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IELTS band scores and marking

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The 9-band IELTS Test scale

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Results are reported on an easy to understand 9-band score system with each band corresponding to a different level of competence from Non-user (band 1) to Expert (band 9). Each part of the test: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking, and the Overall Band Score can be reported in whole or half bands, e.g. 6.0, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5. This unique 9-band system measures scores in a consistent manner – wherever and whenever the test is taken.

Band 9Expert user: has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
Band 8Very good user: has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
Band 7Good user: has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
Band 6Competent user: has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Band 5Modest user: has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.
Band 4Limited user: basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
Band 3Extremely limited user: conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
Band 2Intermittent user: no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
Band 1Non-user: essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

It is internationally recognised and understood, giving you a reliable international currency. IELTS scores have a recommended validity period of two years.