Ability Guide and the IELTS Scoring System

How Many Lessons Should I Take?

Every student is different, and there is no hard-and-fast rule about how many hours students should spend preparing for IELTS. However, a good piece of advice is to over-prepare rather than under-prepare. You will never regret getting a higher mark than you need, whilst you will certainly regret getting a lower one. Here is a rough guide for how many lessons you should be taking according to your ability level and score target:

To Achieve a 6.0 IELTS score
Current Ability Hours Weeks
Pre-Intermediate (A2) 144 24
Intermediate (B1) 72 12
Upper-Intermediate (B2) 36 6
Advanced (C1) 12 2
To Achieve a 6.5 IELTS score
Current Ability Hours Weeks
Pre-Intermediate (A2) 216 36
Intermediate (B1) 144 24
Upper-Intermediate (B2) 72 12
Advanced (C1) 36 6
To Achieve a 7.0 IELTS score
Current Ability Hours Weeks
Pre-Intermediate (A2) 288 48
Intermediate (B1) 216 36
Upper-Intermediate (B2) 144 24
Advanced (C1) 72 12

You must have a minimum ability level of Pre-Intermediate (A2) to have lessons with The IELTS Teacher. Because of the content we will be studying, any students lower than Pre-Intermediate would not benefit from the lessons, and I don’t want to waste anyone’s money.

As you can see, it takes about 12 weeks of 6 lessons a week to move from one level to the next. So for a 7.5 score, just add 72 hours. If you choose Writing PRO lessons, you should progress even faster. You don’t have to buy all lessons at once; buy some now, buy some more later.

If you are unsure of what level you are, this test is useful for giving you with a rough score, along with information about each CEFR level.

Please note that I have recommended a certain number of ‘hours’, not specific lessons. A special feature of The IELTS Teacher is that you can choose what component you prepare for. If you are confident in your Speaking skills but need help with your Reading skills, you may choose to have twice as many Speaking lessons as Reading lessons. If you are unsure of your abilities, I recommend choosing an equal number of all lessons.

The IELTS Scoring System

The IELTS exam gives you a score from 1 to 9, with 1 being the lowest score and 9 being the highest score. The scores are separated in bands of 0.5. A score of 9.0 is what a native-speaker should achieve, but in reality most native-speakers don’t achieve this level! Be realistic in your targets.

The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for languages categorizes IELTS scores like this:

Ability CEFR Level IELTS Scores
Upper-Intermediate B2 5.0/5.5/6.0
Advanced C1 6.5/7.0
Upper-Advanced C2 7.5+
What Can I Do With These Scores?

Most candidates take the IELTS test to study at an English-speaking university, to work abroad, for visa purposes or to prove their level of English.

The following is a rough guide for what you can do with each of the above scores. Anything lower than these scores isn’t a score accepted by most institutions. This guide is not definitive; make sure you check the specific entry requirements of the university or company you are applying to.

5.5-6.0 Entry onto a university Foundation course
6.0-6.5 Entry onto a Bachelor’s degree course
6.5-7.0 Entry onto a Master’s degree course
7.0-8.0 Normally required to work in English-speaking countries in professions such as medicine, dentistry, law and accounting.