IELTS Blog


BY CLARA ON APRIL 1ST, 2020

What is A Good IELTS Score For Universities?

I am sure you are probably wondering what a good IELTS score is. Well, we’ve got you covered! I will try and break this down for you and hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what a good IELTS score is, explain what the IELTS scores mean, and which universities will accept your IELTS results.

IELTS scores are accepted by more than 10,000 institutions worldwide which include universities, immigration departments, government agencies, professional bodies and multinational companies.

And just like the TOEFL, any IELTS score that meets the basic IELTS requirements for the institution you are applying to is considered a good IELTS score.

There is no passing or failing the IELTS test. Individual higher education institutions and agencies set their own requirements.

Right…let’s now delve into the nitty gritties.

So what is a good IELTS score?

Let’s first look at the British Council’s official descriptions of the different bands to give you a general idea.

On the IELTS Test Report Form, you will find the overall band score and the results for each section of the test.

The overall band scores are calculated to the nearest whole or half band. If the average score across the four skills – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking – ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band.

If it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.

The table below explains the IELTS band scores.

Band Score Skill Level Description
9 Expert user The test-taker has a full operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and they show complete understanding.
8 Very good user The test-taker has a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex detailed argumentation well.
7 Good user The test-taker has an operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally, they handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.
6 Competent user The test-taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest user The test-taker has a partial command of the language, and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in your own field.
4 Limited user The test-taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.
3 Extremely limited user The test-taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.
2 Intermittent user The test-taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non-user The test-taker only knows a few isolated words and phrases in English.
0 Did not attempt the test You did not answer the questions.

 

How Does IELTS Map Against CEFR (Common European Framework)?

The CEFR is an international standard for describing language ability. It marks an individual’s language skills along a six-mark scale ranging from A1 (beginners) to C2 (advanced).

CEFR levels are often used for immigration. CEFR is also sometimes used for benchmarks in English education courses. CEFR levels start at A1 and A2 (basic English ability and high basic English ability). The next level up is B1 and B2 (independent and high independent English use). And the highest levels of English proficiency in CEFR are C1 and C2 (proficient English use and advanced proficient English use).

The table below compares IELTS scores with equivalent TOEFL scores against CEFR levels.

IELTS Score TOEFL Score Range CEFR Level
9 118 – 120 C2
8.5 115 – 117 C2
8 110 – 114 C1
7.5 102 – 109 C1
7 94 – 101 C1
6.5 73 – 93 B2
6 60 – 72 B2
5.5 46 – 59 B2
5 35 – 45 B1
4.5 32 – 34 B1
0 to 4 0 – 31 A2 (IELTS Band 4) A1 (anything below IELTS Band 4)

 

 

Good IELTS Scores for Top Universities

Previously, we looked at TOEFL requirements for colleges and universities, let’s now look at requirements from a few top schools to see how your IELTS results measure up.

IELTS score requirements vary from university to university.

Any IELTS score that meets the minimum IELTS requirements for the place you wish to study at is a good IELTS score. The main objective is getting an IELTS score that meets either the minimum IELTS score or higher. In case you are applying to multiple universities or colleges, then at that point you ought to set your objective score to meet the basic IELTS requirements of all your college or university choices. Essentially, a score that meets the highest IELTS score requirement out of all your school choices.

When it comes to universities and colleges, their minimum IELTS scores can vary significantly. The highly competitive and prestigious universities often require an IELTS  score of 8 or higher. Whereas other colleges and universities require IELTS scores in the range of 6 all the way to 7. Some colleges and universities don’t require any IELTS scores for either specific programs or all programs offered.

So you are probably wondering “What IELTS score do I need to get then?”. Well, don’t stress we’ve got you covered. This guide offers you a short compiled list of major colleges and universities along with their IELTS score requirements.

Let’s look at the IELTS requirements for some universities across the world.

School Undergraduate IELTS Score Requirements Graduate IELTS Score Requirements
Oxford University   (UK)

Standard level score of 7.0 – Overall score Minimum of 6.5 in each section   Higher level score – 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 in each section.  

See Oxford’s Undergraduate English language requirements  

Scores vary per program.   

See Oxford’s graduate course catalog

Cambridge University   (UK)

Overall score of 7.0 or higher with a minimum score of 7.0 in each section   See Cambridge’s undergraduate English language requirements

Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)   (US)

According to 2018 data, MIT does not accept IELTS scores at the undergraduate level; instead undergraduate applicants are asked to take the TOEFL

Accepts IELTS scores.   Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.
University of Sydney   (Australia)

Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.   Minimum overall score of 6.5 or higher with a minimum score of 6.0 in each section.

See the university’s English language requirements

Scores also vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.  See the university’s English language requirements
University of Melbourne   (Australia) Overall score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each section. See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details. See the university’s graduate English language requirements
University of Adelaide   (Australia)

Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.   Minimum overall score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in each section.   See the university’s general IELTS requirements

Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details. See the university’s graduate admissions page
University of Alberta   (Canada) Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.   Minimum overall score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each section.   See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements. Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.   Minimum overall score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each section.   See the university’s graduate English language requirements.
Queen’s University   (Canada)

Minimum overall score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in each section.   See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements.

Overall score of 7.0

See the university’s graduate English language requirements.

University of Auckland   (New Zealand) Minimum overall score of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each section.   See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements. Minimum overall score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6.0 in each section.   See the university’s graduate English language requirements.
University of Birmingham   (UK)                                    

Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details.   Can vary from a minimum overall score of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each section to a minimum overall score of 7.0 and 7.0 in each section.   It’s also possible to be conditionally accepted into some academic programs with just a 5.5 on the IELTS, and at least a 5.0 in each section.   See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements.

Scores vary per program – contact admissions office for further details. See the university’s graduate English language requirements.
University of Westminster   (UK)

Minimum overall score of 6.0 or higher with a minimum score of 5.5 in each section.  

See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements.

Minimum overall score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each section.   See the university’s graduate English language requirements.
University of California   (US) All undergraduate applicants must have an overall average of 7.0 or higher.       See the university’s undergraduate English language requirements.   PhD applicants must have a 7.0 average or higher (with no less than 6.0 in each section), while Master’s students should have a minimum overall score of 6.5 (and no less than 6.0 in each section). See the university’s graduate English language requirements.
UC Berkeley   (US) Minimum overall score of 6.5  

Minimum overall score of 7.0

See the university’s graduate English language requirements.

New York University   (US) Minimum overall score of 7.5   See the university’s English language requirements.

Minimum overall score of 7.5  

See the university’s English language requirements.

Final Thoughts

If you’re planning to apply to top-ranked universities, you should likely strive to achieve at least a 7.0. But if you’re not applying to the world’s top schools, a “good” score will likely be lower for you.

It’s important to know what the IELTS requirements are for the institutions you are applying to so be sure to check those requirements on each university’s website.

Once you know what the requirements are, start working on achieving them. Above all be ready to improve your IELTS score and your general English skills if need be.

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