IELTS Speaking Test – How it’s Scored & How to Improve

It’s difficult to understand the exact requirements of the IELTS Speaking test.

Today, you will discover how the test is scored and how to improve your score.

You will learn about the band scores, what is required for each score and specific methods to improve your ability to get a high score.

Learn how the test is scored and how to improve your scores.


Prefer to watch the video version?

Overview of IELTS Speaking Test

Your score in the IELTS Speaking test is based on the IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors, and you’ll find a brief outline here,

The IELTS examiner will give you a score in each of the four categories; Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy and Pronunciation.

The examiner will use the requirements outlined in the band descriptors document to determine your score in the IELTS Speaking test.

Unfortunately, you will never see the scores for each category, as your test results only indicate the average of these four scores.

However, in the band descriptors, you can see the performance required for each score.

For example, the image below shows the four requirements to score band 9 in Fluency and Coherence.

These are the four requirements for a band 9 in Fluency and Coherence.

To get this score, you must meet all four requirements. Three out of four is not enough.

How to Improve Your IELTS Speaking Test Score

First of all, to improve your overall speaking score, you must focus on the individual skills; fluency, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation.

As these are entirely different skills, they must be studied separately.

To improve your IELTS Speaking test score, you must focus on each of the 4 band descriptors.

Below, you will see how each of the band scores is assessed and instructions on how to improve your score in each of the skills required for speaking in IELTS.

You can practise what you learn with these Practice IELTS Speaking Questions.

Fluency and Coherence in the IELTS Speaking Test

In this part of the lesson, you will find;

Overview of Fluency and Coherence

The fluency aspect of this band score measures how often a candidate needs to stop speaking to think about grammar or vocabulary.

Coherence assesses if the answers make sense, if the ideas are well-developed, and if cohesive features are used effectively.

If you need time to think while in the middle of saying a sentence, this will bring down your Fluency and Coherence score.

Cohesive features are things like connectives and discourse markers.

  • Connectives are words like and, so, or and then which connect the different parts of a sentence.
  • Discourse markers help the listener follow what we say, and they are similar to the cohesive devices used in writing.

    However, discourse markers are less formal and include sounds like ‘Oh!‘ when showing surprise.

How Fluency and Coherence is Scored in the IELTS Speaking Test

The following summarises what is required for each Fluency and Coherence band score in the IELTS Speaking test.

Band 1 – 3

The candidate struggles to say anything.

The lower band scores for Fluency and Coherence vary between the candidate saying nothing and the examiner understanding nothing.

Band 4

The candidate speaks with long pauses during and between sentences.

Sentences are connected in a repetitive way. For example;

I want to do the IELTS test, and then I want to go to the United Kingdom, and then I want to work as a nurse.

Band 5

There are lots of pauses, and the candidate often repeats themselves.

Simple ideas are communicated more fluently than complex ones, and a limited variety of connectives are used.

A band 5 students struggles to talk about unfamiliar topics.

Band 6

They can speak at length, but pauses are frequent.

A range of connectives is used but not always correctly.

Band 7

This candidate can speak at length without effort.

There are a small number of pauses to think of less common vocabulary.

Ideas and sentences are accurately connected in most instances.

Pauses must be rare for a Fluency and Coherence score of band 7 in the IELTS Speaking test.

Band 8

They speak at length, and pauses are mostly to think of ideas rather than vocabulary.

Ideas are fully developed and well-connected.

Band 9

Speaks as a native speaker would with fully-developed answers.

Ideas and sentences are connected perfectly.

How to Increase Your Fluency and Coherence Score

To improve your fluency, you must practise speaking without any time to prepare first.

Here are some tips about how to create situations like this.

Practising Alone

Most IELTS students don’t have someone that they can regularly speak to in English.

However, there are other ways for you to improve your fluency.

The key is to create situations where you must speak immediately, as you would in a normal conversation.

Also, you actually need to speak. Sitting in silence and imagining what you would say is not beneficial.

It's not essential to have a speaking partner to improve your IELTS Speaking test score.

Here are some suggestions of how you can do this.

#1 Online Topic Generators

These are great because of the range of topics that they present you with.

Click on one of the links below, press the button to generate a topic and start speaking immediately.

#2 Newspapers and Magazines

When reading newspapers and magazines, we firstly browse the articles to find which one we want to read.

