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As part of the application process, many prestigious universities in the US and abroad require proving your level of English utilizing the score you earn on the British Council’s IELTS test. Indeed, your English skills are a vital part of your university application, so you need to know the steps to take to report them and to be sure the results you report are the best they can be.

This article will explain how to find out the score you get on the IELTS, how to send these results to universities or have them sent on your behalf, and how to ensure you get the best score possible on the IELTS.

You’ll see that the process is quite simple, but there are still certain steps you’ll need to follow. Start preparing to take the IELTS test online.

Let’s take a closer look.

If you wish to learn more about the IELTS Indicator test have a click through.

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Which IELTS Band Score Should You Aim for and How to Calculate It?

The English language has many proficiency levels. For instance, there is the ILR, the CEFR scoring system, the ACTFL proficiency system, and so on. However the IELTS is the most renowned one. IELTS is scored on a 9-band scale, where you will be given a score from 1 to 9 for all the four sections: Listening, Writing, Reading, and Speaking. You can also get a half-band score with a .5, such as 5.5 or 7.5. In addition to your four IELTS scores per skill, you’ll also be given an overall band score, which is the average of all the skills. This results in scores with a .25 or .75. Let’s look at these examples:

  • If your overall score averages to 6.25, your score will be rounded up to 6.5
  • If your overall score averages to 6.75, your score will be rounded up to 7.
  • If your overall score averages to 6.1, your score will be rounded down to 6
  • In short, your score will be rounded up or down to the nearest .5 or whole score.

US universities, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, and other major schools require a minimum overall IELTS score of 7.0, so this is the magic number you should aim for, at the very least. This minimum score varies depending on the university’s admission requirements, so you should find out before you take your IELTS test so you know where your objective lies. There will be a minimum IELTS score as well if you wish to immigrate to Canada as a nurse or apply for a Canadian PR visa. In these cases, you might need to know the equivalency between IETLS to CLB scores.


If you need to take the IELTS but you already pass the TOEFL test, we have written an article about the TOEFL score to IELTS conversion to help you compare both test scores.

How and When Are You Going to Receive Your IELTS Score?

Before sending your IELTS scores to your schools of choice, you’ll surely want to know your score yourself first! After all, it wouldn’t be wise to report a less-than-ideal IELTS result to your dream university! This is the process of how to find out your IELTS score.

IELTS results are made available online about 13 days after you take the test. On rare occasions, the scores may be delayed, in which case you will be informed by email by the exam authority.

Then, the IELTS will send you a Test Report Form (TRF) via postal mail 23 days (about 3 weeks) after the day of the test at the latest. Important: this is the only hard copy that will be issued, so you are advised to keep it safe and make photocopies as needed.

Reporting Your IELTS Score to US Universities: How to Do It?

Included in your IELTS test fee, the British Council will send up to five original score reports to the schools you select. However, you must request this at any time during the registration process, or alternatively, you can request this service any time after you take the IELTS (i.e., once you find out your score! See above), throughout the entire validity period of the IELTS score.

Many institutions are set up to accept IELTS results electronically from the British Council, in which case, the service is included in your five free TRFs. Once again, verify with the university application website to see if they will accept an electronic TRF. Once your score is made available, the school can proceed with downloading it. It’s quick and simple!

However, note that fees apply to send the physical TRF to universities via email or courier: the British Council charges an additional $3.75 for physical copies to be sent via airmail, or an additional $19 for courier service to international destinations. Additional test reports take up to 14 working days to process after request, plus mailing time, so allow for plenty of time for the universities to get the TRF, taking into account the application deadline.

Choosing the US Universities to Send Your Score to

If you’re taking the IELTS as part of your application to universities in the US, you’ll need to think about what happens after you receive your score.

The examination center will transfer your score to your chosen universities as part of the testing process, but they will only do this five times as part of your original registration fee. If you choose to send a Test Results Form to more than five US universities, you will incur further costs.

If you’re applying to more than five institutions but want to avoid paying to send additional scores, we recommend:

  • Checking that all your institutions require a IELTS score;
  • Checking that all your institutions require the score to be sent by the examination center;
  • Checking if your institutions will accept other proof of English proficiency.

Required IELTS Scores for the Top 10 US Universities

If you’re setting your sights high and aiming at one of the top ten US universities for your applications, it’s important to know exactly what their IELTS requirements are well in advance for the best chances of submitting a successful application.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 US schools and their minimum IELTS requirements:

UniversityMinimum band score requiredHow to send IELTS score to universities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology7.0Electronic score report
Harvard University7.0Electronic score report
Princeton University7.0Electronic score report
Yale University7.0Electronic score report
University of Chicago7.0Electronic score report
University of Pennsylvania7.0Electronic score report
Johns Hopkins University7.0Electronic score report plus a copy sent by email
University of California, Berkeley7.0Electronic score report
Columbia University7.0Electronic score report
University of California, Los Angeles7.0Upload to the application portal

As you can see, in most cases how to send IELTS score to universities is specified via an electronic score report. In this case, you do not need to send the score yourself: you must simply ask the examination center to do it for you, providing them with the institute code.


How Much Does It Cost to Send Your IELTS Score?

When you take the IELTS in the US, your test center will send your results to as many as five universities for free. There could be an administrative fee involved if you need the scores to be sent to an organization outside of the US, or later than one month after your test date.

If you’re wondering how to send IELTS score to universities outside of this select five, the answer is that you can do so, but at an extra cost. The cost differs from test center to test center, so make sure to check this with them when you register for the test.

Recap: How to Send IELTS Score to Universities in the US

If you’re still wondering how to send IELTS score to universities, the simplest answer is: you probably don’t need to – the examination center will do it for you!

In case you need to request more than the five free Test Results Forms to be sent to universities for you, here’s a look at the additional costs involved:

How to send the IELTS scoreCostMethod of payment
Electronic score card directly from the examination centerNo cost (five or less)N/A
$3.75 (more than five)Debit or credit card
Physical score card sent directly from the examination center$3.75Debit or credit card
$3.75 + $19 (to international destinations)
Upload or email the scores yourself directly to the universityNo costN/A

What Can You Do if You Think That Your Score Is Wrong?

Since the IELTS is scored by human correctors, mistakes do rarely happen. If you come across an anomaly in your reported IELTS score, you can request the British Council to reassess your IELTS test within 6 weeks after the day of the exam. Your test will be reevaluated by another authorized grader. You can even specify which section or sections of the test you feel were unfairly scored. Again, this is an exceedingly rare phenomenon, but it could make the difference if you fall just short of your objective. There is a fee charged for rescoring: $97, but this will be refunded if there is any change to your overall IELTS score. Turnaround time for rescoring can take as long as 10 weeks.

Prepare For the IELTS Exam Online With GlobalExam

As you have seen, the process to find out and send your IELTS score is fairly simple, but no matter how you report it, you need to prepare for the IELTS test adequately to make sure your reported IELTS score is top-notch! It is highly recommended to prepare for the IELTS test beforehand so you can get a good idea of the test format and timing, which area or areas you need to improve or develop, and of course, practice taking one or several IELTS mock exams so you can fine-tune your test-taking strategies to get a winning score.

GlobalExam offers an online platform giving you access to IELTS-specific training on all four skills, vocabulary and grammar exercises and reference files to brush up on your overall English abilities, and several different mock IELTS tests that follow the British Council’s pattern exactly. On top if it, we share the top 10 listening tips, IELTS Writing tips and Reading tips with you!

All these tools can be a great way to boost your IELTS result so you can be sure that the score you report to your future university is the best one possible! Check out GlobalExam – your best ally for real IELTS achievement!