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Here’s how IELTS band scores are calculated

Numerous establishments and organisations—including those involved in immigration, admissions, hiring, and other processes—determine your eligibility for participation based on your IELTS scores. So, how is this scoring done and what is a good score?

The type of visa you require will determine what a decent IELTS score is. Either the government, or the academic institution that you apply to decide what a good score is. We’ll explain what the IELTS scores signify, how to determine whether you have a good or average IELTS score, and which universities and nations will recognise your IELTS results in this post.

What Is a Good IELTS Score?

To answer that question, let’s first look at the Cambridge IELTS’ official descriptions of the different bands to give you a general idea:

IELTS Band ScoreProficiency Level
8Very Good
3Extremely limited
Band score descriptions as per Cambridge IELTS Assessment

How are the IELTS Bands Calculated?

You should have a fundamental understanding of how the bands of IELTS scores are determined from those rubrics. Now let’s examine the more specifics. Let me describe the process of converting points into band scores.

According to the Cambridge IELTS, a 9 on the exam indicates that you are a “expert” in English; an 8 indicates that you are “very good,” and so on.

IELTS scores typically fall between the ranges of 1 and 9 (“non-user” to “expert”), although there is also a 0 score for “did not attempt.” A score that ends in .5 is also possible; examples include 6.5, 7.5, and 8.5. A band score falls within this range for each of the four IELTS skills (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). Additionally, you receive an overall band score for the entire test. This “composite” result, which is the average of each of your IELTS scores, is intended to reflect your overall proficiency in English.

How does IELTS score get calculated when it’s a half band? states that you round up to the next band if your average score is X.25 or higher and down to the next band if it is X.25 or lower.

Let’s assume that you receive the following IELTS skill bands to demonstrate how this works: 6.5 Reading, 7.5 Writing, 4.5 Listening, and 5.5 Speaking. Add them up and divide by 4 to get the average:

4.5 + 6.5 + 7 + 5.5 = 23.5

Average= 23.5/4 = 5.875

This equals a band 6 on the IELTS scale.

If, however, a different student obtained these better IELTS section scores:

7 + 7 + 7.5 + 7 = 28.5

28.5/4 = 7.125

This would result in an IELTS overall test average score of 7. (And by most measures, that is a respectable IELTS score!)

If you slightly raise that score to 7 + 7 + 7.5 + 7.5, you’ll obtain 29/4, which rounds up to 7.25 and an IELTS Band 7.5.

IELTS Band Descriptors: Writing and Speaking

For these 2 sections, the scoring is not objective, which means that you are scored on parameters set by the examiners. The average score of these parameters defines your score in the section. Take a look at the examples below.

IELTS Band DescriptORS: IELTS Speaking

The four categories of IELTS Speaking band descriptors are as follows:

Fluency and Coherence: All other IELTS Speaking skills relate to this “master category.” A student must be comfortable and confident speaking English, as well as respond to interview questions completely and coherently, in order to be fluent and coherent. The student should not hesitate, repeat or self-correct too much. Check this video to understand how you can improve fluency.

Lexical resource: The focus of this category is vocabulary and whether or not the student accurately employs a wide variety of spoken English terms and idioms.

Grammatical range and accuracy: Test-takers should employ a variety of grammatical forms, and use them correctly and appropriately, in order to perform well in this category.

Pronunciation: Students’ proficiency with the consonant and vowel sounds in English words is gauged in this category. For this category, using the right word stress and intonation is crucial.

The four scores are summed to get the test-overall taker’s IELTS Speaking band after band scores for each category have been determined.

For example: If a student scores the following bands in the band descriptors:

Fluency and coherence: 7

Lexical Resource: 6

Grammatical Range and Accuracy: 5

Pronunciation: 6

Then, the overall IELTS Speaking score would be:

(7+6+5+6)/4= 6

If the average comes up to a .25 band or a 0.75 band, the score is down-rounded or up-rounded accordingly. Let’s say your score is 5.25, then your score is 5. If you score a 5.75, then your overall score is a Band 6.

IELTS Band Descriptions: IELTS Writing:

The average of the category band scores for each of the following four band descriptors will determine a test-IELTS taker’s Writing bands:

Task Achievement: In order to receive a high grade in this category, students must correctly follow the directions in the prompt, providing a complete and precise response to the question or carrying out the task. Task Achievement connects to all other categories. In your Task 1, this means that you either stick to the tone’s requirements (in GT test), or pick all the key features of the diagram (in AC test). In task 2, it means that you have to write complete, extended and well-supported ideas (yes, this includes examples!) Here’s how you can learn to structure some common essay types in Task 2.

