Capital Letters in IELTS: Will it affect your score?

When to use capital letters in your IELTS listening and reading test. Will you get a lower score if you make a mistake with capital letters? Can you write your answers in all capital letters? What are the rules for capital letters in IELTS? Capital letters in IELTS 2017.

Using Capital Letters for Answers: IELTS Rules

Capital Letters in IELTS Listening and Reading

In IELTS listening and reading, you can write all your answers in capital letters if you want or not.

  • You can write your answers in small letters if you want.
  • You can write in all capital letters.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • HOSPITAL = correct / hospital = correct / 9am = correct / 9AM = correct /

Which is best? Capital letters or lower case?

I recommend writing your listening and reading answers in capital letters. It is easier to read and this means it is better for the person marking. Of course, it is your choice. But I advice is to use all capital letters.

Transferring Answers

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. Check your answers and check your spelling – then write your answers on the answer sheet.  If your handwriting is poor, write using all capital letters so it is easy to read.

In IELTS reading, you will not get 10 extra mins to transfer your answers. You must write your answers directly on your answer sheet. But it is completely your choice how to write your answers. The most important factor is not clear writing. Use all capital letters if your handwriting isn’t clear.

Capital Letters in IELTS Writing

In IELTS Writing, you can choose to write your essay in capital letters. But I wouldn’t recommend it because:

  1. you have a strict time limit and it takes too long to write in capital letters
  2. you WILL be marked on punctuation so the use of capital letters and lower case is important to show. You must have a capital letter at the start of a sentence, for example.

So, write your essay in lower case and remember to use capital letters when appropriate. The examiner will mark you down if you use capital letters incorrectly. Here is a list of typical words that use capital letters:

When to use capital letters in English grammar

  • Days/ Months = Thursday / September
  • Names and Titles = Mrs J Blogs / Dr Author Jones
  • Countries / Cities = India / Vietnam / Paris / Hong Kong
  • Names of Places = University of London
  • Acronyms = BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
  • Start of a Sentence = “The majority of people use cars to go to work these days. However, it would be better if they used healthier means of transport such as the bicycle.”

Biggest Mistake with Capital Letters

  • but / because / and
    • These linking words NEVER start with a capital letter because they should NEVER be used to start a sentence. See my page of linking words for writing task 2 to learn tips and get a useful list: IELTS Writing Task 2 Linking Words

What about speaking part 2? Well, the notes you make for your talk are not marked and only you see them. The examiner will not check them or mark them. So, don’t write sentences or bother with punctuation, just write words, ideas and tips to help you present a good talk.

More IELTS Tips

What about using a pen or pencil? Click on this link: IELTS Pen or Pencil

How are words counted in IELTS Listening? Click on this link: How Words are Counted in IELTS

Can I use “I” or “my” in writing task 2? Click on this link: How to express your opinion in IELTS WT2

Tips & Practice for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking:

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Comments

  1. Hi Liz,
    I write all the answers in reading and listening tests in capitals but i am confused about the questions in which you are required to choose the headings which are quoted as roman no.s(i,ii,iii…..ix, x). So do i have to write these as well in capitals in answer sheet as(I, II ….IX, X)?
    Thanks for the time.Hoping for a reply.

    • Roman numerals are not letters. Write them as you see them on the question paper. However, it doesn’t actually matter which one you choose as long as your number can be read easily.

  2. Hi Liz! I was wondering. In the listening test, a single question would require 2 answers sometimes. How should I write 2 answers in one box (or item number)? Should I use a semi- colon (;) to separate my answers?

    Ex. APPLES; ORANGES

    I’m hesitant to use “AND” because it is counted as 1 word already.

    Your answer to my question is greatly appreciated.

    • Don’t use “and” because it is a word and will make your answer incorrect. The most usual way is to leave a space between the words so they are easy to read and easily distinguishable. For example: APPLES ORANGES

  3. Hi Liz!
    Is it ok if I write the listening answers in all caps but answer the reading questions in small letters?

  4. MIRZA NAFEUL ISLAM says:

    How to write date in capital letters?
    20th OCTOBER or 20TH OCTOBER

  5. Hey liz!
    Can we write on the pamphlets provided for reading and listening ?

  6. what if we write 22nd October instead of 22 October

  7. Hi Liz,
    Can I write all answers in Capital letters in Listening and Reading?
    In your Listening tips video there is a pop-up saying, “capital letters are not marked in listening & the tip is not relevant”. Is this a new rule?
    Please Liz explain me. I’m going to sit my exam next week. I am confused about this now.
    Thank you..

