Calculating Your IELTS Band Score: A Comprehensive Guide

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IELTS is an English language proficiency test developed during the 1980s and administered to students for the first time in 1989. Since its introduction, it has become a widely popular test that is accepted by more than 100 countries and over 8,000 universities, employers, and immigration organisations. The test is conducted 48 times a year, and you will have full power to select the preferred date, time, and mode of the exam. 

What many people are unaware of is that the IELTS is the only test that is accepted by the key immigration authorities for visa approval. The number of applicants taking the exam has been breaking records every year, reaching 3.5 million in 2018 and growing further. If you are appearing for the first time, it can be extremely overwhelming to understand the guidelines and the entire process of the exam. You must familiarise yourself with the format of the exam as well as how you will be evaluated. Unless you have an understanding of how you will be marked, you will not be able to attempt the exam.

Understanding IELTS Band Scores


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IELTS has four sections, namely listening, reading, speaking, and writing. You will be marked individually for each section, and the overall score will be the average of all the sections. IELTS refers to these scores as IELTS band scores and every country/ institution has guidelines for minimum band scores. If you do not get the desired band score, there are chances you may not be approved or considered for the application. The average overall IELTS band score for females varies between 6.28 and 6.38 for academic and general IELTS, respectively. On the other hand, males have an overall average of 6.22 in academics and 6.26 in general. The key to understanding this is that you need to score equally well in all four sections to maintain the overall score. For instance, if you score less in the IELTS listening band, it will clearly reflect and impact your overall score. You may also be confused about what the band score 6 denotes. Note that IELTS will give you a score between 1 and 9. Let us take you through the band score descriptor to give you a clearer understanding of what signifies good performance in the IELTS exam.

  • Band 0 – An individual who did not attempt the test will be awarded a band zero. IELTS provides the perfect opportunity to choose the dates according to your convenience. You must consider scheduling your test closer to a date when you are fully prepared and available. Try to push the test date if you are not fully prepared or have something urgent to avoid such mishappenings.
  • Band 1 – Band 1 is the lowest and it denotes that an individual has no ability to use the language instead of using a few specific words. The category is also referred to as non-user who may not be proficient and convenient with the usage of the language. 
  • Band 2 – The band refers to an intermittent user who may face extreme issues and difficulty in understanding spoken as well as written English.
  • Band 3 – It denotes extremely limited users or individuals who may hold expertise in understanding only general meanings in familiar situations. It is likely that the user may face multiple and frequent breakdowns while communicating or using the language. You should consider joining an IELTS coaching centre if you belong to this category and upgrading yourself to gain a good score. 

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  • Band 4 – The score denotes an individual who is a limited user. Competence in the language may be limited to familiar situations or contexts. There are chances that the applicant may face huge difficulties in understanding complex situations.
  • Band 5 – Most universities and organisations will have a demand for a minimum 5.0 score. You cannot leave any of the sections in your IELTS. If you are facing issues in grasping spoken English or pronunciation. An individual with this score may have a partial understanding to deal with basic communication in any field. 
  • Band 6 – The band denotes a competent user who may have an effective demand of the language. There might be some inaccuracies in understanding the complex language, and situations.
  • Band 7 – The band denotes a good user who may have an operational command, the ability to handle complexities and understand detailed reasoning. A user may only develop misunderstandings in unfamiliar situations which could even bring the IELTS listening band score or reading score down.
  • Band 8 – This May belong to a very good user who has a fully operational command with occasional issues of inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. 
  • Band 9 – The band denotes an expert user who has a fully operational command over the language. It is likely that the usage is accurate, appropriate, and fluent. You may have the capability of understanding complex situations.

The scores that you get in the IELTS reading band score or listening band score depend entirely on the number of correct answers that you give. The following table gives a brief overview of how many correct answers should be attempted.

IELTS Listening Band Score 

Correct Answer Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
32-34 7.5
30-31 7
26-29 6.5
23-25 6
18-22 5.5
16-17 5
13-15 4.5
11-12 4


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IELTS Reading Score  (GT)

Correct Answer Band Score
40 9
39 8.5
37-38 8
36 7.5
34-35 7
32-33 6.5
30-31 6
27-29 5.5
23-26 5
19-22 4.5
15-18 4
12-14 3.5
9-11 3
6-8 2.5


IELTS Reading Score  (AC)

Correct Answer Band Score
39-40 9
37-38 8.5
35-36 8
33-34 7.5
30-32 7
27-29 6.5
23-26 6
19-22 5.5
15-18 5
13-14 4.5
10-12 4
8-9 3.5
6-7 3
4-5 2.5


The criteria for the writing assessment and speaking will be different compared to the IELTS reading band score. The writing test is evaluated in terms of the following factors:

  • Coherence and Cohesion 
  • Task response
  • Grammatical accuracy 
  • Lexical range (vocabulary)

You may consider enrolling in the best IELTS coaching centre in India to improve your skills and perform well in the exam. 

Compared to this, the speaking test also has four categories to help decide on the speaker’s abilities.

  • Fluency 
  • Pronunciation 
  • Vocabulary 
  • Grammar and accuracy

Make sure you attempt different parts of the exam to improve your chances of getting higher scores.

For instance, if you score 6.2 in the overall score, it will be rounded to 6 as it is closer to band 6 compared to 6.5. On the other hand, if the band score is 6.75, the overall band score will be increased to 7. The overall band scores are rounded off, but you should never compromise with the best IELTS and OET training in India

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You should consider attempting a minimum of 15 or 16 questions to get a band score of 4. If you are facing any issues, consider speaking to an expert or enrolling for assistance. If you prepare regularly, minor errors can be resolved, and you will develop a stronger hold over the language. Try to make adjustments to the IELTS test dates for 2023 and appear for the test when you are fully prepared for it. We hope this guide clears up your doubts about the IELTS band score and allows you to understand how you might be evaluated by the experts. Try to go through the instructions carefully and be confident while attempting the test.