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IELTS Band Scores: How are they calculated?

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The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test is a standardised assessment of the English language proficiency for higher education, migration and employment. It evaluates your ability to use English at an advanced level by comparing it with other international standards in language proficiency. Students take up the IELTS exam to achieve admission in universities, work or migrate to countries like the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and many more. 

The IELTS Band Score is a number that reflects your ability to communicate in English. It ranges from 0-9, with 9 being the best possible score and 0 being the lowest possible number. Four sections make up your final IELTS test: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

Each section will have its band scores, which will be added to calculate your overall IELTS test result. In this blog, we will help you better understand the IELTS band score and how each section score constitutes the overall IELTS score projecting the different levels of competence.

What is the IELTS Band Score?

After completing your IELTS exam, you will be given a band score between 0-9. The total score comprises the individual scores from each of the four sections. They are weighted equally using a tabular form of band scores. 

The difference between the individual scores in each section is not more significant than one point, which means that if you scored higher on a particular area, such as reading or listening, it would only take fewer points to reach the next level of competence. With IELTS Training, you will have a better idea of how IELTS is scored and how you can work towards it.

The overall band scores are calculated to the nearest whole or half band. It is possible to get .5 scores as well. For example, if the final score is not a precise half score or a total score, it is pushed to the nearest whole or half score depending on the most immediate. An overall 6.1 is moved to a band 6, whereas an overall 6.75 is transferred to a band 7.

The IELTS 9-Band Scale

The IELTS Band Scale represents your English language proficiency on a scale of 0-9. The overall IELTS score of a candidate is the average score of the four sections. The following table will give you a clearer understanding of what each score means:

BAND SCORE SKILL LEVEL DESCRIPTION
Band 9 Expert User
  • The candidate has fully operational command of the English language. They are appropriate, accurate, and fluent with complete understanding.
Band 8 Very Good User
  • The user has fully operational command of English with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies. They have a probability of misunderstanding some things in unfamiliar situations. They can handle complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good User
  • The candidate has operational command of the language with only occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usages and misunderstandings in some situations. They can generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
Band 6 Competent User
  • The user has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usages and misunderstandings. They can use and reasonably understand complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5 Modest User
  • The candidate has partial command of the language and can cope with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make mistakes. They can handle basic communication in their field.
Band 4 Limited User
  • The user’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely Limited User
  • The candidate can convey and understand only the general meaning in very familiar situations. They face frequent breakdowns in communications.
Band 2 Intermediate User
  • The candidate has great difficulty in understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1 Non-User
  • The candidate has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
Band 0 Did not attempt the test
  • The candidate did not answer the questions.

How is an IELTS Band S+ score Calculated?

The overall band scores are calculated by taking the average from listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The score for each component is calculated equally. To gain acceptance in your desired university, you must score a good score as per requirements. For example, to achieve a 7+ band score, you must prepare well in advance and focus on each section separately.

The IELTS band score measures your English language proficiency on a scale of 0-9. It indicates how well you will be able to communicate at work or study in an English speaking country and what level of courses you may be eligible for. Only if you acquire the passing score you can get the admission you dreamed of. 

Depending on the number of questions, the raw score is converted to a band score. You must be well aware of the exam pattern. IELTS exam pattern is given in the table below:

IELTS TEST COMPONENT DURATION NUMBER OF QUESTIONS
Listening 30 minutes 40 questions
Reading 60 minutes 40 questions
Writing 60 minutes 2 tasks
Speaking 11 to 14 minutes 3 part interview conversation

IELTS Listening Scores

The candidate will go through 4 sections of recordings in 30 minutes which they will need to answer 40 questions in the additional 10 minutes given to write. Each correct answer will be awarded one mark, and there is no deduction for wrong answers.

The maximum raw score you can achieve is 40 marks, then converted into band scores ranging from 0 to 9.

RAW SCORE OUT OF 40 BAND SCORE
38 - 40 Band 9
35 Band 8
30 Band 7
23 Band 6
16 Band 5

IELTS Reading Scores

The IELTS Reading component consists of 40 questions within 60 minutes. Each correct answer is awarded one mark and then converted on a band scale of 0 to 9. Evaluators grade both Academic Reading and General Reading on the same scale, but the distinction between both is the content and number of correct answers in each.

The Academic reading tests contain texts which feature more difficult vocabulary or more excellent complex style. The difference between Academic and General reading scores are given below:

RAW SCORE OUT OF 40

BAND SCORE

Academic Reading Test: 

General Reading Test:

38 - 40   Band 9
35 38 Band 8
30 34 Band 7
23 30 Band 6
15 23 Band 5
12 15 Band 4

IELTS Writing Score

The writing test assessment comprises two tasks that need to be completed within 60 minutes. The candidate should complete the first task within 20 minutes and the second within the remaining 40 minutes. The section is evaluated based on the following:

  • Tasks Achievement (Task 1) and Task Response (Task 2)
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The following table explains how IELTS writing scores are considered based on 4 criteria:

  • Task Achievement (Task 1)
  • Presenting accurate information
  • An overview of the task
  • Highlighting key features
  • Supporting details with data
  • Task Response (Task 2)
  • Addressing the task
  • Supported and developed main points
  • Giving clear position or opinion
  • Providing conclusion
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Organising information into paragraphs
  • Sequential ordering of ideas within paragraphs
  • Using a range of linking device
  • Lexical Resource
  • Uses paraphrasing
  • Using collocations
  • Sophisticated vocabulary usage by avoiding errors
  • Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Wide range of sentence structure
  • Using a range of grammar tenses
  • Punctuation and avoiding errors

IELTS Speaking Scores

The speaking test is conducted like a conversation or an interview. Within 11 to 14 minutes, the examiner will ask general questions to begin with and then, based on some topic. It is easy to make mistakes in this section, but with Tips To Get A Good Score in Speaking Test, you can perform well. First, the examiner evaluates the candidate in a 3 part interview conversation under four criteria.

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

The four criteria are weighted equally on the band score. The description of each criterion for the speaking section is given below:

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Talking at length, without pauses or hesitation
  • Talking with self-correction and able to be understood
  • Lexical Resource
  • Using a range of words and paraphrasing
  • Usage of collocations
  • Using uncommon vocabulary and avoiding errors
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Using a range of sentence structures and grammatical tenses
  • Avoiding errors
  • Pronunciation
  • Able to be understood throughout
  • Accent does not affect
  • Accurate word and sound pronunciation

To Sum Up

The IELTS band score is a general measure of language proficiency in English. It ranges from 0 to 9. The scores from four sections (listening, reading, writing and speaking) are combined with their average score to find the overall band score. To achieve a good IELTS score, you need to work on all four areas equally. An excellent way to do this would be by taking your time with each section so that it does not suffer because of being rushed or answered incorrectly. If you clearly understand how the evaluators score based on each criterion, you can prepare based on those points and strengthen your weaker sections. 

article1Blessy Babu

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Blessy Babu is an English Language Associate with over seven years of experience teaching various language courses such as IELTS, OET, TOEFL, PTE, SAT, GRE & GMAT. She attained her Master’s Degree in English Literature along with a second Masters's in Counseling and Psychology. Besides, these master's degrees she gained an advanced diploma in creative writing, which perfectly enhances her writing skills. She has authored a book that contains multiple essay writing models to help learners boost their essay writing skills and styles.

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