IELTS Band Score and Marking Criteria

IELTS Band Score and Marking Criteria
IELTS stands for International English Language Test System. It is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers who are willing to immigrate to other countries for education and employment purpose. This test is conducted by British Council and IDP which have set standard marking and scoring criteria mentioned in the following tables.


IELTS bands range between 0-9 based on the candidate's ability to use and understand the English language. 
Band Score Skill Level Description
Band 9 Expert user
  • Fully operational command of the language
  • Appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding
Band 8 Very good user
  • Fully operational command of the language
  • Occasional unsystematic inaccuracies
  • Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations.
  • Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7 Good user
  • Operational command of the language, 
  • Occasional inaccuracies,
  • Misunderstandings in some situations.
  • Handles complex language well 
Band 6 Competent user
  • Effective command of the language
  • Use and understand fairly complex language
Band 5 Modest user
  • Partial command of the language
  • Coping with overall meaning
  • Able to handle basic communication
Band 4 Limited user
  • Limited competence
  • Frequent problems in understanding 
  • Inability to use complex language.
Band 3 Extremely limited user Conveys and understands only general meaning 
Band 2 Intermittent user no real communication is possible 
Band 1 Non-user No ability to use the language 
Band 0 Did not attempt the test No assessable information provided.

IELTS Listening: Band Score Description

IELTS Listening Test consists of 40 questions into four sections. It is same for Academic and General training and the band scores for both are the same. 

For Academic and General Training

Correct Answers 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

IELTS Reading: Band Score Description

The Reading Module of General Training has 40 questions allocated into four sections. One mark is assigned for each correct answers. The candidates of General Training Exam have to attempt more correct answers in order to obtain 8 or 9 bands.

For General Training

Correct Answers Band Score
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

For Academic Training

The Academic Training Module also has 40 questions in 4 sections. This is relatively difficult as compared to the General Training Exam and therefore, there is a difference in band score allocation.
Correct Answers Band Score
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

IELTS Writing Assessment

The General Training Module has 1. Letter Writing and 2. Essay Writing whereas the Academic Module has 1. Report on Bar Graph, Pie Chart, Line Graph, Map or Process 2. Essay Writing. 
The marking criteria for both is as follows:
Band 9
Task achievement Fully satisfies all requirements of the task
Clearly presentation of a response
Coherence and cohesion Use of cohesion
Skillful paraphrasing
Lexical resource Wide range of vocabulary
Natural and sophisticated control of lexical features
rare minor errors
Grammatical range and accuracy Wide range of structures with full flexibility and accuracy
Rare minor errors
Band 8
Task achievement Covers all requirements of the task
Presents, highlights and illustrates key features points clearly and appropriately
Coherence and cohesion Sequences information and ideas logically
Manages all aspects of cohesion well
Sufficient use of paragraphing
Lexical resource Wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexible to convey precise meanings
Use of uncommon lexical items
Occasional inaccuracies
Rare errors in spelling and/or word formation
Grammatical range and accuracy Wide range of structures
Error-free sentences
Occasional errors or inappropriate
Band 7
Task achievement Covers the requirements of the task
Clear overview of main trend
Clearly presentation and highlights key features points
Coherence and cohesion Logically organisation of information
Clear progression
Range of cohesive devices
Some under-/over-use of cohesive devices
Lexical resource Sufficient range of vocabulary
Less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation
Occasional errors in word choice, spelling
and/or word formation
Grammatical range and accuracy uses a variety of complex structures
Frequent error-free sentences
Good control of grammar and punctuation
Few errors
Band 6
Task achievement Addresses the requirements of the task
Presents a clear purpose
Inconsistencies in tone
Irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate points
Coherence and cohesion Coherent information and ideas
Clear overall progression
Effective use of cohesive devices
Sentences may be faulty
Lexical resource Adequate range of vocabulary for the task
Attempts to use less common vocabulary with inaccuracy
Errors in spelling and/or word formation
Grammatical range and accuracy Mix of simple and complex sentence forms
Some errors in grammar and punctuation
Band 5
Task achievement Generally addresses the task with inappropriate the format iin places
Tone may be variable and sometimes
Inadequately covers, key features/ bullet
Coherence and cohesion Presents information with some organisation Lack of overall progression
Inadequate, inaccurate or over-use of cohesive devices
Repetitive because of lack of referencing and
Lexical resource Limited range of vocabulary
Noticeable errors in spelling and/or word
Grammatical range and accuracy Limited range of structures
Less accurate complex sentences
Frequent grammatical errors
Errors can cause some difficulty for the
Band 4
Task achievement Attempts to address the task
Features/bullet points not covered t
Fails to clearly explain the purpose
Inappropriate tone
Unclear, irrelevant, repetitive or inaccurate
Coherence and cohesion Information and ideas not coherently arranged
No clear progression in the response
Inaccurate use of some basic cohesive devices
Lexical resource Uses only basic vocabulary
Limited control of word formation
Errors may cause strain for the reader
Grammatical range and accuracy Very limited range of structures with only rare
use of subordinate clauses
Errors predominate
Punctuation is often faulty

