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IELTS Band Score

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Updated on Feb 09, 2024, 08:12

Latest update:

 

  • IELTS One Skill retake is now available for Indian Students! 
     

IELTS OSR (One Skill Retake) means you can retake one section (Listening, Reading, Writing or Speaking) within 60 days of your original test date. 

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1. IELTS Band Score- Section-wise

Would you like to understand the calculation of your IELTS band score? The scores range from 0 to 9, including increments of 0.5, such as 5.5 or 6.5. 

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2. IELTS Band Score Descriptors

When you receive your IELTS score, you will find a numerical value ranging from 0 to 9, which indicates your English proficiency. 
 

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3. How is the IELTS score calculated

The IELTS overall band score is determined by calculating the average score across all four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. 

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4. Difference between Raw Scores and Band Scores in IELTS

Let's discuss the difference between Raw Scores and Band Scores in IELTS.

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1.

IELTS Band Score- Section-wise

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Would you like to understand the calculation of your IELTS band score? The scores range from 0 to 9, including increments of 0.5, such as 5.5 or 6.5. 
 

A specific IELTS band score chart is employed for each section: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Your overall score is determined by averaging your scores across these four sections.
 

Listening

 

In the listening section, there are 40 questions. If you get a question right, you get one mark. The most you can get is 40, and the least is 0. 

 

The marks then are changed into the IELTS band scale, which goes from 0 to 9. The total correct answers will determine your 'raw' score, from which your band score will be determined. It is very important to try to answer every question, as a blank answer will get no marks.

 

The below IELTS listening band score shows the bands rewarded to you based on the number of questions correctly answered by you in listening skills:


 

Band ScoreRaw Score Out of 40
516
623
730
835

 

 

The IELTS Listening band score tables presented here illustrate the typical number of marks necessary to attain a specific IELTS band score. The actual scores may exhibit slight variations from one test to another, attributable to differences in the listening questions used on different occasions.

 

A band score below 4 (3/2/1/0) means you are a limited or Intermittent user.
 

Reading

 

The reading test also has 40 questions. If you answer correctly, you get one mark. The best you can do is 40, and the lowest is 0. They convert these marks to the IELTS band scale. 

 

There are two kinds of reading tests: Academic and General Training. The Academic test is harder, with tougher words, so you need more right answers for a high score. 
 

The Reading part of the IELTS test will be different from the Academic and General Training tests. However, the number of questions and the question types will remain the same for IELTS test types.

 

The table below shows the bands given to you based on the number of questions you correctly answered in Reading Skills for the Academic test:


 

Band ScoreRaw Score Out of 40
515
623
730
835

 

 

The table below shows the bands given to you based on the number of questions you correctly answered in reading skills for the General Training test:

 

Band ScoreRaw Score Out of 40
415
523
630
734
838

 

Writing 
 

The Writing test has two tasks in both the Academic and General Training sections. Each task gets a score from 0 to 9. Task 2 is more important than Task 1. In the Academic test, you summarise information from a graph, chart, or table in Task 1(150 words). Task 2 is writing an essay (250 words) about an argument.

 

Your Writing test is marked by between 2 and 4 examiners to ensure the highest level of accuracy and fairness in the marks awarded.
 

For the General Training test, in Task 1, you explain a situation and write a letter. In Task 2, you write an essay about a problem or argument. There are some rules you need to follow to get a high score, and they look at things like how well you did your tasks and your language use.

 

The IELTS Writing Band score is based on the following criteria:
 

Task Achievement (Task 1):
 

  • Give exact details and a good summary.
  • Highlight the main points and stages, and back it up with data.
     

Task Response (Task 2):
 

  • Answer the questions they ask you.
  • Give points that relate to your answers.
  • Share your opinion if they want it.
  • End with a clear conclusion.
     

Cohesion and Coherence:

 

  • Organise your ideas in paragraphs, each with a main point.
  • Use different words and connectors to make your writing flow well.
     

Lexical Resource:
 

  • Simple vocabulary
  • Use appropriate words to avoid frequent lapses
  • Avoid errors in spelling and/or word formation.

     

Grammar Range and Accuracy:
 

  • Use different verb tenses.
  • Try different sentence structures.
  • Pay attention to punctuation.
  • Don't make grammar mistakes.

