IELTS Band Score Criteria: Understanding Section Wise IELTS Scores

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IELTS is a mandatory language proficiency exam that evaluates a candidate’s ability to converse in English across all four essential modules. But how are the scores in IELTS evaluated? What is the maximum score in IELTS? This article will find all the answers to these queries on IELTS band scores. We will discuss the assessment criteria and evaluation of the IELTS band scores. Candidates need to know how the band scores are marked. So, let’s get started.

What are IELTS Band Scores, and how are they calculated?

The IELTS test measures your English skills against different band scores. An IELTS band score ranges from band 0 to band 9, corresponding to a level of competence.

When you get your IELTS results, you will get a score rounded up to the nearest half or full-band score. If the score ends with .25, the band score is rounded approximately to the next half band. And if the score ends with .75, the score is rounded off to the next whole band. Let’s look at an example:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking Average of four sections Band Score
Test taker A 6 6 6.5 7 6.375 6.5
Test taker B 8 8.5 7.5 7 7.75 8

IELTS Band Score Descriptor

Here is the IELTS band score descriptor chart to understand the description of each band score:

BAND SCORE SKILL LEVEL WHAT IT INDICATES
9 Expert user Has a complete understanding of the language and all its components.
8 Very good user A good hold on the language and its complexities. Possibilities or minimum errors
7 Good User Can communicate effortlessly. The candidate might experience some misunderstandings and inaccuracies
6 Competent User Is capable of communicating with a little effort, especially in familiar situations
5 Modest user Has a moderate understanding of the language. Makes several mistakes in communicating and understanding.
4 Limited User Is unable to use complex forms of the language, especially in unfamiliar situations. Experiences problems in expressing themselves in writing or speaking.
3 Extremely limited user Can only comprehend familiar situations. Experiences frequent interruptions while speaking and understanding the language
2 Intermittent user Experiences extreme difficulty in using the English language for speaking and writing
1 Non-user No knowledge of the language except for a few commonly used words
0 Test not attempted The test taker has not provided any information for assessment

IELTS Band Score Section-wise Assessment Criteria

Your IELTS band score determines your performance level. It is ideal to properly understand the IELTS Band Score Chart and the scoring system before preparing for the tests. The following sections will give you a clear idea of the assessment criteria and how the scores translate into a section-wise band score:

  • IELTS Reading

1. IELTS Reading Assessment Criteria

The reading section consists of 40 questions. If you get one correct answer, you get a raw score of one. The IELTS reading raw score is calculated based on the total number of correct answers out of 40. The final IELTS band score is calculated by converting the raw scores to the band scale of 1-9.

The IELTS band scores will represent your English reading proficiency level. The IELTS academic reading scores will probably be whole bands like 4, 5, 8, 7, etc., or half bands like 5.5, 7.5, 6.5, etc. If the decimal portion is more than 0.25, the score will be rounded off to the upper value. If the decimal point is below, the midpoints will be rounded off to the lower value, i.e. 7.2 will be rounded as 7.

2.  IELTS Reading Band Scores

With the help of this table below, you can calculate your IELTS reading band score.

Band 9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
Raw Score out of 40 39-40 37-38 35-36 33-34 30-32 27-29 23-26 19-22 15-18 13-14 10-12 8-9 6-7 4-5

2. IELTS Listening

  • IELTS Listening Assessment Criteria

The IELTS listening section consists of 40 questions. If you get one correct answer, you get a raw score of one. The raw listening score is calculated by adding the total number of correct answers out of 40. The final IELTS band score is calculated by converting the raw scores to the band scale of 1-9. Like the reading section, the scores are in whole and half bands.

  • IELTS Listening Band Scores table

With the help of this table below, you can calculate your IELTS listening band score.

Band 9 8.5 8 7.5 7 6.5 6 5.5 5 4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5
Raw Score out of 40 39-40 37-38 35-36 32-34 30-31 26-29 23-25 18-22 16-17 13-15

10-12 8-10 6-7 4-5

3. IELTS Speaking

  • IELTS Speaking Assessment Criteria

The IELTS speaking test is a face-to-face oral interview between the examiner and the test-taker. IELTS band score for this section is assessed using particular criteria applicable to all the candidates:

– Fluency & Coherence: The speaking task evaluation evaluates how confidently and comfortably you speak. Start your answer with confidence and communicate clearly with ease. Avoid using words like  ‘umm’, ‘uh’, etc. If you need a couple of seconds to form a solution in your head, then take a pause. Think about your answer and then start.

