How to find out what IELTS score you need

miniature people with backpack

Are you studying or planning to study for the International Language Testing System (IELTS)? If so, you may have wondered how to find out what IELTS score you need.

We can help you. But before we point you in the right direction, let’s take a quick look at what IELTS is and how it is scored.

IELTS Blog Leaderboard Ad3 b 728x90 no promo

What is IELTS?

IELTS is an English language test. It is designed to help people who want to work, study or migrate to a country in which English is the native language. The test reflects everyday situations and offers a fair and accurate assessment of your English language skills.

When you take an IELTS test, your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English is assessed. For each of these four skills, you are given a grade between 1 and 9.

The highest grade is 9 (‘Expert user’) and it is given to people who use English accurately, fluently and with complete understanding. The lowest grade is 1 (‘Non-user’). This is given to people who only know a few words of English.

Your final IELTS score is an average. For example, if you are given a score of 9 for both listening and speaking, plus a score of 8 for reading and writing, you will gain an overall IELTS score of 8.5.

You can find a detailed description of all the IELTS scores on this page.

Why do you need an IELTS score?

IELTS is recognised by more than 11,000 employers, schools, universities and immigrations bodies across the world. It is the most popular test for people who want to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is also accepted by some 3,400 institutions in the USA.

The IELTS score you need depends on your situation. In this article, we will look at the three main reasons why people take the IELTS test – to migrate or get a working visa, to study or to get a job. For each, we’ll help you understand the IELTS score you need.

IELTS for migration and work visas

If you want to migrate or get a work visa that allows you to work in Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the UK, IELTS is accepted as evidence of your English language skills.

Each country has different IELTS score requirements. Below is a brief summary for each one, plus a link to find out more.

  • United Kingdom. UK visa requirements vary. The highest IELTS score you will need is 7 (‘Good User) while the lowest is 4 (‘Limited User’). For citizenship or indefinite leave to remain, you need a score of 4 in speaking and listening (or, alternatively, a pass in IELTS Life Skills at B1). You can find a full list of IELTS visa requirements here and use this page to find the right visa for your needs.
  • Australia. Depending on the type of visa, you will need an IELTS score of between 4.5 and 8 (‘Very Good User’). The minimum score for immigration is 6. This page has fuller details of IELTS requirements for Australia. You can explore Australian visa options here.
  • Canada. This country has quite a complex immigration system. There are some 80 immigration programs, with three main Federal immigration pathways. These are the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). These are points-based systems, so the better your IELTS score, the more points you get. For example, for the FSWP, you will need a minimum IELTS score of 6 (‘Competent user’). You can learn more about Canadian immigration programs here.
  • New Zealand. If you want to migrate to New Zealand, it also has a range of visa options. The minimum IELTS score you will need is 6.5. You can explore the different visa options from this page.

In some instances, you can take an IELTS Life Skills test to fulfil migration requirements. This involves a speaking and listening test and is simply graded as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. Additional information about IELTS Life Skills can be found here.


Book your IELTS test today


IELTS for studying

All of the countries mentioned in the previous section also offer student visas. For example, if you want a UK student visa, you’ll need an IELTS score of 4 (for courses below degree level) or a score of 5.5 (for degree level courses and above).

However, you need to remember that different educational establishments have their own IELTS requirements. For example, to study at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, you will need an IELTS score of 6.5. If you are of school age, you can get a place at the Stamford Endowed Schools in England with an IELTS score of 4.5 (for entry at age 13+) or 6.0 (for entry at sixth-form level, or 16+).

Remember – IELTS is accepted by education providers across the world, from Harvard University in the USA through to the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

It’s also worth noting that many educational institutions ask you to take an IELTS Academic test. However, you will still get a score between 1 and 9.

To find out what IELTS score you need to gain entry to an educational institution, search for its name on this page.

IELTS for working abroad

In addition to getting the correct work visa, you may need to achieve a specific IELTS score to work for a specific company or organisation. For example, to work for Deloitte Australia, you’ll need a score of 7 (‘Good user).

Remember that many employers in non-English-speaking countries also require you to be proficient in English. Examples include the Royal Academy of Art at The Hague, Netherlands, Bank Indonesia in Jakarta and the Jordan Institution for Standards and Metrology in Amman.

To find out what score you need for a specific employer, use this search page.

IELTS scores: a quick summary

As you can see, IELTS scores can open lots of different doors. They help you to migrate, get visas and work or study abroad. Different organisations require different IELTS scores, but we hope we’ve shown you how to find out what score you need.

If you’re worried that you’re not ready to achieve the score you need, why not get some help to improve your English? Sign up for live online classes with English Online today!

Book your IELTS test now