 

Speaking
 

The Speaking test has three parts. Part 1 is a short chat about your studies, family, work, etc. Part 2 is when they give you a card with a topic, and you talk about it for up to two minutes after thinking for one minute. Part 3 is like Part 2 but about bigger ideas and issues.

 

For speaking, they check things like how smoothly you talk, your words, how you say them, and your grammar.
 

The IELTS Speaking band score is based on the following criteria:
 

Fluency:

 

  • Speak without stopping or hesitating.
  • Use connectors to make it easy for people to understand.
     

Lexical Resource:

 

  • Paraphrase (say things differently).
  • Use different words that go together well.
  • Don't be afraid to use some uncommon words.

 

Grammar Range and Accuracy:

 

  • Avoid making grammar mistakes.
  • Use different verb tenses and sentence structures.

 

Pronunciation:
 

  • Speak so people can understand you.
  • Make sure your accent doesn't make it hard to understand you.
2.

IELTS Band Score Descriptors

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When you receive your IELTS score, you will find a numerical value ranging from 0 to 9, which indicates your English proficiency. These scores are associated with specific skill levels and provide insights into your language competence. 
 

Here's a breakdown of what each score signifies:
 

9 (Expert):
 

  • You possess an exceptional command of the English language.
  • Your use of English is consistently accurate and fluent, demonstrating a complete understanding.
     

8 (Very Good):

 

  • You exhibit a highly proficient command of the language.
  • Although occasional errors or inappropriate usage may occur, your understanding is comprehensive. You can effectively handle complex and detailed arguments.
     

7 (Good):
 

  • You have a strong command of the language, albeit with intermittent inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and occasional misunderstandings.
  • You generally excel in comprehending complex language and detailed reasoning.
     

6 (Competent):

 

  • You command the language effectively despite occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and misunderstandings.
  • Your ability to use and understand reasonably complex language is notable, particularly in familiar situations.
     

5 (Modest):
 

  • You possess a partial command of the language and can generally convey overall meaning in most situations, even though you will likely make several errors.
  • You should be able to engage in basic communication within your specific field.
     

4 (Limited):

 

  • Your language competence is restricted to familiar situations.
  • You frequently encounter difficulties in comprehension and expression.
     

3 (Extremely Limited):

 

  • Your ability to convey and understand only general meaning is limited to familiar situations.
  • Communication frequently breaks down.
     

2 (Intermittent):
 

  • You encounter great difficulty in understanding spoken and written English.

 

1 (Non-User):

 

  • Your capacity to use the language is severely limited, extending only to a few isolated words.
     

0 (Did not attempt the test):
 

  • You did not respond to the test questions.
3.

How is the IELTS score calculated

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The IELTS overall band score is determined by calculating the average score across all four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking
 

Each section carries equal weight in this calculation. Your final band score is rounded to the nearest whole or half band.
 

The IELTS score is rounding off the nearest 0.5. For example:
 

  • If your overall score averages 6.75, it will be rounded to 7.
  • If your overall score averages 6.25, it will be rounded to 6.5.
  • If your overall score averages 6.1, it will be rounded to 6.

 

Here's an example of how the IELTS score is calculated:
 

  • Reading: 6.5
  • Writing: 5
  • Listening: 6.5
  • Speaking: 7
     

Average of all four skills: 6.25

Overall Score: 6.5

4.

Difference between Raw Scores and Band Scores in IELTS

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Let's discuss the difference between Raw Scores and Band Scores in IELTS.

 

In the listening and reading sections, your raw scores are based on how many correct answers you have attempted. Your score is calculated out of 40. Then, this score is converted to a band scale from zero to nine.

 

For example, if you get 39-40 correct answers in the listening section, your band score will be 9. If you get 37-38, it's 8.5, and so on.
 

Considering the Reading section, which includes both General Training and Academic tests, you need to get a better raw score in the General Training Reading to achieve a higher band score in IELTS.
 

In the Writing section, you're evaluated on Task Achievement (Task 1), Task Response (Task 2), Lexical Resource, Coherence and Cohesion, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. 
 

In the speaking section, they look at Grammatical Range and Accuracy, Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resources, and Pronunciation. Each criterion carries equal weight, and your band score averages the marks you receive.

