IELTS Band Score

  • By Kanan Team
  • Thu Jul 01 2021

IELTS Band Score

Do you know how you arrive at a specific band in IELTS? How is your test evaluated? And what is actually meant by band 7 or band 8 in IELTS exams? 

In this blog, you’ll find all questions on IELTS band score answered. We tell you everything about raw scores, component bands, how your scores are calculated, what’s the band that you need for admissions abroad, how you can plan for a specific band, and what’s the perfect IELTS band for Canada PR? 

Your IELTS band score decides where you’ll be heading to next in the future. But if you are aware how each section is marked by examiners, then it might be easier for you to plan. The band that you want can be actually achieved if you think smart and go by the strategy that we discuss here. 

What's the IELTS band score? 

As you know, there are 4 modules in the IELTS exam syllabus, that is reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Each of these modules are scored individually, and then averaged to calculate your overall band score (we’ll talk more on that later). Ideally, for every IELTS exam, you are assessed based on a scale of 0-9. This scale is the standard IELTS score framework that’s been followed all over the world. 

The IELTS scoring system is based on the Common European Framework (CEFR). It follows a six-mark grading system, ranging from A1 to C2 levels. C2 indicates an advanced level of English skills, and A1 is the beginner level. 

How to calculate IELTS band score? 

The individual band scores for each module are summed up and then divided by 4 to calculate your actual IELTS score. If the average score ends with 0.25, then it’s rounded off to the next half band. If the score ends with 0.75, then it’s rounded off to the next whole score. Below are some examples about how the IELTS score is calculated:

  • Reading 6 + Writing 5.5 + Speaking 7 + Listening 6.5 = 25

         Divide 25 by 4 = 6.25

         The score ends in 0.25, so round it up to the next half band which is 6.5

         Thus, the overall band score = 6.5

how to calculate ielts band score

More examples - 

  • Reading 6 + Writing 5.5 + Speaking 6.5 + Listening 6.5 = 24.5

       Divide 24.5 by 4 = 6.125

       The score ends with a fraction below 0.25 so round off to the next whole band

        Overall band score = 6.0

  • Reading 3.5 + Writing 4.0 + Speaking 4.0 + Listening 4.0 = 15.5

         Divide 15.5 by 4 = 3.875

        The score ends with a fraction above 0.75 so round off to the next whole band

        Overall band score = 4.0

This entire representation here serves as your band calculator for IELTS. If you go by the calculation, then you can easily figure out how to score higher in the IELTS test.

What’s the overall band score? 

As mentioned above, the overall band score is the sum of each component score divided by the number of modules. This means, all the scores of listening, reading, writing, and speaking sections will be summed up, and then divided by 4. 

The overall band score falls anywhere between zero and nine, the standard IELTS scale followed traditionally. 

Let’s say test-takers A, B, and C have taken up IELTS. The score of each test-taker looks something like this:

  • Test-taker A - 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, 5.5
  • Test-taker B - 4.0, 4.0, 4.5, 3.0
  • Test-taker C - 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 5.0 

The average score of all the components [divided by 4] will look like -

  • 6.25, 3.87, and 6.12.

Now these scores are rounded off to 6.5, 4.0, and 6, respectively, for each test-taker A, B, and C. Since 6.25  is close to the half band, that is 0.5, it’s rounded off to 6.5. But notice that 6.12 is far from 0.5 so it’s rounded off to 6. 

This is how the overall band score for IELTS is calculated and then measured on a scale of 0 to 9. 

Want to improve your overall IELTS band score? Consider joining our IELTS exam coaching in Chennai. Online classes are also available. 

Band Score explanations  

Check out below what each band signifies about the test-taker, and what’s meant by IELTS band descriptor. 

Band score  Skill level Band descriptor 
9 Expert user

The test taker has a high operational command of the language.

The English usage is appropriate, accurate and fluent.

He or she shows complete understanding of the context.

8 Very good user

The test taker has complete operational command of the language with only occasional inaccuracies and usages. He or she can handle complex and detailed argumentation well.

