IELTS Disco Descriptors

IELTS Speaking and IELTS Writing scores are decided by an examiner who refers to descriptions of people’s ability at ten levels, or bands, from 0 up to 9. Candidates are not allowed to see the official descriptors used by examiners, but IELTS do allow you to see a public version of the descriptors that is very similar.

I thought it would be fun to add some colour and clickability to the dreary old public band descriptors! Put on some disco music and click away!

  • speaks fluently with only rare repetition or self- correction; any hesitation is content-related rather than to find words or grammar
  • speaks coherently with fully appropriate cohesive features
  • develops topics fully and appropriately
  • uses vocabulary with full flexibility and precision in all topics
  • uses idiomatic language naturally and accurately
  • uses a full range of structures naturally and appropriately
  • produces consistently accurate structures apart from 'slips' characteristic of native speaker speech
  • uses a full range of pronunciation features with precision and subtlety
  • sustains flexible use of features throughout is effortless to understand
  • speaks fluently with only occasional repetition or self-correction; hesitation is usually content-related and only rarely to search for language
  • develops topics coherently and appropriately
  • uses a wide vocabulary resource readily and flexibly to convey precise meaning
  • uses less common and idiomatic vocabulary skilfully, with occasional inaccuracies
  • uses paraphrase effectively as required
  • uses a wide range of structures flexibly
  • produces a majority of error-free sentences with only very occasional inappropriacies or basic/non-systematic errors
  • uses a wide range of pronunciation features
  • sustains flexible use of features, with only occasional lapses
  • is easy to understand throughout
  • L1 accent has minimal effect on intelligibility
  • speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence
  • may demonstrate language-related hesitation at times, or some repetition and/or self-correction
  • uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility
  • uses vocabulary resource flexibly to discuss a variety of topics
  • uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation, with some inappropriate choices
  • uses paraphrase effectively
  • uses a range of complex structures with some flexibility
  • frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist
  • shows all the positive features of Band 6 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 8
  • is willing to speak at length, though may lose coherence at times due to occasional repetition, self-correction or hesitation
  • uses a range of connectives and discourse markers but not always appropriately
  • has a wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics at length and make meaning clear in spite of inappropriacies
  • generally paraphrases successfully
  • uses a mix of simple and complex structures, but with limited flexibility
  • may make frequent mistakes with complex structures, though these rarely cause comprehension problems
  • uses a range of pronunciation features with mixed control
  • shows some effective use of features but this is not sustained
  • can generally be understood throughout, though mispronunciation of individual words or sounds reduces clarity at times
  • usually maintains flow of speech but uses repetition, self-correction and/or slow speech to keep going
  • may over-use certain connectives and discourse markers
  • produces simple speech fluently, but more complex communication causes fluency problems
  • manages to talk about familiar and unfamiliar topics but uses vocabulary with limited flexibility
  • attempts to use paraphrase but with mixed success
  • produces basic sentence forms with reasonable accuracy
  • uses a limited range of more complex structures, but these usually contain errors and may cause some comprehension problems
  • shows all the positive features of Band 4 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 6
  • cannot respond without noticeable pauses and may speak slowly, with frequent repetition and self-correction
  • links basic sentences but with repetitious use of simple connectives and some breakdowns in coherence
  • is able to talk about familiar topics but can only convey basic meaning on unfamiliar topics and makes frequent errors in word choice
  • rarely attempts paraphrase
  • produces basic sentence forms and some correct simple sentences but subordinate structures are rare
  • errors are frequent and may lead to misunderstanding
  • uses a limited range of pronunciation features
  • attempts to control features but lapses are frequent
  • mispronunciations are frequent and cause some difficulty for the listener
  • speaks with long pauses
  • has limited ability to link simple sentences
  • gives only simple responses and is frequently unable to convey basic message
  • uses simple vocabulary to convey personal information
  • has insufficient vocabulary for less familiar topics
  • attempts basic sentence forms but with limited success, or relies on apparently memorised utterances
  • makes numerous errors except in memorised expressions
  • shows some of the features of Band 2 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 4
  • pauses lengthily before most words
  • little communication possible
  • only produces isolated words or memorised utterances
  • cannot produce basic sentence forms
  • speech is often unintelligible
  • no communication possible
  • no rateable language
  • no communication possible
  • no rateable language
  • no communication possible
  • no rateable language
  • no communication possible
  • no rateable language
  • does not attend
  • does not attend
  • does not attend
  • does not attend

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