IELTS Speaking: Band Score Description

IELTS Speaking is same for all the candidates. There are three sections in speaking test.
1. Introduction: Here the examiner asks questions about general things about your work, education, interests and other common topics.
2. Cue Card: A topic is assigned to the candidate on which he/she is supposed to speak for one or two minutes.
3. Follow-ups: This section has some related questions to section 2.
Band 9
Fluency and Coherence
  • Fluent speaking with rare repetition
  • Coherent speech with fully cohesive features
  • Ability to develop topics appropriately
Lexical Resource
  • Flexible use of vocabulary with precision
  • Natural use of idiomatic language
Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Natural use of the full range of structures
  • Appropriate production of consistently accurate structures
  • Full range of pronunciation used with precision
  • Subtle and flexible use of features
Band 8
Fluency and Coherence
  • Fluent speaking with occasional repetition and self-correction.
  • Content related hesitation
  • Rare hesitation to search for language
  • Coherent and appropriate topic development
Lexical Resource
  • Flexible use of wide vocabulary to convey meaning
  • Less use of common idiomatic vocabulary
  • Effective use of paraphrase
  • Occasional inaccuracy
Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Flexible use of structures
  • Majority of error-free sentences
  • Less inappropriate or basic/non-systematic errors
  • Use of wide range of pronunciation
  • Sustains flexible use of features
  • accent has minimal effect on intelligibility
Band 7
Fluency and Coherence
  • Speaking without noticeable efforts.
  • Hesitation to demonstrate language
  • some repetition and/or self-
  • correction
  • Flexible use of connectors
Lexical Resource
  • Flexible use of vocabulary resources
  • Use of less common and idiomatic vocabulary
  • Awareness of style and collocation
  • Effective use of paraphrase
Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Flexible use of range of complex structures
  • Frequent error-free sentences
  • Some grammatical mistakes persist
  • All positive features of Band 6 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 8
Band 6
Fluency and Coherence
  • Willingness to speak at length
  • Lack of Coherence
  • Occasional repetition, self-correction or hesitation
Lexical Resource
  • Wide enough vocabulary to discuss topics
  • Successful paraphrasing
Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Flexible but limited use of simple and complex structures
  • Frequent mistakes with complex structures
  • Rare comprehension problem
  • Range of pronunciation features with mixed control
  • Unsustainable use of effective features
  • Mispronunciation of individual words or sounds reduces clarity at times
Band 5
Fluency and Coherence
  • Repetition, self-correction and/or slow speech
  • over-use certain connectives
  • Production of simple speech fluently
  • Complex communication causes fluency problems
Lexical Resource
  • Usage of vocabulary wit with limited flexibility
  • Usage of paraphrase but with mixed success
Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Reasonable accuracy of basic sentence forms
  • Limited range of more complex structures
  • Errors and comprehension problems
  • All the positive features of Band 4 and some, but not all, of the positive features of Band 6
Band 4
Fluency and Coherence
  • Noticeable pauses and slow speech
  • Frequent repetition and self-correction
  • Use of simple connectives
Lexical Resource
  • Only convey basic meaning on unfamiliar topics
  • Frequent errors in word choice
  • Rare attempts of paraphrase
Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Production of basic sentence forms and some correct simple sentences
  • Frequent errors lead to misunderstanding
  • Limited range of pronunciation features
  • Lapses are frequent
  • Mispronunciations are frequent