Why You Need To Be At CEFR C1 Level To Get 6.5 In The IELTS Test


Are you planning to take the IELTS test?

Do you know what score you need to enter the school or university of your dreams?

In this guide, I want to show you why you need to be at a CEFR C1 level and get 6.5 in the IELTS test.

I also show you how to do this.

Read on, to find out all about it…

Why You Need To Be At CEFR C1 level To Get 6.5 In The IELTS Test the story of Kim

The Story of Kim

I want to tell you a story…

A few years back, I had a student called Kim.

Kim was 15 years old and her English was excellent. She was mainly self-taught. She just had a really strong passion for learning and improving her English.

Every time she came to class, she was carrying a huge book in her arms. This would often be on her favourite subjects; economy or politics.

Kim was preparing to go to Australia to study at high school there.

I was helping her to prepare for the IELTS test. But because her English was so good, I was really just doing some fine-tuning here and there.

Kim Was High Level

To be honest, she didn’t really need much help from me.

At the time, I would say her English level was CEFR B2, possibly C1.

That is to say, a very high level of English for her age.

She did the IELTS test, and she got a 7.5 band score.

Me, I was impressed.

But Kim was disappointed.

“I wanted an 8!” she wailed.

I tried to convince her that 7.5 was still a really great score and she had nothing to worry about. But Kim was very competitive.

Kim Goes To Australia

She went to Australia, and I didn’t hear from her again.

Then I got a message from her, and she asked if we could have a live chat. I said ok.

She called me and told me about her life at high school in Australia.

“School here is very different,” she said. “I have to pay attention to everything the teacher says, and because English is my second language, I have to really focus on what the teachers are talking about.”

But that wasn’t all.

“Then I have to listen to other students speaking,” she went on. “And they sometimes speak quickly. All these different voices, and different accents. It’s hard. But I can just about manage.”

Trouble For Other Students

Kim’s English level was very high when I first met her. But she still had some trouble following what everyone was talking about in her class.

Then she told me about the other foreign students there. Students from China, Vietnam, India or Brazil.

“Some of the other students cannot understand anything at all,” she told me. “They got 5.5 in the IELTS test but they can only understand a very small amount in the class. It’s very difficult for them.”


The point of this story is to tell you that you need a good score in the IELTS test to study abroad.


And the minimum is 6.5.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

The IELTS Test

If you are reading this, you should know what the IELTS test is and why people take this test.

But as a rough summary, let’s look at the following points.

The IELTS test is a standardised test for non-native English speakers who wish to study abroad in a school or university. People also take this test because of a job application or for visa reasons.

Skill Testing

The IELTS test makes an assessment on the four main skills of English:

  • Speaking
  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Writing

Two Tests

There are two different formats for the test:

  • Academic
  • General


The academic test is for people who wish to study abroad.

And the general test is for people who wish to work or live abroad.

The Band Scores

The IELTS test has different scores — or band levels — from 0 to 9.

Each of the four different skills is tested separately, and each has its own score.

Then an overall score is given at the end.

Worldwide Recognition

Education establishments and companies use this score to determine if the applicant has a good enough command of English to enter.

The IELTS test is recognised worldwide.

Why You Need To Be At CEFR C1 level To Get 6.5 In The IELTS Test why 6.5 is the most desired score

Why 6.5 is the most desired score

Many schools and universities will tell you that you can enter their institution with an IELTS score of only 5.5 in some cases.

But I can assure you, that the best score to have if you plan to study abroad is 6.5.

Having a 6.5 band score in the IELTS test then means that you have a good enough command of English in all four main skills — speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Better Communication

It means that you can communicate at ease with your teachers, with your classmates, with everyone you meet.

A 6.5 score means that your English is at a high enough level that you can participate in all activities in any class and you can understand most of the things being said.

Less Than 6.5 Is Not Enough

Don’t let anyone else fool you into thinking that you can get by with a score of less than 6.5.

I have met many students who now study in Australia, the UK or Canada, but their IELTS score was not very high.

These students often sit in the class feeling confused and unable to comprehend what is going on in the class around them.

Do not be one of these students!

What Are The CEFR Levels In English?

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is a worldwide recognised system that assesses language levels.

According to CEFR, there are six levels. These range from A1 (beginner) to C2 (proficient).

Let’s take a closer look at all of these levels.

A1 — Beginner

If you are A1 level, this means that you can understand and use some simple everyday terms in English.

