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Decoding  the  IELTS  Band  Descriptors:  IELTS  Writing  Task  2  
 

Task  Response  
by  Tish  Kirkland,  www.yes-­‐ielts.com       This  booklet  describes  how  to  understand  the  differences  between  the  criteria  described  in  the  IELTS   public  band  descriptors  for  Task  Response  (TR)  band  levels  6,  7,  8,  and  9.    

  Contents  
1.  About  the  Band  Descriptors   2.  From  Band  6  to  Band  7   3.  From  Band  7  to  Band  8   4.  From  Band  8  to  Band  9   5.  Getting  Professional  Help        

1.  About  the  Band  Descriptors  
  The  band  descriptors  are  the  tools  the  examiner  uses  in  order  to  grade  your  essay.  In  Writing  Task  2,   there  are  four  criteria:  Task  Response  (TR),  Coherence  and  Cohesion  (CC),  Lexical  Resource  (LR),  and   Grammatical  Range  and  Accuracy  (GRA).  In  IELTS  there  are  9  levels,  or  bands:  0  to  9.  Zero  is  the  lowest   and  nine  is  the  highest.       The  public  band  descriptors  for  TR  from  level  6  to  level  9  are  shown  on  the  next  page.  The  highest  grade   which  you  can  be  awarded  is  9.      

      Tish  Kirkland           www.yes.ielts.com       1  

 

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Band 9 Task Response • 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 • sufficiently addresses all parts of the task • presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended and supported ideas • addresses all parts of the task • presents a clear position throughout the response • presents, extends, and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to over-generalise and/or supporting ideas may lack focus • addresses all parts of the task although some parts may be more fully covered than others • presents a relevant position although the conclusions many become unclear or repetitive • presents relevant main ideas but some may be inadequately developed/unclear

Public  Band  Descriptors:  Task  Response  

8

7

6

   

2.  From  Band  6  to  Band  7  
No  doubt  you  would  like  to  get  band  8  or  band  9,  but  let’s  work  our  way  up.  First  of  all,  let’s  look  at  what   you  need  to  achieve  to  get  a  bandscore  of  6:   •  (1)  address  all  parts  of  the  task  although  (2)  some  parts  may  be  more  fully  covered  than  others   • (3)  present  a  relevant  position  although  (4)  the  conclusions  many  become  unclear  or  repetitive   • (5)  present  relevant  main  ideas  but  (6)  some  may  be  inadequately  developed/unclear     These  can  be  loosely  translated  into  yes-­‐no  questions,  below:   (1) Did  the  student  identify  and  answer  the  question?   (2) Did  the  student  answer  all  parts  of  the  question  with  equal  attention?   (3) Is  the  student’s  position  relevant?  For  example,  is  it  clear  that  they  agree  or  disagree?   (4) Is  their  conclusion  clear  and  succinct?   (5) Are  their  main  ideas  relevant  to  the  question?   (6) Are  their  main  ideas  supported  with  evidence  and/or  examples?  

      Tish  Kirkland           www.yes.ielts.com       2  

 

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• (1)  address  all  parts  of  the  task   • (2)  present  a  clear  position  throughout  the  response   • (3)  present,  extend,  and  support  main  ideas,  but  (4)  there  may  be  a  tendency  to  over-­‐generalise   and/or  (5)  supporting  ideas  may  lack  focus  

If  your  IELTS  examiner  can  answer  “yes”  to  all  of  the  above  questions,  then  you  can  get  a  bandscore  of  6   in  Task  Response  (TR).  But  wait!  If  they  can  answer  “yes”  to  all  of  the  above,  then  maybe  you  can  move   up  to  a  level  7!  The  examiner  will  check  the  level  above  to  see  if  you  can  be  awarded  that  one.  Let’s  take  a   look  at  what  you  need  to  achieve  in  order  to  get  a  bandscore  of  7  in  Task  Response:  

  In  other  words:   (1) Did  the  student  identify  the  question  and  answer  all  parts  of  the  question  with  equal  attention?   (2) Does  their  position  remain  clear  throughout  the  whole  essay?  Is  their  conclusion  clear  and   succinct?   (3) Are  their  main  ideas  usually  supported  with  relevant  examples  and/or  evidence?   (4) Do  they  sometimes  make  general  statements  without  any  evidence  or  examples?   (5) Are  their  supporting  ideas  sometimes  not  relevant  to  the  question?     So,  what  are  the  main  differences  between  band  6  &  band  7  in  Task  Response?  They  are  outlined  below:     Band  6   Identifies  and  answers  the  question,  but  not  with   equal  attention.   Presents  a  relevant  position  but  it  may  not  be   throughout  the  whole  essay   Band  7   Identifies  the  question  and  answers  all  parts  with   equal  attention.   Presents  a  clear  position  which  is  maintained   throughout  the  whole  essay.  

Presents  main  ideas,  but  these  may  not  be   Presents  main  ideas  which  are  extended  and   extended  nor  supported  with  evidence/examples.   supported  with  evidence/examples.     You  should  note  that  half-­‐marks  cannot  be  awarded  when  the  examiner  is  selecting  the  bandscore  in  each   of  the  four  separate  criteria.      

