Basics of IELTS Marking Scheme
In this article we are going to learn about the IELTS test marking scheme; How is the IELTS TEST Marked?
As discussed earlier, the IELTS test has 4 sections – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Each section is marked individually and you get a band score for each section. An average of the 4 sections forms your final or Overall Band Score. Band scores are not always in whole numbers (6, 7, 8, 9), they may be in decimals (6.5, 7.5, 8.5, 9.5) also.
Let’s say you score a 6.5 in Listening, 7 in Reading, 7 in Writing and 7 in Speaking,
Then your final or Overall Band Score would be calculated like this:
(6.5 + 7 + 7 + 7) / 4 = 6.8 –> This will be rounded off to a Band 7
Similarly, a score of 6.2 will be rounded off to a band 6
You never get a score of 6.25 or 6.75, instead, it will be 6.5 or 7, respectively. In short, IELTS scores are either in full or half. For example, it can be 7 or 7.5).
Note – There is no negative marking in IELTS. You do not lose marks for wrong answers.
Another important point is that both, IELTS Listening and Reading have a fixed scale for marking. You would see a table below which lets you know your Band Score based on the number of correct answers.
However, the IELTS Speaking and Writing sections are marked differently. They rely on a standard document known as the IELTS Band Descriptors. For now, imagine it to be a set of skills which the examiners look for, in your Speaking and Writing.
Lets look at each section’s marking scheme individually
IELTS Listening Marking Scheme
The marking scheme for IELTS Listening Academic and General is the same. The IELTS Listening section has 40 questions for one mark each. You are allocated a Band Score based on the correct answers you mark.
For Example, if you get 30 correct answers out of 40, then you are at a Band Score of 7. As you get more correct answers your band score increases. The table below should give you a clear understanding of the IELTS Listening marking scheme.
|Academic and General||39-40||37-38||35-36||33-34||30-32||27-29||23-26||20-22||16-19||13-15||10-12||7-9||4-6||3|
IELTS Reading Academic Marking Scheme
The marking scheme for the Reading section is different for IELTS Academic and General test. Lets look at IELTS Academic Reading first.
The IELTS Academic Reading section has 40 questions for one mark each. You are allocated a Band Score based on the number of correct answers. The IELTS Academic Reading marking scheme is more or less similar to the Listening marking scheme.
For Example, if you get 30-32 correct answers out of 40, then you are at a Band Score of 7. As you get more correct answers your band score increases. The table below would make things more clear.
IELTS Reading General Marking Scheme
The IELTS Reading marking scheme is different for IELTS General and IELTS Academic. Compare both the Reading marking schemes and you would notice a subtle difference in the marking schemes(tables). For example, scoring a Band 7 in IELTS Academic requires you get 30-32 correct answers. But, in IELTS General, you need to get 34-35 correct answers for a band 7.
IELTS Writing Marking Scheme
In the Writing section, your answers are checked by certified IELTS examiners. While checking your answers, examiners follow a ‘set standard’ to figure out your band score. This standard is built on a document known as the IELTS band descriptors.
There is a Band Descriptor for each writing task, Task 1 and Task 2. You can download the public version of Writing task 1 band descriptors and Writing task 2 band descriptors from ielts.org website. Its the same for IELTS Academic and IELTS General.
The document talks about 4 aspects of the Writing Test, as mentioned below:
- TA/ TR – Task Achievement / Task Response (They check if your answer all the parts and aspects of the question)
- CC – Coherence and Cohesion (The flow of ideas and the linkage between sentences. Basically, the structure)
- LR – Lexical Resource (The usage and flexibility in word usage. In other words, vocabulary)
- GR – Grammatical Range and Accuracy (The range of grammar and its correctness)
The examiners check your answers based on the above criteria and awards you a Band Score between 0 to 9. You get a band score for each of the tasks – the report or letter and the essay.
While Task 1 (report/ letter) is considered only once, Task 2 (essay) is considered twice, during the marking. To give you a better understanding, the report/ letter (Task 1) is checked by one(1) examiner. In contrast, the essay (Task 2) is checked by two (2) examiners.
Let’s say, in the report/ letter task, you get a Band 8. In the essay task, you get a Band 6.5 from one examiner and a Band 7 from the other. Then, your final writing band score would be calculated as:
(8+6.5+7)/3 = 7.16, which would be rounded off to a Band 7.
Thus, Task 2 Essay contributes twice as much as Task 1 Report to the Writing score.
An average of both the Writing Task scores(task 1 and task 2) forms your final Writing Band Score.
IELTS Speaking Marking Scheme
In the IELTS Speaking session, the examiner uses the band descriptor to mark you, just as in the writing section. However, the Speaking Band Descriptors are different from the writing one. This link from ielts.org should let you download the public version of IELTS Speaking band descriptors.
In the IELTS speaking section, the examiner marks you for:
- FC – Fluency and Coherence (Fluency – Ability to speak without repetition or correction. Coherence – the flow of ideas in the speech is uninterrupted and maintains a linkage between sentences)
- LR – Lexical resource (Your knowledge and accuracy of vocabulary in speech)
- GR – Grammar (Your range of grammar and its accuracy in speech)
- PR – Pronunciation (Your mother tongue language does not influence your English speech, the way you say things is accurate)
Based on the above criteria, the examiner checks your answers, and awards you a Band Score.
Download IELTS Band Descriptors
Get a copy of the IELTS band descriptors
An overall understanding of the IELTS Band scores. Starting from a band 5 up to a band 9, we have laid out the details, word by word. Each band score is explained line by line so that you know what each band score means.
IELTS BAND Descriptors, what it actually means? (coming soon)
Angel Joseph is an experienced IELTS Trainer from Cochin in Kerala, India. She is a Cambridge certified agent and holds a Masters in International Business from LSBU University, London. In addition, she is a TESOL Canada certified trainer of English as a Second Language for non-native users. Previously, she had worked with Hewlett-Packard in London, Monster Inc. in Kochi, Aakash Education Services in Kochi, with more than 10 years of experience in the Training and Education domain. She loves to engage with her students and always has a trick up her sleeve, to help you with your IELTS preparation. As a result, she is a seasoned teacher of English and is overly capable of getting rid of your fear of speaking and interacting in English. You may contact Angel on her Official email id.
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