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Page 1 of 2 How to Interpret Scores on the Sample General Training Reading Sections

How to Interpret Scores on the Sample General Training Reading Sections

IELTS General Training Reading papers contain 40 questions and each correct question is
awarded one mark; the maximum raw score a candidate can achieve on a paper is 40. Band
scores ranging from Band 1 to Band 9 are awarded to candidates on the basis of their raw
scores.
All IELTS test materials are pretested before being used in live tests but there are inevitably
minor differences in the difficulty level across the large number of tests administered each
year. In order to equate different test versions, the band score boundaries are set so that all
candidates’ results relate to the same scale of achievement. This means, for example, that
the Band 6 boundary may be set at slightly different raw scores across test versions.

Table 1 below indicates the average General Training Reading raw scores achieved by
candidates at Bands 4 – 7. It provides an indication of the number of marks typically required
to achieve a particular band score.

Table 1: Average General Training Reading raw scores

Raw score out of 40 Band score


15 4
23 5
30 6
34 7

Within each General Training Reading paper, sections are targeted at different levels of
overall difficulty. A useful indication of the relative difficulty of questions is the facility value:
the proportion of candidates giving the correct answer to a question. Both sample Sections A
and B have appeared in live tests and thus the facility values of their questions can be judged
to be representative of the candidature as a whole. Table 2 below shows the average facility
of each section. These figures show that the candidates found sample Section B slightly more
difficult overall than sample Section A.

Table 2: Average facility of sample General Training Reading sections

Sample GT Reading Section A 0.70

Sample GT Reading Section B 0.51

Although sample Section B proved more difficult overall, there is a range of questions at
different levels of difficulty within both sample sections.

The question facility values in Tables 3 and 4 show the proportion of candidates who
answered each question correctly: 68% of the candidates answered question 1 correctly on
sample Section A, and 56% of the candidates answered question 1 correctly on sample
Section B.

Tables 3 and 4 also give an indication of the relative difficulty of the questions within each
sample section: the most difficult question in sample Section A is question 2, while in sample
Section B the most difficult question is question 12.

IELTS Scores Explained


Page 2 of 2 How to Interpret Scores on the Sample General Training Reading Sections

Table 3: Sample A facility values

Question Facility
1 0.68
2 0.39
3 0.90
4 0.77
5 0.85
6 0.87
7 0.90
8 0.69
9 0.66
10 0.45
11 0.63
12 0.72
13 0.58
14 0.66

Table 4: Sample B facility values

Question Facility
1 0.56
2 0.21
3 0.63
4 0.54
5 0.40
6 0.36
7 0.57
8 0.62
9 0.66
10 0.73
11 0.73
12 0.12
13 0.47

Table 5 below shows the number of questions on a typical General Training Reading section
that candidates at different IELTS bands would be expected to answer correctly.

Table 5: Expected number of correct answers on a typical General Training Reading section
Number of questions answered correctly
Band score
(out of 13 or 14)
1-3 Up to Band 4
4-8 Between Bands 4 and 6
9-13/14 Above Band 6

Further examples of General Training Reading test material can be found in the Official IELTS
Practice Materials. This contains sample practice tests for both the Academic and General
Training modules. Copies are available for purchase from Cambridge ESOL, IDP: IELTS
Australia and IELTS test centres. See www.ielts.org

IELTS Scores Explained