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Guide for teachers Test format, scoring and preparing students for the test www.ielts.orgIELTS 1overview Contents Section 1 IELTS overview The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) • IELTS is the world’s most popular high stakes English assesses the English language proficiency of people who language test, with over 2.5 million tests taken last year. Section 2 IELTS test format want to study or work in English-speaking environments. • Over 9,000 organisations in over 140 countries It provides a fair, accurate and relevant assessment of recognise and use IELTS for selection purposes. Section 3 IELTS scores and interpretation language skills, based on well-established standards, • IELTS is offered at over 1,000 test locations worldwide. and covers the full range of proficiency levels, from non- • T est questions are developed by testing specialists Section 4 IELTS: an international test of English user to expert user. in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. • Test questions are based on authentic materials sourced Section 5 Tips from teachers There are two main versions of IELTS. Test takers can from all over the world. choose either Academic or General Training versions of Section 6 Becoming an IELTS examiner the test. Both versions of the test consist of four separate IELTS for teachers of English components, assessing the four language skills – IELTS is known and respected by teachers of English around Section 7 Continual research-based improvement Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. the world. Appendix i IELTS assessment criteria (band descriptors) This Guide for Teachers provides further information about the test, detailed descriptions of test scores and resources Appendix ii How IELTS maps to the Common European Find out more about IELTS Life Skills – a version to assist in preparing students for IELTS. Framework of Reference (CEFR) of IELTS specifically developed for those applying for certain types of UK visa at www.ielts.org It also has information about the professional development opportunities for teachers offered by IELTS examining and research. IELTS results are reported on a 9-band scale designed to be simple and easy to understand. This scale has remained consistent and has acquired currency around the world over the past three decades. “ IELTS makes for a confident student.” Senior Teacher, Turning Point, India IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration Find out how the IELTS result can be used for this purpose at www.ielts.org/uk. For more information View the materials and advice available on going to or staying in the UK, visit www.gov.uk for teachers at www.ielts.org/teachers 2 1IELTS Guide for teachers An overview of the test IELTS 2 test format Test takers can choose between IELTS Academic and Task 2 IELTS General Training, depending on their academic Test takers are asked to write an essay in response to a point or professional aspirations, or visa requirements. of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay. The difference between the two versions of the test is that the Reading and Writing components of IELTS Academic have subject matter and tasks suitable for the test takers Speaking 11–14 minutes entering undergraduate or post graduate studies. The The Speaking component assesses the test taker’s use Listening and Speaking components are the same. of spoken English, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is digitally recorded and consists of three parts: Listening 30 minutes Test takers listen to four recorded texts, monologues Part 1 and conversations by a range of native speakers, Test takers answer general questions about themselves and write their answers to a series of questions. and a range of familiar topics, such as their home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four “A lthough we accept other Reading 60 minutes and five minutes. The Academic version includes three long texts which English language tests, range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and Part 2 we always assess them by analytical. The texts are authentic and are taken from books, Test takers are given a booklet which asks them to talk about journals, magazines and newspapers and are on academic a particular topic. They have one minute to prepare before comparing them directly topics of general interest. All have been selected for a non- speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner may ask with the required IELTS specialist audience. one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test. score. IELTS test takers are The General Training version requires test takers to read thoroughly tested in the four extracts from newspapers, advertisements, instruction Part 3 manuals and books. These are materials test takers could Test takers are asked further questions which are connected main communication skills encounter on a daily basis in an English speaking country. to the topic in Part 2. These questions give the candidate required for academic work.” an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas. Writing 60 minutes This part lasts between four and five minutes. Senior Student Recruitment Officer, The Academic version includes two tasks. Topics are The Scottish Agricultural College, UK selected to be of general interest and suitable for test takers The format of the Speaking test is common across both entering undergraduate or postgraduate studies or seeking the Academic and General Training versions. It is structured professional registration. in such a way that does not allow test takers to rehearse set responses beforehand. Task 1 Test takers are presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event. Task 2 Test takers are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be written in an academic or semi-formal neutral style. Read more The General Training version also includes two tasks, More information for and is based on topics of general interest. institutions that accept IELTS scores can be found Task 1 in the IELTS Guide for Test takers are presented with a situation and are asked to Institutions, available at: View available teacher resources write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. www.ielts.org/institutions and materials at www.ielts.org/teachers The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style. 2 2 3 3I I n n t t e e g g I I r r n n a a t t t t e e e e g g d d 2 IELTS test format IELTS Guide for teachers A test of four skills IELTS Academic IELTS General Training IELTS Academic measures English language IELTS General Training measures English language proficiency needed for an academic, higher education proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks environment. The tasks and texts are accessible to all and texts reflect both workplace and social situations. test-takers, irrespective of their subject focus. Listening (30 minutes) Listening (30 minutes) IELTS is a task-based test covering the four language skills • Four recorded monologues and conversations • Four recorded monologues and conversations (listening, reading, writing and speaking). IELTS test takers receive individual scores for each of the four test components. The average of the four provides the overall band score. Reading (60 minutes) Reading (60 minutes) Each of the four components is carefully designed to focus on • Three long reading passages with tasks • Three reading passages with tasks one particular skill. This makes it easier to control task difficulty • Texts range from the descriptive and • Section 1 contains two or three short factual texts across the many different test versions produced each year factual to the discursive and analytical • Section 2 contains two short, work-related, and results in a fairer test design when compared with tests • Includes non-verbal materials such factual texts that assess multiple skills simultaneously. world. Test tasks often entail the use of other skills and are as diagrams, graphs or illustrations • Section 3 contains one longer therefore ‘integrated’ to some degree, for example: • Texts are authentic (e.g. taken from text on a topic of general interest Organisations that rely on IELTS as proof of English books, journals and newspapers) • Texts are authentic (e.g. taken from language proficiency benefit from knowing that the • In the Writing and Speaking components, information that is company handbooks, official documents, score given for each component of the test is a clear and fair read or heard helps shape the test taker’s own production. books and newspapers) reflection of the test taker’s ability in that skill. However, this is carefully controlled to ensure that the test taker is not required to carry out extensive or complex Writing (60 minutes) This is particularly important in academic and professional reading and listening in order to respond to the task. This • Writing task of at least 150 words where settings where one skill is deemed to be more important is particularly important because a score for each skill is the candidate must summarise, describe Writing (60 minutes) than others. being reported and it would be unfair to test takers if their or explain a table, graph, chart or diagram • Letter writing task of at least 150 words performance in one skill area was compromised by their lack • Short essay task of at least 250 words • Short essay task of at least 250 words For example, in Canada nurses are required to achieve a of proficiency in another. higher band score in their IELTS Speaking and Writing tests, while teachers in Australia are required to achieve higher scores in their IELTS Speaking and Listening tests • Tasks in the Reading and Listening components can Speaking (11 to 14 minutes) Speaking (11 to 14 minutes) involve note-taking, labelling and completion of tables or flow • Face-to-face interview • Face-to-face interview While IELTS focuses on testing the four skills individually, there charts. Nonetheless, it is important that any task or test items • Includes short questions, speaking • Includes short questions, speaking is inevitably an element of integration in each component, in should focus on reading or listening and should not require at length about a familiar topic at length about a familiar topic the same way that language skills are integrated in the real detailed writing. and a structured discussion and a structured discussion Productive Skills Receptive Skills Test takers will Test takers Key similarities Differences need to read the must read the • The Listening and Speaking components are the same The Reading component of the Academic and General task requirements questions before writing and write their for both versions. The distinction between ‘academic’ and Training versions is differentiated in terms of: Writing their answer. Listening answers. ‘general’ literacy has traditionally been seen as most marked • the choice of texts (topic, genre, length, number, etc) in relation to reading and writing skills. The more socially- • the level of difficulty of the 40 test items. The Academic oriented language skills of listening and speaking are equally Reading component has more items pitched at bands important in an academic study or professional context 5-8, whereas the General Training has more items pitched • The same amount of time is allocated to complete the at bands 3-6. This is a reflection of the different demands Listening and Speaking components in both the General of Academic and General Training. Training and Academic Versions • The Reading and Writing components are the same For Writing, the Academic and General Training versions length in both versions are differentiated in terms of: • Both versions have the same minimum word requirement • the content and nature of the two writing tasks Speaking Reading • The same assessment criteria and 9-band scale • the contextual parameters of the tasks. is used to grade both versions. Test takers Test takers will will need to However, given the level of differentiation described need to write listen to and their answers on A detailed breakdown of the test format can be found above, this does not mean that the scores across read task the answer sheet. in the Guide for educational institutions, governments, Academic and General Training Reading or Writing information in order to complete the task. professional bodies and commercial organisations components are interchangeable. and the Information for Candidates booklets, both available at www.ielts.org 4 5 r r d d d S a a e t t S e k e d e e i t t t k l e l s s i s d d s l t l e e e s s t t S S t e k k g t g g i i l l n n l l n g i i s s i n e e e i b b b e l l b l l l l i i i l k k l k i S S k S SIELTS Guide for teachers IELTS The IELTS scores and 9-band scale 3interpretation Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Each band corresponds How to interpret IELTS Expert user 9 accurate and fluent with complete understanding. to a level of competence in English. All parts of the test and Test takers receive scores on a band scale from 1 to 9. the overall band score are reported in whole or half bands, A profile score is reported for each skill. The four individual e.g. 7.0, 8.5. scores are averaged and rounded to produce an overall band Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic Very good score. Overall band scores and scores for each component inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar 8 user Test takers receive an overall band score as well as individual (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) are reported situations. Handles complex, detailed argumentation well. scores for each test component (Listening, Reading, Writing in whole bands or half bands. and Speaking). Has operational command of the language, although with occasional inaccuracies, Overall band score inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles Good user Test takers receive a Test Report Form including or listing 7 complex language well and understands detailed reasoning. their overall band score and their sub-scores on each of the The IELTS test provides an accurate picture of four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. a candidate’s language skills and abilities at a Each of the component scores is equally weighted. Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, certain point in time. Skills and abilities inevitably The overall band score is calculated by taking the mean Competent user inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex 6 diminish over time if not used. It is recommended of the total of the four individual component scores. language, particularly in familiar situations. that a Test Report Form more than two years old should only be accepted if it is accompanied by Overall band scores are reported to the nearest whole Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most evidence that a candidate has actively maintained or half band. The following rounding convention applies; situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle Modest user or improved their English. if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded 5 basic communication in own field. up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band. Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems Limited user Thus, a test taker achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 4 in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language. 5.0 for Writing and 7.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 6.5 (25 ÷ 4 = 6.25 = Band 6.5). Extremely Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. 3 limited user Frequent breakdowns in communication occur. Likewise, a test taker achieving 4.0 for Listening, 3.5 for Reading, 4.0 for Writing and 4.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 4.0 (15.5 ÷ 4 = 3.875 = No real communication is possible except for the most basic information Intermittent Band 4.0). using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate 2 user needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English. On the other hand, a test taker achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.5 for Writing and 6.0 for Speaking would be awarded band 6 (24.5 ÷ 4 = 6.125 = Band 6). Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words. Non user 1 Did not attempt No assessable information provided. 0 the test 6 73 IELTS scores and interpretation IELTS Guide for teachers Understanding IELTS scores Setting IELTS band score requirements “I ELTS gives us a reliable IELTS scores are reported on the nine-band scale. The for recognising organisations indication of entry Academic and General Training tests are marked using the IELTS test scores are just one element of the assessment of same criteria. a test taker’s suitability to enrol at an institution or to join an level. Other tests are organisation. The level of English needed for a test taker to less satisfactory at • The tasks and grading used for the Listening and Speaking perform effectively in study, work or training varies from one components are the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS situation to another. That is why each individual organisation providing this.” General Training. The more socially oriented language sets its own minimum IELTS score for applicants, depending skills of listening and speaking are equally important in an on specific requirements. Admissions professionals may also Kings College, UK academic study or workplace context. wish to take into account whether their organisation provides ongoing language support to students or employees to • The tasks, test content and grading of the Reading and improve their English. Writing components differ between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. This is because the distinction The IELTS Scores Guide DVD provides detailed descriptions between ‘academic’ and ‘general’ literacy has usually been of the test components and sample test materials. The DVD seen as most marked in reading and writing skills. contains real examples of test takers’ writing and speaking performances at different band score levels. Listening Writing The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions. Examiners use detailed performance descriptors to Each correct item is awarded one mark. Band scores, award a band score for each of four assessment criteria: ranging from Band 1 to Band 9, are awarded to test takers on the basis of their raw scores. Criterion Weighting Task achievement (Task 1)/ 25% Band score Raw score out of 40 Task response (Task 2) 8 35 Coherence and cohesion 25% 7 30 Lexical resource 25% 6 23 Grammatical range and accuracy 25% 5 16 Reading Speaking The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions. Examiners use detailed performance descriptors to Each correct item is awarded one mark. Band scores, award a band score for each of four assessment criteria: ranging from Band 1 to Band 9, are awarded to test takers on the basis of their raw scores. Criterion Weighting Fluency and coherence 25% Band score Raw score out of 40 Lexical resource 25% 8 35 Grammatical range and accuracy 25% 7 30 Pronunciation 25% 6 23 5 15 Band score boundaries Although all IELTS test materials are pretested and standards fixed before being released as live tests, there are inevitably minor differences in the difficulty level across tests. To equate different test versions, the band score boundaries are set so that all test takers’ results relate to the same scale of achievement. This means, for example, that the Band 6 boundary may be set at a slightly different raw score across individual test versions. 8 9IELTS Guide for teachers IELTS: an international 4 test of English International partners International delivery and accessibility IELTS is owned by a global partnership of education and IELTS tests are offered up to four times a month at over language experts: British Council, IDP:IELTS Australia and 1000 test venues in more than 140 countries. The cost Cambridge English Language Assessment. These bodies of taking the test is set locally and payable in the local are dedicated to academic excellence, cultural understanding, currency, making registration more convenient for student recruitment, and creating success worldwide. candidates. Results are issued to candidates 13 calendar The IELTS test combines the world-renowned assessment days after the test. IELTS test centres can send Test Report and research expertise of Cambridge English Language Forms directly to an organisation or institution (provided Assessment and the international delivery, evaluation it has been nominated by the candidate), either by mail and security expertise of the British Council and or as an electronic download. IDP:IELTS Australia. International consultation View the worldwide list of IELTS test IELTS has been developed in close consultation with centres at www.ielts.org/testcentres academics, professional bodies and immigration authorities around the world. International English International content IELTS recognises both British and American English The IELTS approach is recognised by academics and spelling, grammar and choice of words. It also incorporates admissions professionals as being fair, reliable and a mix of native speaker accents from Australia, Canada, valid to all candidates, whatever their nationality, cultural New Zealand, the UK and US in the Listening component. background, gender or specific needs. The test questions are developed by item writers in Australia, Canada, The number of people migrating and studying abroad has New Zealand, the UK and the US. multiplied over the last 20 years. This has transformed life in educational institutions. In English-speaking countries, more and more universities recruit staff internationally, and this is matched by an increasing student intake of non-native speakers of English. Simultaneously, in non-English speaking countries, more “W ith IELTS, the world is a organisations are using English as a common language of communication, as well as employing rising numbers of staff smaller place. I sat the test from English-speaking countries. Consequently, more people before leaving Japan and are teaching, studying and working with others who speak different varieties of English. received a band score of 8.5, satisfying visa requirements. Before starting new employment, I was required to undertake the IELTS test again. This time it was the academic version mandated by my employer.” (Pavel received a band score of 8.5 on his additional IELTS Academic test) Employee, large accounting firm, Australia 10 11IELTS Guide for teachers Tips from Teachers Tips from 5 teachers 1 General 3 Reading Make sure that your students: Make sure that your students: • are familiar with the format and types of tasks • use reading skills such as skimming and in the different sections of the IELTS test scanning – they will need to use these • know what is expected of them and how skills to answer all the questions in 1 hour best to approach each section • know how best to approach each type • are aware of the time allowed for each of reading task section and include timed practice in class • answer the questions and transfer their answers • read the instructions carefully and follow them. to the answer sheet within the time allowed. 