One of the strengths of IELTS since its inception in 1989 has been the willingness of the IELTS partners (The British
Council, IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia, and UCLES) regularly to review and revise IELTS in the light of
developments in language testing theory and opportunities afforded by technological advances and changes in perceptions
from learners, teachers and test users.
A number of modifications were made to the IELTS Reading, Writing and Listening Modules in April 1995, but no changes
were made at that time to the Speaking Module. One reason was that a number of investigations into the IELTS Speaking
Test were still in progress at the time of the 1995 revision; the results of these studies and the likely direction of changes
were still unknown. In addition, revising a face-to-face speaking test involves not only revision of the test materials but also
a major logistical exercise to retrain oral examiners and revise test delivery systems. As a result, a revision of the IELTS
Speaking Module was postponed until a more appropriate time.
The IELTS Speaking Test has been undergoing a process of review and revision since 1998 and the revised format of the
Speaking Test is scheduled for introduction in July 2001. As the partner responsible for test development, UCLES has been
managing the IELTS Speaking Test Revision Project in close consultation with the other partners. The process is guided by
the UCLES Test Development/Revision Methodology and is being undertaken according to a detailed project plan.
The project has concentrated on the following areas:
developing a clearer specification of tasks, e.g. in terms of input and expected candidate output, and the revision of
the tasks themselves for some phases of the test
the introduction of an examiner frame to increase standardisation of test management
revision of the rating scale to ensure that the descriptors match more closely the output from candidates in relation
to the specified tasks
The following features of the test will