Once you’ve chosen one, speak about what information you expect to read in the article.

To improve the Fluency and Coherence scores in your IELTS Speaking test, you can practise speaking about what information you expect to find in newspaper articles.

Again, don’t give yourself any time to prepare. Just read the headline, look at the picture and then speak immediately.

Once you’re finished speaking, you can read the article as usual.

#3 Verbalise What You’re Thinking

No matter what you’re doing, you can always say what you’re thinking out loud instead of thinking to yourself in silence.

So even when you’re driving to work, cooking dinner or doing any mundane task, use it as an opportunity to improve your fluency.

#4 Think in English

Of course, there are times when verbalising what you’re thinking won’t be possible, such as when you’re at work.

However, you can still improve your fluency by thinking in English instead of thinking in your own language.

This benefits your fluency because when you can think in English, you don’t need to translate the ideas you have before you are able to say them out loud.

If you actively force yourself to think in English, this will help with your Fluency and Coherence score.

Find a Speaking Partner

Probably the most enjoyable way to improve fluency is to find someone that you can regularly speak with in English.

If you don’t already have a speaking partner, you can use apps like coffeestrap to help you find one.

However, having a partner won’t help if you only discuss familiar topics like family, work and hometown.

Instead, discuss challenging topics that require you to formulate an opinion because this will result in quicker improvement.

You will need to challenge your speaking partner if the two of you are to succeed in speaking in IELTS.

For example, if I ask you, “How many people are in your family?” that doesn’t require you to think deeply before answering.

But, if I ask you, “Why do you think so many people don’t care about environmental problems?” that requires you to consider your answer first and then respond, all in a very short amount of time.

You and your speaking partner should challenge each other in this way so that you both effectively improve your fluency.

Don’t Speak Quickly

Don’t confuse good fluency with speaking quickly.

Remember, a fluent speaker is a person who doesn’t need to stop and think about vocabulary or grammar while they’re speaking.

However, many IELTS students confuse this with speaking quickly, so they try to talk as fast as they can and are often out of breath when speaking in English.

Someone who speaks quickly won't necessarily get a high Fluency and Coherence score.

So the first thing to note is that you don’t need to speak quickly for a good fluency and coherence score.

Secondly, if you’re feeling out of breath when you speak in English, this is because you don’t know when to breathe.

When speaking in English, we naturally breathe wherever we would find a comma or a full stop in written English.

Lexical Resource in the IELTS Speaking Test

In this part of the lesson, you will find;

Overview of Lexical Resource

Lexical Resource is the term that IELTS uses to refer to vocabulary.

This score is based on the range and accuracy of the vocabulary used by a candidate during their IELTS Speaking test.

While speaking in IELTS tests, candidates should use everyday spoken English as it’s not necessary to speak in a formal tone.

Lexical Resource is the IELTS Speaking test band descriptor that takes the longest amount of time to improve.

This means that you should just speak the way you normally do when you’re not doing a test.

How Lexical Resource is Scored in the IELTS Speaking Test

Bands 1-3

The candidate struggles to say anything.

Band 4

They can talk about familiar topics like family and work, but anything more challenging than this cannot be discussed.

Band 5

This candidate is able to discuss unfamiliar topics.

However, there are times that vocabulary mistakes mean the examiner can’t understand what they have said.

Any lack of clarity will reduce your score for speaking in IELTS.

Band 6

A band 6 candidate can discuss any topic that they are asked about.

They make many vocabulary mistakes, but none that prevent the examiner from understanding the meaning of the candidate’s answers.

Band 7

Candidates with this score can easily discuss any topic, and their answers include a range of topic-specific vocabulary.

Topic-specific vocabulary is vocabulary that is unique to the topic being discussed.

For instance, the words hook, line and sinker are related to fishing, so using these words indicates you have topic-specific vocabulary for this topic.

Without knowledge of topic-specific vocabulary, a high Lexical Resource score isn't realistic.

To get this score, it’s okay for the candidate to make some vocabulary mistakes.

Band 8

This candidate can also discuss any topic easily but is also able to include a lot of topic-specific vocabulary in their answers.

A small number of vocabulary mistakes are acceptable for this score.

Band 9

This score is awarded when a candidate can easily discuss any topic and uses the most appropriate topic-specific vocabulary at all times.