2 Listening 4 Writing Make sure that your students: Make sure that your students: • think about the context before they listen • analyse the question carefully and plan and identify the type of information they their answer before starting to write will need to listen for • keep in mind the reader and the purpose • read the questions before they hear the text when writing The way IELTS results are reported makes it easy for and use the time between each section to • structure their writing logically and clearly teachers see which areas of a learner’s language skills prepare for the following section. • decide on a position and use examples need to be developed, and helps them set learners clear and evidence to support points they make goals and objectives.Teaching techniques for IELTS include in task 2 presenting language elements such as grammar and • are familiar with the assessment criteria. vocabulary in a wider context. The topics in IELTS are both interesting and contemporary, 5 Speaking and are based in the real world. This means teachers Make sure that your students: can bring the outside world into their IELTS classes by • feel confident and remind them to relax and using a range of authentic source materials adapted enjoy the conversation with the examiner to test preparation. • listen carefully to the questions • use fillers and hesitation devices if they need ‘thinking time’ before answering • realise it is their language level not their opinions which are being evaluated • are familiar with the assessment criteria. “T est takers receive an objective assessment of their English proc fi iency and have a clearer idea of where they need to make most improvements.” Lyndell King, teacher 12 13IELTS Guide for teachers Becoming Becoming an an IELTS IELTS examiner 6 examiner The worldwide recognition of IELTS and the increasing All IELTS examiner applicants must: numbers of IELTS test takers has in some countries led to • be native speakers of English or a non-native speaker growth in demand for IELTS examiners. with an IELTS band score of 9 in the Speaking and Writing components For teachers familiar with IELTS, becoming an IELTS • hold relevant qualifications in Teaching English to Speakers examiner offers a possible opportunity for professional of Other Languages (or equivalent) development. • have substantial relevant teaching experience post- qualification. The training and support provided to IELTS examiners can impact positively on teachers’ classroom practice. IELTS Next steps examiners gain a good understanding of what language If you are interested in becoming an IELTS examiner and learning involves, the study skills needed by students you meet the requirements outlined above, please contact following a university course in English and the conventions your local test centre. of Academic Writing in English. Ensuring consistency across test centres: Becoming an IELTS examiner • same operational procedures are adhered to by all IELTS Examiners worldwide are supported by the IELTS test centres globally Professional Support Network, a system of recruitment, • same examiner systems, standards and monitoring training, standardisation and monitoring. safeguard results. The Professional Support Network is jointly managed by British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. The examiner system “ I love teaching for IELTS Recruitment as I can make my classes The assessment of the professional and interpersonal skills of examiner applicants occurs at three stages in the recruitment process: application form, interview, and training. more interactive.” Induction Erika Tennant, IELTS course teacher, Shortlisted applicants are interviewed and, if successful, complete an induction process. Australia Training Applicants who successfully complete induction proceed to training, which is carried out by an examiner trainer and lasts four days. can apply the assessment criteria accurately and reliably and Year 1: Monitoring Examiners are monitored at least once every two years. New examiners (and those who have not recently worked Standardisation sessions are held every two years and are led by as IELTS examiners) are monitored three times in their an examiner trainer. Standardisation is completed at the centre and All examiners receive written feedback on their rating and the examiner. After the standardisation session, the examiners then also on the delivery of the Speaking test. They may be required to take corrective action if any issues are assessment criteria accurately. raised about their performance. 14 15IELTS Guide for teachers IELTS Research Reports include: Continual Volume and date research-based Title Author/Organiser of publication 7 improvement Using eye-tracking to research the cognitive Stephen Bax, Centre for Research Online processes of multinational readers during an in English Language Learning and Research Reports IELTS reading test Assessment (CRELLA), University of Volume 2, 2015 Bedfordshire, UK Stakeholder perceptions of IELTS as a Jill C Murray, Judie L Cross and Online gateway to the professional workplace: Ken Cruickshank Publication Reports The case of employers of overseas trained Volume 1, 2014 teachers Construct validity in the IELTS Academic Tim Moore, Janne Morton and Steve Price, Volume 11, 2012 Reading test: A comparison of reading Swinburne University requirements in IELTS test items and in university study An impact study into the use of IELTS by Glenys Merrifield, GBM & Associates, Volume 11, 2012 professional associations and registration Australia entities in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada Investigating IELTS exit score gains in Kieran O’Loughlin, Sophie Arkoudis, Volume 10, 2009 The success of IELTS rests on attention to four key test Research relating to IELTS test development and higher education The University of Melbourne, Australia qualities – validity, reliability, impact and practicality. These validation activities is also published in Research four factors have been the subject of a great deal of research Notes (RN). For more information, go to involving academics, administrators, teachers and other www.cambridgeenglish.org/research-notes. practitioners throughout the world for more than 40 years. External research Investigating stakeholders’ perceptions of David Hyatt, Greg Brooks, The University Volume 10, 2009 The IELTS partners lead an extensive