IELTS Band Scores : An understanding

IELTS Band Scores

All the IELTS band scores range between 0-9. You will be scored on each section (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) individually and the average of the same is your overall band score.

These overall scores are calculated to the closest 0.5 or nearest whole band score. This means that if your score is not a precise .5 or a whole number, it gets pushed (or can go down) to the nearest half score or whole score depending on which is nearest.

Let’s take few examples to understand this better.
Example 1:
Listening 6.5
Reading 6.5
Writing 6.5
Speaking 7
Average of four components 6.625
Overall score 6.5


Example 2:
Listening 8.5
Reading 8.5
Writing 7
Speaking 7
Average of four components 7.75
Overall score 8


Example 3:
Listening 8.5
Reading 8.5
Writing 7
Speaking 8
Average of four components 8
Overall score 8


Description of IELTS band scores:


Band Score Skill Level Description
9 Expert user Has fully operational command of the language. appropriate, accurate and fluent usage of English with complete understanding.
8 Very good user Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. Handles complex detailed argumentation well. However, misunderstands some things in unfamiliar situations.
7 Good user Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6 Competent user Generally has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. Uses and understands fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.


Let’s take a look at the IELTS Band scores and their descriptions for each section.

Band score for Listening (Academic & General Training)

39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
32-34 7.5
30-31 7
26-29 6.5
23-25 6
18-22 5.5
16-17 5
13-15 4.5
11-12 4
9-10 3.5
6-8 3
4-5 2.5

Improve your Listening score with these tips.

Band Score for Reading (Academic)

39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
33-34 7.5
30-32 7
27-29 6.5
23-26 6
19-22 5.5
15-18 5
13-14 4.5
10-12 4
8-9 3.5
6-7 3
4-5 2.5


Band Score for Reading (General Training)

40 9
39 8.5
37-38 8
36 7.5
34-35 7
32-33 6.5
30-31 6
27-29 5.5
23-26 5
19-22 4.5
15-18 4
12-14 3.5
9-11 3
6-8 2.5

Click here to get an in-depth knowledge of the types of questions in the reading section.

IELTS Band Scores for Writing (Academic & General Training)

Please check for the IELTS Band Scores description

Writing Band Descriptors for Task 1 – https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ielts_task_1_writing_band_descriptors.pdf

Writing Band Descriptors for Task 2- https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/ielts_task_2_writing_band_descriptors.pdf

Understanding the Band Descriptors of Writing Section:
1.Task Achievement/ Task Response:

The writing test is divided into two tasks. Here we look at the criteria of Task response for Task 1 and Task Achievement for Task 2.

These criteria specialise in the degree to which the exam question has been answered properly. In Academic Writing task 1, you need to complete the task in at least 150 words whereby you are supposed to summarise, describe or explain a graph, a table or a diagram. You might be expected to make comparisons too. To score successfully on Task Response, firstly, you will need to identify all key features. Then provide sufficient details while you write (not too much and not too little). It’s important to write a clear overview, summarizing the significant trends or features of the graph or the diagram. Remember, this is different from the introduction. In General training, there is a letter-writing task of at least 150 words. You should explain the reason for writing the letter, include all the points mentioned in the question using a consistent and appropriate tone.

In both modules, Task 2 is a short essay task of a minimum of 250 words. You are expected to present your opinion on a selected topic, supporting your ideas with evidence. To excel in Task Achievement, you would need to respond completely to all parts of the question, develop and support your ideas by adding explanations, examples or experience. Also, ensure your opinion is clear if asked for one.

2. Coherence & Cohesion

Coherence refers to your flow of ideas. Your ideas should be logically organized and appropriately sequenced in a paragraph so that they are easy to understand and follow. Cohesion refers to the linking words that help to connect ideas and sort of the relationship between two paragraphs, sentences or even words. For effective coherence, it’s important to use paragraphs. These give a structure to your writing. Use a wide variety of linking words or by referencing through pronouns (this, them etc). But at the same time don’t overuse the linking words or phrases. This could become confusing or irritating for the reader. Don’t always use connectors at the beginning of sentences, instead show more variety.

3. Lexical Resource

This refers to the range and accuracy of the vocabulary that is being used. For both tasks, try not to use too many words from the exam questions in your response. Using synonyms can assist you to reflect an equivalent meaning. Use word combinations or collocations correctly (like, committing a crime and not making a crime). Use correct word-formation for the context. Check for the errors. Be sure to use less common vocabulary correctly. Remember, you are only being assessed on your ability to express and develop your ideas precisely and effectively.

4. Grammatical range and accuracy

This checks the range and accuracy of grammar demonstrated by the test taker. Use correct tenses or the combination, as required. Make use of comparatives, conditionals, modal verbs, passive voice etc, especially in task 1. Use a variety of complex structures by adding more information to the sentence. Keep a balance of simple and complex sentences. Use punctuation correctly. You are not expected to be 100% accurate in your writing. However, control is important. Some grammatical errors impact communication more than others. You will be scored according to the impact on communication rather than the number of mistakes.

IELTS Band Scores for Speaking (Academic & General Training)


Understanding the band descriptors of Speaking Section:
1. Fluency and Coherence:

This refers to the ability to speak at length by organising ideas logically. It also refers to your ability to express and justify opinions, discuss and speculate about issues without long pauses and repetitions of the same words. Coherence is scored with the correct usage of words and phrases to indicate the direction of your thoughts. To improve fluency, practice is the key. Record yourself talking about different subjects. Then listen back and analyse for linking expressions, hesitations and words you may be repeating.

2. Lexical resource

It focuses on the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. Wider the range, better is the score. Like use collocations properly (words that go along together), connotations to be picked in order to express the idea, or use less common vocabulary or expressions.  Apart from this, do not just memorise the list of uncommon words as it is important to understand their meaning before you use them. Hence, practice is the key to improve test scores.

3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The range of grammar includes a variety of complex structures. These are sentences with multiple bits of information. You are not scored on the number of grammatical mistakes but on the basis of the blockage that these mistakes can create on communication. Also, remember to use tenses properly.

4. Pronunciation

This focuses on the accuracy and variety of the pronunciation features including individual sounds (which is often confusing due to the spellings), word stress, sentence stress, intonation. Thus, one should not rush while speaking.

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