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 mix both capitals and lower case if you want.
  • IELTS will NOT mark your capital letters in listening or reading.

Examples of capital letters in listening and reading:

  • Mr Brown = correct / mR bRown = correct / 9am = correct / 9Am = correct / monday = correct / MONDAY = correct
  • It doesn’t matter if you use capital letters, don’t use them or use them inappropriately – the answer will be correct. So don’t worry.

In IELTS listening, you will be given 10 mins extra to transfer your answers to your answer sheet. Capital letters are not important and punctuation is not marked. If your handwriting is poor, write in 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 capital letters but clear writing – same as for listening.

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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  1. 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.

  2. 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 this or 11TH DECEMBER 2012.

  3. 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.

    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.

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

  5. Biborno Projapoti says:

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

  6. Sandeep Singh says:

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. TASLIMA BEGUM says:

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

  10. 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

  11. 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 🙂

  12. 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

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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 🙁

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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.

  18. 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
    Thanks a lot from bottom of my heart 😘

  19. mardel vicmudo says:

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

  20. 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!

  21. 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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