What are band scores in Academic IELTS?

Test takers are marked on a scale of 0-9 band in each section of the IELTS test– reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Each portion of the exam is assessed individually, and the average of all the sectional scores is calculated to get the overall IELTS band score. Now let's have a look at the complete IELTS Academic Score Chart.

IELTS Academic Score Chart

Band Score

English Proficiency Level

Skills Showcased

Band 9

Expert user

Complete command over the English language

Band 8

Very Good user

Good operational command of the English language with a few unsystematic errors

Band 7

Good user

Functional command over the language with minor inaccuracies

Band 6

Competent user

Effective command over the language, with some inaccuracies and inappropriate usage of words or phrases

Band 5

Modest user

Partial command over the language

Band 4

Limited user

Basic command over the language 

Band 3

Extremely Limited user

Generic command over the language only in familiar situations

Band 2

Intermittent user

Barriers to understanding written and spoken English

Band 1


Some isolated words are used without connectivity between words, phrases, or sentences

Band 0


Test not attempted by the applicant

What is the difference between Raw Score and Band score?

Raw scores are the marks obtained by the student for every correct answer. On the contrary, the final IELTS band score is computed based on the raw scores. For instance, a test taker with a raw score of 36 out of 40 in the Academic Reading section will be awarded an 8-band score. The raw scores for the Reading and Listening sections of the IELTS exam are calculated out of 40 marks.

How are Band Scores Calculated?

The overall band score is computed by taking the average of the scores obtained in each exam section– Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. All the IELTS exam sections are also scored on a 0-9 band score scale. The overall band score of the IELTS is an average of all the sectional scores. The formula for calculating IELTS Band Scores is given below:

Overall IELTS Band Score = (Reading Band Score + Writing Band Score + Listening Band Score + Speaking Band Score)/4

While calculating the final IELTS band score, the scores are rounded off to the nearest whole or half bands. If the average of the four parts ends in 0.25, the total band score is rounded to the next half band; if the average ends in 0.75, it is rounded to the next full band. We have suggested how are overall band scores calculated through the examples given below:

Reading Band Score

Writing Band Score

Listening Band Score 

Speaking Band Score

Average Band Score

Overall Band Score



















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Understand Section-wise IELTS Academic Band Score

To understand how the total band score is calculated, you must know how the sectional results are computed. This section will discuss how section-wise IELTS Academic band scores are calculated.

IELTS Academic Reading Score

The IELTS Academic Reading section contains 40 questions. Each correct question carries one mark (raw score). The great news is that the IELTS exam has no negative marking. The raw scores secured in the reading section are converted into IELTS Academic Reading band scores. To understand the conversion process of raw scores into band scores, we have given the following IELTS score table for Academic Reading.

IELTS Academic Reading score chart

Raw Scores (out of 40)

Band Scores 

39- 40


37- 38


35- 36


33- 34


30- 32


27- 29 


23- 26 


19- 22


15- 18


13- 14


10- 12


8- 9


6- 7


4- 5


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IELTS Academic Listening Score

Like the IELTS Academic Reading section, the IELTS Listening test has 40 questions. Each question carries one mark (raw score). The Academic Listening IELTS score chart is given below:

IELTS Academic Listening score chart

Raw Scores (out of 40)

Band Scores 

39- 40


37- 38


35- 36


32- 34 


30- 31


26- 29 


23- 25


18- 22


16- 17


13- 15


11- 12


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IELTS Writing Band Score

The IELTS Academic Writing test comprises 2 tasks, which are evaluated based on the following four criteria:

  • Task Achievement / Task Response 
  • Coherence and Cohesion 
  • Lexical Resource 
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The band scores are awarded per the level of fulfilment of the above criteria. So, there needs to be a concept of raw scores for assessing the Writing test. 

IELTS Writing Marking Scheme

Each scoring criterion of the Writing test carries equal weightage, i.e., 25% of the total score. The final writing band score is the average of all four marking parameters. We have gathered valuable inputs to excel in all the marking criteria for the writing section and get a higher band score:

Scoring Criteria 


Task Achievement (Task 1)

  • Write a clear introduction and overview.
  • Explain all the relevant key features of the diagram. 
  • Elaborate on the overall trend change in the chart. For example, increase/decrease, high/low, etc.

Task Response (Task 2)

  • Address all the parts of the essay question.
  • Validate your ideas with relevant examples.
  • Conclude with your viewpoints on the assigned topic.

Coherence and Cohesion 

  • Ensure proper connection between two different sentences.
  • Structure your answer in a logical manner with effective paragraphing.
  • Use transition words to show clear progression between paragraphs.

Lexical Resource 

  • Utilize a wide range of vocabulary correctly.
  • Use synonyms to avoid repetition.
  • Avoid spelling and word formation mistakes.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

  • Use a mix of complex and simple sentence structures.
  • Avoid grammatical and punctuation errors.
  • Ensure correct usage of tenses.

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IELTS Academic Speaking Score

The IELTS Speaking test consists of – 'Introduction', 'Task Card', and 'In-depth discussion'. There are four criteria for assessing the speaking section:

  • Fluency and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammar Range and Accuracy
  • Pronunciation 

IELTS Speaking Score Criteria

Scoring Criteria


Fluency and Cohesion

  • Extend your speech without breaks or a doubt.
  • Avoid self-correction in between your speech.
  • Convey your thoughts in a logical way, easily understandable by the examiner.

