As you probably are aware, the IELTS exam ranks your level of English mastery in four areas – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. You are given a band score for each part of the test and the average of these produces your overall IELTS band score. The scores range from 1 to 9 and can include whole and half bands (e.g. 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5). It should be added that if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band. Thus, a candidate achieving 6.5 for Listening, 6.5 for Reading, 5.0 for Writing and 7.0 for Speaking would be awarded an overall band score of 6.5 (25 ÷ 4 = 6.25 = Band 6.5).
That’s all well and good to know, but how do you estimate what band YOU are currently at?
First, Test your Listening and Reading
It is relatively easy to calculate your band score in the Listening and Reading modules. In each of these sections you have to answer 40 questions each. Take one of these recommended free practice tests, and once you know the number of answers you got correct, use the chart below to estimate your band score for each module. (Note: The weighting varies slightly between the Listening and Reading modules and the Academic and Generic tests, so use this as a rough guide only.)
Next, Self Assess Your Writing and Speaking
Your writing and speaking will be assessed by an examiner based on how competent you are in a variety of skills. To estimate your band score in these two modules, check your current level of performance against the relevant assessment checklist below, which are based on how the IELTS is marked. Circle the number 1-9 (where 9 is the highest). Be realistic about your assessment and if possible check it with a friend or even better, with a teacher.
Then calculate your average score by adding up all the numbers and dividing by the number of questions. For example on the Speaking Skills Checklist you rate yourself a 7 in the first five questions, 8 in the next five questions and 6 on the last five questions. Your total score would be 105 and your average score would be 7.0. This would be your estimated band score.
Do this for both the Writing and Speaking.
Finally, Calculate and Check Your Estimated Band Score
Once you have your estimated band score for each module, add them together and divide by four (i.e. Reading 6.0; Listening 6.5; Writing 7.0; Speaking 7.5 = 27 ÷ 4 =6.75, which would be rounded up to a band score of 7.0)
Once you have your overall estimated band score, check it against the official description of what your level of mastery should be. Does the description sound like where you are at? Hopefully so, and you now have a good estimate of what your overall band score will be when you take the test!