Students looking to study, live or work in English-speaking countries need to demonstrate their language skills beforehand. The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is outlined to help students achieve this dream. Therefore, students wanting to study abroad must know all the aspects of this test, including the IELTS validity.
An Overview of IELTS Band Scores
The test is evaluated through band scores that range from 0 to 9, with each number indicating a distinct English proficiency level. Students taking the exam will receive band scores for each section and also an overall band score. For instance, a band score of 6 shows that the candidate is skilled. Despite certain errors and misconceptions, the student holds an efficient command of the English language.
For detailed knowledge on IELTS band scores, refer to this table below:
|Level of skill||Band level||Remarks
|Expert||9||Appropriate and accurate command over the language|
|Very good||8||Fully operational command over the English language with a few occasional mistakes|
|Good||7||Operational command over the language with mistakes in certain parts
|Competent||6||Practical knowledge of the language. Fair understanding of complex language|
|Modest||5||Partial language command and coping capacity in most situations|
|Limited||4||Recurrent misconceptions in understanding. Inability to use complex language
|Extremely limited||3||Understanding of only general meanings. Faces recurrent breakdown during communication
|Intermittent||2||Real communication is impossible. Faces difficulty in writing, speaking and understating the language
|Non-user||1||No capacity to use English
|No attempt||0||Did not attempt the test/no record found
Before moving to the IELTS result validity, let us decode the assessment criteria for each of these sections.
IELTS Writing Test Score
IELTS writing test is assessed by top experts in their field. Typically, the writing test gets marked by two or more examiners to maintain the highest degree of fairness.
The test examines both the writing tasks using these four criteria:
|Task 1 – Achievement||• Providing accurate information
• Presenting an overview
• Highlight of key stages/features
|Task 2 – Response ||• Answering the questions by addressing the given task
• Stating main position and opinions, if asked
• Adding a conclusion
|Coherence & Cohesion ||• Formulating ideas into paragraphs
• Gathering one central idea in each of the paragraphs
• Utilising various linking devices
|Lexical Resource ||• Using various paragraphs and words
• Utilising collocations
|Grammar Accuracy & Range ||• Using a wide range of sentence structures
• Use of different grammar tenses
IELTS Speaking Test Score
The speaking test focuses on general conversations. These are the conversations that everyone has in their daily lives, but in English. Test takers are seated in a private room, and a certified examiner starts a conversation. The examiner then uses the following factors to determine your English speaking skills:
1. fluency and coherence
3. lexical resource
4. accuracy, and
5. grammatical range
The marking criteria for the speaking section are mentioned below:
|Fluency ||• Speaking without hesitations or pauses
• Easily understandable
• Talking without correcting oneself
|Grammar Accuracy & Range ||• Using different structures of sentences
• Making use of different grammar tenses
• Staying free of errors
|Lexical Resource ||• Using various ranges of words and paraphrasing
• Use of collocations
• Deploying distinct vocabulary
|Pronunciation ||• Easily understood by the examiner
• Using intonation
• Accurate pronunciation of words and sounds
IELTS Reading Test Score
Candidates get 40 questions to answer in this section. The question types include multiple choices, true and false, sentence finishing, and matching. In this section, the assessment is done differently since the answers can be completely right or wrong.
Each correct answer provides the candidate with one mark.
The band score chart given below will provide knowledge on the academic and general training reading assessments:
|General Training Reading Score||Median Marks Required||Academic Reading Score||Median Marks Required|
|4||15 out of 40||-||-|
|5||23 out of 40||5||15 out of 40|
|6||30 out of 40||6||23 out of 40|
|7||34 out of 40||7||30 out of 40|
|8||38 out of 40||8||35 out of 40
IELTS Listening Test Score
This section has 40 questions. All of them are audio samples, and the assessment in this section is done differently from the writing and speaking sections.
