The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) measures the language proficiency of people who want to study or work where English is used as a language of communication. It uses a nine-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (band score 1) through to expert (band score 9).
IELTS is available in two test versions: Academic - for people applying for higher education or professional registration, and General Training for those migrating to Australia, Canada and the UK, or applying for secondary education, training programmes and work experience in an English-speaking environment. Both versions provide a valid and accurate assessment of the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user.
IELTS is scored on a nine band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. The Band Scores are in either whole or half Bands. The nine bands are described as follows:
Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding
Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
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.
Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
Has a partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. The candidate should be able to handle basic communication in his or her own field.
Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in using complex language.
Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in
Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
No assessable information provided. This Band is used where the candidate fails to attend for the test or, more rarely, is unable to provide any English beyond obviously memorised strings.