This candidate makes no vocabulary mistakes throughout the entire test.

How to Increase Your Lexical Resource Score

This is the band score that takes the longest time to improve because you need to learn every new word and phrase, one at a time.

Furthermore, the process is slow because you must properly research each new word or else you’ll use it inaccurately, such as in this example.

When it comes to Lexical Resource for speaking in IELTS, you should really give this your attention as soon as possible.

Because of this, it’s essential that you work on vocabulary every single day.

Use New Vocabulary

Your knowledge of vocabulary is divided into receptive and productive.

Words you can understand but cannot use are referred to as receptive vocabulary.

The words you can use accurately are known as productive vocabulary.

The only way for a new word to become part of your productive vocabulary is to use it in your speaking and writing.

However, because you’re learning topic-specific vocabulary, you will only have the opportunity to use these words when discussing that exact topic.

If you can't use vocabulary outside the IELTS test, you can't expect to use it while speaking in IELTS tests.

Therefore, you’ll need to create situations where you can discuss the topics you’ve been studying.

You can do this by writing about the topics, or you can start a conversation by asking people for their opinion about a topic.

Writing Before Speaking

While writing, you have more time to think about what you want to say, remember the word you want to use and make sure that you’re using it accurately.

For these reasons, it’s easier to use any new vocabulary in your writing first and once you’re more familiar and comfortable with the word or phrase, use it in your speaking.

Furthermore, the process of improving vocabulary for your IELTS Speaking test is the same as the process for your IELTS Writing test.

Even though we're discussing the IELTS Speaking test, it's still necessary for you to follow the Vocabulary Improvement Strategy designed for writing.

This is why you can use this Vocabulary Improvement Strategy and take into account the extra tips and advice below.


If you focus on one topic at a time, this is helpful for reviewing vocabulary as you can listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, or read books about the same topic.

This is beneficial because the more often you encounter a word, the better you will understand how to use it and the more quickly you will remember it.

Record Yourself

Record yourself speaking, listen to the recording and find vocabulary mistakes you’ve made.

Of course, this only works when you already know something is wrong.

For your IELTS Speaking test, you can record yourself to help discover what mistakes you're making.

However, you might have used a collocation that you’re unsure of, and you can search for these online to check if they’re right or wrong.

When doing this, I recommend using the search function in a reliable newspaper such as The Guardian.

Searching in a newspaper like this is suitable because an editor has checked the articles, so there are no language errors.

The Guardian's search function is a great tool to verify if a collocation is accurate or not.

If you search for an accurate collocation, such as young people, you’ll find it multiple times in the search results.

You can see that 'young people' is an accurate collocation.

If you search for an incorrect collocation, such as youth people, the words won’t be seen together in the search results.

Here, it's obvious that 'youth people' isn't a collocation in the English language.

Fossilized Errors

A fossilized error is a language mistake that you’ve continuously made for years, even though you know it’s wrong.

They are basically bad habits, and if you want to fix them, you need to form new habits by correcting yourself every single time you make these mistakes.

Fossilized errors require a consistent effort to correct, but it's worth doing to help with your Lexical Resource score.

Don’t Focus on Idioms

Learning idioms for the IELTS Speaking test is a very common mistake that IELTS students make.

This happens because they see the terms ‘idiomatic language‘ and ‘idiomatic vocabulary‘ in the IELTS Speaking test band descriptors.

You don't need to use idioms while speaking in IELTS tests.

However, these terms are not exclusively referring to idioms because they also include more frequently used language like phrasal verbs.

This is why you shouldn’t specifically learn idioms for speaking in IELTS.

Instead, follow my Vocabulary Improvement Strategy, which describes how you should only learn words that are suitable for your current level.

This means that you will learn all the phrasal verbs you actually need to improve your score rather than idioms that you’re not ready to use yet.

There’s No Special IELTS Vocabulary

A common myth is that the IELTS examiner has a special list of words, and if you use those words, you’ll get a high score.

Consider the fact that the IELTS test is such a reliable assessment of English ability that over 11,000 organisations worldwide accept it.

There is no special list of vocabulary that the examiner is waiting for you to use in your IELTS Speaking test.

A test that automatically gives a high score based on a list of random words would not be reliable and shows that this myth is 100% false.

In short, you can only increase your Lexical Resource score in the IELTS Speaking test by really improving your knowledge of vocabulary.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy in the IELTS Speaking Test

In this part of the lesson, you will find;

Overview of Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Grammatical Range and Accuracy is the IELTS Speaking test band score based on a candidate’s grammar ability.

Part of the assessment is based on the range of structures the candidate uses, so I’ll explain what this means before we look at each score.

The range and the accuracy of your grammar are equally important in the IELTS Speaking test.

Range of Structures

The examiner expects a range of structures but is not looking for specific structures or a specific number of structures.

As long as there is variety, that’s all that matters.

Simple Sentences

Simple sentences are the most basic unit of grammar where there’s a subject, a verb and an object. For example;

I need a band 8 in my IELTS Speaking test.

A small number of sentences like this won’t bring down your score, but you should aim not to use these in your test.

Compound Sentences
For a good Grammatical Range and Accuracy score, you should avoid using simple sentences.

These are two simple sentences joined together with conjunctions like and, or, but and so. For example;

I need a band 8 in my IELTS Speaking test and a band 7 in my IELTS Writing test.

You need to use these types of structures in your test, but not every sentence should be like this. You will also need to use some of the structures below.

Complex Sentences

These structures contain a simple sentence and a dependent clause joined together with subordinating conjunctions such as because and although or relative pronouns like that and who. For example:

I need a band 8 in my IELTS Speaking test before I can study abroad.

These types of structures are necessary for a high Grammatical Range and Accuracy score, although you don’t need to use them in every sentence.

I need a band 8 in my IELTS Speaking test before I can study abroad.
Compound-Complex Sentences

This is a compound sentence that contains one or more dependent clauses. For example:

I need a band 8 in my IELTS Speaking test and a band 7 in my IELTS Writing test before I can study abroad.

Using these structures in your IELTS Speaking test along with compound sentences and complex sentences is what the examiner considers to be a wide range.

How Grammatical Range and Accuracy is Scored in the IELTS Speaking Test

Bands 1-3

The candidate struggles to say anything.

Band 4

They can use simple grammar structures, but communication is unclear when the candidate attempts more complex ones.

Frequent miscommunication as a result of grammar errors will result in a low score for Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Band 5

This candidate is mostly accurate with simple structures but struggles with complex structures.

Because of grammar mistakes, communication isn’t always clear.

Band 6

A band 6 candidate uses a mixture of simple and complex structures.

They make a lot of mistakes, but it’s always clear what they mean.

Band 7

Candidates with this score accurately use a range of structures.

Sentences with no grammar mistakes are frequently produced.

Band 8

In the IELTS Speaking test, you need to be able to produce a lot of sentences with absolutely no mistakes for a band 7 in Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

This candidate can accurately use a wide range of structures.

Grammar mistakes are rare.

Band 9

This score is awarded when a candidate uses the appropriate grammar in all situations.

A small number of grammar mistakes are acceptable, providing they are not the same type of grammar mistake.

For example, if a small number of grammar mistakes were made, but they were all mistakes with subject-verb agreement, that would not be acceptable for a band 9.

How to Increase Your Grammatical Range and Accuracy Score

Writing Before Speaking

Because writing allows for more time to consider grammar, it’s best to make sure that you can use it accurately in writing first.

Once you know that you can use it correctly in writing, it will be easier to incorporate it into your speaking.

It makes sense to make sure you can use any grammar point accurately in writing before you start using it for the purpose of improving the scores in your IELTS Speaking test.

This is why my Grammar Improvement Strategy designed for writing is still the best option if you need to improve your Grammatical Range and Accuracy score for the IELTS Speaking test.

Grammar Software

If you have clear pronunciation, you can transcribe what you say with an app like Speechnotes, and then use the free Grammarly browser extension to find your grammar mistakes.

If the software doesn’t understand your pronunciation, you can record yourself and then transcribe what you’ve said directly into Grammarly.

This is a very beneficial method for anyone improving their grammar from a band 5 to 6 or from band 6 to 7.

However, if you can already score band 7 in grammar, you’ll need to closely examine each suggestion because the software isn’t completely perfect.

You can use apps and software to help you improve your Grammatical Range and Accuracy score.

Don’t Worry About Fluency

When you’re actively working on improving your grammar, your fluency won’t be as good as usual.

