How to calculate and understand IELTS Scores
Updated on Nov 30, 2016 - 12:39 p.m. IST by Tenzin pema
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Understanding IELTS scores - When you apply to a university abroad, you will be asked to prove your English language proficiency through standardised test like IETLS. One of the world’s most popular English proficiency tests, IELTSis taken by more than 2.5 million people across the globe. The test is considered as an important element of the admission process. While different universities abroad have different admission requirements, IELTS scores are accepted by majority of universities across the world.


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The English proficiency test is scored on a 9-band scale while other standardised tests like TOEFL and PTE are scored out of 120 and 10-90 respectively. The scoring process for IELTS is different from that of standardised tests, therefore, it is necessary to understand how to calculate and understand IELTS scores.

In this article, we explain the different concepts related to the IELTS scoring process and also how the test is scored.

IELTS Test Pattern

IELTS is divided into two parts -- Academic and General. IELTS Academic is preferred by aspirants who plan to take undergraduate or postgraduate programmes in a foreign country. IELTS General focuses on learning survival skills in social and workplace environment. In both cases, listening, reading and writing sections are completed on the same day while the speaking section can be accomplished up to a week or before or after other tests.

The total duration of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes: listening 30 minutes, reading 60 minutes, writing 60 minutes and speaking for approximately 11-14 minutes.

In this article, canddiates can check all about how to understand IELTS scores and how to calculate IELTS scores.

How to understand IELTS scores: IELTS pattern

IELTS Test Component

Brief Description



4 sections, 40 items

30 minutes


3 part one-on-one conversation

11-14 minutes


2 tasks

60 minutes


3 sections, 40 items

60 minutes

What does the IELTS test include?

IELTS Listening- The listening section comprises 40 questions, each right answer is awarded with one mark, while there is no marking for wrong answers. Candidate can achieve maximum 9 bands as IELTS score in the section. The scores out of 40 are then converted to IELTS 9 bands.

Under the IELTS listening section, you will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions. Here are four types of recordings that you may hear during the test:

How to understand your IELTS pattern: Samples of topics in IELTS listening section



Recording 1

A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context

Recording 2

A monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Recording 3

A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.

Recording 4

A monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture

Assessors will be looking for evidence of your ability to understand the main ideas and detailed factual information, the opinions and attitudes of speakers, the purpose of an utterance and evidence of your ability to follow the development of ideas.

IELTS Reading - The reading section, which is 60 minutes long, comprises 40 questions and similarly each right answer is awarded one mark. The candidate applying for IELTS can earn maximum nine bands as IELTS score. These include reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The reading section for both IELTS Academic and General are slightly different.

IELTS Academic test – It includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

IELTS General Training test - This includes extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

IELTS Writing - In the writing section, examiner uses assessment criteria to award IELTS band score for each criterion: Task achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical resource and grammatical range and accuracy.

IELTS Academic test - Topics are of general interest and are suitable for test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. There are two tasks:

Task 1

You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

IELTS General Training -Topics are of general interest. There are two tasks:

Task 1

You will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be fairly personal in style.

Speaking - The speaking section scoring pattern is similar to that of the writing section. The speaking component assesses your use of spoken English. Every test is recorded.

Part 1 - the examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

Part 2 - you will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3 - you will be asked further questions about the topic in Part 2. These will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issues. This part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

How to understand and calculate your IELTS scores

IELTS being one of the most widely accepted English language proficiency test is different to other English proficiency tests like TOEFL or PTE. While all three test your English proficiency level, each test follows different pattern and duration. IELTS result is measured on a 9- band scale, while TOEFL and PTE are scored out of scores 120 and 10-90 respectively.

What is IELTS band score: Understand IELTS scores

IELTS is scored on a 9-band scale, where you will be given score from 1 to 9 for all the four sections- Listening, writing, reading and speaking. The average of the score secured in all four sections will be your overall IELTS scores. You can either score whole (4, 6, 7) or half (5.5, 7.5, 8.5) bands. Each band score has different meaning, for instance, if you achieve IELTS score band 5, it means you have partial command of the language and are able to handle basic communications, while a band score 8 would mean you have a good understanding of English language and make little errors.

How to calculate IELTS scores?

IELTS scores range between 0 and 9. Your score can be either in full or half band, i.e., 7.0 or 5.5 respectively. You will score a band for each section: listening, speaking, writing and reading, followed by an overall band score. The overall band score is the average of all the sections. For better understanding, here is an example:

How to calculate IELTS Score:











Total IELTS band score


= 6.25

In some cases, the overall band score is rounded of. Here is an example of such a case: if you score 3.5 for listening, 4.0 for reading, 4.0 for writing and 4.0 for speaking, you will be scoring an overall band score of 4.0 i.e., 15.5 divided by 4 is equal to 3.875. After the round off, it will be considered 4.0.

