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.
- 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.
Quality and fairness
IELTS invests heavily in the continued development of its test and the processes by which scores are marked, to ensure a fair assessment for all test takers and a reliable result for the organisations that depend on IELTS as a measure of English language skill.
Find out more about the test format
IELTS is unique in that it allows the choice of an Academic of General Training test. Both types of IELTS test measure your skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, however, the questions are a little different and one test might suit you more than the other.