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Scoring pattern in IELTS exam – A quick walkthrough

Posted on January 4, 2021
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IELTS Coaching

Let’s visit an important aspect of the IELTS exam that you have to be aware of as you go through your IELTS coaching. Scoring good bands is essential to elevate your chances at being selected to be invited for Canada immigration. Knowing the scoring system can help you streamline your preparation, knowing where to focus and what to achieve.

IELTS training is an enlightening process for many when it comes to learning the English language. It’s also impossible to be super-confident while approaching the test without a score goal set while you learn IELTS online or offline.

IELTS band scores range from 0 to 9. At first, scores are given for each section namely speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Then they are added together to reach the overall band score.

Individual scores and overall scores are rounded to a whole number or to half values (.5). So, if a score that ends in .25 occurs, it will be rounded to the nearest half band (.5). A score that ends with .75 will be rounded to the next whole band (2.75 rounded to 3).

How to ace the IELTS exam?

What’s the basis for grading?

The examiner in an IELTS test will grade only speaking and writing skills. For writing, the criteria are:

  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Task achievement for Task 1
  • Task response for Task 2
  • Grammatical range and accuracy
  • Lexical resource

For speaking, the criteria are:

  • Lexical resource
  • Fluency and coherence
  • Pronunciation
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

The average of the scores given for each criterion for speaking and writing is taken to reach the overall score.

Meaning of IELTS scores

Expert user – Band 9

This candidate has a complete operational command of the English language. He/she is capable of using it accurately, appropriately, and fluently with a full understanding.

Very good user – Band 8

This candidate also has a complete operational command of the English language even though showing occasional inaccuracies that are unsystematic. He/she is prone to misunderstandings in unfamiliar situations. Nevertheless, the candidate can handle complex detailed argumentation.

Good user – Band 7

This candidate sure has operational command of the English language, But, he/she shows occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness, and misunderstandings in certain situations. He/she can generally handle complex language well and does understand detailed reasoning.

Competent user – Band 6

This candidate generally has effective command of the English language. But few inaccuracies, inappropriateness, and misunderstandings could occur. He/she is capable of using and follow language that’s fairly complex, especially in situations that are familiar.

Modest user – Band 5

This candidate has command of the English language only in part. He/she can cope with the overall meaning in most situations. Nevertheless, he/she is prone to making many mistakes. He/she could handle basic communication in his/her own field of activity.

Limited user – Band 4

This candidate has basic competence in the English language that’s limited to familiar situations. He/she has frequent issues with understanding and expressing in English. He/she can’t use complex language.

Extremely limited user – Band 3

This candidate conveys and comprehends only the general meaning in very familiar situations. He/she has frequent breakdowns while communicating.

Intermittent user – Band 2

This candidate can’t do a real communication except for the most basic information using separated words or short formulae in situations that are familiar. He/she can thus meet their immediate needs and has great difficulty in understanding written or spoken English.

Non-user – Band 1

This candidate is without the capability of using the language more than a few separate words.

One who didn’t take the test – Band 0

This candidate has provided nothing to judge him/her with.

Grading of listening and reading

In the listening and reading test, the maximum score given is 40. Your score is called the “Raw Score” which is converted to a band score. Here’s how the conversion is done:

Listening test scoring
Raw score 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
8-10 3.5
6-7 3
4-5 2.5
Academic Reading test scoring
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
General Reading test
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

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