You are capable of using some very basic phrases. You can also introduce yourself and give some very basic information about yourself; such as where you live, the people you know and the things you have in your life.

A2 — Elementary

If you are at this level, you should be able to use and understand very common daily expressions in English.

You should understand and have the ability to use phrases about your basic personal information, family, shopping and the local area where you live.

You can also give direct information on daily topics at this level.

B1 — Intermediate

At this level, you should be able to express yourself in terms of school life, working life and things you do in your free time.

You might also be able to express yourself and communicate on a basic level with native English speakers.

B2 — Upper-Intermediate

At this level, you should be able to understand the main ideas in a complex text; both in normal, everyday topics and more abstract subjects.

You may also be able to discuss technical issues.

You should have a certain level of fluency where you can have conversations with native English speakers without any particular stress.

If you are at this level, you may be able to produce detailed text on a wide variety of topics. And you should have the ability to explain any points of view you may have on a regular topic of the day.

You should be able to give the advantages and disadvantages of a wide variety of topics.

C1 — Advanced

At this level, you can now understand more complex terms and phrases.

You should be able to express yourself clearly without any trouble. You should be able to speak spontaneously without needing to pause too long or search for the right words or terms.

You can use English in a variety of different contexts; socially, academically or professionally.

You should be able to produce clear and detailed text on a wide variety of subjects.

C2 — Proficient

At this level, you can now understand practically everything you hear and read.

You can summarise information from spoken or written sources.

You should be able to understand arguments, accounts and points of view clearly.

And you can express yourself coherently and spontaneously without any major effort at all.

You should also have the ability to use different nuances and shades of meaning in English.


In a nutshell, the three main levels can be divided like this:

  • A1 and A2 — elementary
  • B1 and B2 — intermediate
  • C1 and C2 — advanced
Why You Need To Be At CEFR C1 level To Get 6.5 In The IELTS Test the IELTS test scores

The IELTS Test Scores

And what they mean.

As I mentioned earlier, the IELTS test has NINE band scores.

1 is the lowest and 9 is the highest.

Essentially, this is what each score means:

Band 1 — Non-User

This level means you cannot speak English other than a few very simple phrases and words.

You can read some very basic text.

Band 2 — Intermittent User

This means that you cannot really communicate other than giving some very basic information using simple words and phrases.

At this level, you have great difficulty understanding anything people say to you or anything you read.

Band 3 — Extremely Limited User

If you are at this level, it means you can express yourself in a very limited way, but only in some very common topic areas.

There would still be many times when you cannot communicate at all.

Band 4 — Limited User

You might have a very basic command of English. You may be able to express yourself in a limited way in common topic areas and daily life.

But some issues in terms of expressing yourself and understanding others.

Band 5 — Modest User

At this level, you would have partial command of English but still have difficulty in overall meaning in most situations.

If you reach this level, you would still make many mistakes and errors.

Band 6 — Competent User

If you reach this level, you have a more effective command of the English language. There would still be some mistakes and inaccuracies, but you should be able to express yourself and understand complex terms and phrases.

You should be fairly fluent in very common and daily topics.

Band 7 — Good User

Now you have a much better use of English. There may still be some inaccuracies and some errors, but you can understand what people are saying to you and you can respond accordingly.

You should be able to understand complex terms in English and have the ability to communicate at a good level in most situations.

Band 8 — Very Good User

If you are at this level, you have a very good operational command of English.

Maybe some inappropriate terms here and there, but you should be able to understand and communicate using complex terms.

Band 9 — Expert User

Now you have a fully operational command of the English language. You can use appropriate terms all the time and with great accuracy and fluency.

You can understand detailed arguments. You can communicate well and respond accordingly.

You can use English with a highly nuanced and detailed ability.


So, I think it is quite easy to see that if you have a score of 5 or below, you cannot communicate or use English at the required level in the classroom.

It is really only at level 6.5 that I think students can express themselves clearly and understand what people and saying completely.

What You Can Do In The Classroom With A 6.5 IELTS Score

If you reach 6.5 in the IELTS test, you should be able to do the following in English.


You can understand English in a wide variety of topics.

This includes conversations on daily topics, familiar subjects, news and most things that your teachers say in the classroom.

You should be able to understand different accents. This may be essential if you are studying abroad, as there could be the native English accents of the country; say, British, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand accents.

But there could also be accents from other countries. This could include Asian accents or South American accents, too.

You may still have some issues with certain technical terms, though.


At a 6.5 score, you should be able to understand fairly complex texts. You should be able to read the news or magazines with ease.

You can also understand the main terms and ideas expressed in academic texts, but again, there may be some difficulty with technical language.


At the 6.5 level, you should be able to write coherently on familiar topics, and you should have the ability to express your opinions, ideas and reasons clearly.

You should have little problem writing texts on practical subjects using the appropriate terms and in the correct style.

There may still be some errors in terms of grammar rules, punctuation and spelling.


At 6.5 level, you should be able to communicate effectively with your teachers and your classmates.

You can describe personal situations, and your life experiences and you should also have the ability to give detailed opinions on a variety of topics.

And you should also be able to discuss and talk about common topics with a decent level of fluency and accuracy.

You may still have some issues with more complex vocabulary and sentence structure in English, though.



If you reach 6.5 in the IELTS test, this is what you should be able to do in all four main English skills.

I hope you understand now why I stress that 6.5 is the least you want in the IELTS test.

Now let me show you what you have to do to get 6.5.

Why You Need To Be At CEFR C1 level To Get 6.5 In The IELTS Test how to get 6.5 in the ielts test

How To Get 6.5 In The IELTS Test?

It’s all very well me saying to you that you must have 6.5 in the IELTS test.

But how can you do it?

I’m not going to lie to you. It takes work. Hard work.

But it is possible. Many people get 6.5 or higher in the IELTS test every week.

You can do it too.

Just know that you will need to work for it though.

Let’s go through all the steps you need to take to get there…

Set Goals

You have to set goals.

But more than that, you have to set realistic goals.

It is no use telling yourself that you can improve your English from A2 level to C1 level in six weeks.




It is best to follow SMART goals.

SMART goals follow the five steps below:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

So, for example, you might have a goal to improve your reading skills.

Your SMART goals for this could look like this:


I want to improve my reading skills so I can read any text at B2 level and understand 90% of it.


The goal is to achieve this goal at the end of six months.


Is this goal within your capabilities?

Do you have the time?

Do you have access to all the reading materials you need?


I want to achieve this goal as it will help me read texts in the IELTS test and understand them.

It will also help me improve my vocabulary which can help my speaking and writing skills.


I will read three articles per week. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I will do this at the same time every evening after dinner at 7:30pm.

Now you have a clearly defined set of goals, you can place the times and the dates in your calendar.

Read the following articles on SMART goals.


The Ultimate Guide To S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Trust me on this. SMART goals are great. They can really help you realise your goals.

Immerse Yourself

Immerse yourself in the language: Surround yourself with the language as much as possible. Watch movies, listen to podcasts, read books, and engage with native speakers.

Immerse yourself in the language: Surround yourself with the language as much as possible. This can include listening to music, watching movies or TV shows, and reading books or newspapers in the target language.

Now you have made a set of goals.

The next step is to immerse yourself in English.

You need to surround yourself with English every day.

This means that you try to do the following for each of the four English skills.


Listen to…

  • English podcasts
  • English songs
  • English language TV shows and movies
  • The BBC
  • Voice of America


Set clear times when you can listen to the above at your best available times.

So you might find that you have some free time on your way to school or college. So this is when you listen to an English podcast.

Or you might have some time at lunchtime. You listen to some BBC or Voice of America shows then.

Many news sites now have audio versions of their articles too. So this means you can read and listen at the same time.

Check out my guide on Listening:

9 Ways to Help with English Listening



You can read…


There is no end of reading material for you to choose from.

There are literally thousands of English articles that you can read every single day.

And if you have a smartphone (I am assuming you do) then you can read while you are on the bus, on the subway, waiting for your friend, at lunchtime… anywhere and everywhere.

Read my following guides on reading:

Great Websites To Improve English Reading Comprehension

How to Master your English Reading Comprehension

How to Read English News to Improve your English!



For writing practice, you can try…

  • Writing a daily journal
  • Using writing exercises online
  • My short stories
  • My Talking Points


Unfortunately, you can’t practice writing on the bus or in the park.

You should do your writing practice in a relatively quiet place. At home or in the library is ideal.

But you must practice regularly and as often as you can.

