IELTS Score Band: Understanding the Marking System of IELTS

IELTS examination assesses your English language skills and provides the score in the form of bands from 1 to 9, with 1 being the lowest and 9 the highest. You are scored based on the level of competence you have in reading, listening, speaking, and writing English language.

You will be given a band score for all the different parts, namely reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The average of all these band scores combined will be your overall band score.

With that said, let’s move on to understand how your IELTS score band is calculated and the parameters that are considered for the same.

How IELTS score is calculated

First of all, let’s see what each IELTS score band represents:

a. Band score 0 (IELTS test was not attempted)

The test taker failed to answer any question.

b. Band score 1 (Non-user)

The test taker can only use some words in English.

c. Band score 2 (Intermittent user)

The test taker does not understand spoken and written English properly.

d. Band score 3 (Extremely limited user)

The test taker can communicate and understand general meaning in very familiar situations. The communication breaks down pretty often.

e. Band score 4 (Limited user)

The test taker exhibits basic competence when it comes to familiar situations. However, they fail to use complex language and cannot understand or express themselves well.

f. Band score 5 (Modest user)

In spite of having a partial command over the language and understanding the overall meaning in almost all situations, they end up making too many mistakes. However, they have basic communication skills when it comes to their field.

g. Band score 6 (Competent user)

The test taker shows some inaccuracies, improper usage, and misunderstandings in certain situations, with effective command over the language. In case of familiar situations, they can use and understand somewhat complex language.

h. Band score 7 (Good user)

While the test taker exhibits some occasional inaccuracies, improper usage, and misunderstandings in few situations, they have operational command over the language. They can usually handle complex language well and comprehend detailed reasoning.

i. Band score 8 (Very good user)

The test taker shows occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and improper usage with a complete operational command over the language. They can misunderstand certain things in unfamiliar situations but understand complex and detailed arguments well.

j. Band score 9 (Expert user)

The usage of English shows full accuracy and fluency with complete operational command over the language. The test taker can use the language appropriately with complete understanding.

For how long is your IELTS score valid?

Your IELTS score is valid for 2 years, from the date of issue of the report card.

Calculating IELTS Score band for Separate Sections

Let’s now understand how to calculate IELTS score for each section, starting from reading.

IELTS Score Band for Reading

Reading test is different for both academic and general training modules. However, the band scale and parameters remain the same for both academic and general training reading tests.

The Reading Section of IELTS consists of 40 questions. For every correct answer, you will get one mark. The score out of 40 is then translated to the band score. You can get whole and half bands.

Here’s a complete breakdown of how the points translate into band scores for reading test. (Academic and general modules)

IELTS score band for reading

IELTS Score Band for Listening

Just like reading test, listening test consists of 40 questions. Each correct answer will get you one point. As already discussed, there is no negative marking. Make sure you practice a lot to get a good IELTS score.

Here’s how the points get translated into band scores for the listening test.

IELTS Score Band for Speaking

Your speaking test is scored according to the following parameters:

How do these criteria translate into band score

Band 0

The test taker did not appear in the test

Band 1

The test taker shows no fluency and cohesion, no lexical resource with no grammatical range and accuracy or pronunciation. There is no communication possible and the language is not rateable.

Band 2

Fluency and coherence

The test taker pauses quite often, mostly between all words. There is little communication possible.

Lexical resource

The test taker speaks memorized sentences or isolated words.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker cannot produce basic sentence forms.

Pronunciation

Speech is often unintelligible.

Band 3

Fluency and coherence

The test taker speaks with long pauses with limited expertise to link simple sentences. H/She cannot convey basic message and gives only simple responses.

Lexical resource

The test taker does not have enough vocabulary for less familiar topics and uses simple words to convey personal information.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker makes a number of mistakes other than the memorized statements. H/She depends extensively on memorized words and phrases and fails to speak basic sentences.

Pronunciation

The test taker shows some of the features of band 2 and some of the positive features of band 4.

Band 4

Fluency and coherence

The test takes obvious long pauses and may speak slowly, while repeating and self-correcting themselves. H/She can link basic sentences but there is some breakdown in coherence and repetitive usage of simple connections.

