How Do Examiners Mark Your Writing Test ?

The Official IELTS Band Score Descriptors. 

The examiners mark your writing test by comparing the answers you have written against the descriptions provided by IELTS in the writing band score descriptors. The writing descriptors are tables that give descriptions of writing according to the bands of 9 down to zero. There is a public version of the band score descriptors which students should read and understand before they sit the writing test. If you take the writing test without learning about the band score descriptors, it's a bit like trying to play chess without knowing the rules. It's not easy to be successful !

Task 1 Public Band Score Descriptors (click to expand)

Overall Band Scores.

How is my overall band score calculated?

Your overall IELTS band score is given as a score between 0 and 9 calculated by adding up the 4 scores for listening, reading, speaking and writing, then dividing them by 4.  


For example, if you got the following scores: L = 8, R = 7, S = 6.5, and W = 7, then those would be calculated like this: 8 + 7 + 6.5 + 7 = 28.5 (divide by 4) = 7.125.  Therefore the overall band score is 7. 


Are band scores rounded up and down?

Yes. Band scores are rounded up or down to the nearest half band.  For example 7.75 is rounded up to band 8, but 8.125 is rounded down to band 8.

IELTS Writing Band Scores (Academic & General Training)

How is my IELTS writing score calculated?

Your IELTS writing is calculated by adding together the band scores for task 1 and task 2.  However, the calculation is a little more complicated because task 2 is worth two-thirds of the marks and task 1 is worth a third of the marks.  To calculate the overall writing band score, add 1 (task 1 band score) with 2 (task 2 band scores) and divide by 3. 

For example...

... if you get band 5 for task 1 and band 7 for task 2, the following calculation would apply...

Task 1 = band score 5 (x 1) = 5   Task 2 = band score 7 (x 2) = 14       

5+14 = 19  (divided by 3) = 6.33 rounded to the nearest half band  =  6.5 Band Score 

How do Examiners Assess IELTS Writing? 

Your IELTS writing is assessed according to a very specific criteria, which is the IELTS Writing Band Score Descriptors. Your writing is assessed according to 4 specific descriptors:

1) Task Achievement (Task 1) or Task Response (Task 2). This criteria assesses how completely and effectively have you answered the question.

2) Coherence and Cohesion deals with how understandable your answer is to read and how well you structured your answer. This deals with paragraphing, linking words, organisation of ideas, cohesive devices etc.

3) Lexical Resource assesses your range and accuracy in using academic vocabulary, phrases and collocations.

4) Grammatical Range and Accuracy assesses your accuracy and range of grammatical tenses, different sentence structures, and punctuation.

IELTS Writing Band Score Descriptors.

Below there are links to the IELTS writing band score descriptors. They are worth looking over in detail to gain an awareness of what the examiners are looking for when they mark your answers. Note: All the writing techniques in the video lessons on this website were developed to specifically address these descriptors and maximise band scores.

Task 1 IELTS writing band descriptors.  

Task 2 IELTS writing band descriptors. 

Listening, Reading & Speaking Band Scores. 

How do IELTS calculate reading and listening scores?

For reading and listening, it depends on the number of answers you get correct.  Out of 40 marks, you get the following bands scores:

Listening Band Scores (Academic & GT Modules)

Band 9 (39-40) Band 8.5 (37-38) Band 8 (35-36) Band 7.5 (32-34) Band 7 (30-31) Band 6.5 (26-29) Band 6 (23-25) Band 5.5 (18-22) Band 5 (16-17) Band 4.5 (13-15) Band 4 (11-12).

Reading Band Scores (Academic Module)

Band 9 (39-40) Band 8.5 (37-38) Band 8 (35-36) Band 7.5 (33-34) Band 7 (30-32) Band 6.5 (27-29) Band 6 (23-26) Band 5.5 (19-22) Band 5 (15-18) Band 4.5 (13-14) Band 4 (10-12) 

Reading Band Scores (General Training Module)

Band 9 (40) Band 8.5 (39) Band 8 (37-38) Band 7.5 (36) Band 7 (34-35) Band 6.5 (32-33) Band 6 (30-31) Band 5.5 (27-29) Band 5 (23-26) Band 4.5 (19-22) Band 4 (15-18) Band 3.5 (12-14) Band 3 (9-11) 

How do IELTS Calculate Speaking Scores?  (Academic & GT Modules)

Your IELTS speaking score is calculated according to a complicated marking criteria that guides the examiners. Basically, the examiners will award 25% of the marks for 1) fluency 2) lexical resource (vocabulary) 3) grammatical accuracy and range of sentence structures, and 4) pronunciation (how easy or difficult it is to understand your spoken English). 

IELTS Speaking Band Descriptors.