Abishek Babu M


Listening band score

  • By Kanan Team
  • 23-11-2022

Listening is one of the vital sections in the IELTS tests, where the aspirants will listen to the recordings and answer the given questions. The listening band scores are scaled between 0-9 based on the number of correct answers on a 9-band scale. As the IELTS listening band score varies in increments of 0.5, there will be half bands (like 6.5, 4.5, 8.5, etc.) and full bands (6, 7, 8, etc.). The listening band score calculation is done as per the IDP, British Council, and Cambridge. 

Having a clear understanding of the listening scoring pattern is important as each point is accountable for your IELTS band score. The listening band score will be calculated based on your raw scores obtained out of 40 and converted into the 9-band scale. In this article, let us discuss the listening band score, band score chart, score calculation, and the listening score requirement for the various institutions. 

Table of content 

IELTS listening test

In the listening test, you will be hearing to the audio and answering different types of questions. You will be listening to 4 different recordings, two in an academic context, and another two in a social context. There will be a total of 40 questions with 10 questions per recording. The IELTS listening band score will be ranging between band 9 to band 0 in 0.5 increments. 

There are 6 different types of IELTS listening questions types. The session is conducted for 30 minutes and an extra 10 minutes for you to transfer your answer to the answer sheet in the paper-based test. In the computer-based test, you will be given extra 2 minutes for rechecking your answer. The IELTS listening band score for both IELTS academic test and general tests are calculated in a similar way as the listening section is the same for both these tests. 

IELTS listening exam format

For a perfect listening band score, understand the listening exam format. The important points about the test include:

  • The listening test duration is 30 minutes, and extra 10 minutes for transferring your solutions to the IELTS listening answer sheet. 
  • The listening test consists of 4 recordings, a conversation on a social subject, a monologue in a social context, a speech on an academic subject, and a discussion in an academic context. 
  • The total number of questions in the listening section is 40. 
  • There are 11 different listening question types including- note, table, summary, form completion, multiple choice question, short answer question, map, diagram labeling, process chart, matching questions, and flow-chart completion. 
  • Each question carries 1 mark and the total raw score is 40. 
  • The raw scores will be converted to the listening band scores on a scale of 0-9 with 9 as the highest score and 0 as the lowest score. 
  • The listening test is similar to both the IELTS academic test and the IELTS general test. 

IELTS listening score calculator

The IELTS listening score calculator uses the number of correct answers to calculate the listening band score. There are 40 questions and each question carries 1 mark. The raw score obtained out of 40 will be converted into the IELTS listening band score on a 1-9 scale. There are no negative marks for incorrect answers. The band score can be easily verified using the IELTS listening score calculator. 

IELTS listening score chart

The IELTS listening score chart gives insight into how the raw score will be converted into the band scores. Use the below-given table to understand the listening test marking scheme. 

1 39-40 9
2 37-38 8.5
3 35-36 8
4 32-34 7.5
5 30-31 7
6 26-29 6.5
7 23-25 6
8 18-22 5.5
9 16-17 5
10 13-15 4.5
11 10-12 4
12 8-9 3.5
13 6-7 3
14 4-5 2.5

The official exam board, including IDP, British Council and Cambridge, assesses the candidates listening skills based on the number of correct answers given and will be scored as per the IELTS listening score chart. 

IELTS listening band score descriptors


The IELTS band descriptors are used to indicate your level of language proficiency. Each band score has its significant competency level and will give an insight into your actual skills. Now let's take a look at the IELTS listening band score descriptors to understand the different competency levels. 

Band Score Skil-level Listening Band Descriptors
9 Expert user Shows you have a complete understanding of the language and are able to use it fluently and accurately without grammatical errors. Having full operational command competency. 
8 Very good user Has a good operational command but lacking in a few unfamiliar situations. Occasionally some unsystematic inaccuracies may occur. Capable of handling complex and detailed argumentation. 
7 Good user Having operational command over the language with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and misunderstandings in some situations. Able to understand detailed reasoning and can handle complex language.
6 Competent user Effective command of the language is exhibited along with a few inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and inappropriate word usage. In similar situations, capable of using and understanding fairly complex language. 
5 Modest user Partial command over the language. Though mistakes are likely to happen, capable of understanding the overall meaning in most situations. Can handle basic communication in their own field.
4 Limited user Has basic competence only in a familiar situation. Cannot handle complex language and faces difficulty in understanding and expressions.
3 Extremely limited user Communicates with frequent breakdowns. Can understand and convey only in familiar situations with a general meaning. 
2 Intermittent user High difficulty level in understanding spoken and written English. Knows only a few selected words or phrases that are used in familiar situations. 
1 Non-user Has no ability to use the English language. Knows only a very limited number of words or phrases.  
0 Did not attempt  

Thus, you can understand every single answer for the listening questions is contributing to your listening band score and that in turn to your overall IELTS band score. The IELTS listening band score descriptors are describing your skill level in accordance with your listening skills. 

