IELTS Score Calculation Procedure
The IELTS is one of the widely accepted English language proficiency tests around the world today. This test is designed to check, analyze, and evaluate your communication skills in the four key aspects of the English language namely speaking, listening, reading, and writing. To enable an objective evaluation and maintain the quality and reliability of the IELTS system, the scoring of the test follows a standardized method. The IELTS calculator employs a time-tested and well-researched, nine-band scale to arrive at and report the scores.
The Scoring System
The IELTS objective is to provide an evaluation of your skills and abilities in English language, and hence the scores are reported individually for all of the different sections of the exam. There is no pass or fail in the IELTS exam. For every level, there is a score attributed with the purpose of highlighting your level and skills. Individual institutions and organizations set their own limits or IELTS scores required for entry into programs. Many academic institutions also map the scores estimated by the IELTS calculator with the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for better comparison and understanding. The minor differences in the difficulty levels of questions across various administrations of the test are also accounted for while scoring, by use of the nine-band scale.
Evaluation and scoring are done by trained and qualified examiners following stringent guidelines and tested methods to ensure quality and reliability. The ongoing IELTS research efforts make sure that continuous evaluation and betterment of the whole system is being carried out as required.
How are IELTS Scores Calculated?
As mentioned earlier, the IELTS calculator used by the test centers use a nine-band scale for converting and reporting the scores. Accordingly, a 0 indicates no attempt while 9 indicates expert level skills.
Each of the four parts of the exam are scored individually first, based on the number and types of questions, and then the scores are converted into a number on the nine-band scale. The aggregate or overall IELTS score is calculated by finding the average of the four individual section scores. For example, your Test Report Form might report something like Listening-7, Speaking -6, Reading-8, Writing-7, and an overall-7.
- Listening and Reading parts: Each of these parts contains 40 questions each, whether you take the General Training version or the Academic version. Each question carries one mark and the total raw score for each part is calculated out of 40. The IELTS calculator then converts each of the raw scores into an equivalent number in the 0-9 scale.
- Writing part: More detailed performance parameters are used for evaluating and scoring the writing and speaking parts of the test. The IELTS calculator makes use of four equally important criteria here - like Task Achievement (for Task 1) and Task Response (for Task 2), Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, and Cohesion or Coherence.
- Speaking part: Four equally significant criteria are again used here for arriving at the nine- band score - Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy, Pronunciation, and Fluency and Coherence.
Since July 2007, there is whole and half band score reporting adopted for the Writing and Speaking parts of the exam. For example, you might get a TRF reporting 6.5 or 7.5 for these sections. The scores are rounded off to the nearest half band or whole band, as well. The scores could be rounded up or down, accordingly. The official IELTS site could offer you much insight into the IELTS calculator and scoring bands (http://www.ielts.org/researchers/score_processing_and_reporting.aspx).
Calculating and Rounding Off - an Example
The scoring process can be simplified as given below:
Overall Score = (Listening score + Writing score + Reading score + Speaking score) / 4 - with all scores in the nine-band scale
For instance, if you have got a 6 each in Reading and Writing sections of the IELTS, and 7.5 in the Speaking part, and 8 in the Listening part, your overall score would be -- (6+6+7.5+8)/4 = 6.875
However, the IELTS calculator does have a rounding mechanism in place for the scores. Hence, 6.875 is rounded up to 7, and the overall reported IELTS score is 7. If your overall score before round-off was 6.5, it would remain as such (as half band scoring is permitted). If the overall score before round-off was 6.25, it would then be rounded down to 6.
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