This study looked at the relationship between how candidates speak in the IELTS speaking test and the scores they were given. We identified the features of their talk which were associated with high and low scores.
The research focus was on how features of candidate discourse relate to scores allocated to candidates, and the overall aim was to identify candidate speaking features that distinguish proficiency levels in the IELTS speaking test (IST). There were two research questions:
The quantitative measures showed that accuracy does increase in direct proportion to score. Grammatical range and complexity was lowest for band 5, but band 7 scored higher than band 8 candidates. The measure of fluency employed (pause length per 100 words) showed significant differences between score bands 5 and 8. The qualitative analysis did not identify any single speaking feature that distinguishes between the score bands, but suggests that in any given IELTS speaking test, a cluster of assessable speaking features can be seen to lead toward a given score.