CELPIP Examiner Marking Criteria Explained:
CELPIP Examiners have one thing in mind: marking you in the harshest way possible. Listen, if everybody was passing CELPIP, this would not be a business. But there are ways to overcome it. Let’s explore some of the details and solutions to please the examiner.
Before you begin to understand the depth of Examiner marking, you have to know that there are only two places for examiners to mark: Writing and Speaking. In reading and listening, you are so calculated by the computer so there’s no subjective human marking that can take effect and give you unfair marks.
Why did I send fair? This is because examiners mark everybody differently. You might do a writing or speaking that one examiner may give you 6 points for. Whereas, the other examiner might give you 9 points for the same thing. This is not an opinion. This is a fact. My students have had revaluations where scores have jumped 3 points. Why does this happen? Obviously, it is two different people thinking of two different ways of marking. However, your writing and speaking were exactly the same.
So is there a way to please all examiners and how do we get to understand their thinking?
I know what you’re thinking at this point. What about reevaluation as the solution? I know I just mentioned that so let me elaborate. Revaluation can increase your scores. It never decreases them. It does not work for reading and listening because they are calculated by the computer. However, it can bring up your marks in writing and speaking.
Now that I have explained the rules of re-evaluation, what are your actual chances of getting your marks increased if you re-evaluate? It does cost money, and since it’s not free, let’s try to understand. Based on the thousands of students we have taught, about 5% would apply for reevaluation. These 5% of candidates don’t just do it out of instinct. They do it because they know that they have done a better exam and that they deserve a better mark. Since I mentioned they are our students, they are usually taking our courses and getting in touch with us or are working with our teachers who will tell them what their score is and what they deserve. Hence, these people are aware that they deserve a better mark and apply for re-evaluation. For this group only, the chance of success is 50%. So there’s a 50-50 chance that they will either get their mark increased or it’ll stay the same. I am repeatedly mentioning this group because the other 95% students will not have the same level of success with reevaluation. This is because not everybody feels like they deserve more marks or understand the examiner marking criteria enough to understand that they should’ve gotten a better mark.
How can you understand the examiner marking criteria in detail? Check out our course here which will go through everything and every tool you need to be a hero in the eyes of the examiner:
So if you know that you have not done a good attempt or if you don’t understand examiner marking criteria that well, it’s very likely you didn’t hit all the points that examiners are looking for and you deserve the mark you have gotten. That’s not a problem. You just have to try again but the downside is you have to pay $300+ every time you book the exam and waste a lot of time doing so. Once again, if you want to avoid doing that, the best move is to prepare. Our course is currently on a promotion and you can use the above link to access it and avail the coaching that will satisfy the examiner on your very first try!
Let’s go back to the 5% students, and if you’re one of them, what are your chances? The above example where 3 points increased for students… that’s rare, of course. Mostly, you will see an increase of 1 to 2 points only. So if you were looking for a 9 and you got a 5, it’s highly unlikely that you will jump 4 points. If you got a 6 and you wanted a 9, there’s a chance but it is again rare. However, if you scored 7 or 8 and you need 9, and you feel you deserve a better mark based on your last attempt, go for reevaluation!
So revaluation is one way to essentially pick the opinions of different examiners and use that power in your favor.
The 7 and 9 point dilemma:
Chances are you are doing CELPIP to score a 7 or 9. Examiners know that. That is why they try their best never to give people those scores. If you’re in the intermediate level, you should be getting a 7 but examiners will try their best to reduce you to a 6 or less. If you’re in the advanced level and your immigration points require you to get a 9, they will make every effort to give you an 8.
So here’s what happens.
Let’s say, you are an excellent student and you are doing everything right. You will still not be able to score 12 because the examiners can always say that:
1. your vocabulary level was not good enough or
2. your task response was not good enough (they’ll say they felt like you deviated away from the question or were not descriptive enough or didn’t provide enough information and it was halfway explained).
Both of these points are very subjective again and this just varies from human to human. For example, what is advanced vocabulary? There is no book that exactly refers to certain words as advanced. I mean, if you say the word ‘good’, that’s definitely basic. It’s better to say ‘brilliant’. But what if one examiner thinks that’s basic as well? This examiner might say that it’s better to have used words like ‘remarkable’ or ‘top-notch’. Frustrating isn’t it?
Quick solution! Check out our vocabulary lesson here that teaches you 400 words you need to know for CELPIP speaking and writing. These are all advanced words that will help you score in this area:
It gets worse in speaking. There you have so many different factors than just grammar, punctuation or vocabulary. Let’s start with the tone! Unlike IELTS, CELPIP marks heavily rely on the tone. If you’re talking about a topic to a friend where you’re excited, you better be smiling because they can sense it. If you are, for example in topic five, you’re convincing someone, your job is to emphasize the words or put pressure on the words when you are showing how your option is better than the other given option. If you fail to do this, you’re losing marks for tone. Of course, the trick here is to not be monotone and to talk naturally like you are in real life. However, some people are monotone in real life. But here’s the catch. Even if you’re not really monotone in my eyes, you might be monotone in the examiner’s eyes and they will use that excuse to again reduce your marks.
Don’t worry, we will be getting to the solutions in a bit. Before that, one more thing!
Let’s say, you are really advanced and you are getting close to an 11; I’m not gonna say 12 because you need to be a PhD in English to be close to 12. Just kidding! 12 is just… you have to blow away the examiner. So let’s talk about real numbers. Let’s say you’re gonna get a maximum of 11. At this point, even if you make very minor grammar mistakes but they’re more than 4 to 5 grammar mistakes, you will instantly go to an 8. However, if you were scoring a 6 and you make an additional 4 to 5 mistakes that the examiner notices, you will still be at 6. So what’s happening here is that the Examiner is going to mark you harshly if you’re in the top level because every mistake is a very good excuse to reduce your marks. If you’re already failing or at a lower level, they won’t bother with minor mistakes. So what does that mean?
