Top Tips for IELTS

Quick Guide to IELTS

IELTS is a test of English taken by over 1 million people each year for emigration or professional reasons or for entrance into academic courses. There are 4 modules as shown below. There are two versions of IELTS

Academic IELTS for entrance to schools and universities

General Training IELTS for emigration and some jobs

The speaking and listening modules are the same for both Academic and General Training IELTS. The reading and writing modules are slightly different.

Map of the IELTS test

ielts overview repeat

Quick guide to IELTS scores

After the test you will be given a score for each module. It is not a pass/fail exam, rather you are given a score based on your language ability. Below you will find an outline of the scores you can receive. These are some typical requirements:

band 8.0 in all modules for emigration to Australia

band 7.0 in all modules for GMC in the UK with overall average of 7.5

about band 6.5 to start a Masters course (different universities have very different requirements so you must check first)

around band 5,5 to start a university foundation course (again this varies a lot so you must check first)

How your band score is calculated

Calculating the overall score

You receive a separate score out of 9.0 in each module. Those marks are added together and then divided by 4 to give you an overall score. Half band scores are possible (scores of .25 are rounded up to .5 and scores of .75 are rounded up as well)

overall band scores

Calculating the writing score

The writing paper is marked by an examiner – this will not be the same examiner as marks your speaking. The examiner will give you a score in 4 different criteria. The examiners are strictly trained to mark every piece of writing in this way. The 4 scores are then added up to give you an overall writing score. Here is an example showing the criteria and the calculation:

writing bands

Note that one of the keys to successful IELTS preparation is knowing how the papers are marked. There is much more information on this on my writing page.

Calculating the speaking score

The speaking module is marked by the examiner you speak with in your interview. The interview will be recorded but that recording is only used for grading if there is a problem with your score. The examiner marks you in real time according to 4 criteria.


speaking criteria

Calculating the reading and listening scores

To calculate your band scores you can use these band score calculators:

band score calculators

The reading and listening papers are marked by very strictly by assessors. You are given a mark out of 40 which is then converted into a band score. You will find more details on my reading and listening pages.

How long does it take to improve a band score in IELTS?

The answer is that there is no one answer. Here is some guidance for you though:

What do IELTS band scores mean?

EOR – how to get your papers re-marked

It is possible to use the Enquiry on Results procedure (EOR) to have a senior examiner check your writing and speaking. I explain how this works here:

EOR – getting your IELTS re-marked



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