Roshan Sunthar

updated on 16-03-2023


IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors

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In the IELTS Speaking module, examiners assess a student's speaking abilities and use IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors as a set of assessment criteria. The Speaking Band Descriptors have four (4) criteria - fluency and coherence (FC), vocabulary/lexical resource (LR), grammatical range (GR) and pronunciation (P). This post explains each criterion in detail, and given the speaking band score chart to help understand how the speaking band is calculated.   

IELTS speaking band descriptors PDF (public version).

What are Speaking Band Descriptors?

The speaking band descriptors are the assessment criteria prescribed by IELTS for assessing a student’s speaking skills. Each criterion is assessed and marked into a band score range of 0 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest). It is categorised into four (4) types, as given below. 

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Pronunciation

The examiner will evaluate your speaking skills based on these IELTS speaking band descriptors for both IELTS Academic and General Training tests and assign a band score for each category. 

Note: This "speaking band descriptor" is the same for both Academic and General Training.

Fluency and Coherence (FC)

Under this category, the examiner will see how fluent and coherent you are while speaking. Here, fluency means the ability to speak continuously without a pause. Similarly, coherence means the capability to organise words, ideas and thoughts and move on to another point. Moreover, you must be able to correct yourself after a mistake without hesitation. By practising them, you will excel in your IELTS speaking test. To practice, we have provided you with a few linking words for IELTS speaking.


  • First,
  • Second,
  • Next,
  • Then …
  • In addition to…
  • Furthermore,.. 

Also Read: IELTS Speaking Part 1

Ways to improve your fluency and coherence for a band 8


  • Organise your ideas and thoughts so that the IELTS examiner can understand easily. 
  • Try not to repeat words or phrases for IELTS speaking more than once.
  • If you’re stuck, take a moment and continue your speech.
  • Before the part 2 of the IELTS speaking test, practice your speech a couple of times.
  • Keep a timer, so that you can end your speech well within the time limit.

Lexical Resource (LR)

In IELTS, the examiner will look at the words you use, how well you use the word in different forms (e.g. singing/sung) and also use the right words together - collocation (e.g. global warming). They will also assess your ability to paraphrase when you can’t come up with the right word or phrase.

The following IELTS speaking vocabulary may guide you in improving your speaking skills. 

  • State-of-the-art
  • Obsolete
  • Optimism
  • Not a rocket science
  • Cutting-edge technology
  • Intrusive

Ways to improve your lexical resource for a band 8

  • Focus on paraphrasing, idiomatic (idioms for IELTS speaking) and less common language.
  • For alternative words, always keep a wide range of vocabulary and linking words for IELTS speaking.
  • Do not use monotonous sentences. Instead, use different structures of sentences flexibly.
  • For part 2 and part 3 of the IELTS speaking tests, paraphrase sentences and use the language given in the questions.
  • Try to maintain a note for vocabulary and memorise it once in a while.

Also Read: IELTS Speaking Part 2

Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GR)

Grammatical range and accuracy play a vital role in IELTS speaking. Here, the examiner will assess your ability to speak grammatically correct with the help of different forms of sentences like simple, complex and compound. Make sure you are strong in all tenses, articles, prepositions, sentence structures, and subject/verb agreement to avoid common mistakes in IELTS speaking topics.   

Ways to improve your grammatical range and accuracy for a band 8

  • Practice various online/offline exercises to check your grammar.
  • Use different grammatical structures to express your thoughts.
  • Read newspaper editorials and magazine articles to master accuracy.

Pronunciation (P)

Pronunciation could be a game-changer in IELTS. The examiner will see how understandable your speech is and focus on your pronunciation features, including stress, intonation and rhythm. On the whole, it is to see how well you are understood. 

Ways to improve your pronunciation for a band 8


  • Watch various TV channels like BBC News, NatGeo, FoxLife, etc., to understand how they pronounce words. 
  • Don’t speak fast as the examiner may find it hard to understand.
  • Practice your pronunciation in front of a mirror.
  • Get to know the phonemic chart by practising more IELTS speaking mock tests.

Also Read: IELTS Speaking Part 3

Speaking Band Descriptors

The speaking band descriptors for IELTS are as follows. A brief explanation for each assessment criteria based on the band score is provided for your reference.

Band  Fluency and Coherence Lexical Resource Grammatical Range and Accuracy Pronunciation
9 • speaks fluently without much repetition; hesitant for content, not to find words or grammar correction.
• speaks coherently with good cohesive features that sound appropriate.
• develops topics fully and appropriately

• demonstrates vocabulary flexibly and precision for all topics
• uses idiomatic sentence and language naturally without flaws


• uses a wide variety of structures appropriately at ease
• creates accurate structures persistently other than slight ‘slips’ characteristic of native English speaker speech
• uses a wide variety of pronunciation with accurate precision and subtlety 
• maintains the use of features consistently
• easy to understand
8 • speaks fluently but repetition is there rarely; hesitation is mostly related to content, but rarely to search for words 
• create topics that are coherent and appropriate
• uses a wide variety of vocabulary flexibly to give the exact meaning 
• uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary precisely, with rare inaccuracies.
• uses paraphrase skillfully as needed.
• uses a different variety of structures seamlessly
• creates error-free sentences majorly, but with very occasional inappropriacies or some errors in basic/non-systematic.
• uses a variety of pronunciation 
• maintains features while speaking flexibly, with occasional mistakes
• able to understand the entire speech; L1 accent has less causes on intelligibility

• speaks consistently without much hassle or lack of coherence
• may have hesitation related to language at times, or some repetition and/or self-correction • uses a variety of connective words and markers having flexibility


