ielts guide

IELTS Reading & Listening Score: How they are calculated

Ron Ross October 12th, 2021

When it comes to figuring out your degree of English mastery, the IELTS test has you covered. The IELTS exam utilizes a band score which ranks your level of English proficiency in writing, reading, listening, and speaking. For each section of the test, you are given a band score. Each of the four individual scores is then compiled together to produce your overall IELTS band score. These scores can range between 1 to 9 including half bands (e.g. 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8.5).

Now you might be wondering how can you estimate your current band score? Predicting an IELTS exam score is simple and only requires a bit of math and a good practice IELTS test. Let’s take a look into IELTS scoring and how to estimate your score from each section of the exam.

Predicting Your IELTS Score in Reading and Listening

Predicting your IELTS reading and listening scores is all a matter of percentages. These percentage values are determined by the number of correct answers you get on your test. The number of correct answers determines your band score. Both the reading and listening sections are comprised of 40 questions. You can try estimating your score using one of the IELTS practice tests and then comparing the results to the band score charts down below. 

Raw scores Band scores
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
Raw scores Band scores
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
8-9 3.5
6-7 3
4-5 2.5
Raw scores Band scores
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
12-14 3.5
9-11 3
6-8 2.5

When using this IELTS band score chart you may want to consider a few things first. The scores you receive on the listening and reading modules will vary since each module may have a different number of questions. And depending on whether you use an academic or generic version of the IELTS test, this will also impact the estimated band score too. With all of this in mind, let's move on to the other half of the IELTS exam: speaking and writing.

Predicting Your IELTS Score in Writing and Speaking

While predicting your reading and listening band scores are easy, your writing and speaking band scores will be a bit of a challenge. This is because the writing and speakings scores are not determined by a percentage of correct answers. You will have to determine your writing and speaking abilities based on a set of descriptors provided by the IELTS exam. These descriptors are used to link your English speaking and writing abilities to a specific IELTS band score. The following IELTS descriptors are linked to a specific band score:

For the real-life IELTS examiners, they will be using a more descriptive version of these band descriptors. The samples of speaking and writing descriptors are a great point of reference for estimating your potential band score. 

The following videos will help you understand how IELTS examiners grade your IELTS writing responses:





Putting it All Together - Calculate and Check Your Estimated Band Score

Once you have your estimated bands scores for each module, you can now move on to determining your composite band score. All you need to do is add the four scores together and then divide that number by four. For example, you got the following scores:

  • Reading 6.0
  • Listening 7.5
  • Writing 5.5
  • Speaking 7.0

You would then add each score together: 6.0 + 7.5 + 5.5 + 7.5 = 26. Divide 26 by four. 26 ÷ 4 = 6.5. If the score was not easily divisible by four, you would round up. For example, say you received a composite score of 6.75. You would then round this score up to 7.0 since this is the closest half band score. Another example is if the composite score is 6.25 you would then round the score up to 6.5. With your calculated score in mind, you can now compare your score to the official description of what your potential mastery level should be.

IELTS band description

Have you found the score you were looking for? Does the description sound close to your English mastery level? If so, then you have successfully calculated and estimated your IELTS exam band score. And even if you didn’t get the score you were hoping for there is still plenty of time to practice and prepare for when you take the test!

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