IELTS Band scores: How they are calculated

The IELTS scoring system is quite transparent, and as a candidate you are able to see all your scores in each of the four modules, namely Reading, Writing Speaking and Listening. Unlike PTE, which is another popular English language proficiency test acclaimed worldwide,where you are unable to figure out exactly where you have lost or gained marks; in IELTS it all comes in a Test Report Form that provides your overall Band Score, and the band scores for each of the four components.

How are the IELTS Band scores calculated?

All IELTS scores are given within a band score between 0 and 9. A candidate can also be given .5 score (for eg. 7.5 or 8.5). There will be a band score for each of the four modules as stated above (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking ) as well as a cumulative overview Band score. The overall band score is the average score of all the skills. It is generally rounded to the nearest whole or half band. If the average score of the four modules ends in .25, the overall score is rounded to the next half band. If it ends in .5, the overall band score is rounded up to the next whole band.

Listening Reading Writing Speaking Overall
8 7.5 7 7.5 7.5
6.5 6 7.5 6 7

Individual Band Score Descriptors

As an aspiring IELTS candidate who wants to achieve his/her target score in the first attempt, a certain level of proficiency and fluency in English language is definitely required. If you manage to get a band score of 9, then your command over English is commendable with almost hundred percent accuracy in fluency, flexibility, vocabulary, pronunciation as well as your understanding of the language. If you get an overall band score of 7, your expertise over English is quite good with occasional mistakes and misunderstanding of using the perfect word. The comprehension level is quite high with infrequent errors, and vocabulary, pronunciation as well as command over using complex language is also good. However, if the score band comes down to 5, it reflects that you are a moderate and modest user of English. You can grasp the overall meaning of the language, but cannot deal with complex language. The number of errors are much more with feeble grasping of vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and you do not have any fluency in the language.

Listening Band Score :  The IELTS Listening Test contains 40 questions. Each correct answer is awarded 1 mark. The scores out of 40 are then converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. They can be given in whole (like 7 or 8) or half (like 6.5, 7.5). You do not lose any point for incorrect answers.

IELTS Listening Scores

Correct Answer Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 7.5
26-29 6.5 and so on

Reading Band Score:  The IELTS Reading module exam also contains 40 questions. Each correct answer gets 1 mark and alike the Listening Band, scores out of 40 are converted to the 9-band scale. For the Reading module, a candidate for the General IELTS training and the Academic Test training are graded on the same scale. However, there is a difference between the genre of the test in the text type. In the Academic Reading test, the text features more difficult vocabulary or greater complexity of style. Usually, you have to answer a greater number of questions correctly to achieve a given band score for the IELTS General Training Reading test.

IELTS Reading Scores ( Academic)                                  IELTS Reading Scores ( General Training)                               

Correct Answer Band Score
40-39 9
38-37 8.5
36-35 8
32-30 7
29-27 6.5
Correct Answer Band Score
40 9
39 8.5
37-38 8
36 7.5
32-33 6.5

Writing Band Score : In the Writing module, examiners use certain assessment criteria to give a particular band score. These are as follows:-

  • Task Achievement (for Task 1)
  • Task Response (for Task 2)
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Task 1– Presenting accurate information, Providing an overview, Highlighting key features/stages, Supporting details with data.

Task 2- Addressing the task (answering the question), Giving relevant main points which are supported and developed, Giving a clear position (Stating an opinion when asked), Providing a conclusion.

Coherence and Cohesion– Organising information (ideas into paragraphs), Having one central idea in each paragraph, Using a range of linking devices.

Lexical Resource– Using a range of words and paraphrasing, Using collocations, Spellings, Avoiding errors.

Grammar Range and Accuracy– Using a range of sentence structures, using a range of grammar tenses, Punctuation, Avoiding errors.

The final score in this module is calculated taking all these into account.

Speaking Band Score:  In this module, the examiners calculate the scores based on certain assessment criteria again. These are:

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

These again depend on various sub-issues like whether the candidate is talking at length, without pauses or hesitations, talking without self-correction, able to comprehend using collocations, making less errors, using less common vocabulary, accurate word and sound pronunciation etc.

All the criteria are weighed equally and the Speaking Band score is the average of all the above.

Tagore Institute or TI has been awarded by IDP Australia as Best Regional Business Partner with best scores for IELTS in Karnataka, India, seven years in a row between 2011-2018. It has again won it in 2019 for best score. Join TI to achieve your target score and be a star performer in IELTS!

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