How to calculate IELTS Score: Example











Total IELTS band score


= 3.875

Here is a sample of IELTS score card:

IELTS Score Card image

How to calculate and understand IELTS scores: Band score description

Band Score



Band 9

Expert user

You have a full operational command of the language. Your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and you show complete understanding.

Band 8

Very good user

You have a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. You may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. You handle complex detailed argumentation well.

Band 7

Good user

You have an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally you handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.

Band 6

Competent user

Generally you have an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. You can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band 5

Modest user

You have a partial command of the language and cope with overall meaning in most situations, although you are likely to make many mistakes. You should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.

Band 4

Limited user

Your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently show problems in understanding and expression. You are not able to use complex language.

Band 3

Extremely limited user

You convey and understand only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.

Band 2

Intermittent user

You have great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band 1


You have no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.

Band 0

Did not attempt IELTS

You did not answer the questions.

There are no IELTS Test dates or specific IELTS eligibility criteria as such. But considering it is an English proficiency test, it is usually taken by applicants who wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate abroad. The English proficiency test is recognised all over the globe, with over 9,000 organisations , including educational institutions, employers, immigration authorities, government and professional bodies.

IELTS takers receive their IELTS score card within 13 days of the test date. Official IELTS test centres can send Test Report Forms directly to your organisation or institution (provided it has been nominated), either by mail or as an electronic download. IELTS scores are valid for two years. However, the acceptance of the IELTS scores depends on the selection procedure of the institute the candidate is applying to. One can apply for an enquiry on results procedure within 6-weeks of the IELTS test date. The enquiry fee is fully refunded if band score changes.

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Questions related to IELTS

Showing 399 out of 399 Questions

what is the cost of hotel management course in canada ????

Snehlata Sinha Student Expert 21st Jan, 2020


This depends on which university you wish to go and the city where you want to reside.

The living costs do vary from province to province and within a province city to city.

The estimation of costs will be provided to you in the admission letter you receive from the university.

Alternatively you can obtain admission handbooks from few universities and there will be indication of costs for tuition fees, living expenses and medical insurance etc.

Hope this helps.


As I Pursuing my engineering in electrical and electronics engineering is IELTS / TOFEL exams are suitable for me to enter MS in Germany for Abroad

Archita Aggarwal 16th Jan, 2020


If you want to pursue your MS in Germany abroad, first you need to find out which college are you exactly aiming for and then decide to weather go for IELTS/TOEFL. Some universities do accept IELTS and some do accept TOEFL as a proof for your English proficiency. Without proving your English proficiency you can not go for studying Abroad

Hope this answer helps.


how much does it cost overall to study PhD biochemistry at mit uk. and wat should be my GRE and TOEFL/ IELTS scores ?

Ameya Narendra Parkar 13th Jan, 2020
Dear Aishwarya,
I would like to tell you that PhD in biology is available at MIT, in that you can choose your research area as biochemistry.
PhDs are usually full funded but if theres any tuition fee present then your PI can only tell you about that.

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
Minimum score required: 6.5
Electronic scores send to: MIT Graduate Admissions

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Minimum score required: 90 (iBT) 577 (PBT)
  • Institute code: 3514
  • Department code: 35

I hope this information helps you

all the best

hi, i wanted to do mba from Germany with a government college but i have less than 60%(59.7) in my graduation( so am i eligible if not so if i score good in gmat/ielts/toefl will this help me to get the admission in public college of Germany. i have a experience of 2 years in IT.

Sanjay Khandelwal 8th Jan, 2020
For different university and college there are different eligibility criteria, you must have 6-6.5 IELTS score for that, work experience is not compulsory but they will consider during application, they may have interview also. You can do MBA but you must see the criteria in University you wish to desire. In B-School that will not be a problem i think. If you can mention any college then i can help further.

How can I get into the MBA courses of top business schools in USA? Should I take GRE or GMAT? TOEFL or IELTS? Which are the best coaching institutes to prepare for these exams?

Leon George 3rd Jan, 2020

Hello Tamaghna,

Yes to get into top business schools in USA, you can either take GRE or GMAT for getting into one of the best and top business schools of USA.

TOEFL and IELTS  are exam for non native English speakers. TOEFL only tests academic subjects whereas the IELTS academic option will have academic reading and writing sections with general listening and speaking sections.

The top business schools in USA are-

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Stanford University
  • Harvard University
  • Columbia University
  • University of Chicago
  • Yale University
  • Duke University

Good coaching institutes for GRE and GMAT are-

  • Career Launcher
  • AIEL
  • Jamboree
  • Gateway Abroad
  • Fateh Education
  • Tutor Jar

These are some of the best coaching centre for GRE and GMAT

Thank you

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