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Do you know who your IELTS Speaking and Writing examiners are? Have you ever wondered how they determine your IELTS test scores?

Qualifications of an IELTS examiner

There are a number of steps involved in becoming an IELTS Writing and Speaking examiner.  Firstly, all examiners must have the following: 

  • An undergraduate degree in a related field of study

  • A TESOL/TESL/TEFOL or other recognized English language teaching qualification

  • English-language teaching experience of at least three years (full time), or the equivalent in part-time, with most of that time spent teaching English to adults

The next step to becoming a certified IELTS Writing and Speaking examiner is to complete standardized training, conducted by an experienced IELTS examiner trainer. An important aspect of examiner training is marking Speaking and Writing tests.  In order to become certified, examiners must mark a series of exams consistently and accurately. 

After becoming certified, examiners are regularly monitored to ensure IELTS standards are being met.  Every two years, examiners must be re-certified, which involves more training and marking tests.  As with the initial training, they must show that they can accurately and consistently mark the tests.

Another important aspect of an examiner’s job includes maintaining confidentiality and security related to the IELTS test, both on test day and when marking the tests.  They must also ensure all procedures for administering the IELTS test are followed for every candidate.

How is the IELTS scored?

Some candidates may wonder how examiners know what test scores to give.  As mentioned above, in order to accurately mark Speaking and Writing tests, examiners gain a lot of practice during training using band scores and band descriptors, which are used to evaluate candidates’ speaking and writing abilities. 

IELTS tests – both Academic and General Training – are scored using a band scale that ranges from 1 – 9.   A band score of 1 indicates a non-user of the language, while a band score of 9 indicates an expert user of the language. These band scores are used for all parts of the IELTS tests – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.  Candidates can be scored with whole scores or half scores – for example, 4.0, 5.0, 4.5, 5.5, etc.  The average of the scores then becomes the candidate’s overall band score. Check here for information about the IELTS band scale. 

In order to give candidates a band score, examiners use detailed band descriptors.  Here’s some good news for IELTS candidates:  you can find a public version of band descriptors for Speaking and Writing here.  As an examiner, I recommend that you become familiar with these descriptors, as these show some details about what your examiner looks for when marking tests.  There is no doubt that this information is very useful when preparing for your test.

I will end this blog post by strongly suggesting that you take some time to familiarize yourself with these band descriptors.  I also suggest you check here for samples of candidates’ speaking tests, as well as comments by IELTS examiners.  This information could be very useful in helping you gain an understanding of the different speaking levels, and, in turn, could be useful in helping you to prepare for your IELTS test. 

Good luck with your preparation and your IELTS exam!

By Lyla Hage