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FAQs

Q. What is the minimum band score required for most universities?

A. The minimum required band score varies among universities and academic programs. Typically, undergraduate programs may require a band score of 6.5 or 7, while postgraduate programs might require 7 or higher. It's essential to check the specific requirements of the institutions you're interested in.

Q. Can I retake the IELTS test to improve my band score?

A.Yes, you have the flexibility to retake the IELTS test multiple times with the aim of improving your band score. It's important to note that there is no restriction on the number of times you can retake the test. However, it is advisable to plan your retakes strategically, allowing sufficient time for focused preparation between each attempt.

Q. Do I need the same band score for all sections?

A. No, you do not need the same band score for all sections. Universities often have specific requirements for each section. Your overall band score is calculated as an average, so strong performance in one section can compensate for a lower score in another.

Q. Is there a pass or fail in IELTS?

A. IELTS does not have a pass or fail. Your band score indicates your level of English proficiency, and there's no minimum score to pass. It's more about determining if your score meets the requirements of the institution or organisation you're applying to.

Q. How can I understand my IELTS score report?

A. Your IELTS score report provides a clear breakdown of your performance. It includes individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, as well as an overall band score. Higher numbers correspond to better performance. The descriptors for each band score can help you understand your strengths and areas for improvement.

Q. What is the difference between General Training and Academic IELTS scores?

A. The scoring system is the same for General Training and Academic IELTS. However, the required band score may differ based on your purpose. Academic IELTS is primarily used for educational purposes, while General Training IELTS is often required for immigration, work visas, or non-academic purposes.

Q. Can I combine scores from multiple IELTS tests?

A. Some institutions accept combined scores from multiple IELTS tests taken within a specific timeframe, often within two years. This means that you can use your best scores from different tests to meet the institution's requirements. However, not all institutions allow score combinations, so checking their policies is essential.

Q. How long is an IELTS band score valid?

A. IELTS band scores retain their validity for a standard period of two years from the date of the test. This means that the results you obtain in the four sections—Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking—will be considered current and applicable for various purposes, such as university admissions, visa applications, or professional certifications, during this timeframe.

Q. What if I don't agree with my IELTS band score?

A. If you believe there was an error in scoring your test, you can request a remark (re-evaluation) of your test within six weeks of your test date. Keep in mind that the remarking process may result in a higher or lower score.

Q. Can I cancel my IELTS test scores if I'm not satisfied?

A. Once your IELTS scores are issued, you cannot cancel them. The scores will be reported to the institutions you selected at the time of the test, so it's essential to be prepared and confident when you take the test.

 

Once you get your IELTS scores, you can't cancel them. They will be sent to your chosen places when you take the test. So, it's really important to feel ready and sure about your abilities when you decide to take the test.
 

If you think your scores don't show your true abilities, there's a way to ask for a re-evaluation. It's called an Enquiry on Results (EOR). This means your test papers will be checked again by more experienced examiners.

Q. Is there a passing score for IELTS for immigration purposes?

A. The passing score for immigration purposes varies depending on the country and the specific visa category you're applying for. Each country and visa category may have its own IELTS score requirement. It's crucial to check the specific requirements of the country you're interested in.

Q. How can I prepare for the IELTS test to achieve a higher band score?

A. To improve your chances of achieving a higher band score, it's essential to prepare thoroughly. You can use various resources, such as:
 

  • Practice tests
  • IELTS preparation courses
  • Study materials
  • Books
  • Online resources. 
     

Know the test format, practice regularly, and focus on areas where you may have weaknesses to enhance your skills and confidence. Additionally, consider seeking guidance from experienced IELTS instructors or tutors for personalised support and feedback.

Q. What is an IELTS band score?

A. An IELTS band score is a standardised measure of your proficiency in the English language. It assesses your skills in Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The scores range from 0 (Non-User) to 9 (Expert User), with specific descriptors for each level. These band scores help universities, employers, and immigration authorities understand your English language capabilities.

Q. How is each IELTS section scored?

A. Each section of the IELTS test, including Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, is individually scored on a scale from 0 to 9. These scores are awarded in increments of 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75. Examiners evaluate your performance in each section and assign scores based on your proficiency. These section scores provide a detailed assessment of your abilities in various language skills.