Mentioned below is the band chart score that details the raw score required for a given band:
|Score||Median Marks Required|
Validity of the IELTS Score
After completing the exam, candidates receive the test results within 5 to 7 days. However, for the offline method, this can stretch up to 13 days.
Further, IELTS validity lasts for two years after the candidate receives the result.
The reason for IELTS score validity staying for only two years is to ensure that the originality of the knowledge stays intact. Since individuals tend to forget things with time, higher time validity can deteriorate candidates’ knowledge.
IELTS Scores Validity for Different Countries
Candidates can appear for the IELTS exam as many times as they wish in a year. They can also submit their best or the recent test result to extend the validity date. However, they should note that the validity of this score differs from countries. The validity of IELTS certificates of the major countries is listed below:
The validity of IELTS score for Canada is for two years. However, in the case of Canadian immigration, candidates need to submit their IELTS validity within a year of submitting the admission application.
Previously, the validity of IELTS score was two years for GSM or Australian General Skilled Migrations. However, it was later extended to three years. This extension is a part of the various changes incorporated in the GSM visa programme.
US and UK
As many as 3,400 US institutions accept the IELTS score. The IELTS validity period in the USA as well as the UK is for two years.
IELTS Score Acceptability
After knowing the IELTS exam validity, interested candidates must also know the accepted IELTS scores across top universities worldwide. The minimum IELTS band requirements are country specific. These are the scores accepted by different countries:
Individuals need to get at least 6.5 bands in IELTS for a bachelor’s and postgraduate degree in the UK. However, some top tier universities, such as the University of Oxford, accept a minimum band score of around 7-7.5 for its courses.
The minimum IELTS score requirements depend on universities. For instance, competitive universities ask for a minimum band score of 7. Some other universities, on the other hand, can accept a 6 band score as well.
In Australia, band scores depend on the chosen course. For instance, a medical course may require candidates to have a minimum score of 7. For a bachelor’s course, the minimum IELTS score is around 6, and for postgraduate students, the band score can be around 6.5.
For diploma courses in New Zealand, candidates need to have an overall IELTS score of 5.5. The band score for undergraduate and postgraduate courses is around 6.5. However, for a few technical courses like engineering, a university may ask for a minimum score of 7.
French universities are not so stringent about band scores. The average score that most universities ask for is 6-6.5. Moreover, there are several universities like ISC Paris that do not ask for IELTS scores.
Most universities in Ireland demand a minimum score of 5.5 to 6 for undergraduate courses. For postgraduate programmes, the average score across various universities is around 6 to 6.5.
How to Score High in the IELTS Exam?
Prospective candidates must follow these steps to score higher in their IELTS exam:
Step 1: Know A to Z about the Exam
Individuals must make sure that they know about the exam date, timings, IELTS validity time, structure, and the type of questions asked. This will encourage them to try even harder when preparing for the test.
Step 2: Polish One’s Vocabulary
It is not possible to learn every English word. However, regular practice can help a candidate identify a substantial amount of words in the test.
Step 3: Master Pre-writing Skill
Pre-writing is noting and drawing a diagram before speaking or writing in English. In the speaking section, the candidate is required to give a brief presentation on the topic after pre-writing. Here, preparing notes and diagrams on the topic can help boost this section’s score.
Step 4: Practice, Practice and Practice
Success stories of all great people begin with practice. One should constantly look out for ways to improve their command of the English language. Reading newspapers, online articles, books, and English programmes are a few ways to enhance one’s English skills.
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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between raw scores and band scores in IELTS?
Reading and listening sections in IELTS are graded on a scale of 40 marks. The band score in these sections ranges from 0 to 9. Now, a raw score is the number of correct answers that a candidate gives in the test. On the other hand, band score is calculated by taking into account the raw scores.
2. Does the IELTS score have a lifetime validity?
IELTS result does not hold a lifetime validity. The validity of the scores are country specific. While some countries require an IELTS assessment report to be not more than two years, others may accept three year old test results as well.