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International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration More than 10,000 organisations globally trust IELTS, so when you take the test you can be confident that it is recognised by educational institutions, employers, governments and professional bodies around the world

As one of the pioneers of four skills English language testing 30 years ago, IELTS continues to set the standard for English language testing today. Governments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom use IELTS to process immigration applications.

There are two IELTS tests available – IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training . The test you choose should be based on what it is you want to do.


IELTS Academic

Measures whether your level of English language proficiency is suitable for an academic environment. It reflects aspects of academic language and evaluates whether you’re ready to begin training or studying.

IELTS General Training

Measures English language proficiency in a practical, everyday context. The tasks and tests reflect both workplace and social situations

How does IELTS work?


IELTS has been developed by some of the world’s leading language assessment experts and will test the full range of English skills needed for success in your new job or study placement abroad.

You’ll be assessed on the following elements:

  • 1. Listening
  • 2. Reading
  • 3. Writing
  • 4. Speaking

If you are taking the IELTS test to support a UK visa application to work, live or study in the UK, you may need to take the IELTS for UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Academic or General Training or the IELTS for Life Skills test

Listening Reading Writing Speaking Average of four components (total of the four individual component scores divided by four) Band score
Test taker A 6.5 6.5 5 7 6.25 6.5
Test taker B 4 3.5 4 4 3.875 4
Test taker C 6.5 6.5 5.5 6 6.125 6

Overall Band Score


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

Component Band Scores

Listening : The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions. Each correct answer is awarded one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Reading : The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions. Each correct answer is awarded one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS nine-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

The Academic and General Training Reading tests are graded on the same scale. The distinction between the two tests is one of genre or text type. However, Academic Reading tests may contain texts which feature more difficult vocabulary or greater complexity of style. It is usual that a greater number of questions must be answered correctly on a General Training Reading test to secure a given band score.

Writing : Examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria:

  • 1. Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2)
  • 2. Coherence and Cohesion
  • 3. Lexical Resource
  • 4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The criteria are weighted equally and the score on the task is the average.

Speaking : Examiners use assessment criteria to award a band score for each of the four criteria:

  • 1. Fluency and Coherence
  • 2. Lexical Resource
  • 3. Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • 4. Pronunciation

The criteria are weighted equally and the Speaking band score is the average

IELTS - Band scale


You will be given a score from 1 to 9 for each part of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The average produces

The highest score for IELTS is 9 and the lowest score is 1, each score is a reflection of different levels of English users.

Expert user

Expert user has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

Very good user

Very good user has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

Good user

Good user has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

Competent user

Competent user has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Modest user

Modest user has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

Limited user

Limited user basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language

Extremely limited user

Extremely limited user conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

Intermittent user

Intermittent user no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Non-user

Non-user essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

Did not attempt the test

Did not attempt the test has No assessable information provided.

How your overall band score is calculated?


Your overall band score is calculated by taking the mean score of the four test components (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). The score for each component is equally weighted. Your overall band score is rounded to the nearest whole or half band.

For example:

If you achieve 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.0 for Writing and 7.0 for Speaking, you will be awarded an Overall Band Score of 6.5.

Total score of 25 ÷ 4 = 6.25 which is a band score of 6.5.

If you achieve 4.0 for Listening, 3.5 for Reading, 4.0 for Writing and 4.0 for Speaking, you will be awarded an Overall Band Score of 4.0.

Total score of 15.5 ÷ 4 = 3.875 which is a band score of 4.0.

Listening and Reading scores

IELTS Listening and Reading components each contain 40 questions. Each correct item is awarded one mark, so the maximum raw score you can achieve for each component is 40. Band scores ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 are awarded to candidates on the basis of their raw scores.The tables indicate the number of marks required to achieve a particular band score.

Note: In order to equate different test versions, the band score boundaries are set so that all candidates’ results relate to the same scale of achievement. This means, for example, that the Band 6 boundaries may be set at slightly different raw scores across versions.

Writing and Speaking scores

When marking the Writing and Speaking components of the test, examiners use detailed assessment criteria which describe written and spoken performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.

Writing: Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2);Coherence and Cohesion;Lexical Resource; Grammatical Range and Accuracy. The four criteria are equally weighted.

Speaking: Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy; and Pronunciation. The four criteria are equally weighted

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