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  • Writer's pictureSte Sharpe

IELTS Speaking test criteria: Grammatical Range and Accuracy


Grammar in a dictionary
Grammatical range and accuracy

This is the third of 4 blog posts explaining the IELTS Speaking test criteria in simple terms.


My first post was about Fluency and Coherence and the second one was about Lexical Resource.


This post will look at ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’.


As an IELTS Speaking test candidate, it’s really important that you understand how the examiner will assess your level of spoken English during the exam, so that you can understand what is expected of you at each band score.


Want to know all about Grammatical Range and Accuracy… start reading below.


What is ‘Grammatical Range and Accuracy’?

As you might have guessed from the word ‘Grammatical’, this is all about your use of grammar: the different types of sentence structures you can use and how accurate they are.


In the IELTS Speaking test, your Grammatical Range and Accuracy is assessed on the following points:


Length of spoken sentences = your use of simple sentences (e.g., I like tennis) and complex sentences (e.g., I like tennis, although I don’t have much time to play these days.)


Appropriate use of subordinate clauses = subordinate clauses (or dependent clauses) don’t express a complete thought, so they need to be used with an independent clause.

For example:


‘Once I’ve finished my exams, I’d like to go on holiday for a month to relax’.


This example shows a dependent clause + an independent clause.


Complexity and range of sentences = your use of different structures.

For example:


I’ve been studying English for several years.


If I had more money, I would probably buy a round-the-world ticket.


I could’ve been a better student when I was at university.


Error density = the number of grammatical errors you make


Communicative effective of error = how errors affect the meaning of what you say


What is the difference between a band 6 and band 7 for Grammatical Range and Accuracy?

If you look at the IELTS Speaking test band descriptors, you’ll see the main difference between a band 6 score and a band 7 score. To help you understand this better, I’ve summarised these difference in the table below:

Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Band 6

Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Band 7

Uses a range mixture of short and complex sentences with limited flexibility.

Uses a range of sentences flexibly without frequent errors.

Some errors happen with complex sentences, but don’t affect communication.

Simple and complex sentences are used well, with some basic errors.

When I was an IELTS examiner, I found that test takers struggled to reach a band 7 in Grammatical Range and Accuracy for two main reasons:


-only using simple sentences

-the number of errors when trying to use complex structures


How can I improve my Grammatical Range and Accuracy?

To improve your Grammatical Range and Accuracy, you need to have 4 things: exposure, practice, feedback and study.


Exposure- surrounding yourself with English through reading, watching and listening to English in different formats.


Practice- speaking in English with family, friends, classmates or even to yourself (I know, it sounds weird, but I do it all the time with my 2 foreign languages, as it helps me think in the language instead of translating from English into one of them).


Feedback- receive feedback from your teacher about the errors you make and how to correct them. If you don’t know what you’re doing wrong, you can’t correct it.


Study- learning about different grammar structures, such as second conditionals or past perfect continuous, to know how to use them accurately and appropriately.


As I mentioned in my previous blog, IELTS is an evaluation of your current level of English. If you want to get a band 7, your overall English skills already need to be at that level, so it’s crucial that you practise your general English skills to help you increase your range of vocabulary.


So, what do I do now?

If you want to improve your Grammatical Range and Accuracy for the IELTS Speaking Test, check out my online IELTS Speaking Course where you’ll not only learn all about the IELTS Speaking test format, but you’ll also have chance to learn about different language structures and receive feedback on your speaking, so you know how to correct your errors to ensure you can speak accurately on the test day.


You can also join my Telegram Channel (see the link at the bottom of the web page) where you’ll receive free resources to develop your language skills.


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