programme of The IELTS research programme, jointly funded by IDP: IELTS as an entry requirement for higher of Sheffield, UK international research designed to ensure the quality and IELTS Australia and the British Council, ensures an ongoing education in the UK continual improvement of IELTS tests. relationship with the broader linguistics and language testing community and demonstrates the IELTS partners’ An impact study into the use of IELTS as an Glenys Merrifield, GBM & Associates, Volume 8, 2008 Advances in applied linguistics, language pedagogy, commitment to continuous improvement of the test. entry criterion for professional associations Australia language assessment and technological capabilities in Australia, New Zealand and the USA constantly challenge test developers to review, refine and Since 1995, more than 100 external studies by over reshape their approaches to test design, development, 130 researchers around the world have attracted delivery and evaluation. The steady evolution of IELTS funding under this scheme. Selected reports are Does the computer make a difference? The Cyril Weir, The University of Bedfordshire, Volume 7, 2007 clearly demonstrates how such factors shape the published in print and online in IELTS Research Reports reaction of candidates to a computer-based UK; Barry O’Sullivan, The University of development of a large-scale, high-stakes language test. www.ielts.org/researchers. versus traditional hand-written form for the Reading, UK; Jin Yan, Jiao Tong University, IELTS Writing component: effects and impact China; Steven Bax, Canterbury University, The IELTS research programme ensures: Christchurch, UK • the ongoing usefulness and contemporary relevance of the test for organisations that use IELTS results Annual research grants IELTS as a predictor of academic language David Ingram, Amanda Bayliss; Melbourne Volume 7, 2007 • that IELTS contributes more broadly to the growing Every year, individuals and education institutions with performance, Part 1 University Private, Australia understanding of the nature of language proficiency relevant experience are invited to apply to undertake and its place within linguistics and language education. IELTS-related research projects. Details of available grants, awards and application guidelines can be found Internal research online at www.ielts.org/researchers Exploring difficulty in Speaking tasks Barry O’Sullivan, Roehampton Volume 6, 2006 Internal research activities are managed by Cambridge An intra-task perspective University, UK; Cyril Weir, The University English Language Assessment’s Research and Validation of Bedfordshire, UK; Tomoko Horai, group and are co-ordinated within a framework for ongoing Roehampton University, UK test development and validation. Cambridge English Language Assessment makes Investigating the relationship between Catherine Elder, The University of Auckland Volume 4, 2003 a valuable contribution to the wider field of language intensive English language study and band and Kieran O’Loughlin, The University of assessment through a number of presentations and score gain on IELTS Melbourne, Australia publications, in particular, Studies in Language Testing (SiLT). SiLT is a series of academic volumes that addresses a diverse range of important issues and new developments in language testing and assessment that are of interest to test users, developers and researchers. For more information, go to www.cambridgeenglish.org/silt. 16 17Appendix i IELTS Guide for teachers IELTS Speaking assessment criteria Band Fluency and coherence Lexical resource Grammatical range and accuracy Pronunciation • Speaks fluently with only rare repetition or self correction; • Uses vocabulary with full flexibility and precision • Uses a full range of structures naturally and appropriately • Uses a full range of pronunciation features with precision any hesitation is content-related rather than to find words in all topics • Produces consistently accurate structures apart from ‘slips’ and subtlety 9 or grammar • Uses idiomatic language naturally and accurately characteristic of native speaker speech • Sustains flexible use of features throughout • Speaks coherently with fully appropriate cohesive features • Is effortless to understand • Develops topics fully and appropriately • Speaks fluently with only occasional repetition or • Uses a wide vocabulary resource readily and flexibly • Uses a wide range of structures flexibly • Uses a wide range of pronunciation features self-correction; hesitation is usually content related and to convey precise meaning • Produces a majority of error-free sentences with only very • Sustains flexible use of features, with only occasional lapses 8 only rarely to search for language • Uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skilfully, occasional inappropriateness or basic/unsystematic errors • Is easy to understand throughout; L1 accent has minimal effect • Develops topics coherently and appropriately with occasional inaccuracies on intelligibility • Uses paraphrase effectively as required • Speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence • Uses vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics • Uses a range of complex structures with some flexibility • Shows all the positive features of Band 6 and some, • May demonstrate language-related hesitation at times, • Uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some • Frequently produces error-free sentences, though some but not all, of the positive features of Band 8 7 or some repetition and/or self-correction awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices grammatical mistakes persist • Uses a range of connectives and discourse markers • Uses paraphrase effectively with some flexibility • Is willing to speak at length, though may lose coherence at • Has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length • Uses a mix of simple and complex structures, but with limited flexibility • Uses a range of pronunciation features with mixed control times due to occasional repetition,self-correction or hesitation and make meaning clear in spite of inappropriateness • May make frequent mistakes with complex structures, though these • Shows some effective use of features but this is not sustained 6 • Uses a range of connectives and discourse markers but not • Generally paraphrases successfully rarely cause comprehension problems • Can generally be understood throughout, though mispronunciation always appropriately of individual words or sounds reduces clarity at times • Usually maintains flow of speech but uses repetition, • Manages to talk about familiar and unfamiliar topics • Produces basic sentence forms with reasonable accuracy • Shows all the positive features of Band 4 and some, self-correction and/or slow speech to keep going but uses vocabulary with limited flexibility • Uses a limited range of more complex structures, but these usually but not all, of the positive features of Band 6 5 • May over-use certain connectives and discourse markers • Attempts to use paraphrase but with mixed success contain errors and may cause some comprehension problems • Produces simple speech fluently, but more complex communication causes fluency problems • Cannot respond without noticeable pauses and may • Is able to talk about familiar topics but can only convey basic meaning • Produces basic sentence forms and some correct simple sentences • Uses a limited range of