How is the IELTS Listening test marked?

There are 40 questions in the Listening test. Each one is worth one mark.

There are no half marks even when a question asks for two answers as it does occasionally. Candidates should answer every question because if they get one wrong, they don’t lose a mark.

Typically, a Six thinks the test is quite easy,  but score around 23 out of 40. This is because the questions are, in fact, not so easy, and spelling counts. A Six makes several spelling mistakes. A candidate below a Six has serious problems with Section 4, and leaves many answers blank, or guesses. He or she doesn’t have time to read all the questions. Only a Seven or above is completely comfortable with the test.

The people who mark the Listening test have strict instructions. Each paper is marked twice. A candidate can ask for his or her Listening paper to be marked again, but this is expensive, and the vast majority of candidates do not get any more marks. IELTS is so confident about its marking that a candidate who does go up gets his or her re-marking fee back!

Here is a table of approximate marks for IELTS bands. Refer to this page when you do your practice tests.

Band 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5
Mark out of 40 9 12 16 19 23 27 30 33 35 37


In a real IELTS test, these bands could be one or two marks higher or lower.

For example: a Four might equal 8 or 10; a Seven might be 29 or 31. Each test is slightly different.