Answer to Understanding IELTS Lesson

Yesterdays I asked you certain questions about the IELTS test to check your understanding of IELTS.

Lets take a look at the answers:

Answers for Question 1 to 6

  1. Will IELTS listening accept 25th MARCH or 25 MARCH?
  2. Can you write 9am or 9.00am?
  3. Will IELTS writing accept American spelling?
  4. Can you ask for extra paper to plan your essay in IELTS writing?
  5. Can I use a highlighter pen in IELTS reading?
  6. Can I use body language in the speaking test?

You will find the answers to the above questions on this page: IELTS FAQ. The IELTS FAQ page contains over 130 answers to your concerns about IELTS. Quick answers: 1) both, 2) both 3) yes but don’t mix it with UK English 4) no, use the question paper to plan, 5) no 6. yes – be natural, but remember body language isn’t marked.

Answers to Questions 7 & 8

  • 7. Are my ideas marked in IELTS speaking?
  • 8. Are my ideas marked in IELTS writing?

I am glad I asked these questions because many of you seem confused about how your speaking and writing are marked. If you don’t understand the marking system, you will struggle to get a good score.

Lets look more closely and understand the marking criteria.

IELTS Speaking Marking

You are marked on your spoken English only. Criteria:

  1. Fluency – ability to speak at length with few pauses, hesitations or repitition
  2. Vocabulary – range and accuracy of your words for a variety of topics
  3. Grammar – range and accuracy of your grammar (particularly tenses)
  4. Pronunciation – the pronunciation of sounds & words, and intonation and sentence stress etc

As you can see, your ideas are NOT marked. There is no marking criteria for ideas or being on topic. Only the language you produce is marked.

IELTS Writing Marking

You are marked on your English and IELTS essay writing skills. Criteria for task 2:

  1. Task Response – your answer, your extension of ideas, your ability to complete a task, relevancy of ideas
  2. Coherence & Cohesion – paragraphing, organising, linking, logical flow of information
  3. Vocabulary – range and accuracy including spelling
  4. Grammar – range and accuracy including basic punctuation

As you can see, your ideas ARE marked. If your ideas are not valid OR are off topic OR contain irrelevant information or you don’t complete your task – you will get a lower score.

Your essay writing skills which are specific to IELTS pay a LARGE role in your marks. This is not about being able to write an academic essay for university or other types of writing, it is specifically about IELTS Writing and the marking criteria for IELTS.

I hope this has been helpful. Again, the IELTS FAQ Information is an essential read to understand more about the IELTS test.

All the best




  1. Gurpreet says

    Hi liz

    Is there any difference between the marking criteria of british counsel and IDP ? I have heard this thing that the marking in british counsel is bit strict as conpared to IDP. People have this phobia that they will not get bands if they take their exam with th british counsel. Are these myths true??

  2. Sarath Raj says

    Hi Liz

    Thank you for all the useful informations.

    I would like to ask you regarding wiring task 1 GT . In letter writing , in informal letter, can we use gonna instead of going to, wanna instead of want to.

  3. megha gandhi says


  4. Abdulmajeed says

    Thank you very much

  5. Liz, it seems hard to believe that in speaking being on topic doesn’t matter as long as the answer uses good English? For example what if the question is about hobbies but someone gives an answer about their family instead because they misheard the question or don’t know what to say about the question?

    • 1) If the examiner thinks you changed the topic because you prefer to talk on another topic (a topic you prepared and memorised), you will get a lower score. IELTS does not accept memorised answers. If, in part 2, you completely change the topic for one you prepared at home, the examiner will complete discount that whole talk.You can’t change the topics because you want easier ones.
      2) The examiner asks a range of topics to test your English, but not your ideas. If you show the examiner that you can’t talk about different topics because your English isn’t good enough, then you are showing a low level of English. If you can talk about your work, but not other topics, you are showing a limited range of English.
      3) If you mishear the question: 1. the examiner might let you answer and then ask a new question. 2. the examiner might repeat the question. This is not because the examiner wants your ideas. It is because questions are testing different language functions and different vocabulary. Some times the question is testing an important aspect of grammar and the examiner can’t skip it. So, they repeat it and give you a chance to show you can produce that aspect of grammar. 3. in part 2, if you can’t understand, you need to talk about something as similar as possible and explain this at the start of the talk – this way the examiner doesn’t think you are providing a memorised answers and change the topic intentionally.

      Do you understand now? Is this clearer?

      • I think so. If I’m not mistaken what you are saying is that having enough English to speak about many different topics is more important than exactly what you say about them and staying perfectly on topic.

        Thanks Liz for taking the time to clarify this and thanks for all your wonderful efforts!

        • You misunderstand. It is not MORE important – it is the ONLY important thing. The examiner does not mark your ideas at all in IELTS speaking. Not one idea = no information – no opinions are marked. Only the English level is marked.

  6. Hi Liz,
    Had my exam today. Speaking questions are as follows:
    1. Do you wear watch? What is your idea about time? People in your country value the importance of being on time? How about you? Have you been late?
    2. Can you still remember your grade one teacher? Do you like her? Describe her.
    3. Describe your teacher that have influenced you.
    4. Describe a house where you live. Do you plan to move out very soon? What part of the house you like most and why?
    5. Task card:
    Describe your first celphone. What it is, why you bought it, purpose… Compair celphone have ivolved….
    6. Are your children having celphone? In your view what age should children be given celphone. Whats the purpose? What are the dangers?

    The reading is about how brain function when performing multitasking, the others are about star image and a bird in Madagascar.
    The writing is easy. The idea is… Zoos is related to animal cruelty and should be closed. Discuss both sides… to preserve or to close… give your opinion.
    I think I saw this question from your list to
    The bar graph is about the percntage of people travelling 15 min or less to visit various services like doctor, supermarket, secondary school.. ect comparing urban and rural in UK.


  7. Hello liz..
    I heard that if the exam for GT and Academy on same date same venue.. It will possibility of easy essay and listening.. Is it true?

  8. Thanks dear, I’m really in love with you for what you are doing. I pray to be among those that will have high band scores. I appreciate, thanks.

  9. Thank you for your beneficent act.

  10. Keywords or Key words ? Which one is correct ?

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