IELTS has a rigorous, quality-assured system for marking
every IELTS test.
Marking is carried out by trained examiners who follow standardised
guidelines. The examiners hold relevant teaching qualifications and
are certificated by Cambridge English Language Assessment. Each
examiner is tested every two years to retain their certification.
They are also involved in ongoing training.
The IELTS integrated system of recruitment, training, benchmarking,
certification and monitoring for IELTS examiners ensures they are
fully qualified, experienced and effective.
Candidates receive scores on a Band Scale from 1 to 9. A profile
score is reported for each skill. The four individual scores are
averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score. Overall Band
Scores and scores for each sub-test (Listening, Reading, Writing
and Speaking) are reported in whole bands or half bands.
Overall Band Score
Candidates receive a Test Report Form setting out their Overall
Band Score and their scores on each of the four sub-tests:
Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Each of the sub-test
scores is equally weighted. The Overall Band Score is calculated by
taking the mean of the total of the four individual sub-test
Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest whole or half band.
For the avoidance of doubt, the following rounding convention
applies; if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is
rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is
rounded up to the next whole band.
Thus, a candidate achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.0
for Writing and 7.0 for Speaking would be awarded an Overall Band
Score of 6.5 (25 ÷ 4 = 6.25 = Band 6.5).
Likewise, a candidate achieving 4.0 for Listening, 3.5 for Reading,
4.0 for Writing and 4.0 for Speaking would be awarded an Overall
Band Score of 4.0 (15.5 ÷ 4 = 3.875 = Band 4.0).
On the other hand, a candidate achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for
Reading, 5.5 for Writing and 6.0 for Speaking would be awarded band
6 (24.5 ÷ 4 = 6.125 = Band 6).
For more information on how IELTS test material is produced, please
IELTS Question Paper Production
Process (PDF, 98KB).
Listening and reading
IELTS Listening and Reading papers contain 40 items and each
correct item is awarded one mark; the maximum raw score a candidate
can achieve on a paper is 40. Band scores ranging from Band 1 to
Band 9 are awarded to candidates on the basis of their raw
Although all IELTS test materials are pretested and trialled before
being released as live tests, there are inevitably minor
differences in the difficulty level across tests. In order to
equate different test versions, the band score boundaries are set
so that all candidates’ results relate to the same scale of
achievement. This means, for example, that the Band 6 boundary may
be set at a slightly different raw score across versions.
The tables below indicate the mean raw scores achieved by
candidates at various levels in each of the Listening, Academic
Reading and General Training Reading tests and provide an
indication of the number of marks required to achieve a particular
||Raw score out of 40
||Raw score out of 40
|General Training Reading
||Raw score out of 40
The Academic and General Training papers are graded to the same
scale. The distinction between the two modules is one of genre or
discourse type. Academic papers may contain source texts featuring
more difficult vocabulary or greater complexity of style. It is
usual that, to secure a given band score, a greater number of
questions must be answered correctly on a General Training Reading
Writing and speaking
When marking the Writing and Speaking sub-tests, examiners use
detailed performance descriptors which describe written and spoken
performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.
Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Task
Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and
Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. The
four criteria are equally weighted.
Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas:
Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and
Accuracy and Pronunciation. The four criteria are equally
Versions of the band descriptors for Writing and Speaking have been
developed to help stakeholders better understand the level of
performance required to attain a particular band score in each of
the criterion areas. IELTS examiners undergo intensive face to face
training and standardisation to ensure that they can apply the
descriptors in a valid and reliable manner.
Task 1 band descriptors (PDF, 37KB)
Task 2 band descriptors (PDF, 38KB)
descriptors (PDF, 98KB)
For more detailed information, see the IELTS Guide for Institutions
and Organisations (PDF, 598KB) or
Score processing, reporting and