Understanding IELTS Band Scores for International Students

IELTS Band Scores for International Students

IELTS scores are recognized by over 10,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, governments, and employers, making it a crucial tool for international students seeking to study or work in English-speaking countries.

As a result, international students need to understand IELTS band scores as it can help them identify their strengths and weaknesses in English and develop a study plan that focuses on improving their language skills to achieve their desired scores.

This article aims to provide an overview of IELTS band scores and what they mean for international students who are preparing for the test.

IELTS Band Scores

The IELTS test consists of four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, and each section is graded on a nine-band scale. The overall band score is determined by calculating the mean of the scores achieved in each of the four sections. The nine-band scale ranges from 1 (non-user) to 9 (expert user) and is designed to measure a candidate’s ability to use and understand English at different levels. The band scores reflect the candidate’s level of proficiency in the language, with higher scores indicating greater proficiency.

Academic Reading

Score Correct Answers
9 39 – 40
8.5 37 – 38
8 35 – 36
7.5 33- 34
7 30 – 32
6.5 27 – 29
6 23 – 26
5.5 19 – 22
5 15 – 18
4.5 13 – 14
4 10 – 12


Score Correct Answers
9 40
8.5 39
8 37 – 38
7.5 36
7 34 – 35
6.5 32 – 33
6 30 – 31
5.5 27 – 29
5 23 – 26
4.5 19 – 22
4 15 – 18

General Reading

Score Correct Answers
9 39 – 40
8.5 37 – 38
8 35 – 36
7.5 32 – 34
7 30 – 31
6.5 26 – 29
6 23 – 25
5.5 18 – 22
5 16 – 17
4.5 13 – 15
4 10 – 12

IELTS Academic Score Chart

The IELTS Academic score chart is used to determine the proficiency level of non-native English speakers who wish to study at universities or other academic institutions where English is the language of instruction. The chart is based on the scores obtained in the four sections of the IELTS Academic test – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking – and is used by universities and other institutions to assess a candidate’s readiness to undertake academic studies in English.

Below is a detailed description of the IELTS Academic score chart and what it means for international students:

Band Score 1: Non-user – Essentially lacks the ability to utilize the language beyond potentially a few isolated words.

Band Score 2: Intermittent user – Communication is extremely limited, only capable of conveying basic information using isolated words or short phrases in familiar settings and for immediate needs.

Band Score 3: Extremely limited user – Can convey and understand only general meaning in highly familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication are common.

Band Score 4: Limited user – Possesses a basic command of the language, managing to comprehend overall meaning in familiar situations but likely to make numerous errors.

Band Score 5: Moderate user – Exhibits a limited mastery of the language, able to comprehend the general meaning in most circumstances but prone to frequent errors.


Band Score 6: Proficient user – Displays a proficient command of the language, despite occasional inaccuracies and misunderstandings.

Band Score 7: Good user – Has a good command of the language and can communicate effectively in most situations, although some errors may occur in complex situations.

Band Score 8: Very good user – Has a very good command of the language and can communicate effectively in all situations, with only occasional errors.

Band Score 9: Expert user – Has an expert command of the language and can communicate effectively in all situations, with no errors.

IELTS Scoring System

The IELTS scoring system is standardised and reliable, and scores are recognized by universities, governments, and employers worldwide as a measure of English language proficiency. Candidates can use their band scores to demonstrate their language skills and achieve their academic or professional goals in English-speaking countries.

The IELTS scoring system is based on a nine-band scale, ranging from 1 to 9, with half band increments. The four sections of the test – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking – are graded independently, and the scores are then combined to calculate the overall band score.

In the Listening and Reading sections, candidates are given a raw score out of 40, which is then converted to a band score using a conversion table. For example, a raw score of 30 in the Listening section could correspond to a band score of 7.

In the Writing and Speaking sections, examiners use specific criteria to assign scores out of 9 for each section. In the Writing section, the evaluation criteria encompass task fulfillment, coherence and cohesion, vocabulary usage, as well as the range and accuracy of grammar. In the Speaking section, the assessment factors encompass fluency and coherence, vocabulary usage, range and accuracy of grammar, as well as pronunciation.

Once all four sections have been scored, the scores are averaged to calculate the overall band score, which is also given on the nine-band scale. For example, a candidate who scores 7.0 in Listening, 6.5 in Reading, 7.0 in Writing, and 7.5 in Speaking would have an overall band score of 7.0, calculated by averaging the four scores.

A student’s IELTS band score will determine their eligibility for admission to many universities and colleges in the UK and other countries. Generally, institutions will specify a minimum IELTS band score in their admission requirements. For example, a student may need to score 6.5 or higher in order to be considered for admission.

In addition to the overall score, universities may also look at individual scores in each of the four sections. They may also require a minimum score in each section or a certain combination of scores. For example, a student may need to get a minimum of 7 in the writing section and 6 in the other sections in order to be eligible for admission.


Understanding IELTS band scores is crucial for international students who are planning to take the test. The scores reflect the candidate’s proficiency in the English language and are recognized by universities, governments, and employers worldwide. By developing a solid understanding of the band scores and preparing effectively for the test, international students can increase their chances of achieving their desired scores and pursuing their academic and professional goals in English-speaking countries.


A: An IELTS band score is a numerical value ranging from 0 to 9 that indicates a test taker’s level of English proficiency across four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

A: IELTS band scores are calculated based on the total number of correct answers in the test. Each section is assigned a raw score, which is then converted into a band score using a conversion chart provided by the test administrators.

A: The minimum band score required for university admission varies depending on the institution and the course you are applying for. Generally, most universities require a band score of 6.0 or 6.5 for undergraduate programs and 6.5 or 7.0 for postgraduate programs.

A: IELTS band scores are valid for two years from the date of the test. After two years, the scores are considered outdated and cannot be used for official purposes.

A: Yes, you can retake the IELTS test to improve your band score. There is no limit to the number of times you can take the test. However, you should check the policies of the test center and institutions you are applying to as they may have specific rules regarding multiple test attempts.

A: There is no passing or failing score in the IELTS. The band score you receive reflects your level of English proficiency. Different institutions have different requirements, so it is essential to check the specific band score needed for your purposes.

A: Yes, you can request a re-evaluation of your IELTS band score. This process is called an “Enquiry on Results.” However, be aware that there is a fee for this service, and there is no guarantee that your band score will change.

A: Yes, different countries have different band score requirements for immigration purposes. Each country sets its own language proficiency standards, so it’s important to check the specific requirements of the country you are applying to.

A: Yes, your IELTS band score can be used to demonstrate your English proficiency when applying for jobs abroad. Employers in English-speaking countries often require a minimum band score for certain positions, so having a good IELTS score can increase your job prospects.

A: Yes, it is possible to achieve a perfect band score of 9.0 in the IELTS. However, this is extremely rare and requires a near-native level of English proficiency. Most test takers fall within the band score range of 5.0 to 8.0.


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