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Posted on February 25 2020

Know your scorecard: Understanding a good IELTS score

By  Editor
Updated January 09 2024

Do you want to work or study abroad in English-speaking countries? Then, along with many requirements, you will need to prove your skill in the English language. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) assesses your language skills. The scores of the IELTS exam are a major element in your migration eligibility.

The scores of IELTS are calculated on a scale referred to as bands. The range of bands is from 1 to 9. The scores could come with decimal points too. But the final score will be rounded off to the nearest tens. The test itself is not passed or failed. You only need to score a minimum band as stipulated for a specific case.

IELTS results apply for all levels of English. It is globally trusted as a yardstick to measure the English skills of a person. In universities, colleges, business houses or government agencies, IELTS goes as a valid score. It's recognized by countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. Professional bodies and immigration authorities approve of the IELTS score.

More than 2 million people take the test annually. IELTS measures your language capability in 4 skills in 2 streams namely Academic and General Training.

  • Listening – It has 4 sections with 40 questions in total. The test time is 30 minutes.
  • Speaking – This is assessed with an interview lasting 15 minutes.
  • Reading – The assessment is different for Academic and General Training. There are 3 sections with 40 questions. The test lasts 60 minutes.
  • Writing – The assessment is different for Academic and General Training. There are 2 pieces of writing. The test lasts 60 minutes.

IELTS is designed to assess the language ability of candidates. The candidates need to study or work in countries or places where English is the language of communication.

After the IELTS exam, you will be awarded a band score for each skill. There will be an overview band score too. It is the average score of all the skills combined. The Test Report Form is the document that shows the scores you get.

The following are the bands and their details. 

Band score

Skill level


Band 9

Expert user

The band indicates your complete operational command of the language. It shows that you use English appropriately, accurately and fluently. It shows that you completely understand the language.

Band 8

Exceptional user

This band shows that you have full command of operating the language. You may exhibit occasional inaccuracies. Inappropriate usage could also plague your usage. You may tend to misunderstand certain things in unfamiliar situations. But you do have the ability to handle complex detailed argumentation.

Band 7

Good user

This band indicates your operational command of the language, even though it comes with occasional inaccuracies. There could also be inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in certain situations. But in general, you will handle complex language well. You will also understand detailed reasoning.

Band 6

Competent user

With this band, you exhibit an effective command of the language. There may be some inaccuracies, misunderstandings, and inappropriate usage.

You can understand and use fairly complex language, especially in familiar situations.

Band 5

Modest user

If you scored this band, it shows that your basic competence is limited to familiar situations. You frequently exhibit problems in understanding and expression. You can’t use complex language.

Band 4

Limited user

This band indicates that you can convey and understand just general meaning in very familiar situations. You tend to have frequent breakdowns in communication.

Band 3

Extremely limited user

This band shows that you show great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band 2

Intermittent user

A band 2 shows that your ability to use the language is nil except for a few isolated words.

Band 1


You get a band 1 if you did not answer the questions but attended the test.

Band 0

Skipped the test


Here are some details about the IELTS that you would want to know.

  • Your IELTS result is published online from the 13th day of the test. You will get your Test Form within 10 days from the date of the result declaration. For this, you will have to give a courier accessible address during registration.
  • You can use an IELTS Life Skills or IELTS test result with your application for a UK visa. This may not be applicable to some types of student visas. For this, you may need to attend the test at an IELTS test centre specifically authorized by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). UKVI prescribes the conditions of the test. You will receive an IELTS or IELTS Life Skills Test Report Form. It shows that you have taken your test to meet the UKVI requirements.
  • You will only receive one copy of your Test Report Form. That is unless you are applying to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), or the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA). If this is the case, you can receive two forms. You must provide proof of application to CIC as well as UKBA. Up to 5 copies of your TRF will be posted to the relevant institution(s) you have listed on your IELTS application form.

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