Interview with IELTS Expert, Don Oliver from IDP

In the eighth segment of the interview, Don goes into further detail about IELTS scoring system. The detailed specifications of the scoring system benefit the test-takers on improving their English skills.

8.About IELTS’ scoring system

Interviewer: How should IELTS test takers utilize the test results based on the language assessment experts’ intentions?

Don: Well, it really depends what you mean by “utilize.” It’s clear that any test score is useful for some purpose. I remember, in Australia, I was helping deliver a test to some meat workers. In Australia, they needed a 4.5 in order to get their working visa. So, 4.5, which is quite low, was a pass for them. The IELTS test doesn’t pass or fail people, it just gives you a score. For a doctor, of course, a 4.5 would be a fail because they need a 7 in order to practice in an English-speaking country. A teacher needs an 8 in their Speaking in order to do the same thing. But for a student wanting to get a student visa, then I think it’s a Band 6, or 5 or 5.5. So that’s how you can utilize your score, but if you mean how do you utilize the feedback, it goes back to the transparency of the assessment. If you do get a 5, you can very quickly see what you need to do to improve. Go to the public version of the assessment criteria for Speaking and you’ll see what a 5 can do and what a 6 can do. And look at this band 6 and 7 and focus on those things. Go to the Writing Criteria and look at some of those things that might have resulted in your band 5 score, it might be that you did not answer the question as directly as you could or maybe your paragraphing or your spelling is not so good. For Listening and Reading, to get a 6, you need to get 23 correct answers in the academic test. So all of those things are helpful. I think you can focus on your performance and then work on improving it.

Interviewer: Yes, it’s very important that the measurement system is very specific. For instance, as you mentioned, 23 correct answers are necessary for a band 6 and the candidate can recognize their problems specifically. And I think that’s one of the important facts of improving.

About Don
1: Why did you become an IELTS Expert?
2: The tasks of an IELTS Expert
3: The tasks done for IDP
4: Teaching experience in Oman and Vietnam
5: The factors that helped IELTS establish its worldwide trust
6: Test design process for IELTS
7: The linguistic studies and observations used for IELTS
8: About IELTS’ scoring system←you’re here
9: The importance of IELTS’ Speaking Task
10: The drastic changes in the history of IELTS
About second language acquisition
11: Important factors for second language acquisition
12: Important factors for beginner-level learners of English
13: Important factors for mid-level learners of English
14: Important factors for advanced-level learners of English