Coherence and cohesion: Coherence and cohesion evaluates the organisation of the student’s writing, including how effectively the essay and paragraphs flow, whether or not transitions are present, helpful, and clear, the applicability of the concepts, and other factors. This also includes the student to use cohesive devices as applicable (not randomly, but logically.)

Lexical Resource: This gauges a test-capacity takers to employ a wide variety of vocabulary words appropriately, effectively, and in a clear and concise manner.

Grammar Accuracy and Range: In this section, test-takers should use different sentence structures as necessary in addition to clear, suitable, and correct grammar usage.

The scores in your Writing test are slightly differently calculated. 33% of your Task 1 scores are taken and added with 66% of your Task 2.

The averaging is done by a computer after the examiners have fed your scores in the system.

Is there a way that examiners can tamper with your scores?

As much as we want to believe that this is true, it is not!

The examiners cannot tamper with your scores, nor can their nationality, the city in which you take the test define your scores. If the examiners are divided amongst themselves, then they will be revisiting your scores. A final score is arrived at after a discussion!

IELTS Band DEscriptors: Listening and REading

There are 40 questions in each of the IELTS listening and reading sections. Additionally, the raw score for each of the 40 questions is equal to exactly one point. (An exam’s raw score is determined by how many questions you successfully answer.) So, you’d think it would be simple to calculate the raw-to-band score conversion. Right? A sad no. According to official information from the IELTS creators, this score conversion is a little difficult.

For starters, the proportion of questions you correctly answer will differ from the proportion of band points you receive. For instance, 40% of your IELTS Listening answers would be accurate if you answered correctly 16 out of 40 questions. You will nevertheless receive a band score of 5, or 55.5% of the possible band points.

But the situation is more intricate than that. For the Academic Reading and General Training Reading sections of the IELTS, the raw point conversion to band conversion is different. For instance, according to the IELTS creators, a score of 30/40 on academic reading is equivalent to a Band 7, whereas a score of 30/40 on general training reading is equivalent to a Band 6.

Score out of 40/SectionListeningReading ACReading GT
39 and 40998.5/9
IELTS Listening and Reading Band Descriptors

Good IELTS Scores for Top Universities

Let’s look at the requirements from a few prominent colleges to evaluate how your IELTS results compare since each university has different scoring requirements. Some employers look for the following IELTS scores and competence levels on your applications:

Oxford College

IELTS scores must meet one of two requirements in order to be accepted to Oxford University: “standard level” scores or “upper level” scores. For Oxford undergrads, the average IELTS score is 7.0 overall, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each section. The following undergraduate programmes in computer science, mathematics, mathematics, and computer science, mathematics, and statistics require these minimum IELTS scores for admission. Oxford University requires higher level IELTS scores for all other undergraduate programmes: a 7.5 overall, including a 7.0 in each section.

Cambridge University

For undergraduate students, a minimum overall score of 7.5 on the Cambridge IELTS is usually required. Your IELTS scores must typically be 7.0 or higher in each component across all undergrad programmes, though specific programme requirements could differ. Applicants should check with the undergraduate programmes they are interested in applying to for any tinier variances in requirements. Graduate-level students should also check their department-specific criteria by contacting the school they want to apply to as IELTS requirements for graduate programmes at Cambridge might vary quite a bit.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

A minimum overall IELTS score of 7.0 is required for undergraduate admission to MIT, with a suggested score of 7.5.

IELTS scores for MIT’s graduate programmes vary by department. Check the website of the programme you want to apply to for details on the precise English testing requirements for graduate school.

For our final thoughts regarding IELTS scoring, this is a descriptive article for you to understand where and how scoring is done. Make sure that you also work exceptionally hard for your exams.

If you have questions about what criteria other colleges have, feel free to reach out to us! Liked this blog? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

2 responses to “Here’s how IELTS band scores are calculated”

  1. […] are being evaluated for specific English skills when taking the IELTS. You must be familiar with extremely fundamental academic procedures for the academic test, and […]

  2. […] used to teach the majority of undergraduate courses. Be aware that they do need documentation of language proficiency. Therefore, if you intend to apply, you’d better get learning right […]

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