IELTS Scoring System: Proficiency Level, Score Conversion, Tips

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ielts scoring system

IELTS Scoring System: The IELTS, or International English Language Testing System, is a crucial gateway for international students and professionals seeking opportunities abroad. Understanding your IELTS band score, however, can often be considered challenging for many. Don’t fret though! This blog will help you demystify the IELTS scoring system, making it clear how to interpret your score and what it signifies for your English proficiency. Refer to this blog to see how your performance translates into a band score that reflects your English language skills.


How are IELTS Scores Calculated?

The IELTS test awards individual band scores from 0 to 9 in increments of 0.25, with 0 indicating the lowest proficiency and 9 the highest. These scores, assigned for Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking, are all given equal weight. To calculate your overall band score, the test simply averages your scores from all four sections. This average is then rounded to the nearest whole or half band. Scores ending in 0.25 are rounded up to the nearest half-band.

IELTS Score and Proficiency Level 2024

Refer to the table below to go through the IELTS scores and their proficiency levels. 

Proficiency Level IELTS Score
Expert 9
Very Good8.5-8.0
Competent 6.5-6.0
Extremely Limited 3.5-3.0
Intermittent 2.5-2.0
Non User1.5-0

What Does IELTS Band Score Mean? 

Now that you have an idea about each IELTS band score and their corresponding proficiency level, let’s explore what each band score signifies for students taking the English language proficiency test.

IELTS Band Score Detail 
Band 9Individuals have a stronghold of the English language and can express themselves in English eloquently. In other words, your use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent. 
Band 8Those scoring a Band 8 demonstrate a very good command of English. While occasional inaccuracies and misuse might occur, they do not much face many challenges in understanding complex topics in unfamiliar settings.
Band 7Individuals demonstrate a moderate command of the language. However, their proficiency is somewhat limited, as occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and misunderstandings can arise in certain situations.
Band 6Individuals demonstrate a moderate command of the language. However, their proficiency is somewhat limited, as occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and misunderstandings can arise in certain situations.
Band 5 Individuals can grasp the general meaning in most everyday situations. However, their understanding and expression of English are limited. They may make frequent mistakes but can handle basic communication related to their field of expertise.
Band 4Individuals have a limited grasp of the English language. They might frequently encounter difficulties comprehending and expressing themselves, thus unable to fathom complex language structures.
Band 3Communication is very challenging for Band 3 scorers. Such individuals can find themselves in an impasse whilst trying to express or convey their ideas. 
Band 2Understanding spoken and written English is extremely challenging at this level.
Band 1You have minimal to no ability to communicate in English beyond potentially understanding a few isolated words.
Band 0You have minimal to no ability to communicate in English beyond potentially understanding a few isolated words.

IELTS to CEFR Score Conversion 2024

Developed by the Council of Europe, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) offers a standardised six-level scale for describing language proficiency. This framework facilitates consistent evaluation of learners, educators, and assessments across diverse European languages. The six levels, ranging from A1 (elementary) to C2 (mastery), provide a clear and readily understood vocabulary for describing language abilities, enhancing transparency and fostering collaboration in language education and assessment.

It is used to: 

  • Measure proficiency in various languages spoken in Europe. 
  • The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) serves as a valuable tool for establishing language proficiency benchmarks for both instructors and learners. 
  • This comprehensive six-level scale encompasses elementary stages (A1) to full mastery (C2), and provides a common reference point for setting clear expectations and measuring progress in language acquisition. 
  • It aims to assess and validate the language proficiency of non-native speakers. By achieving recognized proficiency levels, non-native speakers can unlock broader academic and professional opportunities within Europe. This can, in turn, enhance their competitiveness and foster greater mobility across language barriers.

IELTS Scoring System Vs CEFR Score

Go through the table given below to understand the relation between IELTS scores in the CEFR framework. 

IELTS Band ScoreCEFR Level Proficiency 
0-4A1-A2Basic User
4-6.5B1-B2Independent User
7-9C1-C2Proficient User

5+ Tips to Get a High Band Score in IELTS 

Securing a Band 9 or 8 score in IELTS is often considered to be a daunting task by many. That being said, one must keep abreast of the common tips and tricks to help you score a band 9. 

  • Dedicate ample time to studying and practising for the IELTS well in advance of your test date. Consistent effort is key to improving your English language skills across all areas tested.
  • Familiarize yourself with the specific tasks, time constraints, and marking criteria for each section of the IELTS. This will help you strategize effectively during the exam.
  • Surround yourself with the English language as much as possible. Read English newspapers, watch English movies and TV shows, and listen to English podcasts and music.
  • Utilize official IELTS practice tests and resources to get accustomed to the format and difficulty level of the actual exam.
  • Practice listening to a variety of English accents at different speeds and in different contexts.
  • Don’t get bogged down by trying to understand every single word.
  • Practice reading a variety of academic and non-academic texts in English.
  • Learning to skim and scan for specific information will help you save time and answer questions efficiently.
  • Learn to paraphrase and summarize information in your own words.
  • Focus on writing clear, concise, and well-organized essays: Structure your essays using an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • Practice speaking English fluently and confidently. Find conversation partners or practice speaking on your own.

Best Book to Help You Achieve a High Band Score in IELTS 

Individuals preparing for the IELTS Exam can refer to the following table to go through the list of the best IELTS  preparation books. Here are some of the best books to help achieve a high band score in IELTS. Have a look:

Name of the BookAuthor/PublisherPricePurchase Link
The Official Cambridge Guide To Ielts Student’s Book With AnswersPauline CullenINR 594Click Here To Buy
R*barron’s Ielts Practice ExamsLin Lougheed INR 448Click Here To Buy
IELTS Graphs from the past examKiranpreet Kaur MakkarINR 287Click Here To Buy
Cambridge IELTS Academic 16 Student’s Book [paperback] CambridgeCareer Zone INR 130Click Here To Buy
Word Power Made Easy Including Latest Word List Norman LewisINR 149Click Here To Buy
IELTS WRITING ACADEMIC 2023Karamveer SinghINR 299Click Here To Buy
Cambridge IELTS 18 academic with authentic papersCambridge PressINR 234Click Here To Buy

So that was all about the IELTS scoring system. Hope the blog has answered your queries regarding the topic. 

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Q1. How is IELTS academic reading scored?

Ans. The IELTS Reading score is based on the number of correct answers you get out of 40 questions. Each question is worth one mark. Your total correct answers translate to a “raw” score that determines your final band score.

Q2. How is the IELTS academic writing score calculated?

Ans. Your IELTS Writing score is determined by an examiner who assesses your writing on four criteria, each weighted equally at 25%. You receive separate band scores for Writing Task 1 and Task 2, which are then combined to give your final Writing Band score.

Q3. What is the academic score system for IELTS?

Ans. In the IELTS test, all four sections – Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking – contribute equally to your overall band score. Each section is graded on a scale of 0 to 9, with scores awarded in increments of 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75. Your final band score is simply the average of your scores from all four sections.

Visit the Leverage Live page of Leverage edu or contact our study abroad experts at 1800-57-2000 to strengthen your scores and application to secure your spot in your dream college. 

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