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!

  • fully addresses all parts of the task
  • presents a fully developed position in answer to the question with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas
  • uses cohesion in such a way that it attracts no attention
  • skillfully manages paragraphing
  • uses a wide range of vocabulary with very natural and sophisticated control of lexical features
  • rare minor errors occur only as 'slips'
  • uses a wide range of structures with full flexibility and accuracy
  • rare minor errors occur only as 'slips'
  • covers all requirements of the task sufficiently
  • presents, highlights and illustrates key features/bullet points clearly and appropriately
  • sequences information and ideas logically
  • manages all aspects of cohesion well
  • uses paragraphing sufficiently and appropriately
  • uses a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly to convey precise meanings
  • skilfully uses uncommon lexical items but there may be occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation
  • produces rare errors in spelling and/or word formation
  • uses a wide range of structures
  • the majority of sentences are error-free
  • makes only very occasional errors or inappropriacies
  • covers the requirements of the task
  • (Academic) presents a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages
  • (General Training) presents a clear purpose, with the tone consistent and appropriate
  • clearly presents and highlights key features/bullet points but could be more fully extended
  • logically organises information and ideas
  • there is clear progression throughout
  • uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use
  • uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility and precision
  • uses less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation
  • may produce occasional errors in word choice, spelling and/or word formation
  • uses a variety of complex structures
  • produces frequent error-free sentences
  • has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors
  • addresses the requirements of the task
  • (Academic) presents an overview with information appropriately selected
  • (General Training) presents a purpose that is generally clear; there may be inconsistencies in tone
  • presents and adequately highlights key features/ bullet points but details may be irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate
  • arranges information and ideas coherently and there is a clear overall progression
  • uses cohesive devices effectively, but cohesion within and/or between sentences may be faulty or mechanical
  • may not always use referencing clearly or appropriately
  • uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task
  • attempts to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy
  • makes some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication
  • uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms
  • makes some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication
  • generally addresses the task; the format may be inappropriate in places
  • (Academic) recounts detail mechanically with no clear overview; there may be no data to support the description
  • (General Training) may present a purpose for the letter that is unclear at times; the tone may be variable and sometimes inappropriate
  • presents, but inadequately covers, key features/ bullet points; there may be a tendency to focus on details
  • presents information with some organisation but there may be a lack of overall progression
  • makes inadequate, inaccurate or over-use of cohesive devices
  • may be repetitive because of lack of referencing and substitution
  • uses a limited range of vocabulary, but this is minimally adequate for the task
  • may make noticeable errors in spelling and/or word formation that may cause some difficulty for the reader
  • uses only a limited range of structures
  • attempts complex sentences but these tend to be less accurate than simple sentences
  • may make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation may be faulty
  • errors can cause some difficulty for the reader
  • attempts to address the task but does not cover all key features/bullet points; the format may be inappropriate
  • (General Training) fails to clearly explain the purpose of the letter; the tone may be inappropriate may confuse key features/bullet points with detail
  • parts may be unclear, irrelevant, repetitive or inaccurate
  • presents information and ideas but these are not arranged coherently and there is no clear progression in the response
  • uses some basic cohesive devices but these may be inaccurate or repetitive
  • uses only basic vocabulary which may be used repetitively or which may be inappropriate for the task
  • has limited control of word formation and/or spelling
  • errors may cause strain for the reader
  • uses only a very limited range of structures with only rare use of subordinate clauses
  • some structures are accurate but errors predominate, and punctuation is often faulty
  • fails to address the task, which may have been completely misunderstood
  • presents limited ideas which may be largely irrelevant/repetitive
  • does not organise ideas logically
  • may use a very limited range of cohesive devices, and those used may not indicate a logical relationship between ideas
  • uses only a very limited range of words and expressions with very limited control of word formation and/or spelling
  • errors may severely distort the message
  • attempts sentence forms but errors in grammar and punctuation predominate and distort the meaning
  • answer is barely related to the task
  • has very little control of organisational features
  • uses an extremely limited range of vocabulary - essentially no control of word formation and/or spelling
  • cannot use sentence forms except in memorised phrases
  • answer is completely unrelated to the task
  • fails to communicate any message
  • can only use a few isolated words
  • cannot use sentence forms at all
  • does not attend
  • does not attempt the task in any way
  • writes a totally memorised response
  • does not attend
  • does not attempt the task in any way
  • writes a totally memorised response
  • does not attend
  • does not attempt the task in any way
  • writes a totally memorised response
  • does not attend
  • does not attempt the task in any way
  • writes a totally memorised response

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