IELTS Word Count

Do you want to know more about how the words are counted in IELTS?

Here are IELTS word counting rules: 

  1. Very short words always count as one word.  For example, ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘at’ all count as one word each. 
  2. Hyphenated words, such as ‘two-thirds’, ‘ex-president’, and ‘fifty-five’ all count as one word each.  *numbers between 21-99 (except 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90) are always hyphenated when written.  For example, 21=twenty-one, 55= fifty-five, and 72 = seventy-two.  Therefore, these numbers count as one word each in IELTS Writing, Reading and Listening.
  3. Words like ‘sailboat’ are called compound nouns because they combine two words (sail+boat).  Compound nouns count as one word each. 
  4. Numbers, dates, and time are counted as words in IELTS writing.  For example, ‘5,000’ = one word, 10-06-2019 = one word, and 12:00pm = one word.  However, dates such as 14th May are counted as two words in Writing and one word and one number in Listening.
  5. Words with a symbol such as percentages, prices, times, etc will only count as one word each.  For example, 25% = one word, 19.95$ = one word, 9am = one word. Symbols do not count.