IELTS Listening: How do I know how good I am?


11 Dec, 2019

The British Council has developed an IELTS Score Calculator to help you find out your approximate current level in the Listening and Reading tests. To use it, you simply have to follow the steps below.

  1. Click into the Free Version version of Road to IELTS. It’s here.
  2. From the front screen, choose Listening (or Reading) and click on Test Practice
  3. Download and print the test paper. Complete the test paper in conditions as close to the test itself as you can. (That means choosing a quiet place, sticking to the time, switching off your phone and so on. Read more about why this is so important.)
  4. When your time is up, download the Answer key and mark your work. This will give you a score.
  5. Finally put the score into the IELTS Score Calculator and generate your approximate IELTS band score. You can locate the Score Calculator by clicking on the Resource Bank button at the top of the screen:
  6. he Listening and Reading Score Calculator will ask you to put in your scores from your IELTS Listening and Reading practice tests. It will then ask you to specify whether you are taking the Academic or General Training module. It will then calculate your approximate current band score. So, for example, if you scored 23/40 in the IELTS Academic Listening and 27/40 in the IELTS Academic Reading, it will tell you that you are on course for a 6.0 in Listening and a 6.5 in Reading.
  7. What’s next?

    If you achieved a band score above the one you need, well done! You’re on the right track. You should still put in some more IELTS practice (are you sure you are comfortable with answering all the task types?), but you can feel reasonably comfortable with the Reading and Listening papers. The next step is to put those scores into the Overall score section of the IELTS Score Calculator:

    Play about with the Speaking and Writing numbers until you find the band score you need in those papers to achieve your overall IELTS band score.

    What if you didn’t achieve the scores you need in Reading and Listening? There are two possible reasons for this: either your English is not at the right level, or your IELTS test skills are not good enough. Let’s look at these in turn.

    If your English is not at the right level, then you need to spend some time on General English. According to Dr Victoria Clark of the British Council, ‘depending on motivation and talent, a student can raise their level of English by half to one IELTS band score in three months if they put in enough work.’ Use this basic rule to judge how much work you need to put into studying English before your test. 

    It is also sensible to make a schedule, and to focus your efforts on the skills where you are weakest. Obviously, if you are strong at IELTS Listening and weaker at IELTS Speaking, you need to spend more time practising speaking. (This seems obvious, but research shows that students tend to spend more time on the skills they are better at. Make sure you avoid this trap!)

    Alternatively, your English might be good enough, but you don’t understand the IELTS task types. Many of these are different from anything you have seen in school exams. For example, many people struggle with the concept of Yes/No/Not given questions in the IELTS Reading test. The only way to overcome this problem is to do lots and lots of IELTS practice. Note that while trying past papers is important, it is not enough. It is difficult to learn from past papers — they belong at the end of the exam practice journey. To learn the task types you need specially designed practice activities designed by the British Council and available here.

    Good luck with your IELTS preparation. We are here to help you!