7 Good user

The test taker has operational command of the language, but with occasional inaccuracies,  inappropriate usage and misunderstandings sometimes. Still he or she can handle complex language well.

 

6 Competent user The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usages and misunderstandings. 
5 Modest user The test taker has a partial command of the English language. He or she has basic Understanding, although likely to make many mistakes.
4 Limited user

The test taker’s ability is limited to familiar situations only. He or she may lack understanding, and fail to use complex language.

 

3 Extremely limited user The test taker conveys and understands only the general meaning of the English language.
2 Intermittent user The test taker shows a great difficulty in understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-user The test taker has no ability to use the language, except for a few words.
0 Did not attempt the test The test taker did not attempt any questions in IELTS.

Band scores and incorrect answers 

 

It’s quite imperative that the lower the band score, the more incorrect your answers are. 

Here we have given a small chart to show how incorrect answers lead to low scores. And what the low scores mean for your overall band score in IELTS. 

 

Here you’ll find the reading and listening scores mentioned. It gives you an idea on how many correct answers you must aim at to score a specific band in IELTS.

 

Listening scores 

Correct answers Specific band
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
32-34 7.5
30-31 7
26-29 6.5
23-25 6
18-22 5.5
16-17 5
13-15 4.5
11-12 4

Hence, you can guess how many incorrect answers will lead you to have a poor score in the listening section. For instance, if you answer 28 questions incorrectly then your score would be only 4. But if you answer almost 38 correctly, then you can be sure of achieving a band of 8 or 8.5. 

Take a look at the reading scores now - for both academic and general IELTS. 

IELTS academic scores 

Correct answers Specific band
40-39 9
38-37 8.5
36-35 8
34-33 7.5
32-30 7
29-27 6.5
26-23 6
22-19 5.5
18-15 5
14-13 4.5
12-10 4

If you can get almost 37 answers right, then you can be sure of achieving a band of 8.5. 

Need to score higher bands in your IELTS Academic exam? Consider joining our IELTS academic classes for an 8+ band score in your first attempt. 

IELTS general scores 

Correct answers Specific 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

On the other hand, answering almost 37 questions correctly will get you a band of 8 in the IELTS general exam. Want to improve your IELTS general score and band? You can check our recommended books for IELTS general preparation for higher bands. 

Component band scores 

Each individual section score is called a component band score. The component band scores add up to give the overall band score which is always on a scale of 0 to 9. 

Below you’ll get a detailed idea about what each component score against each band means for you. Component scores are also called ‘raw scores’. This will help you plan and prepare for your target band. 

Band scores for listening and reading sections 

IELTS listening scores 

Band score Raw score out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 35

ielts listening scores

IELTS reading scores for general exam 

Band score Raw score out of 40
4 15
5 23
6 30
7 34
8 38

If you observe clearly, you need a raw score between 35 and 38 to achieve a higher band in IELTS, that is 8. This strategy can be used during the test. It’s always good not to skip any questions in IELTS exams.

ielts reading scores for academic scores

Try to answer all the questions. Doing so you’ll create a higher chance of getting most answers correct. Another strategy is to keep a mental note of getting all 35 or 38 answers right so that you know where you stand. 

IELTS writing task 1 - band score, descriptors, and how it is assessed  

The criteria for assessing the writing task 1 are as follows:

  1. Task achievement 
  2. Coherence and cohesion
  3. Lexical resource
  4. Grammatical range 

In writing task 1, the examiner will check your comprehension ability, the way you present information, the way you explain, and also the range of words and phrases that you use. But, above all, the examiner will check for clarity and error-free sentence structures. 

Check out what the band descriptors are in writing task1. The descriptors indicate your fluency and how well you understand the context. 

  Band 5 Band 6 Band 7 Band 8
Task achievement  No clear overview, no data, and inaccurate information  Some information is inaccurate, but has key features and a clear overview Clear overview, key points and accurate information are present. Some lapses still remain Well presented with all criteria being met
Coherence and cohesion Lack of organized information  Organized information, but lack of linking or errors in linking  Logical use of information. May over or under use linking devices All criteria are met 
Lexical resource Limited range of vocabs used with errors  Uses a range of words but with errors. Error in spellings too.  Very few errors exist. Uses collocations and a range of vocabs efficiently A high-range of vocabs with hardly any errors in sentence formation
Grammatical range  Limited range of sentence structures. Punctuation errors Errors in punctuation and grammar Good control over grammar and punctuation  Error-free sentences. Wide range of grammar

Now, let’s say you score -

  1. Task achievement: Band 7
  2. Coherence and cohesion: Band 7.5
  3. Lexical resource: Band 8
  4. Grammatical range: Band 7 

So your overall score in writing task 1 would be = 7+7.5+8+7 = 29.5

Now divide by 4 = 29.5/4 = 7.3.

IELTS writing task 2 - band score, descriptors, and how it is assessed 

The 4 basic criteria against which writing task 2 is assessed are as follows:

  • Task response
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range

ielts wrtting tasks band score

The band descriptors for each of these criteria are shown further:

  Band 5 Band 6 Band 7 Band 8
Task response Lack of main ideas and conclusion. Incoherent details  Unclear conclusion. Main ideas are under-developed Main ideas are developed, but there is a lack of focus Ideas are well presented and supported with facts
Coherence and cohesion  May not use paragraphs, and uses linking devices inaccurately Organised information, but minor errors in linking and referencing Good overall representation but may over-use linking devices  Meets all the criteria 
Lexical resource Limited range of vocabs used with errors Uses a range of words but with errors. Errors in spellings too Very few errors exist. Uses collocations and a range of vocabs efficiently A high-range of vocabs with hardly any errors in sentence formation
Grammatical usage  Limited range of sentence structures. Punctuation errors.  Errors in punctuation and grammar Good control over grammar and punctuation Error-free sentences. Wide range of grammar

There are 4 criteria based on which the IELTS speaking section is assessed:

  1. Lexical resource
  2. Fluency
  3. Pronunciation
  4. Grammatical range 

In the table below, you’ll find what each band signifies about the 4 criteria mentioned. The band descriptors are used by IELTS examiners to rate you in the test. You can use this information as a lesson to score better in your IELTS. 

The band descriptors for IELTS speaking are as follows: 

Band  Fluency  Lexical resource Pronunciation  Grammatical accuracy 
9 Speaks fluently. Hardly any hesitation and knows how to develop topics with a lot of clarity  Uses vocabs with a lot of precision and flexibility  Effortless with a lot of precision and clarity  Shows characteristics of a native speaker of English
8 Speaks fluently. Knows how to develop topics. Hesitation is rarely related to language  Flexibility of communicating is great  Uses a wide range of features, with some rare lapses Majority of sentences used are error-free though there may be lack of clarity 
7 Can speak at length with coherence. But may face hesitation with certain languages  Uses collocations, paraphrases successfully, and knows how to use vocabs Someone between band 6 and 8  Can use error-free sentences though some errors persist
6 Can speak at length, although may repeat and self-correct too frequently  Has a good range of vocabularies and paraphrases successfully Uses a range of words, but there could be mispronunciations Shows no comprehension problems, but may make some mistakes occasionally
5 Finds it difficult to convey complex ideas, but good with basics Average ability to paraphrase and uses vocabs with limited flexibility Reasonable accuracy and uses basic phrases with limited control Shows more positive characteristics of band 4, but not of band 6
4 Speaks with frequent repetition and self-correction Uses basic phrases, and hardly attempts to paraphrase Limited range of words being used, with frequent mis-pronunciations  Uses correct simple sentences. May produce frequent errors too
3 Unable to convey basic message, and gives long pauses Has insufficient vocabs  Someone between band 2 and 4 Uses only basic sentences, but mostly memorised
2 Slight communication possible Uses words without clarity  Incoherent speech Can’t produce basic sentence structures
1 No communication is possible      
0 Didn’t attempt IELTS       

What is the difference between raw score and band score? 