Lexical Resource

  • Use uncommon phrases and idioms correctly.
  • Include collocations in your speech. 
  • Employ a wide range of vocabulary in your sentences.

Grammar Range and Accuracy

  • Use a good combination of complex and simple sentence structures correctly.
  • Utilize tenses correctly while speaking.
  • Avoid grammatical errors.


  • Speak in your natural accent.
  • Use variable pitch and tones during your speech.
  • Avoid speaking too fast.

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Minimum IELTS Score Requirement for Study Abroad

When planning to study abroad, you must know the minimum IELTS score required to get admission to your preferred university and country. 

IELTS governing bodies release the exam scores in the test report form. However, universities have minimum IELTS score criteria to select top students from a large pool of applicants. 

Each country has different score requirements for graduate and postgraduate programs. So, let's explore the accepted IELTS scores in popular study-abroad destinations below:

IELTS Score for UK

To pursue higher education in the United Kingdom, it is necessary to undertake the IELTS for the UKVI Academic examination. Most universities in the UK require a 6.5 score or above for bachelor's programs. 

For postgraduate programs, universities in the UK can accept a band of 6.0 or above. However, some premium universities require an IELTS score of 7.0 or more. Overall, if you plan to study graduate or postgraduate programs in the UK, you must get a 6.0 - 7.0 band score.

IELTS Score for USA

The minimum score required in IELTS varies across universities. For example, Many Ivy League schools demand at least a 7.0 overall band score in IELTS, whereas other colleges might require a score of 6.0 or 6.5 in IELTS.

IELTS Score for Canada

Recently, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced modifications to the external icon for SDS applicants' English test requirements. By selecting IELTS, it is now simpler to register for a Study Permit in Canada in light of the following changes.

If you register after August 10 2023, you only need an aggregate IELTS Academic band score of 6.0.

If you apply with IELTS Academic before August 10, 2023, you must score 6.0 in each skill.

With a score of 6.0 to 6.5, you can enrol in a few courses at high- to middle-tier universities.

Some Canadian universities accept a score of 5.5, but only for some courses or admissions. Therefore, it is recommended to strive for 6 or higher.

Regarding visas, the IELTS score for Canada varies based on the type of visa for which you are applying. In general, your score for a student visa should be above 6. 

In conclusion, if you have an IELTS score of 7 or higher, you are guaranteed admission to a top-tier university and an advanced-level program.

IELTS Score for Australia

You need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with no section-wise band below 6.0, to enroll in a postgraduate program in Australia. A minimum final IELTS score of 6.0 is required to apply to undergraduate programs. 

Did you know that certain Australian colleges may consider your application if you have a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 in any of the four skills tests— speaking, listening, reading, and writing? 

Thus, you are still welcome to apply if your highest IELTS score is 5.5, achieved either in the reading or speaking sections. A score of 5.5 or above is required for admission to the following schools. However, the required minimum score may change according to the course of study. 


Minimum IELTS Score Required

United Kingdom 

6.0 - 7.0

United States 

6.0 - 6.5


6.0 - 6.5


5.5 - 6.5

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The overall band score is computed by averaging the scores from each exam section: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking.

An IELTS score of 6.5 signifies the test-takers competence and ability to adapt more effectively in a classroom setting.

Scoring a 7 on each IELTS skill—Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking—can be tricky. Still, it is certainly attainable with good and rigorous practice and the assistance of an experienced IELTS tutor.

There is no particular country that accepts the lowest IELTS score. The universities decide the parameter for setting the minimum score required. For instance, In Australia, colleges like RMIT, Academies Australasia, and CQUniversity Australia can accept students with a band score of 5.5-6.0.

No. IELTS General can be used for work and migration purposes. In contrast, IELTS Academic is solely for studying in an English-speaking country. The parameters of evaluation and test format slightly differ for both test types. Hence, the IELTS General scores cannot be used for Academic purposes.

No. IELTS General scores are valid to apply for a PR. IELTS Academic scores are required for student visa applications.

All universities and immigration authorities in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and over 3,000 institutions in the United States (including Ivy League universities), accept IELTS Academic scores.

No, the IELTS Academic scores are not accepted for work purposes. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) accept the IELTS General Training exam if you apply for a work visa, professional registration, or permanent residency in Canada.

IELTS is the only English language test officially recognized by Canadian, Australian, British, and New Zealand immigration departments.

The questions on the General Training exam are simpler to answer than those on the Academic test. For instance, a score of 37 to 38 out of 40 corresponds to 8.5 bands in IELTS General reading. However, you will receive 8 bands in IELTS Academic reading with the same score.

IELTS General Training is relatively easier than Academic. The writing and reading parts of the Academic exam are tricky when compared to IELTS General. Moreover, the scoring criteria are different for both types of exams.

The score of each IELTS section is marked on a band score of 0-9, based on the individual criteria for each section.

IELTS scores are valid for 2 years.

A score of 7 or above is considered good to get admission into top universities abroad.