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How is IELTS score calculated?

by IDP IELTS India 10 March, 2021

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is designed to assess the candidate’s language ability who plans to study or work in an English-speaking country. It’s a universally acclaimed fact that IELTS is the most popular English language proficiency test in the world, recognised and accepted by more than 10,000 organisations worldwide which include immigration authorities, universities, professional bodies, employers and other government agencies.

Indeed, once you register, you should start preparing for your IELTS test, but beforehand try to understand it’s scoring pattern. For the same, you should remember that there is no such thing as a pass or fail in IELTS as the scores are graded on a 9-band system.

Understanding the IELTS scoring system

IELTS has four parts, and you’ll receive an individual scoring for each part along with an overall score that will be a sum-average of all four of it. You will get a score on a scale of 0 to 9 which will be described as a band. So, let’s say if you have got an overall score of 8, it’d mean you achieved 8 band.

Please note that if the average of all four parts ends in .25, the overall score will be rounded up to the next half band, and if the score ends in .75, then the score will be rounded up to the next whole number. But if the score is lesser than .25 or .75, the overall score will be rounded down. Here are a few examples to help you understand:

Case 1:

Listening: 8 + Reading: 7.5 + Writing: 7.5 + Speaking: 6 = 29 (total score)

Divide 29/4 = 7.25 (the score ends in .25 so rounded up to the next half band)

Overall band score= 7.5

Case 2:

Listening: 8.5 + Reading: 8 + Writing: 8.5 + Speaking: 7.5= 32.5

Divide 32.5/4 = 8.125 (the score ends with a fraction below.25 so round down to the next whole band)

Thus, the overall band will be 8. Overall band score= 8.0

Case 3:

Listening: 4+ Reading: 4.5 + Writing: 4 + Speaking: 3=15.5

Divide: 15.5/4 = 3.875 (the score ends higher than .75 so round up to the next whole band)

Thus, the overall band score will be 4 Overall band score= 4.0

The IELTS 9 band scale

Do remember that both the IELTS Academic and General Training IELTS test are graded to a 9-band scale:

Band score Skill level Description
9 Expert user The test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8 Very good user The test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.
7 Good user The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
6 Competent user The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest user The test taker has partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.
4 Limited user The test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely limited user The test taker conveys and understands the only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent user The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-user The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
0 Did not attempt the test The test taker did not answer the questions.

The Test Report Form (TRF)

You will receive a Test Report Form which reports a score in each of the four modules i.e., listening, reading, writing and speaking, as well as an overall band score. Also, half-band scores may be awarded indicating strong performance within a specific band.

If you aren’t satisfied with the results, then you can apply for a re-mark at the same centre where you took the test. But do make your application no later than six weeks after the test date. Also, you can choose which test components are re-marked and there is a fee for this service which will be refunded in case your score in any of the components is increased.

Note: To plan ahead, keep in mind that Enquiries on Results take six to eight weeks to complete.