    • My recommendation is that you use all capital letters for listening and reading answers.

      • Thank you Liz. I thought I will lose marks, if I write all in capital. You made it clear now. I will write all in capital letters.
        Your lessons are very helpful for me.
        Thank you again…

  8. How to write date? for eg 22nd october is correct or else 22 october ? Which is correct?

  9. Hi Liz,
    One of your video has a note saying IELTS Listening and Reading the Capital letters are not marked, is it true? Is this a new development? Do we have write in Small letters in Listening and Reading answer sheets?

    • My advice is to write all answers using capital letters.

      • Thank you Liz, I will go by your advice.

        I have 4-5 days left for the test . I am aiming for a band 9 in all sections, I feel prepared for the listening and reading but feel the need to improve writing and speaking. How can I utilize my last 4-5 days to improve my writing and speaking score? I am currently planning to do more tests and also going through model answers on your blog. But, I am not sure if this is the right thing to do. Please advice.
        Thanks,
        Anupama

  10. hello mam.
    please answer my question as just only one day remains to my test. if i use all lower case in both reading and listening even for those words like days, names, or places its wright or wrong???

    • I recommend you use all capital letters for listening and reading. I do not recommend anything else.

      • Can i use starting letter of word as capital and remaining small in listening and reading tasks. For eg. Sitting (where s is caps and remaining are small)

        • It is best to use to all capital letters for your answers in listening and reading.

          • Will they provide us headphones for listening task? As its a rule not to carey any gadgets to exam room

            • Each test center is different about using headphones or not. You need to ask your test center directly. You can’t carry gadgets into the exam room. IELTS is an international test which is very strict.

  11. Hello Liz,,God Bless You ^_^,, I’m Eza.
    I like your video because I understand what you’r explain and I’ve done download all of your video
    It’s my first time to study IELTS ,,
    I wanna ask some tips to you to answer the listening IELTS test part of maps
    I got difficult to answer that..
    Thank you so much ,, ^_^

  12. Hi Liz,

    Just to clarify, do you actually lose marks for grammatical accuracy in the writing test if you capitalise everything (including words at the beginning of sentences, proper nouns, etc)? For example, would you lose any marks for writing (e.g.) “THE BAR CHART DESCRIBES WHEAT EXPORTS TO AUSTRALIA BETWEEN 1960 AND 2000”? This is for someone who says it’s quicker and easier for him to write all in capitals.

    • Don’t use all capital letters for writing. Although it is possible to do so, it isn’t recommended. Grammar and punctuation are part of the marking for writing so use normal size letters. When you use all capital letters is makes it more difficult to see the end and start of new sentences. It can be confusing for the examiner – you don’t want that.

  13. Dear Liz,

    I hope that you are doing well. Thank you so much for your blog which is really beneficial for all IELTS student. I did my exam few days ago and wrote all listening answers in Capital letters, but I wrote the reading answers in Small ones . IS IT FINE TO DO THAT? Please let me know as I am afraid and confused

    My best regards,

  14. Gursewak singh says:

    You r sooo nice ? Your ideas sooooooooooooooooo good . Thanks for give us

  15. liz … i must say you are one n only god bless you

  16. liz … i must say you are one n only

  17. Eslam Gamal says:

    Hello, Liz
    I had an inquiry concerning listening. I was practicing Ielts Cambridge Tests and I got into this question
    Is there’s anyone else that will be using the car?
    Yes, my Brother in law
    —————
    And that’s what I wrote but when I checked the answer key I found out that it is written as
    brother-in-law
    would my answer be considered wrong?

    Thank you

    • Yes, your answer would be wrong. How many words were possible for the answer? Your answer contained 5 words because you didn’t hyphenate. Also the answer was asking for a person – not the word Yes. You need to review answer keys and get used the techniques for writing answers.

  18. Hello Liz,

    Is it okay to vary the use of CAPITALS and small letters in an answer sheet? For example, answer 1 is in all CAPITALS and answer 2 is in all small letters and so on.

    I am taking a test next week, and my plan is to use the CAPITALS only when needed because I am prone to make spelling mistake with CAPITALS. For normal words that I am confident, I will use small letters.

    Thanks for your advice in advance.

    Best Regards, Nhan

    • It is best to write ALL answers using capital letters for reading and listening.

    • Hello, Liz, I have the same question, I have exam in 2 days so I hope you will make it clear for me, I’m really confused right now. Can I use CAPITALS for the 1st answer but small letters for the 2nd question? I was said that if you choose to answer your 1st question in capitals you HAVE TO continue this for the next questions as well. Is it true?

  19. HI Liz
    Is this still valid to have our answers in Capital ? I just saw your video which says “Capital Letters are not counted in Listening”
    Awaiting your reply.

    Thanks
    Vijay

  20. Buddhika says:

    Hi Liz,

    28.03.1997 is considered as a one number or three numbers??
    Thank you very much for all the information given in your blog and they are really helpful.

    Cheers!

  21. Supreet Kaur says:

    Hello mam is it ok if we write listening answers in this format: December
    Walk By
    Take
    Years
    I mean to say the first letter in capital and others in lowercase?? Will it deduct my marks?

    • Just write in all capital letters to be safe – it’s easier for listening and reading.

      • Hello madam, can I use all in answers in Capital letter? Is it accepted now? in your listening tips video, there is a pop-up screen showing capital letter is not accepted now while you were talking about capital letter issue. I have also found a pop-up at the end of the video about changed marking criteria. I am keen to know what are the recent changes in exam. Going to sit for exam next week, so I will be grateful if you let me know the changes made by exam authority.

        • It means it is fine to use capital letters – the message says they are no longer counted – it doesn’t matter.

  22. If i write 5:00 pm instead of 5pm. Is it correct??

  23. Mook.ske says:

    Well, i just asked a question concerning the use of capitalization via the facebook of “IELTS OFFICIAL”.
    The answer I got is

    Hi Mook, you can write in capital or lowercase letters. It won’t affect your mark.

    It doesn’t matter if you write in capital letters (MR SMITH), but if you write in lowercase letters, you will need to capitalise corretctly (Mr Smith NOT mr smith).

    So, it is better and safer to write all in capital letters, isn’t it ?

  24. Hello Liz,
    I am from Bangladesh and I’m going to sit for the exam on 17th. I am really afraid on this issue regarding using CAPITAL LETTERS. So I’d like to ask you again, are you certain? I mean you’re from the UK and I was thinking are the examiners in my country going to consider it OK? Or they could disqualify my answers ( listening & reading) because of ALL CAPITAL LETTERS? Please let me know soon. My exam is very close 🙁

  25. Candice says:

    Hi Liz,

    Thank you for the remarkable work you do.
    Quick question regarding GT W1 – Is it acceptable to write “the summer” for e.g. “I have taken a course in the summer” or “I have taken a course in summer”

    Thanks 🙂

    • We usually say “I have taken a summer course in history” or “I took a course in history this summer / during the summer”.

  26. Hi Liz,
    You nailed it with your examples about upper and lower case. Thanks for that.

    I’ve couple of other questions.
    Are the questions in listening always in order to the audio you listen to?
    If I’ve to answer a question in ONE word would $10 be more appropriate than 10 dollars?

    • The answers in listening will follow the order of the questions. However, some questions, like selecting from a long list, might cover questions 4 to 6, this means that you select your answers from the same list for questions 4, 5 and 6. In that case, it will be in any order as it’s a list selection. Otherwise, it will all follow the order of the questions and you can use key words in the questions to navigate the recording. Does that make sense?
      About words and numbers for listening. 10 dollars = one number and one word, $10 = one number. This is the same for writing, numbers are counted as words but symbols are not counted. But some questions already have the symbols provided so you don’t need them. I hope I’m not confusing you 🙂

  27. Hi Liz,

    I have a small confusion. In your earlier video about listening you told that to use either all capital letter or lower case but when using lower case in case of names of Day , Place, Acronyms, Countries and Titles then use the first letter of the word in Capital other can be written in lower case for example Japan, Mr, Sarah etc.

    In this article you are saying that we can use lower and upper case in any way we like for listening and reading . Please elaborate

    • As you will see on the page of my website and youtube video, I have posted a notice that this information has changed.

  28. Hello mam
    I am Zinkal Patel from India.I have taken ielts exam on 8th of April 2017.Just I wanted to know about how can write dates formation in listening test. FOR Instance:- 11th December 2012.like this or 11TH DECEMBER 2012.

  29. Hello Liz,

    Thank you for this blog I find it very useful for my IELTS preparation. I have a question concerning the WRITING TEST (both TASKs). I’m planning to write all the TASKS in Capital Letters. IF I WRITE A PHRASE LIKE THIS, WOULD IT BE CORRECT? I am planning in this sense to make the normal words with Capital Letters even higher/bigger than other one, in a way to let the examiner understand which are the Capital letters and what are the normal letter in the text. Would it be correct to write in such way? I planning to write like this because my style of writing could be more understandable.

