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How is an IELTS band score calculated?

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.

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

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.

Band score 8 - Very good user

The test taker has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.

Band score 7 - Good user

The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.

Band score 6 - Competent user

The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band score 5 - Modest user

The test taker has a partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.

Band score 4 - Limited user

The test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.

Band score 3 - Extremely limited user

The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.

Band score 2 - Intermittent user

The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band score 1 - Non-user

The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.

Band score 0 - Did not attempt the test

The test taker did not answer the questions.