This is completely normal as you need extra time to consider the correct grammar and make sure that you’re using it correctly.

As soon as you’re familiar with the grammar point you’re working on, you’ll naturally use it accurately and then, your fluency will return to its normal level.

Don’t Fear Mistakes

If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t improve your grammar.

It’s important to try new grammatical structures and get a sense of how they are constructed, but that won’t happen if your goal is to make no mistakes.

Don’t aim to be perfect; aim to consistently make small improvements.

You'll never improve your scores for speaking in IELTS if you're not willing to make mistakes.

Pronunciation in the IELTS Speaking Test

In this part of the lesson, you will find;

Overview of IELTS Pronunciation

Pronunciation is the fourth band score you’re given in the IELTS Speaking test.

One aspect of the higher band scores is your ability to use pronunciation features, so let’s look at these first.

Pronunciation Features

The IELTS pronunciation band score is the fourth and final score you're given.

In English, we always use contractions while speaking.

For example, we always say can’t instead of cannot or I’m instead of I am.

Word Stress

Every word in the English language puts emphasis on one of the syllables.

For example, we stress the first syllable of the word hospital like this; HOS-pi-tal.

Stressing any of the other syllables is incorrect.

Sentence Stress

In every sentence, we emphasise a small number of words.

For example, in the sentence below, we stress the words written in capitals;

EVERY sentence puts EMPHASIS on a SMALL number of WORDS.

You won't get a good IELTS pronunciation score without being able to stress the correct words in a sentence.
Connected Speech

Connected speech is the way words in a sentence are pronounced differently from when we pronounce them individually.

This happens because it’s easier to transition from one word to the next.

There are five ways that pronunciation of words change in a sentence;

#1 Vowels Get Weaker

In the words of a sentence that aren’t stressed, the vowel sound becomes weaker.

For example, the words highlighted below are all pronounced with a schwa sound.

Every sentence puts emphasis on a small number of words.

#2 Sounds Move

When one word ends with a consonant sound, and the following word begins with a vowel sound, the consonant moves to the start of the second word.

For example, the highlighted letters below show where this happens.

Sounds moving is a very common aspect of connected speech that you must watch out for if you're to improve your IELTS pronunciation score.

Every sentence put semphasi so na small numbe rof words.

#3 Sounds Disappear

This is where we don’t pronounce the last sound of a word.

This typically happens when one word ends with the letter t or d, and the following word begins with the same letter.

For example, we don’t pronounce the letters highlighted in the sentence below;

I want to get the best test scores possible.

#4 Extra Sounds Appear

When one word ends with a vowel sound, and the next word begins with a vowel sound, an extra sound appears between them.

For example, the sounds in brackets appear when saying the following sentence;

To improve your IELTS pronunciation score, you need to be aware of the various features of connected speech.

I’ll go (w) abroad when I (y) achieve my required IELTS scores.

#5 Sounds Change

Sometimes a consonant sound at the end of a word changes because of the sound at the beginning of the following word.

For example, in the sentence below, the s at the end of the word IELTS is pronounced as sh and the t at the end of the word what is pronounced as ch.

A certificate from IELTS shows what your language ability is.


This is the way the voice rises and falls as we speak.

This is often used to convey an extra layer of meaning on top of the actual words that are spoken. For example;

Showing surprise: Did you (↗) do it?
Showing anger: Did you (↘) do it?

Intonation allows us to convey our emotions in addition to the standard meaning of what we say.

How IELTS Pronunciation is Scored in the IELTS Speaking Test

Bands 1-2

The examiner cannot understand anything that this candidate says.

Band 3

This candidate is very difficult to understand.

Band 4

These candidates can often be understood.

Band 5

There are some occasions when the examiner can’t understand this candidate.

Band 6

A band 6 candidate can be understood most of the time.

Band 7

When speaking in IELTS, the examiner must understand you at all times if you're to get a good score.

Candidates with this score can always be understood.

They also have the ability to consistently use pronunciation features.

Band 8

This candidate can always be understood.

They use pronunciation features flexibly.

Band 9

This score is awarded when a candidate can always be understood and always uses pronunciation features accurately.

How to Increase Your IELTS Pronunciation Score

Unlike the other aspects of speaking, this has nothing to do with your knowledge of English. Instead, pronunciation is a physical skill.

