Speaking – Criteria

These are the criteria the examiner uses to assess your speaking level.

Click here for the SPEAKING criteria

But what does it all mean? There are four criteria. Each one contributes 25% to your final mark for speaking.

the criteria explained


To get a Band 7 or above, you need to be able to give answers that are 3 – 4 sentences (or more) long and use examples and / or explanations. Your answer needs to be relevant and logical. Your speaking needs to be at a reasonable speed. Fillers (ah, um, er, etc) are fine if you use them just briefly while you are thinking, but they need to be English fillers.

if you occasionally make a mistake, you can self correct (but too many mistakes and too many self corrections will count against you).

The examiner doesn’t really mind what you say, so long as it is relevant and makes sense.

Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)

To get a Band 7 or above you need to show that you have a varied vocabulary that enables you to discuss a range of topics and express yourself clearly. You need to use some less common vocabulary and it needs to be used correctly. Using collocations will help you a lot (words that often go together (eg. challenged by / wondered about / percentage of). The more varied and accurate your use of vocab, the higher your mark.


To get a Band 6 or better you need to show that you can use a range of simple and complex sentences. (Complex sentences involve joining ideas with words like while, at the same time, on the other hand, contrasts with, but, however, and the second reason is … and so on.)

Your simple sentences should be largely correct and the more accurate the complex sentences, the higher the mark. Pay particular attention to tenses. What tense was the question? That should guide your answer.


You can get a good mark for this criteria despite non-standard pronunciation. It is a question of how easy it is to understand you. To get a Band 6 most of what you say needs to be easy to understand. To get a Band 7 or better, everything needs to be reasonably clear.

Problems that some people have are:

  • poor word stress
  • problems linking sounds
  • poor sentence stress
  • intonation – rising and falling
  • not pronouncing consonant clusters (eg. bolsters – the lst in the middle) or word endings (findings may become fi’i), dropping final ‘s’ ‘n’ ‘d’ and so on.

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