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About IELTS scores

IELTS results are designed to be simple and easy to understand.

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How IELTS is scored

IELTS scores are reported as band scores on a scale from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest). You will be given a band score from 1 to 9 for each section of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You will also be given an overall band score - which is the average of your four individual test section band scores.

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IELTS 9-band scale

Band Score Skill Level Description
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.

IELTS assessment criteria

Listening

The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions. Each correctly answered question is awarded one mark; therefore the maximum raw score you can achieve is 40. A band score ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 is then awarded on the basis of your raw score.

Reading

The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions. Each correctly answered question is awarded one mark; therefore the maximum raw score you can achieve is 40. A band score ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 is then awarded on the basis of your raw score.

Writing

When marking the Writing section of the test, examiners use detailed assessment criteria which describe written and spoken performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.

Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. The four criteria are equally weighted.

Download the IELTS Writing assessment criteria.

Visit our IELTS Writing preparation course for more information about what to expect during the Writing test.

Speaking

When marking the Speaking section of the test, examiners use detailed assessment criteria which describe written and spoken performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.

Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy and Pronunciation. The four criteria are equally weighted.

Download the IELTS Speaking assessment criteria.

Visit our IELTS Speaking preparation course for more information about what to expect during the Speaking test.