IELTS Public Writing Descriptors

IELTS Public Writing Band Descriptors

Candidates are given a band score for 4 different areas of the 2 tasks and the average of these scores is the final writing band score.
Task Achievement (TA) is how well the question is answered. If all parts of the question are dealt with and the ideas are logical or the data is accurate and well summarized, then TA will be high.

Coherence and Cohesion (CC) is how well structured the answer is, and if ideas are signaled and logically follow on from one another in paragraphs. Referencing and substitution are also important for good CC so the candidate doesn’t repeat the same things too many times.

Lexical Resource (LR) is the range of vocabulary a candidate uses. The wider the range of vocabulary a candidate uses to accurately express themselves, then the higher their band score will be. Spelling and word formation are also important for good LR.

​Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA) will receive a high band score if the candidate uses lots of complex sentences with few errors. Complex sentences are sentences that have subordinate clauses such as relative clauses. Punctuation, using full stops and commas accurately, is also important for GRA.

​What do the band scores mean?
Click below to find out.

Band 9​

Expert User

​has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.

Band 8

Very good user

has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.

Band 7

Good user

has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.

Band 6

Competent user

has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.

Band 5

Modest user

has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in own field.

Band 4

Limited user

basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in understanding and expression. Is not able to use complex language.

Band 3

Extremely limited user

conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.

Band 2

Intermittent user

no real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.

Band 1


essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.

Band 0

Did not attempt the test

No assessable information provided.

​Task 1 Descriptors

​Task 2 (Essay) Descriptors

Notice for the Task 2 descriptors that Task Achievement has been replaced with Task Response, as the purpose of the task (to write a well organised and relevant essay) is different to Task 1. You can see that ‘a clear position’ (the writers opinion) is important. For the higher bands, the arguments must be relevant and fully developed. That means that you need to think carefully about how you support your main points. To learn more about essay writing, visit our essay writing page.