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Who are IELTS examiners and how do they score tests?

Published on November 13, 2017

Have you ever wondered who IELTS Speaking and Writing examiners are and how they score tests?

You may be surprised to discover that there are specific qualifications and training that are required to become a certified IELTS Writing and Speaking examiner including:

  • An undergraduate degree in a related field
  • A recognized qualification in English language teaching, such as TESOL/TESL/TEFOL
  • At least three-year’s full time (or the equivalent of part time) relevant English-language teaching experience, with most of that time spent teaching adults.

Before becoming a certified IELTS examiner, we must participate in standardized training conducted by an experienced IELTS examiner trainer. Part of the training includes showing that we can accurately and consistently mark IELTS Speaking and Writing exams based on specific criteria (discussed further below).

Once certified, all examiners are regularly monitored to ensure we are consistently and accurately following the standards for marking speaking and writing exams. Examiners must also get re-certified every two years.

In addition to consistently and accurately assessing candidates’ speaking and writing , we are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the test, and ensuring the same procedures are followed for all candidates. Another part of our job as examiners is to ensure we maintain confidentiality and security in all aspects of IELTS, both on test day, and when marking exams.

How do we know what scores to give?

As mentioned above, part of our training to become IELTS examiners includes extensive practice marking speaking and writing exams. To evaluate and mark exams, we use band scores and band descriptors.

All Academic and General Training IELTS tests are scored using a band scale from 1 (a non-user) – 9 (an expert user). Candidates are given a band score from 1 to 9 for the Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking tests. Candidates can be scored whole scores (4.0, 5.0, etc.) or half scores (4.5, 5.5, etc.). The average of the scores for each part of the test (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) then becomes the candidate’s overall band score. Check here for information about the IELTS band scale.

To determine the band scores for the Speaking and Writing tests, we use detailed band descriptors. Check here for a public version of the band descriptors. This information is very useful, as it gives you a good idea of the kinds of things your examiner looks for when marking.

A bit of advice: it’s worth your time to become familiarized with these band descriptors. After all, this is some of the information examiners use to score candidates. I also recommend that you take some time to review the videos of speaking samples and examiner comments found here .

Gaining some knowledge about your IELTS test, including the format, the kinds of questions you may be asked, what the examiner is looking for, and how you will be marked can go a long way in helping you prepare and be ready for your test. So go ahead and take some time to further educate yourself before taking your IELTS test.