How to calculate IELTS Band scores

A lot of students feel overwhelmed when they read all about IELTS scores but there is no need to panic. In this tutorial, Ellen talks about the IELTS scores to help you understand what the criteria is to achieving you desired band score. The IELTS Test is made up of four sections, the reading, writing, listening and speaking. Each of these sections is worth 25% of your overall IELTS band score, so no section of the test is weighted more than the other. To get your overall IELTS band score, each section is calculated and then your band score is the average of those four scores. Overall scores are rounded up to the nearest .5. So, if your average overall score is 6.75, this will be rounded up to a 7. However, this is not the case with individual sections of the test where scores are rounded down. Example, in IELTS writing, if you get a 6.75 IELTS score, this would be rounded down to a 6.5 and NOT rounded up to a 7. Here is an example of the IELTS score descriptors, for you to get an idea of what is expected for band band 6 to band 9. IELTS Band Score 9: Expert User Candidate’s language use is accurate and fluent. Shows full operational command of English language and can handle complex arguments well IELTS Band Score 8: Very Good User The candidate has full operational command of the English language, shows occasional inaccuracies or inappropriate usage. Misinterpretation arises in unfamiliar circumstances. IELTS Band Score 7: Good User Generally the candidate has a good command of the language, some occasional inaccuracies and misunderstanding arise. Able to handle detailed reasoning. IELTS Band Score 6: Competent User Candidate has effective command of the language and some misunderstandings and misinterpretations arise. Able to use fairly complex language in familiar scenarios. See it here.

The IELTS Reading Band Scores

The number of correct answers will determine your IELTS reading band score. Each question is worth one mark. Spelling mistakes will be marked as incorrect so it is important that your spelling is as accurate as possible.

IELTS Academic Reading Scores

Number of correct answers IELTS Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
33-34 7.5
30-32 7
27-29 6.5
25-26 6
19-22 5.5
15-18 5
13-14 4.5
10-12 4
8-9 3.5
6-7 3
4-5 2.5
See it here

IELTS General Reading Scores

Number of correct answers Band Score
40 9
39 8.5
37-38 8
36 7.5
34-35 7
32-33 3.5
30-31 6
27-29 5.5
23-26 5
19-22 4.5
15-18 4
12-14 3.5
9-11 3
6-8 2.5
See it here.

IELTS Listening Scores

The marking for listening is also objective where the number of correct answers will determine your band score. Each question is worth one mark. Spelling mistakes will be marked as incorrect so it is important that your spelling is as accurate as possible. IELTS Listening Scores
Number of correct answers Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
33-34 7.5
30-32 7
27-29 6.5
25-26 6
19-22 5.5
15-18 5
13-14 4.5
10-12 4
8-9 3.5
6-7 3
4-5 2.5
See it here.

IELTS Speaking Scores

The IELTS Speaking section is scored on 4 criteria:
  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resources
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation
IELTS Band descriptors for Speaking can be found HERE In order to score at a particular band, the IELTS candidate has to fulfill ALL the positive descriptors for that band. For example, at band 7 under Fluency and Coherence the positive descriptors are:
  • speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence
  • may demonstrate language-related hesitation at times, or some repetition and/or self-correction
  • uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility
If a candidate fulfills only 1 or 2 of the descriptors, he or she cannot score a 7 for Fluency and Coherence.

IELTS Writing Band Scores

IELTS Task 2 of the exam is worth double the marks of task 1 and there are different band descriptors for each task. As with the speaking test, there are four criteria that are considered:
  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resources
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy.
The band descriptors for task 1 also include certain criteria that are relevant only for the General test and others that apply only to Academic. For example, for the General test, it is important test takers use the right tone (formal or informal) in their letters but for the Academic test, students must include an overview in their response in order to be considered for a band 6. You can find band descriptors for task 1 here: https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ielts_task_1_writing_band_descriptors.pdf and task 2 here: https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ielts_task_2_writing_band_descriptors.pdf In order to score at a particular band for the writing section, the candidate has to fulfill ALL the positive descriptors for that band. For example, at band 7 under Task Achievement for Task 2 the positive descriptors are:
  • Addresses ALL parts of the task
  • Presents a clear position THROUGHOUT the response
  • Presents, EXTENDS AND SUPPORTS main ideas
If a candidate fails to fulfill all the positive descriptors for this band, he or she cannot obtain a 7 for Task Achievement. For help with your IELTS preparation, take a look at our tutorials: You can download or listen to the audio version here:

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