      Tish  Kirkland           www.yes.ielts.com       3  

 

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• (1)  sufficiently  address  all  parts  of  the  task   • (2)  present  a  well-­‐developed  response  to  the  question  with  (3)  relevant,  extended  and  supported   ideas  

3.  From  Band  7  to  Band  8  
Now,  if  the  examiner  can  confidently  say  “yes”  to  all  the  bullet  points  in  Band  7,  then  perhaps  they  can   also  say  “yes”  to  some  or  all  the  bullet  points  you  must  achieve  to  be  given  a  bandscore  of  8:  

  While  reading  this,  the  examiner  is  thinking:   (1) Has  the  student  identified  the  question  and  answered  all  parts  of  the  question  with  equal   attention  and  sufficiently?   (2) Does  their  position  remain  clear  throughout  the  whole  essay?  Is  the  conclusion  clear  and   succinct?   (3) Are  the  student’s  main  ideas  supported  with  examples  and/or  evidence?  Are  their  supporting   ideas,  evidence  and/or  examples  relevant  to  the  question?  Are  their  supporting  ideas  long  yet   concise  enough  to  be  persuasive?     The  main  differences  between  band  7  &  band  8  in  TR  are  noted  below:     Band  7   Identifies  the  question  and  answers  all  parts  with   equal  attention.   Presents  a  clear  position  which  is  maintained   throughout  the  whole  essay.   Presents  main  ideas  which  are  extended  and   supported  with  evidence/examples.  Some  ideas   may  not  be  relevant  to  the  question.   Band  8   Identifies  the  question  and  answers  all  parts   sufficiently.   Presents  a  clear  and  well-­‐developed  position   which  is  maintained  throughout  the  whole  essay.   Presents  main  ideas  which  are  relevant  to  the   question,  extended  and  supported  with   evidence/examples.  

  Remember,  you  need  to  achieve  all  bullet  points  in  order  to  be  awarded  that  bandscore.  If  you  are  lacking   in  one,  you  will  be  awarded  the  bandscore  below.  If  you  are  lacking  in  that  one,  you  will  be  awarded   below  again,  and  so  on.    

      Tish  Kirkland           www.yes.ielts.com       4  

 

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(1)  fully  address  all  parts  of  the  task  

4.  From  Band  8  to  Band  9  
What  about  bandscore  of  9?  To  get  a  band  9,  you  must  accomplish  the  following:   • present  a  (2)  fully  developed  position  in  answer  to  the  question  with  (3)  relevant,  fully  extended  and   well  supported  ideas     Which  can  translate  to:   (1) Has  the  student  identified  the  question  and  answered  all  parts  of  the  question  to  full  capacity?   (2) Does  their  position  remain  clear  throughout  the  whole  essay?  Is  their  conclusion  clear  and   succinct?   (3) Are  the  student’s  main  ideas  fully  developed  and  always  supported  with  relevant  examples   and/or  evidence?  Are  their  supporting  ideas  relevant  to  the  question?  Are  their  supporting   ideas  succinct  yet  detailed  enough  to  be  persuasive?     The  main  differences  between  band  8  &  band  9  can  be  seen  below:   Band  8   Identifies  the  question  and  answers  all  parts   sufficiently.   Presents  a  clear  and  well-­‐developed  position   which  is  maintained  throughout  the  whole  essay.   Presents  main  ideas  which  are  relevant  to  the   question,  extended  and  supported  with   evidence/examples.   Band  9   Identifies  the  question  and  answers  all  parts  of  it   fully.   Presents  a  clear  and  fully-­‐developed  position   which  is  maintained  throughout  the  whole  essay.   Presents  main  ideas  which  are  relevant  to  the   question,  fully  extended,  and  well  supported  with   solid  evidence/examples.  

  Bear  in  mind  that  the  examiner  is  not  working  against  you;  they  want  you  to  get  the  bandscore  that   accurately  describes  your  ability.  They  will  always  check  the  bandscore  descriptors,  not  only  for  the  level   below  but  also  for  the  level  above  in  the  hope  that  you  can  reach  that  level.    

      Tish  Kirkland           www.yes.ielts.com       5  

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5.  Getting  Professional  Help  
When  you  are  sitting  the  Writing  part  of  the  IELTS  test,  it  is  vital  you  spend  time  thinking  about  your   response  before  you  start  writing.  Take  time  to  analyse  the  question  and  brainstorm  your  ideas.  By  taking   these  two  initial  steps,  you  can  achieve  well  in  Task  Response.       Further  detailed  information  and  step-­‐by-­‐step  practice  (with  assistance  from  a  tutor)  is  presented  in  the   YES-­‐IELTS  e-­‐Course:  Academic  Writing  Task  2  and  YES-­‐IELTS  e-­‐Course:  General  Writing  Task  2,  which  can   be  found  at  www.yes-­‐ielts.com.       Good  luck!    

Tish
     

      Tish  Kirkland           www.yes.ielts.com       6  

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