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IELTS Band Score: Section-Wise Reading, Listening, Writing & Speaking

Updated on 05 February, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

ielts band score

Understanding the IELTS band score is not difficult. The results of the examination are reported on a scale of 9 bands. Before we can understand everything about the IELTS band score, let us first understand what each of the band scores denotes:

9 - Expert User: This demonstrates full operational command of the aspirant over the English language. He/she has demonstrated accurate, appropriate, and fluent usage of the language while exhibiting full understanding as well.

8 - Very Good: The aspirant has complete control over the English language with unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage taking place only occasionally. They may not understand a few aspects of scenarios that are unfamiliar. Otherwise, they can tackle detailed and complex argumentation quite well.

7 - Good User: The aspirant has total functional control over the English language although he/she displays sporadic inappropriate usage, inaccuracies, and misinterpretation in a few scenarios. They usually deal with complex language satisfactorily while understanding the reasoning of a detailed nature.

6 - Competent User: The aspirant has practical English language command despite a few instances of improper usage, inaccuracies, and misinterpretations. They can use and understand complex language, especially during familiar situations.

5 - Modest User: The aspirant doesn’t have complete command over the English language and will be able to cope with most situations although they are likely to make several mistakes. They will be able to manage primary communication in their areas of operation.

4 - Limited User: The English language understanding of the aspirant is restricted to known and experienced scenarios. He/she will frequently demonstrate issues in expression and understanding alike. He/she will be unable to make use of advanced language.

3 - Extremely Limited User: The aspirant understands and communicates just basic meanings in highly familiar scenarios. The communication is not fluent and often disrupted.

2 - Intermittent User: These aspirants face a lot of problems in properly comprehending written and spoken English alike.

1 - Non-User: The aspirant does not possess the skill to use the English language except for some particular words.

Difference between Raw Scores and Band Scores in IELTS

The raw scores gained in the listening and reading section of IELTS are on the basis of the number of correct answers that a candidate has given on the test. Once the candidate is marked out of 40, their score is then converted on a band scale of one to nine. For instance, in the listening section of IELTS, getting a raw score of 39-40, 37-38, 35-36, 32-34, and 30-31 means that the listening band score is converted to 9, 8.5, 8, 7.5, and 7 respectively. On the other hand, the IELTS reading section includes both General Training and Academic tests. A candidate has to secure a better raw score on the General Training Reading examination than the academic one to get a higher band score in IELTS.

The writing and speaking section of IELTS consists of two and three tasks respectively. Each of them is assessed on the basis of certain criteria. The examiners mark the IELTS scores in the writing section on the basis of Task Achievement (Task 1) and Task Response (Task 2), Lexical Resource, Coherence and Cohesion, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. On the other hand, the speaking section is assessed on the basis of Grammatical Range and Accuracy, Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, and Pronunciation. There is equal weightage for each criterion, and the band scores are calculated as an average of marks awarded in each of them.

Recommended Read: IELTS Speaking Band Score

How Are IELTS Band Scores Calculated?

There are four components of the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam — Listening, Writing, Reading, and Speaking. Therefore, the IELTS band score is calculated by taking out an average of the individual scores awarded in these four sections. This score is then rounded off to the nearest half or whole (whichever is closer) with equal weightage for the scores of each section. For example, if an aspirant gets 6.5, 6.5, 5.0, and 7.0 in the four sections, then their average of these four scores will be 6.25 and the band score will be rounded off to the nearest half i.e., 6.5.

Likewise, suppose another aspirant gets 4.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.0 for these sections, their average score will be 3.875.  Then their  IELTS score would be 4.0. 

Someone getting 6.5, 6.5, 5.5, and 6.0 in these portions will have an average score of 6.125 and a band score of 6.0. If the average is ending at the .25 mark, then the overall band score will be rounded off to the nearest half band, which will be .50. And if it ends at .75, then it will be rounded to the next whole band.



Section-Wise Understanding of IELTS Band Score

Listening Section

The IELTS listening section has 40 questions in total. Every right answer gets a single mark. The marks scored out of 40 are converted into the 9-band IELTS scale. Here’s a table depicting total marks scored and the band score awarded based on that:

Total Marks Received Out of 40

Band Score Awarded
























Reading Section

The IELTS Reading section has 40 questions with one mark given for every correct answer. Out of 40, the scores will be converted into the 9-band scale. The Academic and General Training Reading examinations are graded on a similar scale but the only difference is the text or genre type. The Academic Reading tests consist of tougher vocabulary and complexity of content. A candidate has to answer a larger number of correct questions on the General Training Reading examination for getting a good score.  

IELTS Academic Reading Section Score and Subsequent Band Score

Total Marks Received Out of 40

Band Score Awarded






























IELTS General Training Reading Section Score and Subsequent Band Score

Total marks received out of 40

Band Score Awarded






























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Writing Section

The IELTS Writing Section consists of two tasks and each of them is assessed on the basis of four criteria that are employed to award band scores. Each criterion carries equal weightage, and the scores are an average of marks awarded in each of them. They are as follows:

1. Task Achievement (Task 1) and Task Response (Task 2)

For Task 1, candidates are required to write a 150-word description and are marked on the basis of an overview and information that are provided. The candidate’s ability to go into details of the content and that too with accuracy in describing the illustrations and key features makes them score a higher band score in IELTS. Failing to meet the word count requirement can lead to a penalty. 