If you want to understand the IELTS exam pattern, then you must understand the difference between raw score and band score. 

Each component band score or individual score is a raw score. This means if there are 40 questions, then you are allotted 1 mark for each right answer. These are called raw scores. So if you score 34 out of 40, in any one section that’s your raw score. 

Each raw score is compared against different bands [from 0 to 9], and then finally the average of all the bands gives your overall band score [as shown already above]. 

IELTS life skills score (h3)

IELTS life skills exams were first offered in 2015, to meet the requirements of the UK Visas and Immigration [UKVI]. It’s offered to test the speaking and listening skills of test-takers applying for certain types of UK visas. 

The test doesn’t have reading and writing sections, and no band score is given at the end. It’s only to test the speaking and listening ability of test takers - the way they communicate and engage in a discussion. 

Since there is no scoring system in this test, the test-taker is declared either pass or fail after the exam. If a candidate fails, he/she can retake the exam as many times as they want. But if a candidate passes the exam, then he/she cannot take up the test [to improve scores] for the next 2 years. 

Why you need a good band score

You need a good IELTS band score for the following reasons 

  • To prove that you are competent in English language listening, reading , speaking and writing. 
  • Many English speaking countries like Canada require good IELTS scores for permanent residency through express entry programs. 
  • To secure admissions in top notch academic institutions across the world. 
  • To migrate easily to an English speaking country on a skilled visa. 

What happens if you achieve a good IELTS score? 

As explained above, achieving a good IELTS score is very important for university admissions,PR applications, migration etc. But if you don't achieve the score you expected, do not worry. IELTS is an exam that can be re-taken any number of times.All you have to do is wait for the cooling period and the IELTS exam fee and retake the exam. 

FAQs on IELTS band score 

1. What's the passing score for IELTS? 

IELTS doesn’t follow the concept of pass or fail. If the band is zero, it indicates you didn't attempt the test. Any band above zero indicates your level of proficiency in English. Band 9 means a high-level of proficiency, whereas band 6 means an average proficiency. 

2. How are scores calculated in IELTS? 

Individual scores of all 4 modules are first compared against bands [zero to nine]. Then the bands for each module are added up and divided by 4. The obtained average score is your IELTS band, ranging anywhere between 0 and 9. 

3. What’s the validity of IELTS score? 

The validity of the IELTS test report is 2 years. This means that you can apply for your studies abroad within those 2 years. If the score expires, you’ll have to retake the exam. 

4. Does reapplying for IELTS increase marks? 

There’s no rule that reapplying for IELTS will always lead to an increase in marks. It may or may not. 

5. Can I combine 2 IELTS results? 

No, that’s not possible. You are allowed to choose the highest or any one test report that you wish to use. It’s always better to go with the highest band since that can fetch you other opportunities. 

6. Is band 6 good for Canada PR? 

IELTS band 6 can get you into many good colleges in Canada. It’s also useful for migration visas. But if you are looking for masters, you may need to score a little more than just 6 in IELTS.

7. Is 1 month enough to prepare for IELTS? 

IELTS preparation time varies based on the test-taker and how much time the person has in hand. Some people find it easier to prepare within a month, whereas some don’t even after 2 months. 

8. Can I prepare at home for IELTS in 1 month? 

Self-studying is a good idea, but not for those who don’t know what IELTS is all about. If you are struggling to understand the question patterns in IELTS, then you must go with coaching. A professional IELTS trainer will prep you up within a month. 

9. How to score band 8? 

To score band 8, you must understand how the entire exam is marked. If you follow a strategy, then it shouldn't be difficult to get 8 in IELTS. 

10. What is the IELTS life skills test? 

IELTS life skills tests are used to assess only speaking and listening skills of the test-taker. It’s used for certain visa types to move to the UK. 

There is no band score in IELTS life skills. The examiner declares the candidate either passed or failed depending on the candidate’s performance in the exam.

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