IELTS Examiner Secrets
How Useful is most IELTS Training?
Learning to pass the IELTS speaking or writing test is entirely different to learning English speaking and writing!
However, almost all IELTS training providers are normal English language training organisations, which mostly employ ordinary English teachers, either native or more often non-native speakers, who have passed IELTS.
This approach may be acceptable for reading and listening tests, where the candidate’s answers are either right or wrong. Consequently, anyone can mark these papers, and are not marked by IELTS examiners! Usually, they are marked by administrative staff.
So what is an IELTS examiner, where do they come from, how do they become one, and what do they do?
Usually, they are native English speakers, with several years teaching experience. However, some are highly competent English speakers and writers, as a second language.
Because of the variety of countries from which they come, accents can vary considerably, which can be a problem for many speaking test candidates, who may be familiar with only one particular English accent!
Many people believe that just being a native speaker qualifies you to be an IELTS examiner; which is not the case. All examiners must go through training for both speaking and writing and then pass two exams before they are allowed to test candidates. Even then, they are closely monitored for the first few live tests they carry out, with a senior examiner also marking the tests. If their scores differ beyond a pre-defined narrow range, they will not become certified examiners!
However, having become a qualified examiner, their marking is still randomly tested every few months, to ensure they are marking to standard. Every two years, they have to sit all the exams again to remain qualified to examine.
The reason for the strict training and testing of examiners is to ensure that marking for IELTS speaking and writing is standardised, wherever in the world, the test is taken. This strictness is to avoid subjective marking and ensure fairness to candidates.
The rigid speaking and writing assessment process means that only trained IELTS examiners can correctly grade candidates. More importantly, however, it also means that ordinary English teachers, even native speakers, are only guessing at what to teach and what is important. Teachers who have passed IELTS are no better off, as passing a test does not mean they know exactly why!
Many IELTS training providers treat it just like any other English language training, or worse, regard it as a memory test, with teaching concentrating on memorising answers to questions. Some providers even have employees waiting outside IELTS test centres, to collect the latest questions, as candidates come out.
The IELTS speaking test is not about providing the correct answers to questions given. It is not a knowledge test, but a communication test. Having a prepared answer for a question is going to offer very little help; learning how to communicate, and understand exactly what the examiner is looking for, will!
This site is produced and managed by British Council trained IELTS examiners, with the aim of providing some clarity to the fog of IELTS examining. We do not guess at anything connected to IELTS. We can set you in the right direction and improve your chances of achieving the IELTS Speaking and Writing grades you need.
We do not offer fake guarantees of success, in order to get your money! What we do promise, is honesty and genuine IELTS Testing expertise.
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