CEFR Levels to IELTS: In-Depth Score Comparison

CEFR level IELTS exam - A score comparison

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CEFR level IELTS exam


Employers and universities around the world use the CEFR Level (Common European Framework of References for Languages) IELTS to understand your language skills. The IELTS CEFR scale helps them compare your scores across various tests and qualifications.

The CEFR scale is like a ruler for measuring how well students can use a language, from beginners (A1) to advanced (C2). IELTS scores are on a scale from 0 to 9. Here, we will walk you through what is CEFR level and compare CEFR Level IELTS scores.

What is CEFR Level?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a comprehensive scale comprising six proficiency levels, denoted as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Ranging from essential fluency (A1) to native-fluency level (C2), it replaces the traditional descriptors of language ability, such as "beginner," "intermediate," and "advanced."

Widely adopted in Europe, this scale serves as a more reliable indicator for interpreting and comparing language proficiency levels among teachers and learners. Initially introduced by the Council of Europe in the 1990s, the CEFR English test has become a widely recognised language standard.

CEFR Level IELTS facilitates language teaching and testing by providing a structured framework for assessing language proficiency. In addition to its application within Europe, companies and educational institutions use CEFR to compare language qualifications with other exams in their respective countries.

CEFR's versatility extends beyond English, as it also converts scores from tests like TOEFL and PTE. Cambridge Assessment English (CAE) has played a pivotal role in establishing the correlation between IELTS band scores and CEFR fluency levels, recognising the unique characteristics of CEFR level IELTS.

Compare CEFR Levels with IELTS Scores

According to the Council of Europe, the CEFR test serves several key objectives:

  1. Promoting plurilingualism: Encouraging diversity and multilingualism in curricula.

  2. Developing language curricula: Creating positive 'can-do' statements and descriptors based on learners' interests, needs, and age groups.

  3. Designing teaching materials: Developing notes, textbooks, and other teaching materials to enhance language learning.

  4. Ensuring quality in learning and assessment: Providing benchmarks for quality and success in the learning process, teaching, and standardised assessment.

  5. Supporting plurilingual profiles: Assisting in developing plurilingual profiles for language learners.

  6. Ensuring transparency and comparability: Maintaining transparency and comparability of certifications.

  7. Facilitating teacher education and cooperation: Enabling teacher education and fostering cooperation among teachers and educators of various languages.

However, the CEFR test is a dynamic tool that not only evaluates language proficiency but also contributes to the broader goals of language education and standardisation.

Why Compare CEFR with IELTS?

Now, you must have understood the comparison chart of CEFR Level IELTS, but if you're thinking about studying at European universities, it's essential to compare CEFR with IELTS.

Understanding the relationships and comparative scenarios between CEFR Level IELTS scores is crucial. Here's why:

  • Standardised scales in CEFR: The CEFR level utilises more standardised scales to assess fluency in the English language.

  • Comparison in Europe: In Europe, teachers, examiners, and students use CEFR to compare language skills and scores from various tests and qualifications.

  • Difficulty in measuring IELTS bands: Schools, colleges, and universities often need help to measure a student's language proficiency based on specific IELTS bands (e.g., 8.0 - 8.5).

  • Interpreting IELTS scores to CEFR levels: Institutions interpret IELTS scores to CEFR levels to better understand a candidate's language proficiency, which companies and other organisations prefer.

  • Correlation between IELTS bands and CEFR levels: An IELTS band score of 7.5 equates to the C1 level, while a score of 4.5 corresponds to the CEFR level B1. This correlation helps IELTS users understand how their scores align with CEFR levels.

  • Elimination of vague terms: CEFR level IELTS scores comparison eliminates vague terms like "Basic," "Intermediate," and "Advanced," providing more accurate indicators of language proficiency.

Conversion Process by CEFR: CEFR, standing for reflection, communication, and empowerment, converts IELTS scores recorded in the Test Report Form into the corresponding CEFR levels through a simple process.

How to Compare CEFR Level IELTS Scores?

Now that you understand why to compare CEFR Level IELTS scores, look at the table below for a detailed comparison between CEFR and IELTS scores. Each level is discussed one after the other.

CEFR Level Language Proficiency Level Corresponding IELTS Band Score


Expert User

8.5 - 9.0


Very Good User


Good User

7.0 - 7.5


Competent User

6.0 - 6.5

Modest User

5.0 - 5.5


Limited User

4.0 - 4.5


Extremely Limited User



Intermittent User


Non - User


Result Availability (maximum)

13 working days

Score Validity

2 Years

CEFR Level A1:

Describing a basic user, Level A1 involves the ability to understand and use simple terms, provide personal information, and engage in conversations about common everyday topics.


CEFR Level A2:

For a basic user at Level A2, individuals can interpret commonly used phrases in various contexts, such as shopping or work, give simple directions, and discuss personal desires and requirements.


CEFR Level B1:

At CEFR Level B1, characterised as an independent user, individuals can understand and discuss topics like family, friends, work, and leisure activities. They can also express travel needs and write brief paragraphs about interests, aspirations, and experiences.


CEFR Level B2:

CEFR level B2 represents an independent user who can compose documents on various themes, comprehend complex texts, and engage in natural conversations with native speakers.


CEFR Level C1:

A proficient user at Level C1 can understand complex talks or messages, explain intricate concepts in professional, social, or formal situations, and write detailed texts on in-depth subjects.


CEFR Level C2:

Designated for proficient users, Level C2 involves comprehending and summarising any easily understandable information and expressing oneself clearly, even in challenging circumstances.

Similarly, the International English Language Test System (IELTS) is a standardised test with four sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Non-native English speakers take this test to show their language proficiency. Scores, ranging from 0 to 40, are converted to the band scale of 0 to 9.


To conclude, some IELTS scores, like 6.5, overlap on two CEFR levels, indicating you may fall between CEFR Level B2 and C1. Interpretation varies among universities, with top-tier ones often assigning C1 to band 7 instead of 6.5. You should check specific university requirements carefully.

Understanding "CEFR level IELTS" is crucial for studying or working in Europe. CEFR is an international framework interpreting IELTS scores on a six-point scale. Plan your IELTS prep based on this interpretation for a successful journey abroad.

We hope this blog will help you understand CEFR Level IELTS. However, you can contact Prepare IELTS (PI) expert counsellors for further guidance. Our team of education experts is dedicated to providing you with the best advice in IELTS writing preparation. You can get a one-on-one counselling session online via our platform. Contact us at info@prepareieltsexam.com or call us at +91 9773398388.


CEFR level A1 in IELTS is typically associated with a fundamental level of language proficiency. It involves understanding and using simple everyday phrases and expressions.

IELTS scores are not directly mapped to specific CEFR levels like A1 or A2. However, individuals with a lower IELTS band score, such as 4.0 or 4.5, might align with a CEFR A2 level.

A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 are the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels. They represent increasing levels of language proficiency, from basic (A1) to native-like fluency (C2).

A score of 7.5 in IELTS typically corresponds to a CEFR level of C1, which signifies a proficient user capable of understanding complex language and expressing ideas fluently.

Yes, CEFR Level B1 is higher than A1. The CEFR levels progress from A1 (beginner) to A2, then B1 (intermediate), and so on. CEFR Level B1 also represents a higher level of language proficiency than A1.


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