How IELTS is scored

The IELTS test score is of two kinds. The test taker will receive an individual band score on each of the parts of the IELTS test; listening, reading, writing and speaking. In addition, he/she will also receive an overall test score. The total score is an average of the scores on all the sections of the test.

The IELTS is scored on a scale of 0 to 9. Scores are given on increments of 0.5 for each section of the test. You may receive a score of 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, and so on up to 9. The scores of all the parts are averaged to get the total band score for the test.

For example, if you receive 8 in listening, 7 in reading, 6 in writing and 7 in speaking, then your overall score will be: (8 + 7 + 6 + 7) / 4 = 7.

If the average score ends in 0.25 or 0.75, it is rounded up to the next half or whole number. For example, an average of 7.25 would be rounded to a score of 7.5. An average of 7.75 will be rounded to 8.

Band 9

A score of 9 is given to someone who, based on how they did on the test, seems to be an expert user of English. This means the person is an accurate, fluent, and appropriate user of the English language.

Band 8

A score of 8 is given to someone who shows that they are an excellent user of English. The person has a full understanding of the English language. However, they may misunderstand some things in an unfamiliar setting and context.

Band 7

A band score of 7 is received by someone that is a good user of English. They have a good understanding of the language with occasional inaccuracies.

Band 6

A competent user of English would receive a band of 6. They are usually someone who can use complex language in familiar situations. You will still make some mistakes when trying to understand and speak English.

Band 5

A modest user of English would receive a score of 5. This means you partially understand the language. You can understand overall meanings in situations, whether familiar or not. You will still make mistakes when trying to comprehend English.

Band 4

A score of 4 means you are a limited user of English. You can use simple language in familiar situations. You have difficulty using complex language.

Band 3

A band score of 3 defines someone as an extremely limited user. You are only able to understand the general language when spoken in familiar situations.

Band 2

An intermittent user of English would receive a band score of 2. This means you barely understand spoken and written English.

Band 1

If you receive a band 1, this means you are not in any way a user of the English language. You only know a few words and cannot use the language.

Band 0

A band of 0 can be received if you did not attempt the test at all. Your English level could not be determined.

Listening Score

The IELTS listening section has 40 questions that you will need to answer. Your band score for this section will depend on the number of correct answers you give.

Band Score98.587.576.565.554.543.532.5
Correct Answers39-4037-3835-3632-3430-3126-2923-2518-2216-1713-1510-128-106-74-5

Reading Score

The IELTS general reading section also has 40 questions. The band score again depends on the number of questions you answer correctly.

Band Score98.587.576.565.554.543.532.5
Correct Answers403937-383634-3532-3330-3127-2923-2619-2215-1812-149-116-8

The IELTS academic reading test also made up of 40 questions, has a slightly different grading scale than the general reading test. The following is the grading scale for the academic reading test.

Band Score98.587.576.565.554.543.532.5
Correct Answers39-4037-3835-3633-3430-3227-2923-2619-2215-1813-1410-128-96-74-5

Writing and Speaking Score

As opposed to the previous sections, the IELTS writing section and the IELTS speaking section do not have a concrete grading system. They are more based on guidelines and criteria rather than the amount of right or wrong answers. 

When practising for the test, if you are not sure how to grade your writing on your own, the best thing to do is to use online writing correction services provided by official IELTS examiners. For more information about the grading criteria for the IELTS writing section or the IELTS speaking section, the official IELTS website offers the details.


ALISTAIR BROWN: As a writing and speaking examiner for more than 10 years, I bring a lot of experience. I have seen the frustrations that students have with IELTS from a career where I have actively guided and corrected students’ studies. I am looking for the most effective ways to teach IELTS as I understand students’ needs.