enough to be able to talk about different topics. He makes mistakes, but the meaning of what he says is generally clear. However, he doesn’t use many “less common” words. Examples of less common vocabulary are words like tricky, tough, hard, which are synonyms of the ‘common’ adjective difficult. Read this post about less common vocabulary.
Grammatical range and accuracy
Victor is able to use a wide range of grammatical structures, but not always successfully. He does not make many mistakes with the simple structures (present simple, the verb be, simple word order, etc.), but he often makes mistakes with complex structures (present perfect, conditionals, etc.)
When Victor speaks, it is generally not difficult to understand him. However, he sometimes mispronounces words, which can make him sound unclear.
Are you a Band 6 candidate?
How does your level of spoken English compare to Victor’s? If you think that your level is higher, then you are Band 6.5 or higher (here is an example of a Band 6.5 candidate). If you think that your level is lower, then you are Band 5.5 or lower.
Now to answer the original question, ‘How can I get band 6+?’ First, try to estimate your level. If you think you are 5 or 5.5, then you can reach band 6 by using all your opportunities to listen to English, practise speaking and of course read my tips! And if you only need Band 6, the best advice is to focus on speaking simply, clearly and correctly. Don’t try to use complex structures or difficult words if you make mistakes in simple English.