Understanding IELTS Scores

Understanding IELTS Scores

Before we take a look at the IELTS scores for different universities and countries, here is a video that will help you explain what you may need.

How IELTS is scored

IELTS results are reported on a 9-band scale

IELTS results are designed to be simple and easy to understand. They are reported as band scores on a scale from 1 (the lowest) to 9 (the highest).

The IELTS scale

Band scoreSkill levelDescription
9Expert userThe test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
8Very good userThe 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.
7Good userThe 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.
6Competent userThe 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.
5Modest userThe 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.
4Limited userThe 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.
3Extremely limited userThe test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2Intermittent userThe test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1Non-userThe test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
0Did not attempt the testThe test taker did not answer the questions.

Understanding IELTS Bands for Speaking

The four categories of IELTS Speaking band descriptors are Listed below:

  • Fluency and Coherence: This is the “master category” that all other IELTS Speaking skills tie into. To be fluent and coherent, a student must show comfort and confidence with English while also answering the interview questions fully and clearly.
  • Lexical resource: This category is all about vocabulary, and whether or not the student uses a good range of spoken English words and idioms accurately.
  • Grammatical range and accuracy: To score well in this category, test-takers should use a variety of grammatical forms,a nd use them correctly and appropriately.
  • Pronunciation: This category measures how well students make the consonant and vowel sounds in English words. Proper word stress and intonation are also important for scoring well in this category.

Once band scores have been calculated for each category, the four scores are averaged to calculate the overall IELTS Speaking band the test-taker has earned.

Click here for the complete IELTS Speaking Rubric

Understanding IELTS Bands for Writing

Your IELTS Writing bands will be the average of the category band score from the following four skills:

  • Task Achievement: To score well in this category, students must correctly follow the instructions in the prompt, answering the question or performing the task fully and clearly. All other categories tie into Task Achievement.
  • Coherence and Cohesion: Coherence and Cohesion measures the structure of the student’s writing: how well-organized the essay and paragraphs are, whether or not transitions are present, useful and clear, the relevance of the ideas and supporting details, and so on.
  • Lexical Resource: This measures a test-taker’s ability to use a good range of vocabulary words clearly, appropriately, and effectively.
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy: Here, test-takers should use varied sentence structure as needed, while also using grammar forms that are correct, appropriate, and clear.

Click below to see the official IELTS band descriptors for writing.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Rubric

IELTS Writing Task 2 Rubric

IELTS Scores for Australia

To the Australian government, a good IELTS score can fall into various categories. Your scores will tell them whether your skills are good enough to be determined functional, vocational, competent, proficient, or superior. Each visa type has a different minimal requirement. Below is how the overall IELTS scores Are viewed. Click on the category to find out more from the Australian Government website.

  • Functional: An overall average IELTS score of 4.5
  • Vocational: A minimum of 5.0 in each category (Listening, Reading, Writing, & Speaking)
  • Competent: A minimum of 6.0 in each category
  • Proficient: A minimum of 7.0 in each category
  • Superior: A minimum of 8.0 in each category (By any measures, this is a good IELTS score!)

Keep you eye on the prize!!! Entry into Australia is determined on a point system. If your English is proficient or superior, you will earn extra points (10 and 20, respectively) which will strengthen your application.

IELTS Score for Canada

Canada is similar to Australia in that the requirements for your IELTS score depends on the kind of visa you’re applying for. For example, on the Canadian government’s website, you’ll find that the skilled worker visa has different requirements for each applicant type. The IELTS scores here are listed in CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) which is used to represent English and French language skills throughout the country. You must use a official charts to convert your IELTS scores for immigration requirements.

IELTS Score for New Zealand

New Zealand Is different to Australia and Canada because individual schools decide if an IELTS score is good enough. And the IELTS results required for work visas depend on the requirements of work that’s being offered, i.e. a lawyer would require a high proficiency than a plumber.

To help you understand, here is an example of individual university requirements for the University of Auckland. You will requires at least a 6.0 IELTS score for undergraduate admission (with a minimum of 5.5 for each category) and an overall 6.5 for post-graduate work (with a minimum of 6.0 in each category). Please make Note that this is the minimum, and that to get into most undergraduate and graduate programs in New Zealand, you will need to have a better score. An immigration official may verify that you meet the requirements when processing your application for the work and/or student visa, but make sure that you check the requirements from the University or Employer as well.

For all other visas, the IELTS score requirements vary. Here are some examples of the IELTS results you will need:

  • Investors: 3.0 overall score or higher
  • Entrepreneurs: 4.0 overall score or higher
  • Parents Category: 4.0 in at least two categories (listening, reading, writing, and/or speaking)
  • Skilled Migrants: an overall average of at least 6.5

Here is some more information on the IELTS score requirements for Investors, Entrepreneurs and Parents on the New Zealand government’s official immigration website.

IELTS Score in the UK

The UK is quite similar to New Zealand because the work visas requirements are based on the tier you’re applying for and length of your visa. The tiers are quite different so make sure that you have met the correct requirements for your visa type. For example tiers 1 and 2 you must demonstrate a B1 or B2 level. These requirements are described in the format of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework (A1 – C2). See IELTS equivalents here.

Schools, universities and other organizations can “sponsor” your immigration, and it would be up to them to determine acceptable IELTS scores.

IELTS Score in the USA

The USA is completely different to the rest because the U.S. government is the only one on this list without minimum English requirements. However if you are intending to study in the USA expect to demonstrate your English skills before being accepted into an institution. Minimum IELTS results for the Academic IELTS vary from institution to institution. The requirements will also differ for undergraduate and post-graduate programs.