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What is a band score?

by IDP IELTS India 02 Feb, 2022

Your performance on test day in each language skill make up the four sections of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking – is reported as a band score on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 9 (highest). All sections of the test and the overall band score are reported in whole or half bands (e.g. 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, etc.).

How is the band score calculated?

The Overall Band Score is the average of the marks of four sections, rounded to the nearest whole or half band. The sectional scores are weighted equally.

If the average of the four sections ends in .25, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, the Overall Band Score is rounded up to the next whole band. If the average ends with a fraction below .25 or .75, the overall score is rounded down.

Example-

Listening Reading Writing Speaking Average of four components (total of the four individual component scores divided by four) Band score
7.5 5.5 6.5 5.0 6.125 6.0
6.5 5.5 5.0 8.0 6.25 6.5

If the average of the four sections ends in .25, the overall band score is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, the overall band score is rounded up to the next whole band.

The table below will help you understand what a nice band scale is and significance of each band-

Band score Skill level Description
9 Expert 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 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 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 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 The test taker has a 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 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 The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent 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 Test not attempted The test taker did not answer the questions.

IDP IELTS Expert Talk | How to prepare for IELTS to score 8+ Band

1. Writing section

Your Writing test response is scored in the following areas-

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resources
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

The IELTS Writing test is marked by qualified IELTS examiners no matter where in the world. They are intensively trained and monitored to ensure consistency and quality of marking. A minimum of two examiners will mark your writing test, and a maximum of three to four to ensure high level accuracy and fair play.

2. Reading section

This section consists of 40 questions, for which you receive one mark per correct answer. A variety of question types are used, for example, multiple choice, True/False/Not Given, matching, and sentence completion. The table below indicates the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in Academic Reading.

Academic Reading
Band Score Raw Score Out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 35
General Training Reading
Band Score Raw Score Out of 40
4 15
5 23
6 30
7 34
8 38
3. Speaking section

The Speaking test in IELTS follows a conversational style method. In the test, the candidate is made to sit in a private, quiet room with a qualified examiner who will engage with them in a conversation of everyday life.

The speaking skills are marked against a number of criteria, which are as following-

  • Fluency and coherence
  • Lexical resource
  • Pronunciation
  • Grammatical range
  • Accuracy
4. Listening section

This section consists of 40 questions as well that relate to audio clips that will be played to the candidate. Your answers are either correct or incorrect, where for every correct answer one mark is allotted.

The table below indicates the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in the Listening test:

Band Score Raw Score Out of 40
5 16
6 23
7 30
8 35