IELTS Exam Scoring System: Everything You Need to Know!


For students who are planning to study abroad, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an essential test you need to sail through. This test assesses your English language proficiency, providing a clear indication of your ability to handle university-level coursework.

This test comprises different sections, so it is important to understand how the test is scored can help you better prepare and aim for the score required by your chosen educational institutions. So let us gear up and glance at the comprehensive guide of the scoring system of the IELTS exam through this article.

How IELTS is Scored?

Each section is assessed separately, and the scores are averaged to determine your overall band score.

Band Scores

IELTS scores range from 0 to 9 on the band scale. Here’s a breakdown of what each band score represents.

  • Band 9: Expert User

You have a fully operational command of the language with no difficulties. Your English proficiency is at a native level.

  • Band 8: Very Good User

You have a fully operational command of the language, with only occasional inaccuracies or inappropriate usage.

  • Band 7: Good User

You have an operational command of the language with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and misunderstandings. Generally, you handle complex language well.

  • Band 6: Competent User

You have a good command of the language despite some errors and improper usage. You can use and understand fairly complex language.

  • Band 5: Modest User 

You have partial command of the language and can cope with overall meaning in most situations, though you are likely to make many mistakes.

  • Band 4: Limited User

Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression and cannot use complex language.

  • Band 3: Extremely Limited User

You express and comprehend only common meaning in very familiar conditions. You have frequent problems with understanding and expression.

  • Band 2: Intermittent User

You experience great difficulty in grasping spoken and written English.

  • Band 1: Non-User

You have essentially no ability to use the language beyond a few isolated words.

  • Band 0: Did Not Attempt the Test

You did not answer any questions.

Self-preparation is indeed helpful but seeking guidance can be the cherry on top. For those who want to study at home, an online IELTS test preparation academy is a great option to score a better band.

Scoring Each Section

After understanding the band scores, let us now dive deeper and explore the scoring system of each section.

  • Listening

The Listening section comprises of four recordings of native English speakers. You will answer questions based on these recordings. Each correct answer is awarded one mark, and the total number of correct answers determines your score, which is then converted into the IELTS band score.

This section evaluates your ability to understand the main ideas, specific information, and the speaker’s attitudes and opinions in an intellectual context.

  • Reading

The Reading section includes three texts with a series of questions. The texts are selected to test your reading skills, including understanding detailed information, identifying main ideas, and grasping the overall meaning.

The number of correct answers is used to calculate your band score. This section assesses your ability to read and understand complex texts encountered in a higher academic environment.

  • Writing

The Writing section has two tasks: Task 1 requires you to describe visual information or data (such as graphs, charts, or diagrams), while Task 2 involves writing an essay in response to a point of view, argument, or problem. Your responses are assessed based on criteria such as task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, and grammatical range and accuracy.

Each task is scored separately, and the scores are averaged to determine your band score. This section evaluates your ability to present ideas clearly, organize information logically, and use appropriate language.

  • Speaking

During the Speaking section, you will engage in a one-on-one conversation with an examiner. It consists of three parts: an introduction and interview, a long turn where you speak on a topic for one or two minutes, and a two-way discussion related to the topic.

Your performance is assessed based on fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation. This section assesses your capability to speak efficiently in spoken English.

In a Nutshell

Understanding the IELTS Exam scoring system is crucial for setting realistic goals and devising an effective study plan. Your overall band score is the average of the scores from the four sections, rounded to the nearest half-band. For example, scores of 7 in Listening, 6.5 in Reading, 7 in Writing, and 6 in Speaking average 6.5.

All in all, familiarizing yourself with the scoring helps you focus on areas needing improvement and understand university requirements. By utilizing Best IELTS coaching, you can better prepare for the test and achieve the band score needed for your academic goals. All the very best!