pronunciation features speak slowly, with frequent repetition and self-correction on unfamiliar topics and makes frequent errors in word choice but subordinate structures are rare • Attempts to control features but lapses are frequent 4 • Links basic sentences but with repetitious use of simple • Rarely attempts paraphrase • Errors are frequent and may lead to misunderstanding • Mispronunciations are frequent and cause some difficulty connectives and some breakdowns in coherence for the listener • Speaks with long pauses • Uses simple vocabulary to convey personal information • Attempts basic sentence forms but with limited success, • Shows some of the features of Band 2 and some, • Has limited ability to link simple sentences • Has insufficient vocabulary for less familiar topics or relies on apparently memorised utterances but not all, of the positive features of Band 4 3 • Gives only simple responses and is frequently unable • Makes numerous errors except in memorised expressions to convey basic message • Pauses lengthily before most words • Only produces isolated words or memorised utterances • Cannot produce basic sentence forms • Speech is often unintelligible • Little communication possible 2 • No communication possible • No rateable language 1 • Does not attend 0 View official sample tests at www.ielts.org © UCLES 2012 18 19Appendix i IELTS Guide for teachers IELTS Task 1 Writing assessment criteria Band Task achievement Coherence and cohesion Lexical resource Grammatical range and accuracy • Fully satisfies all the requirements of the task • Uses cohesion in such a way that it attracts no attention • Uses a wide range of vocabulary with very natural and sophisticated • Uses a wide range of structures with full flexibility • Clearly presents a fully developed response • Skilfully manages paragraphing control of lexical features; rare minor errors occur only as ‘slips’ and accuracy; rare minor errors occur only as ‘slips’ 9 • Covers all requirements of the task sufficiently • Sequences information and ideas logically • Uses a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly • Uses a wide range of structures • Presents, highlights and illustrates key • Manages all aspects of cohesion well to convey precise meanings • The majority of sentences are error-free 8 features/bullet points clearly and appropriately • Uses paragraphing sufficiently and appropriately • Skilfully uses uncommon lexical items but there may be occasional • Makes only very occasional errors or inappropriateness inaccuracies in word choice and collocation • Produces rare errors in spelling and/or word formation • Covers the requirements of the task • Logically organises information and ideas; • Uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility • Uses a variety of complex structures • (Academic) presents a clear overview of main trends, there is clear progression throughout and precision • Produces frequent error-free sentences 7 differences or stages • Uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although • Uses less common lexical items with some awareness of style • Has good control of grammar and punctuation • (General training) presents a clear purpose, there may be some under/over-use and collocation but may make a few errors with the tone consistent and appropriate • May produce occasional errors in word choice, • Clearly presents and highlights features/bullet points spelling and/or word formation but could be more fully extended • Addresses the requirements of the task • Arranges information and ideas coherently • Uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task • Uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms • (Academic) presents an overview with information and there is a clear overall progression • Attempts to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy • Makes some errors in grammar and punctuation 6 appropriately selected • Uses cohesive devices effectively, but cohesion within and/or • Makes some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not but they rarely reduce communication • (General training) presents a purpose that is generally between sentences may be faulty or mechanical impede communication clear; there may be inconsistencies in tone • May not always use referencing clearly or appropriately • Presents and adequately highlights key features/bullet points but details may be irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate • Generally addresses the task; the format may • Presents information with some organisation • Uses a limited range of vocabulary, but this is minimally adequate • Uses only a limited range of structures be inappropriate in places but there may be a lack of overall progression for the task • Attempts complex sentences but these tend 5 • (Academic) recounts detail mechanically with no clear • Makes inadequate, inaccurate or over-use of cohesive devices • May make noticeable errors in spelling and/or word formation that to be less accurate than simple sentences overview; there may be no data to support the description • May be repetitive because of lack of referencing and substitution may cause some difficulty for the reader • May make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation • (General training) may present a purpose for the letter may be faulty; errors can cause some difficulty for the reader that is unclear at times; the tone may be variable and sometimes inappropriate • Presents, but inadequately covers, key features/bullet points; there may be a tendency to focus on details • Attempts to address the task but does not cover all key • Presents information and ideas but these are not arranged • Uses only basic vocabulary which may be used repetitively • Uses only a very limited range of structures features / bullet points; the format may be inappropriate coherently and there is no clear progression in the response or which may be inappropriate for the task with only rare use of subordinate clauses 4 • (General training) fails to clearly explain the purpose • Uses some basic cohesive devices but these may be inaccurate • Has limited control of word formation and/or spelling; • Some structures are accurate but errors predominate, of the letter; the tone may be inappropriate or repetitive errors may cause strain for the reader and punctuation is often faulty • May confuse key features/bullet points with detail; parts may be unclear, irrelevant, repetitive or inaccurate • Fails to address the task, which may have been • Does not organise ideas logically • Uses only a very limited range of words and expressions with very • Attempts sentence forms but errors in grammar and completely misunderstood • May use a very limited range of cohesive devices, and those limited control of word formation and/or spelling; errors may severely punctuation predominate and distort the meaning 3 • Presents limited ideas which may be largely irrelevant/repetitive used may not indicate a logical relationship between ideas distort the message • Answer is barely related to the task • Has very little control of organisational features • Uses an extremely limited range of vocabulary; essentially • Cannot use sentence forms except in memorised phrases no control of word formation and/or spelling 2 • Answer is completely unrelated to the task • Fails to communicate any message • Can only use a few isolated words • Cannot use sentence forms at all 1 • Does not attend • Does not attempt the task in