How long does it take to increase your IELTS band score

Welcome to!
Are you ready to improve your English? Sign up free today!
Sign up


Active member
Sep 23, 2020
One of the most frequently asked questions by IELTS test takers is: how long will it take for me to reach my target score?

It is not an easy question to answer, as it can obviously depend a number of factors.

There was an article posted here on the IELTS Chinese website which mentioned research that the time of study need to go from a ban 5.5 to 6.0 is 300 hours.

The amount of time needed for higher bands would then rise exponentially,

Here is a link to the article:

And a Google translation of it below:

How fast can your English score improve?

If you are like most Chinese students who take the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) academic test, then your goal is to get a score of 6.0, 6.5 or 7.0.

So what are the candidates' scores? This may surprise you-most Chinese candidates do not get the scores they expect.

In China, the average score for candidates is about 5.5, which is slightly lower than the scores required by most foreign universities. Due to the different requirements of universities and majors, IELTS scores need to be between 6.0 and 8.0 to be admitted. In the 2007 IELTS test, 20% of Chinese candidates got a total score of 6.0, and only 16% of the candidates scored above 6.0.

Preparation time

IELTS related research shows that it usually takes several months to improve students' English scores to the required level.
Studies have shown that it takes about 300 hours of continuous learning (an average of at least 18 hours per week) to increase the student’s average score from 5.5 to 6.0. Surprisingly, more than 300 hours of continuous learning can increase the student's score from 6.0 to 6.5 or from 6.5 to 7.0.

This means that the average Chinese student may need seven to nine months of continuous learning to improve their IELTS score from 5.5 to 6.5.

For an individual’s language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), listening scores may increase the most, while reading test scores may increase the least.

Of course, the above-mentioned time requirements are all on average. Some students need relatively less time to improve their grades, and some students need more time to improve. Research shows that the improvement of students' English performance depends on the following five factors:

• Positivity:

Students who are highly motivated to learn are more likely to improve their overall scores than those who are less motivated.

• Regarding the value proposition of English:

Some students believe that an excellent English level is very important for future academic research or career, and this kind of proactive thinking can make their grades even greater. On the contrary, if candidates only regard the IELTS as an entry test that they must pass to enter the university, this passive learning attitude is difficult to significantly improve the candidates' scores.

• Confidence:
Students who lack confidence, are afraid of using English, or have an impetuous learning attitude are likely to need more time to improve their overall score.

• Age:

Compared to students in their twenties, older candidates definitely need more time to improve their overall score. According to my teaching experience, young candidates also need more time to prepare for the exam. This is because they are relatively lack of understanding of various social issues, and IELTS requires students who take the academic test to discuss relevant social issues in the test. E.g:
-The social impact of people’s life expectancy is generally longer than in the past
-Social factors that cause people's stress to increase
-The impact of technological change

• Learning focus:

Some students take the test repeatedly, but the results are still not satisfactory. This is because they only train for one or two skills required by the IELTS test. Although this may improve the performance of the part that focuses on training, it ignores other skills required in the exam, which leads to a drop in the score of this part. Therefore, their total score will not be significantly improved.


In order to achieve the desired result in the IELTS test, you need to:

• Know your current level of English

Evaluate your English level objectively. Listen to the opinions of experts who specialize in IELTS test research.

• Ensure enough time for exam preparation

Objective and practical planning is very important. The sooner you know your current English level, the sooner you can prepare for the exam. The college admissions agent will tell you that the IELTS test is the first step in applying for admission to the university. However, in order to get you as a client, some agents will tell you that it is easy to improve your English skills to university level. In fact, college agents often cannot determine how much time you personally need to prepare for the exam. Therefore, you should take the initiative. First, let the IELTS test expert make a correct assessment of your English proficiency, and at the same time discuss with the university agent about test preparation.

• Develop an appropriate preparation plan

In order to ensure that you pass the exam as smoothly as possible, your preparation must include the following:

• Improve language skills

Learn grammar and expand vocabulary, and develop four basic language skills.

• Improve exam skills

There are no test skills to speak of before your English level reaches the intermediate level. If you have reached the intermediate level or above, you will find a series of characteristics of the IELTS test (ie test structure, question types and scoring standards). Then, you can take part in the training on IELTS test skills and do as much test training on the four modules of the IELTS test as possible, even if you have achieved good results in a certain question type.

• Personal study

Correct various coursework. Read English newspapers (including online versions), magazines and books of interest; consolidate and expand vocabulary; watch British movies.

• Target

Read at least 15 minutes of English articles every day, and watch at least 15 minutes of English TV programs or online programs to practice listening. And with the improvement of English proficiency, the frequency and time should gradually increase. If you want to study other subjects, you can also set similar goals.

• Practice

The use of English is very important to improve the ability of English application. Therefore, use the opportunity to apply English after class and force yourself to think in English as much as possible. Don't waste precious time and energy repeatedly translating between English and Chinese.
  • Like
Reactions: Cu Hanh