For Task 2 of the IELTS Writing section, an essay-type question is presented for which a response has to be written in 250 words. The candidate is assessed on the basis of the use of relevant examples in the essay and the way the main idea is developed. Failing to meet the word requirement for Task 2 of IELTS can lead the candidate to be penalized. 

2. Lexical Resource

While scoring under this category, the use of spellings, vocabulary, word formation, and correct implementation is taken care of. It is advised to avoid the use of informal language and wrong words to score high under this criterion. 

3. Coherence and Cohesion

While marking under this criterion, the examiner checks how the candidate has put linking words to use, implementation of cohesive devices such as conjunctions and connectors, and paragraphing skills. The number of paragraphs is also taken into consideration while marking. Therefore, dividing the essay into too many or too less paragraphs can let the 

4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Factors such as proper use of sentences, ensuring the formation of sentence structures, control over grammar, using simple as well as complex sentences with clear ideas, and putting the right punctuations are assessed while scoring under this criterion. 

Speaking Section

The IELTS Speaking section is face-to-face interaction with the candidate consisting of three tasks. Specific assessment criteria are employed to award band scores which are as follows. Each criterion carries equal weightage, and the scores are an average of marks awarded in each of them.

1. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In order to score high in IELTS Speaking, a candidate should accurately use a variety of grammatical structures. Producing a limited range of accurate sentences by ‘playing it safe’ will not be enough to get a high score. It is imperative to demonstrate the use of a good mix of various grammatical structures accurately such as a balanced combination of simple, compound, and complex sentences. 

Use of a range of tenses, modals for different functions, active and passive voice appropriately, connectors to link two or more ideas, comparative and superlative adjectives, and subordinate and relative clauses are taken into consideration while marking on the basis of grammatical range and accuracy. 

2. Fluency and Coherence

To denote a candidate’s fluency, their ability to speak at length without noticeable hesitation, pauses or repetition, and how easily the message is comprehended is checked. On the other hand, in terms of coherence, their ability to link within and between sentences while speaking and make the listener follow their ideas is taken into account. 

Factors that contribute to higher scores in Fluency & Coherence

  • Understanding how to develop the points around a particular topic and produce logical ideas connected with it
  • Limited use of self-correction
  • Presenting ideas with the help of a range of linking words and other strategies
  • Minimizing the use of language-related hesitation 
  • Avoiding the use of repetitive words or phrases or fillers such as like, you know, etc.

3. Lexical Resource

A lexical resource is the range of vocabulary used by a candidate. To score high on this parameter, it is better to use less common phrases and idiomatic language, in a natural way and a wide range of vocabulary

Factors that contribute to higher scores in Lexical Resource

  • Ability to avoid repetition and putting different words for the same thing
  • Knowing the use of uncommon words in the right context
  • Ability to paraphrase 
  • Correct use of collocations, such as go shopping instead of doing shopping
  • Accurate use of phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions and figurative language
  • Knowing the choice of right words for the right connotation. For instance, it is better to use slim as it conveys a positive meaning, but skinny sounds negative.

4. Pronunciation

It is necessary to understand that pronunciation and accent are different. Candidates are expected to speak in a particular way so that it is clearly understood and the examiner does not have to focus on every word that is uttered.  The following features should be included in pronunciation to score high in IELTS. 

  • correct individual sounds (phonemes)
  • strong and weak sounds in sentences
  • stress - at word and sentence level
  • intonation - to convey the right emotion
  • linking sounds and contractions for fluency
  • chunking - a combination of pause and stress, for emphasis 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can one calculate IELTS score?

The IELTS score is calculated by taking out an average of the individual scores awarded in all four sections. This score is then rounded off into a whole band. If an aspirant gets 6.5, 6.5, 5.0, and 7.0 in the four sections, then their average of these four scores will be 6.25 and the band score will be rounded off to the nearest half i.e., 6.5.

How is the IELTS Writing test marked?

The IELTS Writing test is marked on a band score of zero to nine. The examiners use four assessment criteria to award a band score which are Task Achievement (for Task 1) and Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

How does the evaluation of the IELTS Reading test take place?

The evaluation of the IELTS Reading test takes place on a band of zero to nine and candidates are marked on the following criteria: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation.

Read More:

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Is it easy to score in IELTS?

The world's leading test of English language proficiency, IELTS, is not very difficult. In fact, the test is designed in such a way that it is easy to attempt. Though it might seem that scoring a 6 band score is difficult. However, with a little more substantial practice and preparation; scoring 6.5 or 7 is not impossible.

How is the band score calculated for the listening section?

The raw score in the listening section is derived from the number of correct answers given out of 40. The raw score is then converted into a band score which is between nine to zero.

What can I do if I am not happy with my IELTS test results?

If you are unhappy with your IELTS score then you can either reappear for the test or request to get your IELTS test reviewed. If you want to get your IELTS test rescored, you need to apply for an Enquiry on Results (EoR) at your test centre within six weeks and this process is known as the Enquiry on Results. You can either apply for the review of a particular module or the entire module for review and the entire process takes seven weeks. To apply for the rescoring, you need to pay an IELTS Remark Fees of INR 8,475 which would be refunded if your result is changed to a higher score band.

How long is the IELTS result valid?

Once taken, the IELTS test results are valid for a duration of two years.

Recommended Read: Validity of IELTS Score

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