Lexical resource

The test taker can easily talk about familiar topics but can only communicate basic meaning on unknown topics. There are repeated errors in word choice and no paraphrasing.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker produces basic sentence forms and simple sentences correctly, but subordinate structures are rarely used. There are repeated mistakes that can cause misunderstanding.

Pronunciation

The test taker has frequent mispronunciations that can make it difficult for the interviewer. The pronunciation features show a limited range with frequent lapses while attempting to control the features.

Band 5

Fluency and coherence

The test taker tries to keep going by maintaining flow of speech. However, h/she uses slow speech, self correction, and repetition to exhibit fluency.

Lexical resource

The test taker can talk about familiar and unfamiliar topics but with limited flexibility in using vocabulary. H/She tries to paraphrase but may or may not succeed.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker can produce basic sentence forms that are fairly accurate. The complex structures are limited and often contain errors. Ultimately, it can lead to comprehension problems.

Pronunciation

The test taker shows all features of band 4 and some positive features of band 6.

Band 6

Fluency and coherence

The test taker is ready to speak for a longer time, but loses coherence because of frequent self-correction, repetition, or hesitation. H/She makes use of a range of connectives and discourse markers but makes mistakes.

Lexical resource

The test taker can talk about topics at length with a wide vocabulary and makes the meaning clear despite the mistakes. H/She can paraphrase well most of the time.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker can use simple as well as complex structures with limited flexibility. H/She can make frequent errors in speaking complex structures. However, they do not cause any comprehension problems usually.

Pronunciation

The test taker shows mixed control with usage of a range of pronunciation features. H/She exhibits proper use of features but it is not sustained. There are mispronunciation of individual words or sounds that reduce clarity at times but they can mostly be grasped well.

Band 7

Fluency and coherence

The test taker speaks at length with no obvious effort or loss of coherence. There is language-related hesitation occasionally and some repetition with self-correction. H/She can use a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility.

Lexical resource

The test taker can discuss a huge range of topics with the flexible usage of vocabulary resources. H/She makes use of some uncommon and idiomatic vocabulary with partial awareness about style and collocation. Paraphrasing is effective.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker can use a range of complex structures with partial flexibility. Most of the sentences are error-free with a few grammatical mistakes.

Pronunciation

The test takers show all the positive features of band 6 and some positive features of band 8.

Band 8

Fluency and coherence

The test taker speaks fluently with content-related hesitation. H/She shows only occasional repetition or self-correction. H/She can build on the topics coherently and correctly.

Lexical resource

The test taker makes use of a wide vocabulary resource and can communicate precise meaning quite easily. There is effective paraphrasing with the usage of less common vocabulary and idioms. The test taker exhibits inaccuracies occasionally.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker can use a wide range of structures quite flexibly. H/She can speak most of the sentences without any mistakes. There are rare inaccuracies and basic errors.

Pronunciation

There are occasional lapses but the test taker can use a huge range of pronunciation features. H/She can sustain flexible use of features and is easily comprehendible.

Band 9

Fluency and coherence

There is rare repetition or self-correction. The test taker can speak fluently and coherently. H/She can build the topics completely and correctly with perfect cohesive features. Any hesitation is related to content or ideas and not to look for words.

Lexical resource

The test taker can use vocabulary with complete flexibility and accuracy, regardless of the topics. Idiomatic language is used naturally and accurately.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The test taker can naturally use a full range of structures. There are rare slips that are peculiar to native speaker speech.

Pronunciation

The examiner can effortlessly understand the speaker. H/She can use a complete range of pronunciation features with precision and subtlety Flexible usage of features is sustained throughout speaking.

IELTS Score Band for Writing

For Writing test, you are judged based on the following criteria. These parameters remain the same for general as well as academic modules.

To understand, more about how to score well in the writing test, here is a video that will help you score a high IELTS score band:

Wrapping Up

That brings us to the end of this article.

In case you have any questions or need help about how to score a high IELTS score band, get in touch with me at bhatt.disha21@gmail.com.

I would love to help you out.

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