Writing Band Descriptors

IELTS Public Writing Band Descriptors

Use this page to find out how examiners award your writing band score.
View descriptors

Note: we also have speaking band descriptors.

What are band scores?

Your final band score tells potential employers, schools and institutions your overall level of English. You can see the descriptor for each band level here.

How does the examiner arrive at the final band score?

In the writing test, an examiner will give a band score for each of these four criteria: task achievement/response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy. The final score is an average of the four values from both the task 1 and task 2 test. Note that writing task 2 is longer and so has twice the weight of writing task 1.

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.

The public band descriptors for task 1 and 2 are below.

Task 1 IELTS writing band descriptors

What is the key difference between the task 1 and 2 descriptors?

Notice for the Task 2 descriptors, below, 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 writer’s 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, view our essay writing courses.
Task 2 IELTS writing band descriptors
Task 2 IELTS writing band descriptors