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IELTS scoring in detail

The IELTS Academic and General Training test results are reported using the same nine-band scale

Calculating the overall band score

IELTS test takers receive a Test Report Form setting out their overall band score and their scores on each of the four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Each of the component scores is weighted equally.

The overall band score is calculated by taking the average of the total of the four individual component scores.

Overall band scores are reported to the nearest whole or half band.

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.

Some examples:

  Listening Reading Writing Speaking Average score* Band score
Test taker A 6.5 6.5 5 7 6.25 6.5
Test taker B 4.0 3.5 4.0 4.0 3.875 4.0
Test taker C 6.5 6.5 5.5 6.0 6.125 6.0

*Average score = total of the four individual component scores divided by four.

Calculating the component band scores


IELTS scoring summary
Listening

The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions. Each correct item is awarded one mark. Band scores, ranging from Band 1 to Band 9, are awarded to test takers on the basis of their raw scores.
Reading

The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions. Each correct item is awarded one mark. Band scores, ranging from Band 1 to Band 9, are awarded to test takers on the basis of their raw scores.
Writing

Examiners use detailed assessment criteria (known as 'band descriptors') to award a band score for each of the four assessment criteria:
  • Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2) – 25%
  • Coherence and Cohesion – 25%
  • Lexical Resource – 25%
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy – 25%
Speaking

Examiners use detailed assessment criteria (known as 'band descriptors') to award a band for each of the four assessment criteria:
  • Fluency and Coherence – 25%
  • Lexical Resource – 25%
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy – 25%
  • Pronunciation – 25%
Differences between IELTS Academic and General Training:

There is no difference. This is because the more socially oriented language skills of listening and speaking are equally important in an academic study or workplace context.
Differences between IELTS Academic and General Training:

The Reading component of IELTS Academic and General Training is differentiated* by:
  • The texts (topic, genre, discourse type, length, number, etc.). Academic papers may contain source texts featuring more difficult vocabulary or greater complexity of style.
  • To secure a given band score, a greater number of questions must therefore be answered correctly on a General Training Reading test.
  • The range of item difficulties.
  • The Academic Reading component has more items pitched at bands 5–8, whereas IELTS General Training has more items pitched at bands 3–6. This is a reflection of the different demands of Academic and General Training discourse for language learners.


*This is because the distinction between ‘academic’ and ‘general’ literacy has usually been seen as most marked in reading and writing skills.
Differences between IELTS Academic and General Training:
  • The Writing component of IELTS Academic and General Training are differentiated* by the tasks (topic and genre).


*This is because the distinction between ‘academic’ and ‘general’ literacy has usually been seen as most marked in reading and writing skills.
Differences between IELTS Academic and General Training:

There is no difference. This is because the more socially oriented language skills of listening and speaking are equally important in an academic study or workplace context.
Band score boundaries

Although all IELTS test materials are pretested and standards fixed before being released as live tests, there are inevitably minor differences in the difficulty level across tests. 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 a slightly different raw score across individual test versions.

Scoring: Listening and Reading

IELTS Listening and Reading papers contain 40 items and each correct item is awarded one mark; the maximum raw score a test taker can achieve on a paper is 40. Band scores ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 are awarded to test takers on the basis of their raw scores.

The tables below indicate the mean raw scores achieved by test takers at various levels in each of the Listening, Academic Reading and General Training Reading tests. They provide an indication of the number of marks required to achieve a particular band score.

Listening
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 16
6 23
7 30
8 35
Academic Reading
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 35
General Training Reading
Band score Raw score out of 40
4 15
5 23
6 30
7 34

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 paper.

Scoring: Writing and Speaking

When marking the Writing and Speaking tests, examiners use detailed performance descriptors which describe written and spoken performance at each of the nine IELTS bands.

Versions of the assessment criteria 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: