How many mistakes are allowed in IELTS?

Many of my students want to understand how many mistakes are allowed in the IELTS exam. This crucial information might help you while preparing for the IELTS test as it gives you a clear indication of whether you are ready to take and successfully pass the exam.


As a rule, scoring an average of 75% in all parts of IELTS guarantees band 7.0 in your IELTS. Generally, about 10 incorrect answers are allowed in each part of the exam to score band 7.0.


How many mistakes are allowed in IELTS listening task?

The number of mistakes you make in the listening part of the IELTS exam is closely related to the desired band you want to achieve. The table below provides a clear indication of how many incorrect answers are acceptable in your IELTS listening part and what band you are likely to achieve. 

IELTS Listening exam consists of 4 parts and in each part, there are 10 questions/ points you can score.

Listening task IELTS room for error table:

Band score

Points out of 40

Percentage of correct answers

Incorrect answers in each listening part

How many correct answers you need


15 40% 6 4
6 23 57% 4-5 5-6
7 30 75% 2-3 7-8
8 35 87% 1-2



If you are aiming to achieve band 7.5 in your IELTS listening, you need 8 correct answers in each part and you are allowed to make 2 mistakes per part. 


How many mistakes are allowed in IELTS Reading module?

As a rule, the number of mistakes you can make per each IELTS reading part is related to the score you aim to achieve. If your desired band is 7.0 you must have 7-8 correct answers in each Reading part. The table below gives you a clear idea about the number of mistakes and correct answers allowed for each band.


Reading task IELTS room for error table:

Band score Points out of 40 Percentage of correct answers Incorrect answers in each reading part How many correct answers you need
5 15 40% 6 4
6 23 57% 4-5 5-6
7 30 75% 2-3 7-8
8 35 87% 1-2 8-9


In order to score band 5.0 in your IELTS you need 40% of correct answers, which accounts for 4 correct answers per part. However, in order to score 7.0 you need to double that and score around 75% of correct answers, this means 7-8 correct answers per part and only 2-3 mistakes per Reading part.


Understanding the Listening and Reading scores and the number of correct answers you need to score is relatively easy to understand and calculate when it comes to Listening and Reading parts, which are usually checked by a computer. Things are not as straightforward in the Writing and Speaking parts. 

In your Writing and Speaking tasks of your IELTS exam you can score in four main areas. 


How is IELTS Writing marked?

There are 4 criteria taken into account to mark your IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2, these are Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resources and Gramatical Range and Accuracy. Each of these criteria gets a score from 0 to 9. Once each criteria is marked and calculated the task’s total score is determined. 


Here is an example of IELTS Writing Task 1 marks:

Task Achievement: 6.0
Coherence and Cohesion: 7.0
Lexical Resources: 5.5
Gramatical Range and Accuracy: 7.5


IELTS Writing Task 1 score calculation:

(6.0+ 7.0+ 5.5+ 7.5)/4=6.5


Here is an example of IELTS Writing Task 2 marks:

Task Response: 6.0
Coherence and Cohesion: 7.0
Lexical Resources: 6.0
Gramatical Range and Accuracy: 7.0


IELTS Writing Task 2 score calculation:

(6.0+ 7.0+ 6.0+ 7.0)/4= 6.5


Are IELTS writing tasks 1 and 2 marked similarly? 

Writing Task 2 weighs two times more than Writing Task 1, writing task 2 accounts for about 65% of the total writing score, whereas task 1 is about 35%. So if you get 7.5 for task 2 and 6.5 for task 1, the total score for IELTS Writing Section is 7.5*⅔ + 6.5*⅓= 7.0


Why does IELTS task 2 weigh more points? 

The scoring criteria for writing task 1 and 2 differ. In IELTS writing task 2 you need to come up with your own ideas, develop said ideas, address the topic question and provide a conclusion and for this reason this task accounts for an overall 65% of IELTS writing score. 


What are the marking criteria for IELTS essay? 

Your IELTS examiner will mark your writing part 2 based on the following criteria: 


1. Task Response: 

Your own Ideas- come up with your own ideas, ensure you have more than two ideas included

Developing said ideas- provide examples, solutions to said ideas

Addressing the task- ensure you answer the topic question and fully addressed all parts of the task

Conclusion-  write a summary, include your opinion (only if required)


2. Coherence and Cohesion:

Paragraphing- separate your introduction, main paragraph and conclusion; you should have between 4-5 paragraphs

Linking and referencing- use a variety of linking words and refrain from repeating the same word throughout your essay, use pronouns, synonyms and substitutions instead.


3.Lexical Resources:

Vocabulary – use a range of advanced vocabulary to showcase your language level, avoid simplistic adjectives, nouns or verbs

Collocations- use collocations rather than isolated words. Collocations are groups of words that often go together or that are likely to occur together, for example, a light sleeper, to take a risk etc. 

Spelling- in general, if you make some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication you’re likely to score 6 but on the other hand, rare minor spelling errors that occur only as ‘slips’ are a good indication that you might score as high as 9.0 in your IELTS.

Number of errors- the less errors you make the better chances of getting a higher band in IELTS. The issue many test takers have is that when using more sophisticated vocabulary there is more likelihood of making a mistake. Ensure that you use a wide range of vocabulary with very natural and sophisticated control of lexical features. 


4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Structure and tenses – use a wide range of structures and tenses such as conditionals and passive forms 

Punctuation- rare punctuation mistakes may occur as a ‘slip’


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