IELTS band scores: What do they mean?

Students taking a test

Whether you’re planning to take the IELTS test, studying for it, or patiently waiting for your results, you may be wondering about band scores.

IELTS band scores measure achievement in the IELTS test and range from 0 to 9. Each part of the test receives a band score and the individual results—Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking—are added and averaged to give an overall score for the IELTS test.

Your overall band score tells prospective schools and employers your ability to understand and speak English in an academic or professional environment. Different organizations require different IELTS scores for admission or consideration, so be sure to double check what IELTS score you need before you take your test.

IELTS Assessment: Listening & Reading

The listening and reading portions of the IELTS test are assessed solely on the basis of comprehension, making them very straightforward. There are 40 questions in each part and correct answers receive a point. The band scores for Listening and Reading are calculated within ranges of 0 to 40.

IELTS Assessment: Writing & Speaking

The writing and speaking sections of the IELTS test are evaluated based on achievement in four categories. For the writing and speaking tasks, you will be evaluated on:

    • Task achievement / Pronunciation
    • Coherence and cohesion / Fluency
    • Lexical resource
    • Grammatical range and accuracy

Task achievement will be assessed on how, and to what degree, you fulfilled the stated requirements of the given writing task (either Task 1 or Task 2).

Coherence and cohesion will be assessed on the basis of the structure and clarity of your writing and ideas. Logical transitions between topics and effective use of expressions are important here.

Lexical resource will be assessed on the basis of your accurate and flexible use of appropriate vocabulary.

Grammatical range and accuracy will measure your natural and appropriate use of grammar structures with attention paid to the degree of complexity and error-free production.

The speaking portion of the test is evaluated in much the same way, adding Pronunciation as a category in place of Task achievement, and Fluency in place of Coherence and cohesion.

What IELTS band score do I need?

This is a very important question. The answer to this question will determine how you prepare for your test. You will have to decide if you want to take an IELTS preparation course and how much time and effort you’ll put into practicing before your test.

IELTS band score requirements vary by requesting organization but are generally highest for linguistically demanding programs at academic institutions and lower for immigration and less demanding employers. Top-tier universities may require a band score of 6.5 or perhaps a score as high as 7.5 while some technical colleges may require a 5.0 or 5.5—so do your homework and know what score you need.

Interested in IELTS Preparation Classes? ILSC offers the IELTS Mastery Program and IELTS Mastery: 6.5 as well as general preparation and evening IELTS classes to get you ready for your test.

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