In today’s tutorial, we look at IELTS Speaking band 9 vs band 7 sample answers with ex-examiner Robert.
You will learn:
- The real difference between a Band 7 and a Band 9 speaking answer
- Sample IELTS Speaking Band 9 Answer
- Why this answer would score a Band 9
- Why this answer would score a Band 7
The real difference between a Band 7 and a Band 9 speaking answers
If you move from Fluency and Coherence through to Pronunciation, the Band 9 descriptors are practically describing native speaker competence. There is not one topic that will stop a Band 9 test taker from sounding perfectly natural and appropriate when it comes to grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and, of course, fluency.
A Band 7 is a mere mortal in comparison. It’s a very good level of competence in a second language. Yes, there are the occasional errors in grammar and vocabulary, and you may hesitate from time to time mentally searching for a word, an expression or the best way to say something or other, but you can make yourself very well understood.
You can check the IELTS speaking band descriptors here. This is an important part of your IELTS preparation. Knowing what the examiner is looking for and what you are capable of, helps you to identify those areas you need to improve to push your band score up.
Studying sample speaking band scores is a useful part of this identification process.
Let’s take an extract from a Band 9 interview and identify what makes it a Band 9 and then do the same with a Band 7. Both test takers are answering similar Part 3 questions after a Part 2 topic on describing a famous person they admire.
Sample IELTS Speaking Band 9 Answer
Examiner: What kinds of people are famous in your country?
TT: In …… definitely the politicians and also some actors and actresses are very famous.
Examiner: Was it the same in the past as it is now?
TT: I think definitely in the past, especially if we’re talking about the 50s and 60s, movies were the number one communication tool between villages or towns. So, people were definitely more familiar with actors and actresses rather than, say, politicians. These days, I think it’s more a question of universal access to TV and the internet where people follow politicians’ personal lives even maybe more than actors and actresses.
Examiner: And what about in the future?
TT: Well, there’s no doubt the world is becoming more globalised and so trends that are popular in other countries, like the US or Canada, will catch on here, are already catching on here in fact. I mean, reality shows where anybody can be famous for a while. In those countries, it’s the norm and pretty soon we will be into that too.
Why this answer would score a Band 9
- Fluency: The test taker speaks fluently with little or no hesitation. Any hesitation is not to search for the language but to think of ideas. The speech is coherent, with fully appropriate cohesive features
- Vocabulary: He uses vocabulary with complete flexibility and precision in all topics with a wide range of idiomatic language (the world is becoming more globalised; catch on here; the norm; be into that).
- Grammatical Structure: His grammatical structures are precise and accurate at all times. He uses a full and natural range of structures and sentence types and makes no noticeable errors.
- Pronunciation: As for pronunciation and intonation, he uses a full range of phonological features with precision and subtlety. The rhythm of his language is sustained throughout, and stress and intonation are invariably used to good effect. This and his very clear production of individual words and sounds result in him being effortless to understand.
Sample IELTS Speaking Band 7 Answer
Examiner: What kinds of people are famous in your country?
TT: Ah …mostly sports people I would say. Like our favourite sport is soccer. So yeah, people who play this sport. As well as famous are politicians, but they are not admired for the one reason or the other.
Examiner: So, there’s a difference between being famous and being admired?
TT: Hmmm…that’s a good question. ….I think so, definitely think so, yeah. Politicians are famous because it’s easy to blame them for everything that goes wrong, like global warming for example. And the financial crisis a few years back. Everything what happens is usually negative and that’s the normal person doesn’t like politicians.
Examiner: What about movie stars?
TT: Yeah, but international stars….we don’t have a very big branch of this here, so everyone looks to the actors on the other side of the lake. Young people in my country watches a lot of series on streaming services and that’s how actors become well-known.
Why this answer would score a Band 7
Now, here’s why this performance was given a Band 7.
- Fluency: This candidate can maintain the flow of speech without noticeable effort and there is no loss of coherence. He uses a variety of linking words and markers (I would say; that’s a good question), but he overuses the filler (yeah) and sometimes referencing is inaccurate (for one reason or the other).
- Vocabulary: He uses a wide range of vocabulary, including some less common and idiomatic items and effective collocation (easy to blame; global warming; financial crisis; a few years back; looks to; streaming services). However, sometimes he lacks precision in his choice of words and expressions (on the other side of the lake; a big branch).
- Grammatical Structure: His grammar displays a good range of both simple and complex structures. Many of his sentences are error-free but he makes some mistakes in subject/verb agreement (young people …watches), articles (the normal person) and relative pronouns (everything that happens).
- Pronunciation: We can assume his pronunciation is clear and easy to follow. He uses both sentence stress and intonation effectively to convey meaning. He does have a noticeable accent, however. This test taker was German and did have a noticeable accent. Is that a factor to take into consideration? Only if it does interfere with understanding.
Being presented with model samples together with an analysis of how and why the band scores were given, can be a very useful tool in your IELTS preparation.
Try recording yourself as well and then asking others (study partners, IELTS experts) to give their assessment of you to know where you are, be made aware of errors and areas you need to work on.
You can download or listen to the full tutorial here: