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IELTS Sections & Scoring


ACADEMIC IELTS (Paper-based test)

SectionNumber and type of questionsTimingMaximum points
Reading 3 passages   60  minutes 1-9 Band Scale
Listening 4 Sections 30 minutes 1-9 Band Scale

1 integrated task

1 independent task

20 minutes

40 minutes

1-9 Band Scale
Speaking 3 tasks total 15-20 minutes 1-9 Band Scale

*No Breaks are given during this exam


TOTAL   2 hours & 45 minutes


Overall scoring of the IELTS test is based on these 4 different sections which are then added together and divided by 4:

It is important to keep in mind that overall scores are based on whole or half points, and that .25 is rounded up to the next half band, as is .75 points.

Example: If you get a 6.5 in Listening + 5.0 in Writing + 7.0 in Speaking + 6.5 in Reading, your overall score would be

 (25 ÷ 4 = 6.25 = Band 6.5).



If you get a 6.5 in Listening +  5.5 in Writing + 6.0 in Speaking + 6.5 in Reading, your overall score would be

(24.5 ÷ 4 = 6.125 = Band 6).


Listening Section
(30 minutes)

The first section, the listening, is divided into four parts with the scale of difficulty increasing with each part. Test questions vary from multiple choice to fill-in.


Reading Section

(60 minutes)

The reading section consists of 3 different articles with a total of 40 questions. Test questions vary from multiple choice to fill-in, and the reading passages (approximately 800 words each) are based on varying academic topics.

For both the listening and reading sections, the scoring remains the same.

Band score Raw score out of 40
5 16
6 23
7 30
8 35
Academic Reading
Band score Raw score out of 40
5 15
6 23
7 30
8 35


 Writing Section
(60 minutes total)
Task 1 -20 minutes
Task 2- 40 minutes

The writing section has two different tasks:

The 1st writing task requires analyzing one or more charts, graphs, processes, etc. and summarizing the information in 20 minutes. 

The 2nd writing task involves answering an essay question involving giving an opinion or persuasive argument in 40 minutes.


How is the scoring calculated you may ask?


The scoring for the 1st and 2nd task are done by 2 different people and half points can be given. The writing score is based on four different criteria which can best be explained as:  

1) Response to task is complete and uses support and detail

2) Writing is connected and clearly understood

3) Use of proper vocabulary

4) Use of proper grammar and construction


For the writing section, each task is graded independently and given a score out of 9 and then divided by 4 based on the above criteria. A formula is then used to add the 1st and 2nd tasks.


Here is an example: Task 1 you received a 4     and   Task 2 you received a 5.5

(4 + 2 x 5.5)/3 = 15/3 = 5 and is recorded as 5.


Speaking Section
(15-20 minutes)

The speaking section, as mentioned earlier, can be up to 3-7 days before or after the exam. It consists of 3 different parts that are presented and evaluated by an interviewer and a secondary person who listens to the interview afterwards. Their scores are based on four different criteria which are best explained as:


1) Natural and fluid speaking with complete and detailed responses

2) Appropriate use of vocabulary

3) Proper grammar and construction

4) Understandable pronunciation


The scoring is similar to the writing section where the speaker is given a score out of 9 for each separate criteria, and then the total is divided by 4. Then, the two scores are added together and averaged.


For more IELTS information:

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