    Cheers,
    from Italy

    • I advise you to write your answers in capitals for listening and reading. It is easier for the marker to read. However, I don’t advise this for writing. You need to show the correct use of punctuation, lower case and upper case – this is part of your grammar criterion.

  30. Thanks my dear, your advice is very useful for us.

  31. Biborno Projapoti says:

    Is it OK to write listening answers in Capital letters and reading answers in small ones ?

  32. Sandeep Singh says:

    Mam can we write true – t, false-f, not given- ng

  33. Taslima Begum says:

    Please give me some guideline on this cue card
    Describe a walk that you like going on
    you should say:
    where the walk is
    when you first went on the walk
    what the walk is like
    and explain why you like the walk

    • You could talk about a walk in a park or down your favourite street – you decide which is easiest to talk about.

  34. hamza bajwa says:

    Hi Liz! I was asked the question in listening: what type of people are the celebrities in your country? Is the examiner asking about their behavior and attitude of the celebrities or he means what kind of people are known as celebrities in my country???

    • In the speaking test, the question usually refers to their jobs: sports players, movie stars etc. But there is no right or wrong answer – you could easily interpret the answer differently and it won’t affect your score.

  35. TASLIMA BEGUM says:

    Please give me some guidelines on this CUE CARD
    Describe a time that you felt proud of a friend

  36. mohammad nasser says:

    Dear Liz,

    I am trying to order IELTS 10 & 9 (with audio) on line with no luck.
    I wonder if anybody else has faced the same problem. I have tried Amazon and ebay.
    Can you suggest other websites that I can purchase these books??

    Thank you
    Mohammad

  37. Hi Liz,

    Thank you for your very useful videos and tips.

    I have taken my IELTS test in Dubai on 4th March 2017 .I used capital letters in my all the tests even in even in writing. Will it affect my score ?

    • IELTS have said that it’s ok to use capital letters in writing. The only problem is that it makes punctuation more difficult to assess and mark. Hopefully you will still do ok. Please keep me informed when your results arrive.

      • Thank you for your reply.

        I shall keep you posted. The result will be released on 19th March. Hopefully will get my desired band score 🙂

  38. Hi,
    You say ” mR bRown ” is acceptable in the Listening test. I think this is contrary to what you taught in one of your youtube videos on tips for IELTS Listening test. Please clarify. Thanks

  39. This is really a helpful site for us.Thank you Liz

  40. Hello Liz,

    Great website with useful and very helping material. My question is, if I write everything in capital like MONDAY or STATION in reading or listening? Will that be OK? Because I did that in my test yesterday.

  41. Hi liz,
    I subscribe your website yesterday. Your website material is so helpful for the IELTS preparation at home. Please upload more video’s then we can more learn. Thanks Liz madam….

    • Thanks. I’m so glad you like my lessons. I upload new lessons on this website but more videos won’t be until the end of the year 🙁

  42. Eman Al Masri says:

    Thank you Liz. That was very useful. I am training to become an IELTS Trainer

    • Good luck! It’s a great job. There is nothing better than seeing a student get a great band score and watching them continue with their future 🙂

  43. Dear Liz,
    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your videos and the tips are very very useful. I followed all your guidelines and was able to achieve my desired band of 8.
    Keep up the good work.

  44. Simran Jeet Singh Kalsi says:

    Hi there,
    Here Simran Jeet Singh Kalsi from India.
    The information that you give us is really helpful and with them I scored this –
    Reading -7.0
    Speaking-7.5
    Writing-6.5
    Listening-9.0
    Overall-7.5
    Thanks a lot from bottom of my heart 😘

  45. mardel vicmudo says:

    I got problem in my writing. I hope somebody could help me.

  46. Jayanti V S N Murthy says:

    Hi Liz

    These were exactly the points I wanted to clarify on before I sat for the IELTS Test. Thank you for providing a good clarity in these aspects.

    A very useful Post!

  47. Deewealth says:

    Hi Liz, Dayo from Nigeria
    just got my ielts ukvi (academic) result for 11th Feb. exam

    Reading 8
    Listening 8
    Writing 7
    Speaking 7
    Overall band 7.5

    it perfectly fits the purpose i want it for. Thanks so much for the lessons and videos, immeasurable value!

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