Read my guides on English writing below:

How Journaling Can Improve Your English Writing

Expository Descriptive Persuasive Narrative writing styles — what they are and how to write them

11 ways you can improve your English writing today



For speaking, you can try…

  • Joining a General English class
  • Joining an English Speaking class
  • English Corner
  • Special interest groups in your area
  • Reading out loud at home

To immerse yourself in speaking English is a little challenging.

You may have to join a class or two. Or join an English Corner group in your area.

And if you know any special interest groups that are conducted in English, you could join one or two of these to practice English speaking.

If you are alone, you can try two things; reading out loud and shadowing.

Check my links below on English speaking:

How to Talk About Anything in English Using BECAUSE, BUT, AND and SO

18 Easy Ways To Smash Your English Speaking

The Shadowing Technique — and how it can help you speak English


But one thing you absolutely must do is to immerse yourself in English. You have to be surrounded by English every day, throughout the day.

Live, breathe and eat English every day.

Then you are going to see great improvements.

Practice Daily

Of course, it goes without saying that you must practice English every day.

What if you wanted to improve your body and become bigger and stronger?

What could you do?

Would it be better to go to the gym and work out with weights every Sunday for three hours? Or to work out on a different part of my body every single day for forty minutes?

I think it goes without saying that the second method is better…

And that is the same when practising your English.

You must practice every day.

Make a careful, detailed plan. Use Google Calendar and a To-Do app of your choice.

Organise your study plan. Make sure every day is planned out by the hour.

Plan your work.

Now work your plan.


Read my essential guides below on study planning:


Time Blocking to Study English


Use Resources

In the current year, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to English learning resources.

There is an unlimited supply of resources available to you.

Students often choose English learning books. There are many useful and great books available.

But there are also:

  • YouTube channels and videos on English learning
  • English learning podcasts
  • English learning apps


And there are other resources that you can use as an English learner.

For example;

  • English language podcasts
  • English language articles
  • English language news
  • TV and movies
  • English songs


Anything and everything that is made using the English language is a resource for you.

Use a wide range of resources.

You should be able to find many of these for free.

Join Others

I know that many of you are trying to improve your English alone.

Sometimes there is no choice, and you have no choice.

But if you can, you should try to join other people who also wish to improve their English.


English Classes


Being in an English class can be incredibly motivating.

There is often a very good social atmosphere in an English class and this can encourage you to attend and go to your class every week.

The teacher there can help you with issues about learning English that you can’t solve by yourself. And the other students can often help too.

In the class, you might find one or two other students who might want to study with you after class or outside class time.

This can also be of great benefit.


English Corner


Is there an English Corner meeting in your town or city?

If so, you should go!

English Corners are a great way for you to practice English speaking with others.

Plus, they are usually free!

Find one in your town today…


Interest Groups


What are your interests?

Do you like to play tennis?

Do you have an interest in creative writing?

Do you want to learn how to draw?


There are many interest groups in every town.

Many of these interest groups are conducted in English. Maybe there is one in your town too.


Private Tutor


Yes, private tutors are expensive.

But if you ask two or three other English learners to join together, the costs can be much cheaper.

If you can find two or three other students who are preparing for the IELTS test, you should be able to find a private tutor to help you.




Toastmasters is a worldwide collection of people who wish to improve their public speaking skills.

Often, these groups are conducted in English.

Find one in your town and join today!


School or University English Club


You might also find that there is an after-school English club in your school or university.

These should be free of charge to join.

A great place to improve your English skills!


It is always a good idea to join others and try to improve your English.

I have only listed a few ideas above, but if you look in your hometown or on social media, you might be able to find many other places to meet others and practice English.

Get Feedback

It is no use just relentlessly practising English without getting any feedback.

You need to hear from others how you are improving — and what steps you need to take to improve some more!

Unfortunately, the best way to do this is via a teacher or private tutor. I say unfortunately because this will cost you some money.

There is no free way to do this.

But if you find the right tutor, he or she should be able to help you get all the right feedback you need.

You can do this by actually doing a mock IELTS test and asking your tutor to explain to you all the things you did well — and the things you did not do so well.

Now you can clearly see where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

For example, you might have really good reading skills. So need to work so hard on that.

But you may need to do more work on your listening skills. So spend more time on listening practice.

Feedback is essential to helping you improve in all areas of your English.


I know some of the comments I have made above may seem harsh.

Some of you are not ready to get 6.5 in the IELTS test.

But in my opinion, if you aim for 6.5 in the IELTS test, you will have a much better learning experience abroad.

Good luck — and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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