We share with you how we mark your test

At IELTS, want to help boost you to the next level. We want to make sure you don’t need to repeat your English language test. That’s why we share with you how we test, how we mark your work, and what is important.

For IELTS Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening we’ll tell you what examiners look for and how your test is marked. We’ll also show you how your overall band score is calculated.

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Do you want an official IELTS preparation tool that tells you where you can improve to get a high score. Try our SpeakingWriting or Reading mock tests and receive a detailed report with tips to improve your English for IELTS. We will tell you how we mark your test, and what you can do to get a better score.

How is the IELTS Writing test marked?

The IELTS Writing test is marked by qualified IELTS examiners who are intensively trained and monitored to ensure consistency and quality of marking, no matter where in the world the test is taken. A minimum of two examiners will mark your Writing test, and sometimes even up to three or four – we do this to ensure the highest level of accuracy and fairness possible.

Your Writing test response is scored in the areas of ‘task response’, ‘coherence and cohesion’, ‘lexical resource’, and ‘grammatical range and accuracy’. To understand what each of these mean you can view the Writing band descriptors, which have detailed information about each phrase and how they relate to the different band scores that are possible.

Download the IELTS Writing band task 1 descriptorsexternal icon

Download the IELTS Writing band task 2 descriptorsexternal icon

How is the IELTS Speaking test marked?

The Speaking test in IELTS is just like a conversation that you would have in everyday life. In the test, you will sit in a private, quiet room with a qualified examiner who will engage you in a conversation. While it can be difficult to speak to a stranger, make the most of it! With IELTS, the examiner can slow down for you, speed up or even repeat or rephrase a question if you like – all you have to do is ask. The examiner is there to enable you to perform at your best.

Your speaking skills are marked against a number of criteria, including ‘fluency and coherence’, ‘lexical resource’, ‘pronunciation’, ‘grammatical range’ and ‘accuracy’. To understand what each of these mean you can view the Speaking band descriptor, which has detailed information about each phrase and how they relate to the different band scores that are possible.

Download the IELTS Speaking band descriptorsexternal icon

How is the IELTS Reading test marked?

In the Reading test, you will answer 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, e.g. multiple choice, True/False/Not Given, matching, and sentence completion. Your answers are either correct or incorrect, so the marking is a little different to the Speaking and Writing tests. You will receive one mark for each correct answer, with the total number of marks determining your band score.

The tables below indicate the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in Academic Reading and General Training Reading.

Academic Reading:

  • Band score 5 = 15 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 6 = 23 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 7 = 30 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 8 = 35 out of a raw score of 40

General Training Reading:

  • Band score 4 = 15 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 5 = 23 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 6 = 30 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 7 = 34 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 8 = 38 out of a raw score of 40

How is the IELTS Listening test marked?

In the Listening test, you will answer 40 questions that relate to audio clips that will be played to you. Your answers are either correct or incorrect, so the marking is a little different to the Speaking and Writing tests. You will receive one mark for each correct answer, with the total number marks determining your band score.

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

  • Band score 5 = 16 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 6 = 23 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 7 = 30 out of a raw score of 40

  • Band score 8 = 35 out of a raw score of 40

How is the Overall Band Score calculated?

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.

If the average of the four components 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.

Some examples:

  • Reading 6.5 + Writing 5 + Speaking 7 + Listening 6.5 = 25

    Divide 25 by 4 = 6.25

    Ends in .25 so round up to the next half band

    Overall band score = 6.5

  • Reading 6.5 + Writing 5.5 + Speaking 6.0 + Listening 6.5 = 24.5

    Divide 24.5 by 4 = 6.125

    Ends with a fraction below .25 so round down to the next whole band

    Overall band score = 6.0

  • Reading 3.5 + Writing 4.0 + Speaking 4.0 + Listening 4.0 = 19.5

    Divide 19.5 by 4 = 3.875

    Ends with a fraction above .75 so round up to the next whole band

    Overall band score = 4.0

The IELTS 9 band scale

The IELTS Academic and General Training IELTS test are both graded to a 9 band scale.

For each section of the test (Writing, Reading, Listening and Speaking) you will receive a band score from 1 – 9. The average of this score will form your overall IELTS band score. This may be a whole score (e.g. 5, 6) or half (e.g. 7.5, 8.5).

The table below rates each band score against an English skill level. To find out how your test is marked, view IELTS scoring and marking.

The IELTS 9 band scale

Band score 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.