• uses vocabulary resources in a flexible manner to convey different topics 
• uses specific less common and idiomatic vocabulary to create awareness of style and collocation. But there may be inappropriate choices 
• uses paraphrase sentences effectively
• uses a variety of complex sentence structures with limited flexibility 
• often creates error-free sentences, though a few grammatical mistakes continue to occur
• includes all positives of Band 6, but not everything from the positive features of Band 8
6 • wants to speak at length, however may lack coherence some times due to repetition here and there, self-correction or hesitation 
• demonstrates a set of connective words and markers but not appropriate always
• has a decent set of vocabulary to speak about topics at length and make meaningful sentences in spite of inaccuracies 
• students paraphrases generally
• uses both simple and complex structures, but with less flexibility 
• could make many mistakes with complex structures, though these hardly create problems in comprehension 
• uses a variety of pronunciation features with limited control 
• delivers a few effective features but not consistent
• can understand to some extent, though mispronunciation words or sounds may cause clarity

• maintains a good flow in speech but has repetition, self correction and/or maintains slow speech to keep talking 
• over usage of certain connective words and discourse markers 
• talk simple speech fluently, 
• may have fluency problems for complex sentences


• able to speak about familiar and unfamiliar topics with less flexibility while using vocabulary 
• use paraphrase correctly but with mixed success
• creates basic sentences with limited accuracy level • uses less range of complex sentence structures, but having errors and may lead to some errors in comprehension 

• shows all positive features of Band 4, and some positives of Band 6


4 • may speak slowly and cannot speak without pauses, more repetition and self-correction 
• connecting basic sentences with repetitive simple connectives and breakdowns in coherence some times
• can talk about familiar topics but convey simple meaning on unfamiliar topics and makes errors often in choosing the right words 
• attempts paraphrase rarely
• creates very basic sentence forms and some accurate simple sentences, whereas subordinate structures are rare seen
• mistakes are often seen and leads to misunderstanding easily
• uses a less amount of pronunciation features 
• try to control features but misses frequently
• mispronunciations are often occuring and lead to some challenges for the examiner (listener)
3 • makes long pauses while speaking
• has less ability to link between simple sentences 
• completely uses simple responses and is unable to explain basic message
• uses basic vocabulary to discuss personal information 
• uses very limited vocabulary for less familiar topics

• gives basic sentence forms with a limited success rate, or speaks mostly memorised utterances 
• makes many mistakes other than in memorised expressions


• shows some of the features of Band 2 and some of the positive features of Band 4
2 • gives lengthy pause for most words 
• very little communication
• uses only isolated words or words that are memorised • do not give basic sentence forms • speech is mostly unintelligible
1 • no communication at all 
• uses language that is not relatable
0 • did not attend      

IELTS Speaking Band Score Chart


The IELTS speaking band score chart is calculated through arithmetic mean. For example, if a student scores 8, 6, 8, and 6 band score for each criterion - fluency and coherence, pronunciation, lexical resource, and grammatical range and accuracy, the total IELTS speaking score is calculated as 8+6+8+6 = 24 and divided by 4 is 7. Thus, the IELTS speaking band score chart is as given below

S No Speaking Assessment Criteria Band Score
1 Fluency and coherence 8
2 Pronunciation 6
Lexical Resource
4 Grammatical Range and Accuracy 6
  Total IELTS Speaking Score 7

IELTS Speaking Tips

To reach a band score of 7 and above, you must refer to the below IELTS speaking tips.

1.Memorise tough vocabulary.
2.Use a wide variety of grammatical structure.
3.Practice the English accent until you master it.
4.Don’t use fillers like by the way, you know, um, uh, er, ah, like, okay, right, etc.
5.Elaborate your answers with a few anecdotes.
6.Don’t speak in a monotonous tone.
7.Pause whenever necessary.
8.Structure your speech to avoid confusion.
9.Do not memorise sentences.
10.Practice all common topics to gain speed and confidence.


By now, you would know everything about the "IELTS speaking band descriptors" and how it is calculated for IELTS speaking part 1 and part 2. It will definitely help you in preparing for the IELTS speaking exam and to get a good band score. All the best!


Q1. What are band descriptors in speaking?

Speaking band descriptors for IELTS is a set of assessment criteria that include fluency and coherence (FC), pronunciation (P), lexical resource (LR), and grammatical range and accuracy (GR) used to measure a candidate's performance and assign a score from zero (0) to nine (9).

Q2. Is 6.5 A good score in IELTS speaking?

Yes. A band score of 6.5 is good in IELTS speaking. It shows to the concerned authority that you are ‘competent’. However, it may not be sufficient to get a study visa in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, etc.

Q3. How do IELTS speaking scores are calculated?

The IELTS speaking test scores are calculated purely based on an arthmetic mean. For example: if a student has scored 7, 7, 6 and 8 under each IELTS speaking criteria, then 7 + 7 + 6 + 8 = 28. When it is divided by 4, the score is 7. 

Q4. Can I retake IELTS Speaking only?

No. You cannot retake IELTS speaking only. You need to retake all four modules of IELTS, including speaking, listening, reading and writing. 

Q5. How can I get 8.5 in IELTS Speaking?

Practice, practice, practice until you ace the English accent, grammatical structure, flexibility of words, and lexical resources. Review your performance with an IELTS expert who could guide you correctly and take more IELTS speaking samples tests to help you achieve an 8.5 band score in IELTS speaking.

Q6. Which part has more weightage in IELTS speaking?

In IELTS speaking, the speaking part 3 has more weightage compared to others. You can gain more marks in speaking part 3 by improving your vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and fluency.

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