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IELTS

What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is conducted by three institutions, namely, the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment (University of Cambridge).

There are two versions of the IELTS test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

IELTS Academic

This test is meant for students wishing to study at universities and institutes of higher education in countries where English is the medium of instruction in the classroom.

IELTS General Training

This test is usually a visa requirement for those applying for permanent residency to English speaking countries, such as, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

IELTS Format

There are four parts of test Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Academic and General test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests but different Reading and Writing tests. The difference between IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training lies in the subject matter of the Reading and Writing components.

Listening, Reading and Writing must be completed on the same day, with no breaks in between them. The Speaking test will either be after up to a week before or after the other tests.

IELTS scoring in detail

The IELTS Academic and General Training test results are reported using the same nine-band scale

The Test Report Form provides your Overall Band Score and band scores for each of the four components: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.

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.
Some examples:

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 4.0 4.0 3.875 4.0
Test taker C 6.5 6.5 5.5 6.0 6.125 6.0

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.

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.

Band score Raw score out of 40
5 16
6 23
7 30
8 35

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.

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 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

Writing

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

  • Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2)
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • 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:

  • Fluency and Coherence
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation

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

Learn more about the test

Support materials for organisations

Our IELTS guides provide an overview of test development, assessment and score processing for educational institutions, professional bodies and employers.

IELTS scores guide

Invite colleagues who process IELTS scores at your organization to review the IELTS Scores Guide.

Setting your IELTS score

Guidance to help you set appropriate IELTS score requirements for your organisation.

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