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How is the IELTS graded?

The IELTS Marking System:
How is the IELTS graded?

Worried about failing the IELTS? Don’t be! Every English user’s skills are strong enough to be assessed using the IELTS marking system.

As you may know, the IELTS isn’t a pass/fail exam, but an assessment that rates your overall language skills on a scale, producing a score somewhere between 0 (non-user) and 9 (expert user) in one-half increments. The marking system is sophisticated and quite comprehensive. It considers a wide range of skills and strategies that we access when we use a language, making it fairly representative of your English level.

Your assessment will be divided into four component tests: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Scores are assigned for each section, and then averaged, yielding your final score.

So, how is each section of the IELTS graded? Let’s take a look at the factors that shape your score.
 

IELTS Listening

Your listening score corresponds to the raw score you receive on this 40-question portion of the test (for which you earn a single point for every correct answer). The conversion formula is kept secret, but here’s a chart that shows how some listening scores translate into band marks.
 

IELTS Reading

The reading score, just like the listening score, corresponds to the grade you receive on the reading test. The conversion formula is also kept secret, but there are sample charts of some common scores and how they translate to band scores. Note that the conversion is different for the Academic and General Training tests.
 

IELTS Writing

The writing test is assessed by measuring four key aspects in your performance on two separate writing tasks (with the second task more heavily weighted than the first). Each aspect is assigned a score, which represents 25% of the final score. Your writing will be graded for:

  • task achievement (on both tasks – remember, Task 2 is more weighted than Task 1)
  • coherence and cohesion
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy

 

IELTS Speaking

Your speaking skills will be divided into four attributes, and each will receive a respective score:

  • fluency and coherence
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy
  • pronunciation

The scores that you receive for each category will be averaged, producing your final speaking score. If you want to understand how each of these attributes are marked by the examiner, read How the IELTS Speaking Section Is Marked.

 

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