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How your IELTS score is viewed

Candidates receive scores on a Band Scale from 1 to 9 for each skill tested (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). They are of equal importance. These four scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score. Each candidate receives a Test Report Form setting out their Overall Band Score and their scores for each test. The scores are reported in whole bands or half bands according to the nine-band score given below.

The Listening Test contains 40 items and each correct item is given one mark. the maximum raw score a candidate can achieve on a paper is 40. Band scores ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 are awarded to candidates on the basis of their raw scores.

The Reading Test contains 40 items and each correct item is given one mark. The Academic and General Training Reading Tests are graded to the same level. However, because the texts in the Academic Reading Test are more challenging overall than those in the General Training Test, more questions need to be answered correctly on a General Training Test to receive the same grade.

The tables below indicate the mean raw scores achieved by candidates at various levels in each of the Listening, Academic Reading and General Training Reading tests. They provide an indication of the number of marks required to achieve a particular band score.

Listening
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 16
6 23
7 30
8 35
Academic Reading
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 35
General Training Reading
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 34

The Writing Test (both Academic and General Training) is marked on the following areas: Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy. Examiners give a Band Score for each of these criteria, which are equally weighted.

For the Speaking Test, a Band Score is given for each of the following which are equally weighted: Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Pronunciation.

When marking the Writing and Speaking components, examiners use detailed performance descriptors which describe written and spoken performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.

Writing
Criterion Weighting
Task achievement (Task 1)/
Task response (Task 2)
25%
Coherence and cohesion 25%
Lexical resource 25%
Grammatical range and accuracy 25%
Speaking
Criterion Weighting
Fluency and coherence 25%
Lexical resource 25%
Grammatical range and accuracy 25%
Pronunciation 25%

Overall band scores are reported to the nearest whole or half band. The following rounding convention applies; if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.

Thus, a test taker achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.0 for Writing and 7.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 6.5 (25 4 = 6.25 = Band 6.5).

Likewise, a test taker achieving 4.0 for Listening, 3.5 for Reading, 4.0 for Writing and 4.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 4.0 (15.5 4 = 3.875 = Band 4.0).

On the other hand, a test taker achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.5 for Writing and 6.0 for Speaking would be awarded band 6 (24.5 4 = 6.125 = Band 6).

If you do the practice tests under exam conditions, you need to score approximately 20 marks on both the Reading and Listening Test for a Band Score of around 5.5. To achieve a Band Score of 7, you need approximately 30 marks on Reading and Listening.

IELTS Band Scores

9 Expert user: has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

8 Very good user: has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

7 Good user: has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

6 Competent user: has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

5 Modest user: has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

4 Limited user: basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

3 Extremely limited user: conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

2 Intermittent user: no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

1 Non-user: essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

0 Did not attempt the test: No assessable information provided.


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