any way 0 • Writes a totally memorised response © UCLES 2012 20 21Appendix i IELTS Guide for teachers IELTS Task 2 Writing assessment criteria Band Task response Coherence and cohesion Lexical resource Grammatical range and accuracy • Fully addresses all parts of the task • Uses cohesion in such a way that it attracts no attention • Uses a wide range of vocabulary with very natural and sophisticated • Uses a wide range of structures with full flexibility • Presents a fully developed position in answer to the question • Skilfully manages paragraphing control of lexical features; rare minor errors occur only as ‘slips’ and accuracy; rare minor errors occur only as ‘slips’ 9 with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas • Sufficiently addresses all parts of the task • Sequences information and ideas logically • Uses a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly • Uses a wide range of structures • Presents a well-developed response to the question • Manages all aspects of cohesion well to convey precise meanings • The majority of sentences are error-free 8 with relevant, extended and supported ideas • Uses paragraphing sufficiently and appropriately • Skilfully uses uncommon lexical items but there may be occasional • Makes only very occasional errors or inappropriateness inaccuracies in word choice and collocation • Produces rare errors in spelling and/or word formation • Addresses all parts of the task • Logically organises information and ideas; • Uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some • Uses a variety of complex structures • Presents a clear position throughout the response there is clear progression throughout flexibility and precision • Produces frequent error-free sentences 7 • Presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there • Uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately • Uses less common lexical items with some awareness • Has good control of grammar and punctuation may be a tendency to over generalise and/or supporting although there may be some under/over-use of style and collocation but may make a few errors ideas may lack focus • Presents a clear central topic within each paragraph • May produce occasional errors in word choice, spelling and/or word formation • Addresses all parts of the task although some parts • Arranges information and ideas coherently • Uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task • Uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms may be more fully covered than others and there is a clear overall progression • Attempts to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy • Makes some errors in grammar and punctuation 6 • Presents a relevant position although the conclusions • Uses cohesive devices effectively, but cohesion within • Makes some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not but they rarely reduce communication may become unclear or repetitive and/or between sentences may be faulty or mechanical impede communication • Presents relevant main ideas but some may be inadequately • May not always use referencing clearly or appropriately developed/unclear • Uses paragraphing, but not always logically • Addresses the task only partially; the format may • Presents information with some organisation • Uses a limited range of vocabulary, but this is minimally • Uses only a limited range of structures be inappropriate in places but there may be a lack of overall progression adequate for the task • Attempts complex sentences but these tend to be less 5 • Expresses a position but the development is not always • Makes inadequate, inaccurate or over-use of cohesive devices • May make noticeable errors in spelling and/or word formation that accurate than simple sentences clear and there may be no conclusions drawn • May be repetitive because of lack of referencing and substitution may cause some difficulty for the reader • May make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation • Presents some main ideas but these are limited and • May not write in paragraphs, or paragraphing may be inadequate may be faulty; errors can cause some difficulty for the reader not sufficiently developed; there may be irrelevant detail • Responds to the task only in a minimal way or the answer • Presents information and ideas but these are not arranged • Uses only basic vocabulary which may be used repetitively • Uses only a very limited range of structures is tangential; the format may be inappropriate coherently and there is no clear progression in the response or which may be inappropriate for the task with only rare use of subordinate clauses 4 • Presents a position but this is unclear • Uses some basic cohesive devices but these may be inaccurate • Has limited control of word formation and/or spelling; errors may • Some structures are accurate but errors predominate, • Presents some main ideas but these are difficult to identify or repetitive cause strain for the reader and punctuation is often faulty and may be repetitive, irrelevant or not well supported • May not write in paragraphs or their use may be confusing • Does not adequately address any part of the task • Does not organise ideas logically • Uses only a very limited range of words and expressions with very • Attempts sentence forms but errors in grammar • Does not express a clear position • May use a very limited range of cohesive devices, and those limited control of word formation and/or spelling and punctuation predominate and distort the meaning 3 • Presents few ideas, which are largely undeveloped used may not indicate a logical relationship between ideas • Errors may severely distort the message or irrelevant • Barely responds to the task • Has very little control of organisational features • Uses an extremely limited range of vocabulary; essentially • Cannot use sentence forms except in memorised phrases • Does not express a position no control of word formation and/or spelling 2 • May attempt to present one or two ideas but there is no development • Answer is completely unrelated to the task • Fails to communicate any message • Can only use a few isolated words • Cannot use sentence forms at all 1 • Does not attend • Does not attempt the task in any way 0 • W rites a totally memorised response © UCLES 2012 22 23Appendix ii IELTS Guide for teachers How IELTS maps to the Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) How should the CEFR be used by recognising However, test users may also find the Council of Europe’s With the above in mind, Cambridge English Language Q3. If a student has an IELTS score of 6.5 should institutions wishing to set language ability Common European Framework of Reference for Languages Assessment has conducted a number of research projects this be treated as a B2 equivalent score? requirements? helpful. The Framework, a series of descriptions of abilities since the late 1990s to explore how IELTS band scores align 6.5 is borderline B2/C1. It is for institutions to decide at different learning levels, which can be applied to any with the CEFR levels. A number of these were summarised alignment to a particular level of the CEFR is critical. In fulfilling its purpose as a common reference tool, the language, can provide a starting point for interpreting in Taylor (2004b), while cautioning that, “As we grow in our Otherwise, our general advice remains that an overall Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and comparing different