If you’re making pronunciation mistakes, it’s because you’re doing something wrong with your voice box, your mouth, your lips or your tongue.

Improving your IELTS pronunciation score requires a lot of dedication and effort.

Much like learning to type on a computer, you need to physically move parts of your body to the correct place at the correct time.

This is why improving your pronunciation takes a massive amount of effort and determination, and, if necessary, you should start working on it straight away.

Below, we will look at how you can do this.

Discover Your Mistakes

Finding out what you’re doing wrong is the best place to start.

That will allow you to specifically work on the areas of pronunciation that need your attention.

Here are some recommendations about how to do this;

#1 Search Online

You can search online for the most common pronunciation mistakes made by people from your country.

If you can’t find any results, search for countries that speak the same or similar languages to your own.

To improve your IELTS pronunciation scores, you can search for the most common mistakes make by people who speak your language.
#2 Record Yourself

Before you record yourself, you’ll need to find an audio or video clip that you’re going to copy.

That way, you can closely compare what you said with the original and discover where you’re going wrong.

#3 Ask a Native English Speaker

Ask an English-speaking friend or colleague to tell you what mistakes you’re making.

However, most people think it’s rude to point out someone’s mistakes, so you must first convince them that you really want them to be honest.

If you don’t have an English-speaking friend, you can use apps like Barden Language Exchange to find one.

To improve your IELTS pronunciation score, you should definitely ask a friend to point out your mistakes.

Individual Sounds

The most common reason students can’t say a sound correctly is that it doesn’t exist in their own language.

You have to understand that you need to put your mouth and tongue in an unfamiliar position, and doing this will feel unnatural in the beginning.

Firstly, find the phonemic symbol for the sound you can’t pronounce by searching in a dictionary.

For example, if you are having problems with the sh sound, search for the word shorts in a dictionary, and you’ll see that the phonemic symbol is /ʃ/.

The phonemic spelling is helpful to improve your ability to pronounce the individual sounds of English.

Once you know what the symbol is, click here to find the appropriate video to learn how to position your mouth correctly for this sound.

In the beginning, produce the individual sound, then practise words with that sound and eventually practise full sentences.

Start slowly and gradually get faster until you’re speaking at a normal pace.

Individual Words

Search Google for the term ‘How to pronounce‘ plus whatever word you want to improve.

Search google for any words you can't pronounce.

In the search results, you will find a video of how to say the word and an animation of what mouth movement you need to make.

Even better, you can say the word into a microphone, and it will tell you if you’ve made a mistake as well as what you must do to improve your pronunciation of that word.

Google's pronunciation support is a great tool to help improve your IELTS pronunciation scores.

Sentence Stress and Connected Speech

To improve this, you must start by listening, and it’s best to focus on just one sentence at a time.

Find a video or audio clip with a sentence that you want to practise and listen to it several times.

Identify the stressed words and if any;

  • vowels get weaker
  • sounds move
  • sounds disappear
  • extra sounds appear
  • sounds change

You can use the playback speed function to slow down the recording to listen more carefully.

To improve your pronunciation for speaking in IELTS, you can slow down the speed of the video to help you better hear the various pronunciation features.

After that, it’s essential to trust your ears.

Because we pronounce words differently in sentences, you need to trust what you hear instead of copying how the words are spelt.

Once you’re satisfied that you can hear all the various components of the sentence, record yourself saying it.

Finally, find mistakes that you need to work on by comparing your recording with the original.

To help you with this, there is a very convenient Google Chrome extension called Pronounce.

It allows you to choose any piece of text, gives you a spoken example and allows you to record yourself to easily compare the original with what you’ve said.

Comparing your attempt to speak with a recording of a native speaker is a great way to improve your IELTS pronunciation scores.

Unfortunately, the spoken example isn’t perfect, so this app isn’t suitable if you’re already at a band 7 level of pronunciation.


Because intonation is a subtle feature of spoken English, you must listen to a lot of English before you can accurately recognise the various patterns.

The more you listen to English, the better you will become at recognising the different meanings conveyed by intonation.

You need a lot of exposure to English before you will understand the subtleties of intonation.

Over time, you will instinctively start to incorporate these into your own speaking.

Because intonation is the highest level of pronunciation features, you should focus on all the other features first.

Copy an Accent

We are all proud of where we come from, and most of us don’t want to lose our accent.

For this reason, you probably want to disregard this suggestion, and the truth is that you can definitely get a band 8 without doing this.

However, every English student I’ve met with a band 9 pronunciation ability has adopted the accent of an English-speaking country.

If you’re not attached to your own accent, you can copy the accent of people from an English-speaking country too.

Most people are not willing to lose their accent to improve their IELTS pronunciation score.

For this to work, you must choose the accent of just one country.

For example, if you try to copy an Australian accent and an American accent at the same time, this won’t help with your pronunciation.

Correct Yourself Every Time

Because pronunciation is a fine motor skill, you must reprogram the muscles in your mouth to move to the correct positions.

The most effective way to do this is to always correct any pronunciation mistakes you notice while speaking.


Singing along with English songs helps with sentence stress, word stress, connected speech and pausing in natural places.

However, doing this doesn’t help improve your intonation because the lyrics follow the song’s melody.

Singing is great for all aspects of IELTS pronunciation, except for intonation.

How to Determine Your IELTS Speaking Test Score

Ask an IELTS Expert

The best approach is to get feedback from an IELTS expert to tell you which band scores are lower than the score you need.

This information will allow you to focus on the areas that need your attention rather than wasting time on the band score that is already good enough.

For speaking in IELTS, it's best to get an IELTS expert to determine your exact scores.

For example, you don’t want to spend months studying grammar when the real problem is your pronunciation.

As a result, you will be ready for your IELTS Speaking test in a shorter length of time.

If you would like free feedback from me on your weaknesses, make sure to sign up for my Live Feedback Lessons.

Ask a Native English Speaker

A native English speaker won’t be able to determine your IELTS Speaking test scores with the same level of certainty as an IELTS expert.

However, they can help you determine if you have a low band score.

Fluency and Coherence

An English-speaking friend can be a great help for your speaking in IELTS.

You can assess your own fluency so let’s not use your friend’s time for this.

For coherence, if your friend is ever confused about the topic of the conversation even though they understand the vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, you know that you are lower than a band 7 in fluency and coherence.

Lexical Resource & Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Most native English speakers can’t distinguish between vocabulary and grammar mistakes.

However, they will be able to tell you if the words you used caused confusion.

If they are never confused, you know that you’re at least a band 6 in Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy.


If your friend understands every word you say, you know that you’re higher than a band 5.

However, this doesn’t apply if you say one word at a time instead of using connected speech to speak in full sentences.

If your friend ever has trouble understanding your pronunciation, you know your score is a 5 or lower.


Fluency and Coherence

Record yourself speaking and when listening to the recording, pay attention to how often you need to pause, say “umm”, repeat a word or say a word slowly.

These are all methods of giving yourself more time to think, and if you do any of these things in most of your sentences, you know you’re lower than a band 7 for Fluency and Coherence.

By recording yourself, you can assess the frequency of pauses in your speaking.

Lexical Resource

With some honest self-reflection, you can determine if you’re lower than a band 6 in the IELTS Speaking test.

If you ever can’t communicate what you want to say because you don’t know the English words you need, you know that you’re a band 5 or lower for Lexical Resource.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

We looked at transcribing your speaking into Grammarly earlier in this lesson.

If Grammarly suggests corrections in more than half of your sentences, you know that your score is below a band 7.

You can transcribe what you've said to help find your grammar mistakes.


Use Google‘s voice search, and if it can understand everything you say, you know you’re at least a band 6.

Google's voice search is another useful tool for improving your IELTS Pronunciation score.

However, you must speak in full sentences because if you just say one word at a time, that is not an indication of your pronunciation ability.

What Now?

If you require an overall IELTS Speaking test score of band 8, you need to get a score of 8 in each of the categories.

This isn’t going to happen by being lucky on test day so put in the required effort now to avoid disappointment when you get your IELTS results.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of IELTS students need to improve some aspect of their English before getting the scores they need.

Those who accept that they need to improve and put in the work always get the scores they need.

You can definitely get the IELTS scores you need if you dedicate yourself to making the necessary improvements.

Those who refuse to believe their English level is a problem are destined to waste their time and money repeating the IELTS test over and over again until they eventually give up.

Finally, you will need to complete my IELTS Speaking test lesson about What to Do & What to Expect on test day.