How is the IELTS Writing Exam scored?

How is the IELTS Writing Exam scored?

Published: Jul 31, 2023 | By: Lucas Weaver

Introducing Learning Paths: Customized language learning powered by AI

Learn the words and phrases you need for any language topic you choose. Get vocabulary words, key phrases, grammar explanations, and flashcards created for you in minutes.

Mastering Street Food Ordering in Thai
Mastering Street Food Ordering in Thai
อาหาร (aa-hăan)
เมนู (Menu)
ราคา (raa-khaa)
น้ำ (náam)
ข้าว (Khâaw)
Join Waiting List

The IELTS Writing Exam is scored based on several factors, and each criterion carries a specific weightage. Understanding these aspects can help you tailor your writing approach to achieve the best possible score. Let's dive into the key elements that contribute to your final score.

The scoring system for the IELTS writing exam

The IELTS writing exam is evaluated on a scale of 0 to 9, known as Band Scores. Here, a score of 0 signifies "did not attempt the test" while a score of 9 indicates 'expert user'.

Each writing test is assessed independently by certified markers and given a band score. Both scores are then averaged to give the final writing score on your IELTS test.

Overview of the Band Scores

Now, let's take a closer look at the band scores and what they represent in terms of English language proficiency.

Band 1: Non-user

A band score of 1 indicates that the test taker has no ability to use the English language beyond possibly a few isolated words. This individual may struggle to understand basic written and spoken English.

Band 2: Intermittent user

A band score of 2 suggests that the test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English. They may only be able to comprehend simple and familiar phrases or expressions.

Band 3: Extremely limited user

With a band score of 3, the test taker's English language skills are still very limited. They may be able to understand some basic information in familiar situations, but their communication is often hindered by language barriers.

Band 4: Limited user

A band score of 4 indicates that the test taker has a limited command of the English language. While they can understand and express themselves in familiar situations, they may struggle with more complex language and have difficulty conveying their thoughts effectively.

Band 5: Modest user

Scoring a 5 means that the test taker is a modest user of the English language. They can understand and communicate in most situations but may encounter challenges when expressing more abstract or complex ideas.

Band 6: Competent user

A band score of 6 suggests that the test taker is a competent user of English. They have a good grasp of the language and can understand and express themselves fluently in most situations. However, there may still be occasional inaccuracies or misunderstandings.

Band 7: Good user

With a band score of 7, the test taker is considered a good user of English. They have a solid command of the language and can understand and express themselves effectively in a wide range of contexts. While there may be occasional errors or misunderstandings, they are generally able to communicate with ease.

Band 8: Very good user

Scoring an 8 indicates that the test taker is a very good user of English. They have a high level of fluency and accuracy in their language skills and can understand and express themselves with ease in almost all situations. Any errors or misunderstandings are rare and do not hinder effective communication.

Band 9: Expert user

A band score of 9 represents the highest level of English language proficiency. Test takers who achieve this score are considered expert users, demonstrating near-native fluency and accuracy in their language skills. They can understand and express themselves effortlessly in any situation, with a wide range of vocabulary and complex language structures.

Scoring criteria for the IELTS writing exam

Task Achievement

In the IELTS Writing Task 1, candidates are required to summarize, describe, or explain information presented in graphs, charts, or diagrams. In Task 2, candidates must write an essay in response to a given argument or problem. Task Achievement evaluates how effectively you address the task requirements and present relevant information.

Coherence and Cohesion

This criterion assesses the overall organization and structure of your writing. It considers the logical flow of ideas, the use of cohesive devices, and the arrangement of paragraphs to ensure your essay is easy to follow and understand.

Lexical Resource

Your vocabulary usage and range are essential in this criterion. Examiners evaluate the variety of words you incorporate, their accuracy, and how effectively you use them to convey your ideas.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Grammar plays a crucial role in conveying your message clearly. This criterion evaluates your understanding and application of grammatical rules, the complexity of sentences, and your ability to avoid errors.

FAQs about the IELTS Writing Exam Scoring

How is the IELTS Writing Exam scored compared to other sections?

The IELTS Writing Exam is scored on a scale of 0 to 9, just like other sections of the test. Each criterion is assessed independently, and the average of these scores determines your final Writing Band Score.

How long does it take to get the IELTS Writing Exam scores?

Typically, you'll receive your IELTS results within 13 days after the test date. The scores will be available online, and a Test Report Form will be sent to you by mail.

Is there a passing score for the IELTS Writing Exam?

IELTS does not have a passing or failing score. Different institutions and visa requirements have specific score criteria, so it's essential to check the requirements of the organization you are applying to.

Can I request a re-evaluation if I'm not satisfied with my Writing Exam score?

Yes, you can apply for an Enquiry on Results (EOR) procedure within six weeks of your test date. Your test will be re-marked by a senior examiner, and if there's a change in your score, you'll be issued a new Test Report Form.

Are there any penalties for exceeding the word limit in the Writing Exam?

Exceeding the word limit in the IELTS Writing Exam can result in a penalty. Examiners may not assess the extra words, and it might negatively impact your overall score.

How can I improve my coherence and cohesion in writing?

To enhance coherence and cohesion, focus on using appropriate transition words, maintaining a clear paragraph structure, and ensuring logical connections between ideas.

What is the IELTS Writing exam?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognized examination designed to assess the English language proficiency of non-native speakers. Among its various components, the IELTS Writing Exam is an essential part that evaluates a candidate's ability to express their thoughts and ideas coherently and accurately in written form. 

How can you get the highest score possible on the IELTS Writing exam?

The IELTS Writing Exam is a crucial component of the overall IELTS test, and understanding the scoring process is essential to succeed. By considering the task requirements, coherence, vocabulary, and grammar, you can develop a well-crafted essay that impresses examiners. 

If you want to get the highest score possible on the writing section of your IELTS exam, you have to check out my online IELTS writing prep video course

You'll learn everything you need to know for Task One and Task Two to get the highest score possible. You'll learn the test structure, how the exam is scored, and how you can follow tested frameworks to make the writing process easier.

I guarantee you it will help you feel comfortable and confident when you sit down to take your IELTS exam when the time comes.

Get my monthly newsletter full of language learning tips straight to your inbox...
Lucas Weaver from the Weaver School

Lucas Weaver founded The Weaver School in 2016. He's passionate about using the latest learnings in neuroscience and education to create the best language learning experience possible for our students, so they can quickly build effective language learning habits that will last for years. Lucas is a graduate of Texas A&M University and after 7 years of living in the Netherlands, he is currently traveling through Southeast Asia while learning their languages along the way.

Power up your
language learning

It's never been easier to speak the language you want. Experience the power of AI now.

Create your free account