There is no fail in IELTS, as it evaluates language skills across a wide range of levels. The test takers are graded on a 9-band score system from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest), which indicates the level of their English skills. This scale remains a constant and secure benchmark that is recognised internationally. Scores are reported in whole bands and half bands.
The IELTS Band Score Scale:
|Band Score||Skill Level|
|3||Extremely limited user|
|8||Very good user|
IELTS is also mapped to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), that is used globally as a way of standardising the levels of language exams.
|IELTS Score||CEFR Level|
|< 4.0||Below B1|
|4.0 – 5.0||B1|
|5.5 – 6.5||B2|
|7.0 – 8.0||C1|
|8.5 – 9||C2|
The score you need depends on the requirements of your visa or of the institution or the organisation to which you are applying.
Test takers get individual band scores for each of the four components of the test. More specifically:
The part of Listening includes 40 questions. One mark is awarded for each correct answer, therefore the maximum raw score a test taker can achieve is 40. Band scores ranging from 1 to 9 are given to test takers according to their correct answers.
The part of Reading includes 40 questions. One mark is awarded for each correct answer, therefore the maximum raw score a test taker can achieve is 40. Band scores ranging from 1 to 9 are given to test takers according to their correct answers.
The part of Writing includes two tasks which are evaluated separately. Extra care should be given, as Task 2 contributes twice as much to the final writing band score. However, on both tasks the responses are assessed on:
- Task Achievement: examining how accurately, relevantly and appropriately the test takers responds.
- Cohesion and Coherence: examining the fluency and the organisation used by the test takers in order to link information and ideas through logical sequencing.
- Lexical Resource: examining the variety of the vocabulary and the way that the test taker uses it.
- Grammatical range and Accuracy: examining the accurate use of grammar and the variety of the grammatical tenses used by the test taker.
These detailed performance descriptors have been developed to describe written performance at the nine IELTS bands.
The part of Speaking includes a personal interaction between the test takers and the examiner where the following are assessed:
- Fluency and Coherence: examining the speech rate and continuity and the ability of the test takers to justify opinions and analyse argumentation through linking and organising ideas.
- Lexical Resource: examining the variety of the vocabulary used by the test takers in an appropriate content by expressing opinions without noticeable hesitation.
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy: examining the accurate use of grammar and the variety of the grammatical tenses used by the test taker.
- Pronunciation: examining the production of comprehensible speech from the test taker, without expecting the use of a British, American, Australian or New Zealand accent.
These detailed performance descriptors have been developed to describe spoken performance at the nine IELTS bands.
Test takers get their overall score by adding the individual scores of the Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking parts and then by dividing the result by four.
Certificate markers grade the parts of Listening and Reading and they are constantly supervised to ensure reliability. After marking at the test centre, all answer sheets are returned to Cambridge English Language Assessment for analysis. The parts of Speaking and Writing are evaluated by certificated IELTS examiners. All IELTS examiners hold relevant teaching qualifications and are recruited as examiners by the test centres and approved by British Council or IDP: IELTS Australia.
Find the score you need for your chosen organisation by visiting the IELTS official website: