IELTS | Researchers - Band descriptors, reporting and interpretation
Understanding IELTS marking
All IELTS marking takes place at the test centre by trained markers and examiners
Markers are trained to understand the IELTS marking policy and
are required to demonstrate that they are marking to standard
before they are allowed to mark Listening and Reading
papers. Markers are re-tested every two years to ensure that
their marking remains up to standard. Systematic monitoring and
double marking of a proportion of answer sheets is carried out at
Question Paper Production Process (PDF,
The Academic and General Training papers are graded to the same scale. The distinction between the two modules is one of genre or discourse type. Academic papers may contain source texts featuring more difficult vocabulary or greater complexity of style. It is usual that, to secure a given band score, a greater number of questions must be answered correctly on a General Training Reading paper.
Writing and speaking
When marking the Writing and Speaking sub-tests, examiners use detailed performance descriptors which describe written and spoken performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.
Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Task Achievement (for Task 1), Task Response (for Task 2), Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy. The four criteria are equally weighted.
Examiners award a band score for each of four criterion areas: Fluency and Coherence, Lexical Resource, Grammatical Range and Accuracy and Pronunciation. The four criteria are equally weighted.
Versions of the band descriptors for Writing and Speaking have been developed to help stakeholders better understand the level of performance required to attain a particular band score in each of the criterion areas. IELTS examiners undergo intensive face to face training and standardisation to ensure that they can apply the descriptors in a valid and reliable manner.
Writing Task 1
band descriptors (PDF, 37KB)
Writing Task 2 band descriptors (PDF, 38KB)
Speaking band descriptors (PDF, 98KB)