The third (and final) introductory part deals with the evaluating and scoring of IELTS tests. Naturally, test takers receive a score for each test component – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score.
There is no pass or fail. IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest half band. The following rounding convention applies: if the average across four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.
The nine bands are described as follows:
9 Expert User: Has full operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
8 Very Good User: Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstanding may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
7 Good User: Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6 Competent User: Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly compley language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest 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.
4 Limited User: Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely Limited User: Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
2 Intermittent 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.
1 Non User: Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
0 Did not attempt the test: No assessable information provided at all.
IELTS is a handwritten test and as such the candidate´s handwriting is critical and may result in poor grading if the examiner is unable to read a particular handwriting style. Examiners are required to make every effort to read handwriting. Marks are not awarded for good handwriting, and marks are not subtracted for poor handwriting. However, if handwriting is completely illegible, then examiners will need to consider the word as a misspelling.
Careful attention must be paid to the type of English used to demonstrate either British or American English spellings. British or American spelling can be used and they can be used together (in the way that Australians and New Zealanders will use American spelling for some words and British spellings for other words). However, once a test taker spells a word one way, they must continue to spell the word that way.