– Lexical Resource: This section evaluates your vocabulary. You must have an adequate range of vocabulary and must be able to express yourself efficiently. You must also know idioms and how to use them correctly in a sentence.

– Grammatical Range & Accuracy: The section also evaluates the test-taker’s grammatical accuracy. To score well in this category, learn the different grammatical structures during your IELTS preparation. You must be familiar with the parts of speech.

– Pronunciation: The pronunciation of each word is quite essential for this section. You must be able to use the words in your vocabulary correctly. 

The above criteria are equally weighted, and the IELTS Band Score is an average of the total score for each criterion.

  • IELTS Speaking Band Scores table

IELTS Band scores for speaking are calculated based on the levels mentioned above. It calculates the mean of all four criteria (For Instance: 6+7+6+8/4=7). The decimal portion is more than 0.25, is rounded off to the upper value and midpoints to the lower value.

Here is an example of an IELTS  band score chart of speaking  to provide you with an idea:

Fluency and Coherence 7
Pronunciation 6
Lexical Resource 8
Grammatical range and accuracy 8
Total IELTS Speaking Score 7

4. IELTS Writing

  • IELTS Writing Assessment Criteria

This test comprises two tasks. These tasks are evaluated using the below criteria. And a band score is awarded for each criterion:

– Task Achievement: The tasks in the writing section have a set of directives. You must follow them and complete your tasks efficiently. To score well in this section, ensure you understand the instructions.

– Coherence & Cohesion: This section evaluates your writing skills. You must form sentences properly and format your writing with well-organised paragraphs. Form simple, compound, and complex sentences, as required. 

– Lexical Resource: The writing section also evaluates your vocabulary. You must have an adequate range of vocabulary and must be able to express yourself efficiently. Knowledge of idioms and how to use them correctly is a bonus.

– Grammatical Range & Accuracy: The writing section evaluates the test-taker’s grammatical accuracy. To score a good IELTS band score in this category, learn the basics and different structures of grammar during your preparation. 

  • IELTS Writing Band Scores table

IELTS writing marks are calculated based on the assessment criteria. IELTS Writing Score is calculated by the mean of the four assessment criteria (For Instance: 6+7+&+8/4=7). 

Here is the IELTS writing band score chart to provide you with an idea about the IELTS speaking score:

Task Achievement 8
Lexical Resource
7
Coherence & Cohesion 8
Grammatical range and accuracy 8
Total IELTS Speaking Score 8

How to improve your final IELTS band score?

To achieve a good score, your IELTS preparation must be thorough. You can consider the following steps to increase your test scores:

  • Be a pro in the basics of grammar.
  • Practice the different parts of speech.
  • Learn at least five new words daily and understand their meaning and usage.
  • Read study guides, newspapers, and books out loud to improve your reading skills.
  • Write essays, short reviews of books, entertainment, etc., to improve your writing skills.
  • Listen to English podcasts and watch educational programs to improve your listening skills.
  • If you do not understand a word or phrase, make it a habit to look it up.
  • Take as many mock tests as possible.

So, that’s all there is to know about the various IELTS band scores. We hope that you have gained a lot of knowledge from this piece of material. Candidates can go through the assessment criteria and band descriptors in detail and set their goals to achieve the maximum IELTS band score. Join the IELTS preparation with LeapScholar. Our IELTS prep coaches will explain to you various IELTS band scores and what can be done to improve them. IELTS MasterClass is a 10 hours crash course by Leap Scholar that covers all aspects of the exam and IELTS band scores. All four modules are covered with specific tips & tricks provided for each module. Seats are limited, so book yours right now!

Frequently Asked Questions

For how long is the IELTS score valid?

The IELTS score is valid for two years. During this time, you can apply to colleges or jobs. The eligibility may vary from one university to another. You will be required to submit the test results to be eligible.

Is 7 and above a good IELTS score?

Yes, a score of 7 is considered a good IELTS score. It indicates that the user is familiar with the language and its complexities. They might make a few errors, but you can avoid the mistakes with thorough IELTS preparation. Most universities have a minimum requirement of 7 as an entry criterion.

Is the IELTS score valid in the USA?

Yes, the IELTS score is valid and accepted in the USA. TOEFL is widely accepted, but now most universities also consider IELTS. You can submit the IELTS score while applying for higher education or during job applications.

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Experienced IELTS prep trainer and education management industry veteran. Specializes in public speaking, international education, market research, mentoring, and management.