How is the IELTS listening score works?

The IELTS listening score reveals your ability to understand, evaluate, analyze and respond to the particular audio played to you. Here you will be answering the questions only with the solutions you identified from the recordings. Thus the IELTS listening score is calculated as follows. 

1.40 questions will be given in 4 sections and to be answered in 30 minutes. 
2.Each correct answer will be given 1 mark and the total marks will be 40. 
3.The number of correct answers obtained will be your raw score.
4.The raw scores are converted into the band scale of range 1-9 based on the listening band score chart. 
5.The listening band score obtained will be averaged with the other section scores to obtain the IELTS band score. 

For example, 

  1. If you have 37 correct answers, your raw score will be 37 and the listening band score is 8.5.
  2. If your number of correct answers is 24, then the raw score will be 24 and the IELTS listening band score will be 6. 

What is the good overall band score for IELTS listening?

The good overall band score for IELTS Listening is above 7 to get their visa processing and university admissions. Thus, the band scores for all the individual sections must be above 7. Since the individual sections' average score contributes to the band score, a band score of 5, 6, 6.5, 5.5, 7, 8, in each section can also offer you a higher band score. Thus it is always advisable to have a listening band score of above 6 to make your education journey hassle-free.

Learn more about the IELTS listening words for a chance to grab a perfect listening band score. 

IELTS listening scores in top universities

Every university has set its base IELTS score for getting admission. The IELTS score is taken into consideration because the universities want to ensure their students' language proficiency and their ability to survive in their campus. With that being said, let’s look at the IELTS listening scores given below. 

Name of institution Minimum IELTS band score required(Undergraduate) Minimum IELTS band score required (Post graduate)
Brown University 8.0 7.0
California Institute of Technology 7.0 7.0
Carnegie Mellon University 7.5 7.5
Columbia University 7.0 7.0
Cornell University 7.0 7.5
Duke University 7.0 7.0
Georgia Institute of Technology 7.5 7.5
Harvard University 7.0 7.0
Johns Hopkins University 7.0 7.0
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 7.0 7.0
New York University 7.5 7.0
Northwestern University 7.5 7.5
Princeton University 7.0 7.0
University of California, Berkeley 7.0 7.0
University of California, Los Angeles 7.0 7.0

University of California, San Diego
7.0 7.0
University of California, Santa Barbara 7 7
University of Chicago 7.0 7.0
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 6.5 6.5
University of Michigan 7.0 7.0
University of Pennsylvania 7.0 7.0
University of Texas at Austin 6.5 6.5
University of Washington 7.0 7.0
University of Wisconsin-Madison 6.5 7.0
Yale University 7.0 7.0

How can non-English Speakers Score an IELTS Listening Band Score of 9?

A non-native English speaker can score an IELTS Listening band score of 9 in their actual IELTS test if they have a regular preparation and take multiple IELTS listening practice tests. The listening section may be considered tough as you have to listen to the native speaker's speeches and answer the questions. To accomplish these tasks successfully, and to score above band 8, you must pay attention to every topic covered under listening and get accustomed to their question types. Always remember that band 7 is necessary for attaining your dream destination and it can be achieved through persistent practice and understanding of the exam format. 

How to practice IELTS listening?

To practice IELTS listening, the best way is to listen to the native speakers' audio on a regular basis is the most crucial step in getting your listening skills sharpened. More focus is to be given to developing your skills like, understanding, comprehending, assessing, evaluating, and responding. Enhance your vocabulary and grammatical skills. Use these IELTS listening tips to improve your overall performance in IELTS listening. 


“Listening band score” is used to give an insight into your listening skills and a good score is necessary for a perfect IELTS band score. Hope, this article would have guided you in understanding the scoring pattern, and the listening band descriptors.

FAQ ON IELTS listening band score

1.What is the band score for IELTS listening?

The IELTS listening section is scored on a band scale of 0-9 in increments of 0.5. The band score is calculated based on the number of correct answers. The total number of questions is 40 and thus the raw score will be 40. 

2.Is 7.5 in an IELTS listening test a good score?

Yes, a 7.5 band score in the listening section is considered a good score. This will contribute to a good band score if all other sections are scored equal or more than 7. 

3.What does 30 out of 40 mean in listening?

If your raw score is 30, it indicates that you have got 30 correct answers out of 40. This raw score will be converted into a band score. Band 7 is the corresponding listening score for the range mark of 40. 

4.Is 6.25 considered 6.5 in the IELTS score?

Yes, the mid-decimal value will be rounded off to its nearest full or half-band value in the IELTS score calculation. Thus a 6.25 will be rounded as a 6.5 band. 

5.What is the lowest band in IELTS listening?

The lowest band in the IELTS band scale is 1, which indicates the candidate is a non-user of the language. 

6.Is 6 Band eligible for obtaining a Canada visa?

The band score requirement for the Canada visa depends on the university of your choice. If you are looking for a good IELTS score for immigration reasons, then band 6 can buy you a ticket. 

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