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IELTS Preparation Series 3, Episode 1: IELTS Assessment Criteria


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Hello, and welcome to Series 3 of Study English, IELTS preparation. I'm Margot Politis.

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In this series we'll look at some of the criteria for the assessment of the IELTS test, and

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some of the skills you'll need to practice for the test.

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The IELTS test has four modules: Writing, Speaking, Reading Listening

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There are two different tests - the academic test for tertiary students and professionals

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and the general training test, which is for immigrants and people going on to vocational

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training.

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Both tests have the same speaking and listening modules, but different reading and writing

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modules.

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Knowing what the examiner is looking for can help improve your results because you will

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know what to focus on when practising.

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Here are the features the examiner looks at in your writing and speaking. These are the

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things that are marked:

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Task Response Coherence and Cohesion

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Grammatical Accuracy and Range Vocabulary

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Fluency Pronunciation

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What do these criteria mean?

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Task response means how well you've understood and responded to the question or task.

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For example, in the essay you must make sure you have answered all parts of the question

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and followed the instructions.

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The next thing the examiner looks for is coherence and cohesion.

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This is how you organise your answer.

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For example, in the essay, coherence means that the essay works in its overall structure,

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making sense in the way it is organised.

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Cohesion means that the essay flows well from one part to the next.

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Another feature being assessed is grammatical range and accuracy.

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When assessing grammatical range, the examiner is looking at the variety of sentence types

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you are able to use. You can't rely on just using simple sentences and structures.

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Grammatical accuracy simply refers to the number of errors in your language. That includes

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things such as punctuation.

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The final feature assessed for writing is vocabulary.

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The examiner looks at the accuracy of your spelling and the range of words you use to

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cover a topic.

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You need to use the correct word forms and demonstrate that you can use them appropriately.

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You should also be aware of when to use formal or informal language. The essay needs to be

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formal, but you can use less formal language in the speaking test.

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The speaking test is designed for you to show how well you can express yourself on a general

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topic.

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It tests your vocabulary, the accuracy of your language and your ability to use a range

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of sentence forms. It also tests your coherence, by looking at how you organise and link your

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ideas while speaking.

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Vocabulary, coherence and grammatical range and accuracy are criteria that also apply

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to the speaking test.

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The remaining two criteria are only for the Speaking test: fluency and pronunciation.

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Your ability to speak without hesitating or pausing too often shows how fluent you are.

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Fluency is the ability to speak smoothly and easily.

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Now we'll look at the last criterion for speaking - pronunciation.

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How easily you can be understood is what pronunciation is about.

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Aim to pronounce words correctly and use appropriate stress and intonation; and your voice needs

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to be strong and clear.

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Pronunciation is speaking clearly and at a natural pace.

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To illustrate some of these criteria, next we'll show you a short piece about the sport

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of gymnastics. Sport is a common topic in the speaking test and it's important to be

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familiar with the words used to talk about it.

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I do gymnastics at the Australian Institute of Sports. I was about 5 when I started and

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I started just fun gym. My mum was a coach, so I got into it from that. We train about

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36 hours a week, which is pretty tough, but it's worth it in the end. We don't have a

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lot of school. We do usually 3 and a half hours of school in between our training. We

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have our main coach, who is the head coach of the AIS. He coaches my group for bars,

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floor and vault. But we have another coach for beam.

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Notice she says I do gymnastics. Different verbs are used for different sports.

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You say that you play football or play basketball but do gymnastics.

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And you go fishing.

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Some sports and activities have their own verbs. You don't say "I do swimming", you

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say "I swim".

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Now listen to how she uses the words train and coach:

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My mum was a coach, so I got into it from that. We train about 36 hours a week, which

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is pretty tough, but it's worth it in the end. We don't have a lot of school. We do

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usually 3 and half hours of school in between our training. We have our main coach, who

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is the head coach of the AIS. He coaches my group for bars, floor and vault. But we have

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another coach for beam.

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A coach is a teacher of sport.

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Coach can be a noun, like this:

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We have our main coach, who is the head coach of the AIS.

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Coach can also be used as a verb. Here it's used in the singular form 'coaches':

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He coaches my group for bars, floor and vault.

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She uses the word for practising a sport, train:

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We train about 36 hours a week, which is pretty tough, but it's worth it in the end.

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The -ing form, training, can be used as a noun:

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We don't have a lot of school. We do usually 3 and a half hours of school in between our

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training.

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And a coach can also be called a trainer.

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You should watch English language TV to help build your vocabulary in this fashion because

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you will be marked on how well you use words and their various forms.

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And you should think about things such as sentence forms. Even just talking about gymnastics,

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it's possible to use quite complicated structures.

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Listen to her again:

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We train about 36 hours a week, which is pretty tough, but it's worth it in the end.

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She uses a complex sentence - a clause combined with a relative clause:

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We train about 36 hours a week, which is pretty tough

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She then makes it into a complex/compound sentence by using the conjunction 'but' to

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add another clause.

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We train about 36 hours a week, which is pretty tough, but it's worth it in the end.

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Thinking about and noticing sentence types will help with your grammatical range.

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Listening to the way people talk for an extended period will help prepare you for the speaking

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test where you will be required to talk about a topic for 2 minutes.

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So let's recap. These are the things the markers are looking for:

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Task response - your ability to answer the question and correctly respond to instructions.


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Coherence and cohesion - how well you organise your language.


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Grammatical range and accuracy - the range of grammatical structures you use and how

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accurately you use them.

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Vocabulary - how well you use words and their forms.


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And for the Speaking Test there is:
 Fluency - your ability to speak without hesitating;

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and finally,

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Pronunciation - how easily you can be understood.

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In the coming episodes we will look at these criteria in more detail and explore ways of

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meeting them.

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Remember that IELTS is testing your language skills so take every opportunity to practise

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your Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking to improve your accuracy, extend your vocabulary

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and develop your fluency. You will be building your confidence as well.

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That's all for now.

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