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CEFR Level in IELTS 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated on 26 January, 2024

Pragya Sharma

Pragya Sharma

Sr. Content Editor


The CEFR English test is a popularly acknowledged framework for language proficiency worldwide. The CEFR was assembled by the Council of Europe, back in the 1990s as part of a bigger initiative to spark collaborations among language teachers throughout Europe. 

The Council was driven by its aim of providing better clarity for institutions and employers who wished to assess candidates' language proficiency levels of candidates. The testing framework is intended for assessment and teaching alike. In this context, it is worth mentioning that CEFR is not linked to any specific language test and encompasses several can-do statements with a list of functions that aspirants can execute with the foreign language at any proficiency level. For instance, one of the statements for the B1 level is Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest. Teachers and employers may use such statements for assessing candidates with a view to filling up the knowledge gaps.

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What is the CEFR level?

This is a scale with six points(A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2) in total, beginning from A1 (basic user) and going up to C2 (proficient user) for those with mastery over any language. CEFR is also used for other language tests throughout Europe and not only for IELTS. It is used for the conversion of scores in TOEFL as well. 

Thus CEFR exam or CEFR levels bypass terms such as intermediatebeginner, or even advanced which are not accurate indicators of proficiency in a language. The CEFR was made to ensure more standardized scales for determining fluency in languages with more reliable indicators. Here are some other objectives of the CEFR Test: 

  1. Helps in backing the continued development and demonstration of progress for language learners at an individual level
  2. Helps in the definition of can-do and positive descriptors which are suited to learner needs, interests, and age
  3. Helps in the development of teaching material while enabling more cooperation amongst those teaching various types of languages
  4. It also boosts standardized assessment, teaching, and learning
  5. It enables comparability for various types of certifications
  6. The CEFR seeks to encourage individuals in the field of language including learners to embark on reflection for questions like those recommended in Notes for the user with regard to the analysis of various teaching or learning situations
  7. It also helps entities define what they want learners to achieve and how to do the same.

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Before gaining insights into the IELTS band score and the CEFR level, one should know that IELTS aspirants often require their scores converted to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to bring clarity to the reviewer’s table (employer, organization, and schools). The IELTS marks an individual’s English language competency on a scale of nine bands and comprises four sections, namely Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. 

The score bands and their corresponding skill levels are the following: 

  • 9- Expert
  • 8- Very Good
  • 7- Good
  • 6- Competent
  • 5- Modest
  • 4- Limited
  • 3- Extremely Limited 
  • 2- Intermittent
  • 1- Non-User
  • 0- Did not take the test


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How to Compare CEFR with IELTS

Here is a table that will give you an idea of the comparison and how to do it:

CEFR Level

Level of Proficiency

Corresponding IELTS Score Band

C2Expert User8.5 – 9.0
C1Very Good User8
Good User7.0 – 7.5
B2Competent User6.0 – 6.5
Modest User5.0 – 5.5
B1Limited User4.0 – 4.5
A2Extremely Limited User3
A1Intermittent User2
Non – User1

Maximum timeline for getting results

13 working days

Validity of the Scores

Two Years


Why Compare CEFR and IELTS? 

Comparisons are often inevitable for students who have applied to European universities and institutions accepting CEFR levels. It is necessary because understanding the relationships and comparative scenarios between IELTS and CEFR scores is often imperative. The CEFR was always meant to be a commonly-used mechanism for reference and also for reflection, communications, and empowerment as per the official guideline. It is not difficult to convert IELTS scores into their corresponding CEFR levels. You should go by a rule of thumb where the IELTS 7.5 band score equates to the C1 level in the CEFR. Similarly, 4.5 as the IELTS band score will equate to the B1 level in the CEFR. The IELTS used for comparison with the CEFR level is the mean band scores reported on the Test Report Form and not the band scores for individual modules.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) continues to play a pivotal role in contextualizing the IELTS scores, providing a transparent and coherent basis for comparing language proficiency levels internationally. The CEFR framework, with its levels ranging from A1 (beginner) to C2 (mastery), offers a clear benchmark for understanding an individual's language ability, making it easier for educational institutions, employers, and governmental bodies to assess and recognize the English language proficiency of IELTS test-takers. For candidates preparing for IELTS in 2024, aligning their preparation with the CEFR levels can help in setting realistic goals and measuring progress more effectively. This alignment not only aids in targeted learning but also ensures that learners can communicate their IELTS achievements in universally understood terms, facilitating smoother academic and professional transitions across borders.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How CEFR is important?

The CEFR uses more standardized scales for determining fluency in languages with indicators that are more reliable.  It evaluates the competency of the language learners on a scale of A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2  where A1 stands for basic user and C2 stands for competent user. It also provides the list of skills or abilities the user need to cultivate in him to master the language proficiency.

Why did CEFR come into existence?

The main reason behind the existence of CEFR was to provide all the citizens an opportunity to learn other languages apart from their first language and in doing so their specific communicative needs would be taken into account and the methodologies will be on the basis of real communication tasks.

If I score 4.5 overall in the IELTS exam then on what scale would I fall in the CEFR gradient?

If you have secured 4.5 in the IELTS exam then you will fall in the B1 category of the CEFR scale which stands for an intermediate user.

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Pragya Sharma

Sr. Content Editor

Pragya Sharma is a content developer and marketer with 6.5+ years of experience in the education industry. She started her career as a social media copywriter for NIELIT, Ministry of Electronics & IT, and has now scaled up as a 360-degree content professional well-versed with the intricacies of digital marketing and different forms of content used to drive and hook the target audience. She is also a co-author of 2 stories in an anthology based on the theme- women empowerment.

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