At IELTS, want to help boost you to the next level. We want to make sure you don’t need to repeat your English language test. That’s why we share with you test format, how we mark your work, and free preparation materials.
For IELTS Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening we’ll tell you what examiners look for and how your test is marked. We’ll also show you how your overall band score is calculated.
Fair to test takers
The IELTS approach is recognised as being fair to all test takers, whatever their nationality, cultural background, gender or special needs. Test takers can feel confident that the IELTS test:
- provides a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking
- assesses language skills, not specialist knowledge; the topics covered are general enough for all test takers will be able to answer questions on them
- is focused on assessing practical communication ability
- serves both academic and non-academic purposes through a choice of two versions
- features a one-on-one, face-to-face speaking component
- recognises all standard varieties of native-speaker English, including North American and British
- ensures test questions are extensively trialled with people from different cultures to confirm they are appropriate and fair.
Systems and safeguards to ensure quality
We ensure that delivery of the test is both consistent and secure through rigorous training and continual monitoring of test centres and examiners.
Ensuring reliability of results
The IELTS test is subject to the highest quality controls, security procedures and integrity management practices. These include:
- stringent procedures for checking and verifying test taker identity
- unique test versions – test takers will never sit the same test twice
- double marking
- printing Test Report Forms on security-enhanced paper
- an online Results Verification Service
Ensuring consistent assessment of Writing and Speaking tests
- Writing and Speaking tests are assessed by trained and certificated examiners
- Examiners are qualified English language specialists, with substantial relevant teaching experience, working to clearly defined criteria and subject to extensive quality control procedures
- Selected Speaking and Writing performances are second-marked by a team of IELTS principal examiners/assistant principal examiners who provide feedback to each examiner
- Where there is a significant difference between a test taker’s Writing and/or Speaking score and their Reading and Listening scores, double-marking is carried out
- Routine analysis is conducted on each test version to ensure that the performances of test materials, test takers and examiners are in line with expected standards
- Test takers who feel that their scores do not reﬂect their performance may apply to have their tests re-marked by a senior examiner.
Get your IELTS results in 2-5 days
The marking and scoring of computer-delivered IELTS is the same as paper-based IELTS. With paper-based IELTS results are released 13 days after your test. Computer-delivered IELTS releases your results in 2-5 days!
- Band score 9 - Expert user
The test taker has fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.
- Band score 8 - Very good user
The 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.
- Band score 7 - Good user
The 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.
- Band score 6 - Competent user
The 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.
- Band score 5 - Modest user
The 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.
- Band score 4 - Limited user
The 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.
- Band score 3 - Extremely limited user
The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
- Band score 2 - Intermittent user
The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
- Band score 1 - Non-user
The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.
- Band score 0 - Did not attempt the test
The test taker did not answer the questions.
Quality and fairness
IELTS invests heavily in the continued development of its test and the processes by which scores are marked, to ensure a fair assessment for all test takers and a reliable result for the organisations that depend on IELTS as a measure of English language skill.
Find out more about the test format
IELTS is unique in that it allows the choice of an Academic of General Training test. Both types of IELTS test measure your skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, however, the questions are a little different and one test might suit you more than the other.