Q. How are bands divided in IELTS?

A. IELTS scores are divided into bands on a scale ranging from 0 to 9, often called the 9-band scale. Each of the four IELTS sections, i.e, Listening, Writing, Reading, and Speaking, is scored individually on this scale. These individual section scores clearly show your performance in each skill. To calculate your overall IELTS Band score, the average score of all four modules is considered. This approach ensures a balanced representation of your language abilities and is widely recognised by universities, employers, and immigration authorities to assess your English proficiency.

Q. What are the IELTS band descriptors for all modules?

A. Take a look at each IELTS band score:

  1. 0 Skill Level: Did not attempt test
  2. 1 Skill Level: Non-user
  3. 2 Skill Level: Intermittent
  4. 3 Skill Level: Extremely limited
  5. 4 Skill Level: Limited
  6. 5 Skill Level: Modest
  7. 6 Skill Level: Competent
  8. 7 Skill Level: Good
  9. 8 Skill Level: Very good
  10. 9 Skill Level: Expert
Q. What is 6.625 in the IELTS overall band?

A. If you receive Listening 6.5, Reading 6.5, Writing 6.5, and Speaking 7 scores on your IELTS test, you can calculate your overall band score by averaging these scores: (6.5 + 6.5 + 6.5 + 7) / 4, which equals 6.625. According to IELTS scoring rules, this score is rounded to the nearest half-band score, resulting in an overall score of 6.5. 


Remember: The rounding rule is to round down to the nearest half-band score to determine your final overall band score.

Q. What is a band 7 descriptor for IELTS speaking?

A. If you score a band score of 7.0 in the IELTS Speaking section, demonstrate to the examiner that you are flexible, natural, and comfortable conversing in English. Your speech flows smoothly, with high fluency and a wide range of vocabulary and language structures. They can effectively communicate their ideas and thoughts, making the conversation natural and engaging.

Q. Is 6.75 rounded to 7 in IELTS?

A. Yes, in the IELTS scoring system, a band score of 6.75 is rounded to 7. Your overall band score is rounded to the nearest whole or half band, following specific rounding rules. This means that if your overall score averages 6.75, it is increased to 7, reflecting a higher band score. Likewise, if your overall score averages 6.25, it is rounded to 6.5.

Q. Can I retake IELTS Writing only?

A. Yes, you can retake a specific skill in the IELTS test through the "One Skill Retake" feature. If you need to improve your score in a particular skill, such as Writing, you can retake that skill instead of the entire test. This offers greater flexibility for test-takers who aim to enhance their performance in specific areas.

Q. How is the IELTS 6.5 band calculated?

A. IELTS band scores are assigned as whole or half band scores and are rounded to the nearest half or whole band score. For instance, if you receive individual scores of 6.5 in Reading, 5 in Writing, 7 in Speaking, and 6.5 in Listening, the average of these four scores is calculated, resulting in a score of 6.25. According to the rounding rules, this score is rounded off to 6.5, which becomes your overall band score. This demonstrates how rounding is crucial in determining your final IELTS band score.

Q. How do you convert raw score to band score in IELTS?

A. The conversion of raw scores to band scores in IELTS is a crucial step in the assessment process. Each correct answer in the test is awarded 1 mark. The scores are reported in whole and half bands, graded on the IELTS 9-band scale. This scale is used for the Academic and General Training Reading tests, ensuring consistency in the scoring system. For instance, if you obtain a raw score out of 40 questions, this score is converted into the corresponding IELTS band score, which reflects your English language proficiency level.

Q. What is a raw score in IELTS?

A. Your raw score in IELTS is determined by the total number of correct answers you provide on the test. It is essentially the unprocessed count of the questions you answered correctly. Attempting to answer every question is essential since blank answers do not receive points in the scoring process. The raw score serves as the foundation upon which your IELTS band score is calculated, making it a fundamental element in assessing your English language proficiency.

Q. What is the difference between a band and a mark in IELTS?

A. In the IELTS test, there is a distinction between a "mark" and a "band." The Listening and Reading sections of the test are scored out of 40, and these marks are then converted to a band score, which ranges from band 1 to band 9. Each correct question in the Listening and Reading tests is awarded 1 mark. This means that your maximum score in these sections is 40 marks. Conversely, the band score reflects your overall performance on the 9-band scale and provide a more comprehensive assessment of your English language proficiency. The transition from marks to band scores is part of the IELTS scoring system, ensuring consistent and standardised evaluation.