Many institutions and organizations use IELTS results to determine if your English is “good enough” for immigration, admissions, jobs, and other purposes. So, what does a good IELTS score look like?
What makes a good IELTS score for immigration purposes can vary depending on the type of visa you want (e.g. work, business, for investors, for students, etc.). In addition, if you’re an overseas student taking the IELTS, both the government and the university may have an opinion on what IELTS scores are acceptable. We’ll show you how to determine if you have an excellent or average IELTS score, explain what the IELTS scores represent, and which colleges and countries will accept your IELTS results in this blog.
What Is a Good IELTS Score?
To begin answering that question, have a look at the official descriptions of the various bands provided by the British Council:
|IELTS Band Score||Skill Level|
According to British Council, a score of 9 on the exam qualifies you as an “expert” in English. Scoring 8 allows you as “very excellent” in English, and so on.
IELTS scores nearly typically range from 1 to 9 (“non-user” to “expert”), with a 0 (“did not attempt”) as well. You can also earn a score that ends in.5, such as 6.5, 7.5, or 8.5. Each IELTS Skill (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) receives a band score in this range. You will also get an overall band score for the whole test. This “composite” score is calculated by averaging your separate IELTS scores and is intended to indicate your overall English proficiency.
What Is an IELTS Band Score?
Let’s take a brief look at how the IELTS is assessed in the first place:
IELTS Band Score Descriptions
The IELTS has released band score descriptors for the whole exam. In addition, you’ll find a more concise overview of each level in the table below.
IELTS Band Descriptions: The Entire Exam
|Band Score||Skill Level||Description|
|9||Expert user||Full, native-like proficiency in both generating and grasping language.|
|8||Very good user||Nearly natural fluency, with only minor faults, mistakes, or misunderstandings.|
|7||Good users||Proficient in English, not a native speaker. Test takers at this level are capable of using complicated English in general. However, they may make particular errors repeatedly or have a limited command of the language in specific situations.|
|6||Competent users||In this circumstance, the test-English takers are still solid, but they perform best in familiar situations and struggle with English by performing less in particular cases.|
|5||Modest user||Test-takers may “get by” in English, conducting basic conversations with minimal difficulty. Still, they are confined to using English in simple or specialized situations in their field of competence.|
|4||Limited users||IELTS test takers at this level cannot employ complicated English and have difficulty understanding more complex English. Therefore, their English is limited to ordinary, everyday situations.|
|3||Extremely limited user||At this level, test-takers understand English only in its most straightforward, most common use. And even there, communication breaks down frequently.|
|2||Intermittent users||The test-taker can grasp a limited English, but only very slowly.|
|1||Non-user||Only a few words and phrases in English are known by the test-taker.|
|0||Did not attempt the test||Only a few words and phrases in English are known by the test-taker.|
Bands for IELTS: How are They Calculated?
Calculating IELTS Band Scores Using the math of Section IELTS Scores and Average IELTS Score Per Section should give you a good sense of how IELTS scores are banded. Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. First, let’s go through tally-up points and convert them to band scores.
Reading and Listening IELTS Scores
There are 40 questions in each of the IELTS Listening and Reading sections. Furthermore, in the raw score, each of the 40 questions is worth one point.
You’d think converting a raw score to a band score would be simple. Right? Unfortunately, no. According to official information from the IELTS creators, this score conversion is a little complicated. The percentage of correct answers and the percentage of band points you receive will not be the same for starters. In IELTS Listening, for example, if you get 16 out of 40 questions correct, it means 40% of your answers are accurate. You will, nevertheless, receive a band score of 5, which represents 55.5 percent of the potential band points of 9.
It’s more complex than that, though. The raw point to band conversion for IELTS Academic Reading and IELTS General Training Reading is different. For example, according to the IELTS creators, 30/40 on Academic Reading is a Band 7, but 30/40 on General Training Reading is a Band 6.
Here’s where things get complicated: the official IELTS charts don’t even cover every Listening and Reading band. The official conversion table for IELTS Listening and IELTS Academic Reading only covers Bands 5-8. For IELTS General Training Reading, the chart only covers bands 4-7. Half bands aren’t mentioned at all. As a result, you won’t be able to check the raw score for Bands 5.5, 6.5, and so on. As a result, it’s difficult to say what you’ll need to achieve a strong IELTS score that isn’t a whole number.
IELTS Writing and Speaking Scores
Writing and Speaking rubrics are used to calculate IELTS Writing and Speaking scores. Trained IELTS scorers use rubrics to generate band scores immediately; no raw scores are calculated beforehand. So, what do IELTS scorers use the specific rubrics? Those rubrics, however, are not publicly available. On the other hand, the rubric standards aren’t exactly a well-guarded secret. They are based on the IELTS Band Descriptions for IELTS Writing and IELTS Speaking.
IELTS Whole Test Scores: Putting it All Together for an Average IELTS Score
The overall composite result is the average of all four IELTS section band scores. In other words, the potential to achieve a solid overall IELTS score is determined by running the percentage from each section of the questionnaire.
So, how to round the average IELTS score if it is not a full or half band?
When your average IELTS score is X.25 or higher, you round up to the next band, so if your average IELTS score is X.25 or lower, you round down to the next band, according to IELTS.org. To show you how this works, let’s say that you get the following skills bands on the IELTS: 4.5 Listening, 6.5 Reading, 7 Writing, and 5.5 Speaking. To get the average, add these together and divide by 4:
4.5 + 6.5 + 7 + 5.5 = 23.5
23.5/4 = 5.875
It rounds up to an IELTS band 6.
On the other hand, suppose another student got this higher section IELTS scores:
7 + 7 + 7.5 + 7 = 28.5
28.5/4 = 7.125
Then it would round down to a whole test average IELTS score of 7. (And by many standards, that’s a pretty good IELTS score!)
Improve that score slightly with 7 + 7 + 7.5 + 7.5, and you get 29/4, which equals 7.25, which rounds up to IELTS Band 7.5.
You get the idea. But if you want to see a few more examples, look at the first table in this IELTS.org score conversion article.
How can I find out what my IELTS band scores are?
Begin by taking an IELTS practice exam and grading your findings to determine your estimated IELTS results. Not only will you understand which topics to focus on in your study, but you will also be able to get your estimated band scores and calculate your overall IELTS score.
What’s a Good IELTS Score in Canada?
The IELTS section scores and cumulative average IELTS score requirements in Canada vary depending on the type of visa you’re applying for; for example, the skilled worker visa has particular requirements for each applicant type.
The CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark), which reflects English and French language skills across Canada, lists the IELTS scores here. However, it would help if you used an approved chart to convert your IELTS scores for immigration purposes.
Some examples of international student requirements:
According to the University of Alberta’s admissions page, successful students must have an IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each test component. Graduate students at the University of Alberta are subject to the exact general requirement. On the other hand, graduate programs in Alberta have a reputation for being more lenient with IELTS requirements, so check with the particular graduate program you’re applying for.
Queen’s University requires undergraduate students to have a minimum IELTS overall score of 6.5. (with at least a 6.0 in each of the four exam sections). According to Queen’s, graduate students must also have a minimum IELTS whole-test score of 7.0.
There are various ways to determine whether or not you have a good IELTS score (versus an average IELTS score or a bad one). Therefore, it is critical to understand the IELTS Bands and how they are computed. Make sure that you are also aware of the IELTS scores expected of you. Above all, be prepared to enhance your IELTS score and overall English skills to achieve your true goal.