language qualifications, and is understanding of the relationship between IELTS and the IELTS band 7.0 will probably meet the language was not designed to provide the basis for precise equating, increasingly used as a way of benchmarking language CEFR levels, so the frame of reference may need to be requirements of most university courses, though 6.5 nor was it intended to be a prescriptive tool to impose ability not only within Europe but worldwide. revised accordingly.” may be adequate for courses which are less linguistically standardised solutions. Rather it was designed as a common demanding. Institutions need to consider a range of factors framework of reference, primarily intended as ‘a tool for To help test users understand the relationship between Note that the IELTS band scores referred to in Figure 1 in setting their requirements, including, for example the reflection, communications and empowerment’, as described IELTS band scores and the six CEFR levels, Cambridge above are the overall band scores, not the individual module amount of pre-sessional or in-sessional language-learning by John Trim, its coordinating author, (Saville, N (2005)). English Language Assessment has conducted a number band scores for listening, reading, writing and speaking. support which will be available to prospective students, The IELTS partners recommend that all test result users of studies to map the IELTS scale to the CEFR, drawing on It is important to recognise that the purpose of this figure is and whether a minimum standard should also be specified should look at the IELTS bandscore descriptors and use the interrelationship between IELTS and other Cambridge to communicate the relationship between IELTS performances in a particular individual skill. the IELTS Scores Guide DVD to establish the appropriate English Language Assessment qualifications and the known and the CEFR. They should not be interpreted as reflecting level of language ability required for their particular institution relationship of these latter qualifications to the CEFR. strong claims about exact equivalence between assessment Q4. How does this compare to the mappings or course. products or the scores they generate, for the reasons given that other language testers have published? Figure 1: The mapping of the IELTS scale to the in Taylor (2004a). We do not comment on the benchmarking exercises Common European Framework above is derived from that other language testers have provided. the interrelationship between IELTS and the Cambridge The current alignment is based upon a growing body English Language Assessment Main Suite qualifications of internal and external research, some of which has also References and the mapping of these latter qualifications to the CEFR. appeared in peer-reviewed academic journals, attesting Further information on this can be found at to their quality (e.g. Hawkey & Barker, 2004). This research • Council of Europe (2001) The Common European www.cambridgeenglish.org/cefr has been further combined with long established experience framework of reference for languages: Learning, teaching, of test use within education and society, as well as feedback assessment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. General information from a range of stakeholders regarding the uses of test • Davidson, F & Fulcher, G (2007) The Common European results for particular purposes. Framework of Reference and the design of language tests: Making comparisons between scores on different tests A matter of effect. Language Teaching 40, 231-241. is challenging because many of the current range of test As further work, such as that being undertaken in the • Hawkey , R & Barker, F (2004). Developing a common scale products differ in their design, purpose, and format (Taylor, English Profile project, enriches our understanding of for the assessment of writing. 2004a). Candidates’ aptitude and preparation for a particular the CEFR levels, further refinements may be possible. • Assessing Writing, 9(3), p. 122-159. type of test may also vary and individual candidates or • Milanovic, M (2009) Cambridge ESOL and the CEFR. groups of candidates may perform better in certain tests Research Notes 37, 2-5. than in others. Further information • Saville, N (2005) An interview with John Trim at 80, Language Assessment Quarterly 2 (4), 263-288. Specifying the relationship between a test product and Q1. Some IELTS band scores are shown as borderline • T aylor, L (2004a) Issues of test comparability. Research the CEFR is challenging because, in order to function (e.g. it is not clear whether band 5 is B1 or B2). How Notes 15, 2-5. as a framework, the CEFR is deliberately underspecified should institutions and organisations interpret this? • Taylor, L (2004b) IELTS, Cambridge ESOL examinations (Davidson & Fulcher, 2007; Milanovic, 2009; Weir, 2005). As IELTS preceded the CEFR, IELTS band score thresholds and the Common European Framework Research Notes Establishing the relationship is also not a one-off activity, have never aligned exactly with the CEFR transition points. 18, 2-3. but rather involves the accumulation of evidence over time Previously (Taylor 2004a), we provided advice as to the • Weir, C J (2005) Limitations of the Common European (e.g. it needs to be shown that test quality and standards score on IELTS that a candidate who was at a given CEFR Framework for developing comparable examinations are maintained). level might achieve. However, our research shows that a and tests. Language Testing 22, 281-300. C1 minimum threshold would fall between the 6.5 and 7 The relationship of IELTS with the CEFR is complex as IELTS thresholds on the IELTS scale. Therefore, whilst many 6.5 is not a level-based test, but rather designed to span a much candidates would be at C1, a number will be marginally Further information can be found at www.ielts.org/cefr broader proficiency continuum. It also utilises a different below. The present table makes this clearer. So if an 9-point band scoring system; thus, there will not be a one- institution requires a high degree of confidence that an to-one correspondence between IELTS scores and CEFR applicant is at C1, they may wish to set a requirement of 7, levels. It is important to bear in mind the differences in test rather than 6.5. purpose, test format, test populations, and measurement scales when seeking to make comparisons. Q2. Does IELTS differentiate at C2 level? Band scores of 8.5 and higher constitute C2 level performance. Band 8 is borderline. 24 24 25 25Notes Notes 26 27Notes 28BRITISH COUNCIL Bridgewater House 58 Whitworth Street Manchester M1 6BB United Kingdom TEL: +44 (0) 161 957 7755 Email: ieltsbritishcouncil.org IDP: IELTS AUSTRALIA Level 8 535 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia TEL: +61 (0)3 9612 4400 Email: ielts.communicationsidp.com CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT 1 Hills Road Cambridge CB1 2EU United Kingdom www.cambridgeenglish.org/help IELTS USA 825 Colorado Boulevard Suite 221 Los Angeles CA 90041 USA TEL: +1 323 255 2771 Email: ieltsieltsusa.org July 2015 IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. The IELTS test is designed and set by the world’s leading experts in language assessment to give a true picture of a candidate’s language skills. IELTS Bands 4-9 (NQF levels Entry 3 to Level 3) are accredited by Ofqual, England’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. www.ielts.org