IELTS Band Scores represent levels of English language ability from 1 to 9.
After completing the IELTS test, you are given a band score between 1 and 9 for each of the four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing – as well as an overall band score.
So, what levels of English Language ability do Bands 1-9 actually represent? The easiest way to think about them is to split them into three groups like this:
- Bands 1-3 = Minimal English
- Bands 4-6 = Students of English
- Bands 7-9 = Fluent English
We don’t need to worry about Bands 1-3 as these are only used for people with little to no English language ability. We will focus on Bands 4-6 and Bands 7-9:
IELTS Bands 4 – 6
These bands are for students of English. Let’s take a look at each of them in more detail:
- Band 4 = OK English. Elementary students. Can cope with basic everyday situations. Hard to talk to for longer than a few minutes.
- Band 5 = Good English. Pre-Intermediate to Intermediate students. Can cope with everyday communication but makes lots of errors. A native speaker can have a basic conversation with someone who is Band 5, but it will require some effort.
- Band 6 = Very good English. Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate students. Can cope with a wider range of situations but still makes frequent errors. A native speaker can have a good conversation with someone who is Band 6, but they will notice fairly frequent mistakes / they will be aware they are talking to a student of English.
IELTS Bands 7 – 9
Getting a Band 7+ in IELTS is difficult. This is because these levels, Bands 7, 8 and 9, represent various degrees of fluency, high levels of accuracy and wide ranges of language, including less common words and phrases.
- Band 7 = Excellent English. Advanced students. Fluency threshold – effortless use of language in most situations and error-free sentences are common. A native speaker will be able to have a full conversation with someone who is Band 7 and will be impressed by their level of English, although they will still notice occasional mistakes.
- Band 8 = Full Fluency. Very occasional errors in complex, unfamiliar situations. Basically the same level as a native speaker.
- Band 9 = Full Fluency. Masterful and eloquent. No errors. Complete understanding in all situations. Most native speakers do not get Band 9 (even if their language use is 100% accurate, IELTS also requires a wide range of vocabulary and grammar which native speakers often do not use).
A Few Important Points about IELTS Band Scores
They are called ‘band scores’ for a reason; they are wide!
This means that two people can be both Band 6, yet one be significantly ‘better’ at English than the other – so one person is only just Band 6, while the other person is almost Band 7. Someone who is only just Band 6 will take hundreds of hours of practice to reach Band 7, while the other person will reach Band 7 much quicker.
Also, two people who are both 6.5 may need to improve in different areas to reach Band 7, and one may take much longer than the other. Understand that even 0.5 improvement in terms of band scores is a significant increase and may take quite a lot of time, or not, depending on exactly what you need to do to improve. It is very important to be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses so that you know what to focus on / what you need to improve.
The Aim of Beyond Band 6
As the name implies, this website aims to help you get above and beyond band 6 and into the higher bands. If you are already around Band 5.5 – Band 6 (your English is good / very good) but need to score 6.5 to 7.5 in order to get into the university course of your choice, this is the website for you. Join our free IELTS Preparation Course below: