IELTS Scores

How to Interpret IELTS Scores

IELTS is a standardized English proficiency exam that is conducted the world over and enjoys the widest acceptability among government institutions and universities. In this article, we will be enumerating upon IELTS scores. To do so, we must first have a functioning knowledge of the structure of the test.The IELTS exam is conducted in two modules – Academic and General Training. Each module is divided into four sections – Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking – with the two modules causing slight variations in the Writing and Reading sections. The manner in which IELTS scores are assigned differ from section to section. Let us discuss this in a little more detail.Basic Scoring GuidelinesThe IELTS scores are recorded as a band score from 0 to 9. Scores are accorded in whole and half numbers only. While calculating average scores across all four sections, anything in between two band scores is rounded up or down to the nearest half or whole number. Every band score assigns a particular level of competence to that user. For example, an overall band score of 6 would signify that the person is a competent user of the English language while an individual band score of 8 in speaking would indicate that the individual has very good speaking skills. To find out more information about what a particular band signifies, visit examiners are trained to mark papers in a standardized manner. They have to follow certain guidelines while marking papers as well as assigning band scores in the speaking and writing tests. To make sure that the examiners are sticking to these guidelines, they are retested for every two years. Their performance is also continually monitored. For example, all speaking tests are recorded.Reading and Listening SectionsBoth of these sections consist of 40 questions of the multiple choices, yes/no and short answer variety. While scoring these two questions, every correct answer is accorded one mark. Thus, the raw score is the number of correct answers out of 40. This score is then converted to scale by using a prescribed conversion table. There may be slight adjustments in the band scores assigned to the same number of correct answers depending on the difficulty level of the particular paper. There is also a difference between what band score is assigned on the basis of the raw score when it comes to Academic Reading and General Training Reading. Since Academic Reading involves longer passages that utilize a slightly more difficult vocabulary, you require lesser number of correct answers than in General Training Reading to get the sameIELTS scores.Speaking and Writing SectionsExaminers who mark the Speaking and the Writing sections of the exam undergo rigorous training so as to learn in which manner they are expected to mark these tests. They are required to retest so as to certify as IELTS examiners after a gap of every two years. Separate parameters govern the marking of these two tests. While marking writing tasks, examiners are asked to focus on four main criteria:

  • whether the candidate was able to achieve the task or give a suitable response,
  • the amount of coherence and cohesion visible in the final answer,
  • the lexical resources employed by the individual,
  • and, how grammatically accurate the language used is.

All these four criteria are given equal importance.The second task in the Writing section accounts for double the marks accorded to the first task. When it comes to the Speaking task, the four criteria that are given importance are:

  • the lexical resources employed by the individual,
  • his grammatical accuracy,
  • pronunciation and
  • fluency and cohesion.

Good, Bad and Average IELTS ScoresMost universities require an average IELTS score of 7 band though some universities accept a 6 or a 6.5 band score as well. The Columbian School of Journalism requires the highest8.5 band score.

  • An average score would be around 5.5 band.
  • A good score would be anything above 6.5 band to 7.5 band.
  • Anything starting from 8 band is an excellent score.

For any more information about the IELTS exam or the scoring system followed by it, visit the official test website –