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Listening test: How to interpret scores on the sample Listening sections

As explained earlier:

  • the IELTS Listening papers contain 40 questions
  • each correct question is awarded one mark
  • the maximum raw score a test taker can achieve is 40
  • band scores from 1 to 9 are awarded to test takers on the basis of their raw scores.

To ensure the test is fair, all IELTS test materials are pretested across hundreds of language learners from different language groups and cultures before being used in live tests. However, there are inevitably minor differences in the difficulty level across the large number of tests administered each year. In order to equate different test versions, the band score boundaries are set so that all test takers' results relate to the same scale of achievement. This means, for example, that the Band 6 boundary may be set at slightly different raw scores across test versions.

Table 1, to the right, shows the number of questions on a typical Listening section that test takers at different IELTS bands would typically be expected to answer correctly.

Table 1: Average Listening raw scores
Average Listening raw scores

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