It simply means 9 or more is perfection. Think of a score of 9 which is something where you would have zero mistakes. Absolutely zero grammar or task response issues as well as superior vocabulary. This goes for writing and speaking. To be able to score 10 or more, you need to then use very advanced sentence structures, and descriptive task response examples as well as an upgraded version of every single word you have written or spoken. If you want to score 7 only, you can make a few more mistakes but you cannot make any major mistakes. For example, your task response should be perfect as well as the structure. You should finish with the right amount of time in speaking and the right amount of words in writing. You should have mostly advanced words and a few complex sentences.
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Now that I’ve given you things that will give you nightmares, let me tell you that even today, there are students who are getting a 10, 11, or even 12. If you talk to HZad Education’s students, you will find that most of them are in this category!
Here’s what we drill in our students to ensure they win this battle against the examiner:
1. Do not trust any online samples!
Have you seen the online examples and videos with people from certain companies? (Can’t say their names here). They will show you the worst writing and speaking samples! The speaking samples will be full of fillers like ‘umms’ and ‘sooooo’ without any fancy phrasing. The writing samples will be full of grammar mistakes, and for every writing sample, you will have a different structure. You will firstly be so confused with the structures that you will not know which one is the actual success formula to follow. Secondly, the samples are claimed to score more than 9. THAT’S ABSOLUTELY GARBAGE! Over the years, we have had such talented students who speak like native speakers and they don’t score 9 with almost near perfect level of English. So please, do not trust any samples you see online. They are made easy to make you think the exam is simple and so that you can book it. Then you get shocked when you see your scores!
What you see online can never be trusted. With our courses, we will show you the real, oftentimes bitter, truth on what an actually difficult sample of a 9 point speaking or writing looks like. However, if you start talking or writing like that, your success is guaranteed!
2. Eliminate all task response issues:
Make sure your answers are well-defined. If you can give the examiner at least two points per question, you are gold! That means two points for each bullet point in task one writing and two points regarding your opinion in task two writing. For all 60-second questions, in speaking, it should be two points minimum on every topic and for the 90-second questions, it should be three points. Note, I have said here ‘minimum’. If you can do more points, it’s even better. Just don’t fall into the trap of doing way too many because there’s a balance between what is too much and what is too little. You just have to make sure that whatever you say should be explained well and not feel rushed.
Also, it’s very important to stay focused. We notice that students usually deviate from the actual question being asked in the second half of their speaking questions or in the second half of their writing tasks. This is because people start worrying about that time or the word limit or the way they’re speaking, etc. This leads to people forgetting the question and talking about something completely different! Always stay focused!
3. Allow yourself only 2 grammar mistakes:
This is so easy to say but it is very hard to do. Grammar itself can take a very long time to improve if you are at a basic level. The fastest and the most efficient way to improve it is through tutoring and, once again, you can contact us for that. The second way which doesn’t guarantee improvement and can take a lot of trial and error as well as a chunk of your time is to do it all yourself. If you decide to go that route, the best thing I can suggest is using the extension ‘Grammarly’. It has the most advanced marking correction for writing for free (you can check it out here: https://app.grammarly.com/). However, for speaking, you would still have those grammar mistakes and eventually, if you keep failing the exam, you would need to take up a course or consult one of our experts to help you reduce those mistakes. Our course also comes with advanced templates that could be copy pasted and that can take care of 40% of your writing, meaning you wouldn’t worry about the vocabulary or grammar mistakes there but you still have to cover 60% yourself and you need proper grammar training for that.
Anything more than two grammar mistakes means you’re risking getting a 9; it’s that serious!
3. Watch celebrity interviews:
This is for speaking. You wanna go on YouTube and type in your favorite celebrities’ names. Then search for their interviews. You will mostly find them in late-night talk shows. This is where they are talking in a very casual manner with the host. They’re making jokes or talking about stories from their life or their careers, etc. These conversations are the most natural conversations you will see with native speakers. There’s a huge difference in how native speakers emphasize their words and uses their tone versus someone who has English as a second language. Of course, CELPIP wants you to sound like a native speaker with a lot of tone and emphasis. All you have to do is play the celebrities’ videos for a few seconds, listen to them, pause it, repeat after them and try to copy them. Note that I’m not saying copy their accent. Although it is good to have a native-like accent but it is not a requirement to score high marks on speaking. Mainly, you should be clear in the way you speak AND FLUENT. But what I’m trying to emphasize is to copy the volume fluctuations as well as the timing where these speakers exaggerate words and feelings. Note how they switch from a serious tone to an excited tone to a depressing tone, etc. This is their natural way of talking and you want to adapt to that as much as you can. Especially, if you’re monotone, this is going to be very important because monotone does not work for CELPIP!
4 Consider re-evaluation:
Already covered above.
5. Get your friends’/teachers’ opinions:
What we can understand from this article is that examiners are human beings and that is the main reason why one person marks something and the other person can mark something completely differently. Until they are replaced by robots, this marking is always going to be very subjective. This is where you can ask your friends to listen to you while you speak on the CELPIP answers or to check your writing. If you don’t wanna fall into the traps of anyone’s opinions, it’s way better to consult a professional, and you can always contact us to get our teachers to check your work.
The way your friend or a teacher would look at your writing or the way you speak would be very similar to how an examiner would look at it. Remember they’re all human beings and they will have similar subjective opinions. Your friends might not give you 100% correct ideas but if you want to do it for free and you want some sort of guidance, they can at least give you some idea and that is still better than nothing.
It’s not all about good English. You have to get into the mind of the examiner!