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Your quick guide to IELTS scores

Cassandra
Last Updated: 10 August 2021 • 19 min read

Universities in most top study destinations like the UK, Canada, Ireland and the US have English as their official medium of instruction. So, they want to make sure that international students like you will be able to understand and communicate in English. 

These universities therefore use Standard English Language tests to assess their applicants' language skills. And IELTS is one of the most commonly used English Language Assessment tests.

Now, you need to take the IELTS, but how can you prepare well and ensure a good score?

Entrance test coaching experts say that you are more likely to prepare well and get a good score if you completely understand the test's structure and scoring system, so we have come up with this detailed IELTS marking guide.

The IELTS scoring system

  1. What are the IELTS overall band score and the individual sectional band scores? 
  2. How is the listening and reading section scored?
  3. How is the writing and speaking section scored?

1. What are the IELTS overall band score and the individual sectional band scores?

When you get your IELTS result, you will get 5 different band scores, one for each section (listening, reading, writing, and speaking), and one overall band score. The overall band score is the average of all the sectional band scores. 

All band scores will lie between 0 and 9, with each score increasing by 0.5. For example, you can get a 6.5 or an 8 or any such number based on how you performed. 

So, how can you calculate your IELTS overall band score? 

Simply add all your sectional band scores and divide the sum by 4. 

If the answer is a decimal number, just round it off to the closest whole number or .5 number.

It might sound a bit confusing, but just look at the following examples, and you will definitely get a clear idea. 

Example 1:

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Average

Overall

6

8

6

8

7

7

6 + 8 + 6 + 8 = 28. Dividing 28 by 4 will result in an average of 7, so 7 is the overall band score.

Example 2:

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Average

Overall

7.5

7.5

8

7

7.5

7.5

7.5 + 7.5 + 8 + 7.5 = 30. Dividing 30 by 4 will result in an average of 7.5, so 7.5 is the overall band score.

Example 3:

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Average

Overall

6

6

6.5

6

6.12

6

6 + 6 + 6.5 + 6 = 24.5. Dividing 24.5 by 4 will result in an average of 6.12. Since 6 is the closest whole number, the overall band score will be 6.

Example 4:

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Average

Overall

7

6

7

7

6.75

7

7 + 6 + 7 + 7 = 27. Dividing 27 by 4 will result in an average of 6.75. Since 6.75 is exactly in between 6.5 and 7, you can round off your overall score as 7.

2. How is the listening and reading section scored?

Both the listening and reading sections have 40 questions each. You will be awarded one mark for every correct answer. There is no negative marking and your band will be given based on your marks on the test. 

The breakdown of IELTS scores and bands in listening and reading sections are as follows:

Listening section:

Scores out of 40

Band 

40

9

38-39

8.5

35-37

8

33-34

7.5

30-32

7

27-29

6.5

23-26

6

20-22

5.5

16-19

5

14-15

4.5

12-13

4

10-11

3.5

8-9

3

6-7

2.5

4-5

2

Reading section (General training):

Scores out of 40

Band 

40

9

39

8.5

37-38

8

36

7.5

34-35

7

32-33

6.5

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

4-5

2

Reading section (Academic):

Scores out of 40

Band 

39-40

9

37-38

8.5

35-36

8

33-34

7.5

30-32

7

27-29

6.5

23-26

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

3

2

Note:

While taking the IELTS, you need to either book for an Academic or General Training IELTS. Most international universities will require you to submit the academic IELTS test scores.

3. How is the writing and speaking section scored?

You will have two tasks in the writing section. You will have to answer the first one by writing at least 150 words and the second one by writing at least 250 words.

The examiners will take a look at your answers and give a band score based on how you answered, your coherence and cohesion, your vocabulary and grammatical range. 

The speaking section is similar to the writing section. Your examiner will ask you two questions, and you need to answer them clearly. The examiner will then give you a band score based on the accuracy of your response, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar.

We hope that you are completely clear about how the IELTS scoring system works. Explore our website to find more helpful information about studying abroad!

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Cassandra
Written By
Cassandra

Hi, I'm Cassandra! I write a lot of content for Edvoy as well a lot of other things.

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