At IELTS, want to help boost you to the next level. We want to make sure you don’t need to repeat your English language test. That’s why we share with you how we test, how we mark your work, and what is important. For IELTS Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening we’ll tell you what examiners look for and how your test is marked. We’ll also show you how your overall band score is calculated.
The IELTS 9 band scale
The IELTS Academic and General Training 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). So, what does it mean if you need a band 4.5?
IELTS band 4.5
An IELTS band 4.5 is between an IELTS band 4 and a band 5. At an IELTS band 4, you have a very basic understanding of English and you are more comfortable communicating in familiar situations. It is difficult to use complex language. Then, at an IELTS band 5, you have a limited command of the language. You can cope with overall meaning in most situations, but you still make many mistakes.
In this article, we will tell you what you need to do to get a score of IELTS 4.5 in each of the four components of the test: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Your Listening and Reading tests are marked on the number of questions you answered right. Then, in your Speaking and Writing test, we look at ‘marking criteria.’ Finally, your overall IELTS score is calculated as an average of these four module scores, or ‘sub-scores’.
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. So, if your 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.
An example of IELTS 4.5:
If you these were your IELTS sub-band scores:
- Reading 4.5
- Writing 3
- Speaking 6
- Listening 4.5
You would calculate 4.5 + 3 + 6 + 4.5 = 18. Then, you divide 18 by 4 = 4.5. So, your overall band score = 4.5.
In the Listening test, you will answer 40 questions that relate to audio clips that will be played to you. Your answers are either correct or incorrect, so the marking is a little different to the Speaking and Writing tests. You will receive one mark for each correct answer, with the total number marks determining your band score.
- Get 13 out of 40 answers correct for IELTS 4.0*
- Get 16 out of 40 answers correct for IELTS 5.0*
Just remember, that in you need to spell answers correctly. You should read the questions carefully, and not write more than the maximum number of words for each question. You can try this in the computer-delivered Listening practice test.
*These indicate the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in the Listening test
In the IELTS Reading test, you will also answer 40 questions. A variety of question types are used, e.g. multiple choice, True/False/Not Given, matching, and sentence completion. Just like the Listening test, your answers are either correct or incorrect. You receive one mark for each correct answer, with the total number of marks determining your band score.
When you sit for the IELTS General Training test:
- Get 15 out of 40 answers correct for IELTS 4.0*
- Get 23 out of 40 answers correct for IELTS 5.0*
Similar to the Listening test, you need to spell answers correctly. You should read the questions carefully, and not write more than the maximum number of words for each question. Also, have a look at our 5 common mistakes to avoid in the Reading test.
*These indicate the average number of marks required to achieve a particular band score in the General Training Reading test
I would recommend IELTS not only because it is a well-recognised English language certificate but also because you learn plenty of interesting facts and can improve your general knowledge while learning with the preparation material and self-assessment tests!
Simone comes from Germany and now lives in Brisbane. Read Simone’s full story
The Speaking test in IELTS is just like a conversation that you would have in everyday life. In the test, you will sit in a private, quiet room with a qualified examiner who will engage you in a conversation. While it can be difficult to speak to a stranger, make the most of it! With IELTS, the examiner can slow down for you, speed up or even repeat or rephrase a question if you like – all you have to do is ask. The examiner is there to enable you to perform at your best. Check our list of 10 Examiner Approved Tips for the Speaking test.
Your speaking skills are marked against a number of criteria, including ‘fluency and coherence’, ‘lexical resource’, ‘pronunciation’, ‘grammatical range’ and ‘accuracy’. To understand what each of these mean you can view the Speaking band descriptor, which has detailed information about each phrase and how they relate to the different band scores that are possible.
Get an IELTS Speaking band 4.0
Get an IELTS Speaking band 5.0
- Examiner explains: Why is this a Band 4.5
What speaking ability does a score of IELTS Band 4.5 represent? Watch this Speaking test sample, where Jitleka from Thailand talks about ‘Parties and celebrations’.
This test taker can keep going, although her responses are rather repetitive and she relies heavily on certain expressions (something like; you know). She uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to discuss familiar topics, with occasional appropriate use of more complex items. However, she often reverts to the personal and uses a lot of simple phrases. She attempts to paraphrase, but with mixed success.
She predominantly uses the simple present, and makes errors when the attempts a wider range (haven’t known). She attempts to use complex structures but there is a lot of systematic error caused by the addition of “s” to a variety of word forms, and this is confusing. She is able to make some use of rhythm and intonation but the mispronunciation of individual sounds is very frequent and results in many quite basic words and whole patches of speech being difficult to follow.
Although her ability to keep going and her use of vocabulary are stronger features, she is unable to achieve Band 5.0.
The IELTS Writing test is marked by qualified IELTS examiners who are intensively trained and monitored to ensure consistency and quality of marking, no matter where in the world the test is taken. A minimum of two examiners will mark your Writing test, and sometimes even up to three or four – we do this to ensure the highest level of accuracy and fairness possible.
Your Writing test response is scored in the areas of ‘task response’, ‘coherence and cohesion’, ‘lexical resource’, and ‘grammatical range and accuracy’. To understand what each of these mean you can view the Writing band descriptors, which have detailed information about each phrase and how they relate to the different band scores that are possible. If you need someone to explain this in person, attend a free IELTS Masterclass.
Understand how to get an IELTS 4.5 in Writing
For the IELTS Writing test, you have to complete two tasks: Writing task 1 and Writing task 2. Have a look at each of the band descriptors below. This way, you know what is expected to get between an IELTS band 4.0 and 5.0 for Writing.
Your IELTS options
The IELTS Academic test has been developed if you wish to study at university or college as an undergraduate or postgraduate student or join or gain entry into a professional institution. The IELTS General Training test has been developed to test your every-day, non-academic English.