There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Candidates are graded
on their performance, using scores from 1 to 9 for each part of the
test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The results from
the four parts then produce an Overall Band Score.
This unique 9-band system measures scores in a consistent manner –
wherever and whenever the test is taken. It is internationally
recognised and understood, giving you a reliable international
currency. IELTS scores have a recommended validity period of two
The IELTS 9-band scale
Each band corresponds to a level of English competence. All parts
of the test and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole and
half bands, eg 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0.
Band 9: Expert user: has fully operational command
of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete
Band 8: Very good user: has fully operational
command of the language with only occasional unsystematic
inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in
unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation
Band 7: Good user: has operational command of the
language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and
misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex
language well and understands detailed reasoning.
Band 6: Competent user: has generally effective
command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies
and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex
language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5: Modest user: has partial command of the
language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is
likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic
communication in own field.
Band 4: Limited user: basic competence is limited
to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and
expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Band 3: Extremely limited user: conveys and
understands only general meaning in very familiar situations.
Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
Band 2: Intermittent user: no real communication
is possible except for the most basic information using isolated
words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet
immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and
Band 1: Non-user: essentially has no ability to
use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
Band 0: Did not attempt the test: No assessable
For more information, see the IELTS Guide for Institutions
and Organisations (PDF, 598KB) or IELTS Scores Explained DVD order