Are you preparing for English proficiency? Well, the IELTS exam is widely recognised and measures your English skills. Whether you are doing this for study purposes, immigration or job prospects, you must learn about how IELTS band scores are calculated.

Understanding IELTS score calculation is highly important. So today we are breaking down the intricacies of IELTS score calculation to help you grasp the nuances of this assessment. 

Understanding the IELTS Test

Before we dive deeper into IELTS score calculation, let’s have a look at its briefs and what it entails. The IELTS test structure comprises four main components: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. 

These four sections are designed to measure your ability to understand and communicate effectively in English, whether for academic, professional, or personal purposes. Each section has a unique scoring system and contributes to your overall band score.

IELTS Band Scores

IELTS scores are reported on a scale from 0 to 9, often referred to as “band scores.” These band scores correlate with different levels of English proficiency:

Band Score


Band 0

No attempt at the test. You didn’t participate in any of the sections, and the test remains incomplete.

Band 1

Non-user. You have minimal or no practical communication skills in English. You may understand only a few basic words or phrases and cannot construct coherent sentences.

Band 2

Intermittent user. You are showing limited English skills. You can handle very simple and common situations, but communication is often challenging due to a lack of vocabulary and basic grammatical knowledge.

Band 3

Extremely limited user. You have very restricted communication abilities. You can convey basic information in familiar contexts, but your language usage is limited and often filled with errors.

Band 4

Limited user. At this level, you can handle some simple and routine communication tasks. You are more comfortable in familiar situations but may struggle with more complex language use.

Band 5

Modest user. Here you have a reasonable command of English for daily interactions. You can express yourself on familiar topics and understand the main points of common discussions.

Band 6

Competent user. This is often the minimum requirement for university entrance. You can engage effectively in many situations, although some complexity and nuance might challenge them. You have good control of grammar and vocabulary.

Band 7

Good user. Here you can operate proficiently in various contexts. You have an extensive vocabulary and can use English for academic or professional purposes.

Band 8

Very good user. At this level, you have a high level of English proficiency. You can understand and express yourself with ease, even in complex or specialized topics.

Band 9

Expert user. You possess near-native fluency in English. You understand and use the language with a high degree of accuracy and fluency, similar to a native speaker.

Mainly, all institutions specify the minimum band score they accept yet it depends as per their requirements. For instance, some universities may need a band score of 6 for undergraduate courses and 7 or higher for postgraduate courses. Similarly, immigration authorities may set their own band score criteria. 

How IELTS Scores Are Calculated

Your overall IELTS band score is calculated as the average of your scores in the four sections, rounded to the nearest half or whole band. Now, let’s break down the specifics of how each section is scored:

  • Listening: The listening test comprises 40 questions where each correct answer is awarded one mark. Your total score out of 40 is converted into a band score using a conversion table provided by authorised entities. 
  • Reading: Similar to the Listening section, the Reading part also contains 40 questions where each correct answer is worth one point and your total score is transferred to a band score using the conversion table.
  • Writing: Now, the Writing section consists of two parts, task 1 is about describing visual information and Task 2 is about writing an essay. Each task is scored separately on a scale of 0 to 9. Your scores for these tasks are then averaged to show your Writing band score. 
  • Speaking: The IELTS speaking exam is conducted by a certified examiner and assessed based on the four criteria; fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, and pronunciation. So, each criterion is scored on a scale of 0 to 9, and the average of these scores makes you the final Speaking band score. 

Example IELTS Score Calculation

Let’s illustrate how IELTS score calculation works with an example. Think of a person attempting to achieve the following scores:

  1. Listening: 35 out of 40
  2. Reading: 32 out of 40
  3. Writing: Task 1 = 7 and Task 2 = 6
  4. Speaking: Fluency and coherence = 7, Lexical resource = 6, Grammatical range and accuracy = 7, Pronunciation = 7

Now that you have individual section band scores, let’s calculate overall IELTS band score

  1. Listening: A score of 35 corresponds to a band score of 7.5 according to the conversion table.
  2. Reading: A score of 32 corresponds to a band score of 6.5.
  3. Writing: The average of 7 and 6 is 6.5.
  4. Speaking: The average of the four criteria scores (7 + 6 + 7 + 7) is 6.75, which is rounded up to 7.

Add up the four individual scores and divide them into 4 to indicate the overall IELTS band score. For example, 

(7.5 + 6.5 + 6.5 + 7) / 4 = 27.5 / 4 = 6.875

Rounding to the nearest half band, the test taker’s overall IELTS band score is 7.


In conclusion, understanding the nuances of IELTS score calculation is crucial for anyone preparing for the exam. 

The IELTS band scores, ranging from 0 to 9, reflect varying levels of English proficiency. These scores play a pivotal role in determining eligibility for educational, immigration, or career opportunities. Preparing with the specific band score requirements in mind is essential for achieving one’s goals.

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