Answers to word count questions

Yesterday I posted a list of words and numbers. I asked you to decide how they were counted by IELTS. Check the answers below.

You can also find useful links about word count information in IELTS using the links below.

How are words counted – Answers

The answers below show how these words and numbers are counted in IELTS writing and IELTS listening. The reading test uses the same system as the listening test.

  1. fair-haired
    1.  This is counted as one word. It is a compound noun but it is connected by a hyphen to make one word.
  2. 55%
    1. This is counted as one word in writing and as one number in listening. The
  3. 1960’s
    1. This is counted as one word in writing and one number in listening.
  4. 21st July
    1. This is counted as two words in writing and in listening is it one number and one word.
  5. can’t
    1. This is counted as one word in writing and listening. Although it has a meaning of two words, the words are contracted to make one word.
  6. blackboard
    1. This is counted as one word only.
  7. 9am
    1. This is counted as one word in writing. In listening, it is counted as one number only. The “am” does not count as a word on its own.
  8. up-to-date
    1. This is counted as one word because it is a compound noun joined with hyphens.
  9. at school
    1. This is counted as two words.
  10. $19.17
    1. This is counted as one word in writing and in listening it is counted as one number. Symbols do not count at all.

Useful Links to Learn more about IELTS

Learn how all words are counted in IELTS

Learn about how many words to write for your essay

IELTS Test Information & Tips: over 100 questions answered


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  1. The question is No more than one word/a number but the answer is 25 pounds. They used pounds, not the symbol. So I think it’s 2 words. Please help. Thank you Liz.

  2. Hi liz,
    My only concern in listening test is with multiple choice questions. when they are really long its very hard to read them all and memorize it in given time period. if a concentrate on audio i could not choose the right answer and if a concentrate on option given to me cant keep up with the audio. i am very frustrated as i want to score 8 bands in listening. please help me how to approach it.

    • You have time to read the options before listening. You need to practice and develop the skill of spotting keywords and differences between those options. Once you have done that, you can then listen carefully for those keywords and differences. Remember, the keywords don’t only exits in the options, but also in the questions.

  3. Hi Liz I really appreciate you
    I have one question
    Impressed about or interested in are counted as two words or one word in listening part.?
    Thank you in advance

  4. Hi Liz, I really appreciate what you’ve wrote on this website. It helps me a lot!

    Im going to take the IELTS on Saturday, and I have a question.

    If on the test, there’s an answer ” Long, splayed hooves”, will it be counted as 3 Words or 4 Words ?
    Does a comma also count ?
    I have a problem on it.

    Please help me for it, and thanks again.

  5. Hello Madam,
    IELTS Cambridge Book 5 Listening Test: 2 Section: 1 Form Completion question type.
    Qno: Cost to join per year (without current student card): 3 £_____________
    I wrote 125
    The mentioned answer in this book is: 125 (per year)
    Guide me, what is the correct answer? as “per year” is mentioned in the question also, what does the answers in bracket in this book mean?
    The anwers given below, which one is right among them?
    125 per year
    125 (per year)

    Another question from same question type:
    Qno: Need 8____________ to use photocopier
    I wrote card, whereas the mentioned answers are: (a) card / cards


  6. Dear Liz, as I know that the date format ‘31.03.1972’ is considered as one word. However, in test 2 of Cambridge 9, the speaker refers to ’31st of March, 1972′. However, the answer provided in the back of Cambridge denotes ’31 March’. Notably, onle one word and/or a number is allowed.. My question is whether the answer ‘31.03.1972’ is correct as I got confused by the answer provided by Cambridge book itself.

  7. Rajesh Rao says

    thank you madam your website is very helpful to everyone.

  8. Hello Liz,
    Please let me know how is 16.6 weeks counted in Listening exam.
    Thanks in advance

  9. Hi mam liz
    My ielts acad exam here in Singapore under British council is on January 7-8,2017. Do you think graphs will not be in our writing task 1 as it appears many times during December intakes? Thanks

    • There is no way to predict. You must prepare all kinds of task 1.

      • sai harsha vardhan says

        hello mam,
        sorry for asking you here i didn’t see anywhere how to ask you about the video am looking if you don’t mind can you please share the video that contain how to write the body of paragraph in both views with an example. it will be very helpful to me to achieve my band
        thanking you,
        yours regard.

  10. Thanks! This is really useful!

  11. Hi Liz,

    How long is the IELTS certificate valid? 2 yrs OR 3 yrs?

  12. thankyou so much

  13. Thanks alot mrs liz

  14. Thank you very much
    I really appreciate that

  15. Thanks Liz, hope I will be seeing more of the infro especially on I elts writing.

  16. :'(

  17. Thank you very much, dear Liz, for your email and all your free teaching online.
    God bless you abundantly.

  18. kamrul hasan says

    Thanks heaps liz,It is really useful,I had a lot of confusion ,I think it would be great for both listening and writing task module.

  19. sreerekha kiran says

    Thank you Liz

  20. U hv done a great job mrs liz thanks

  21. You done a great job mrs liz thanks

  22. Thank you so much Liz

  23. Thank you very much

  24. Thanks you so much Liz

  25. Thank you so much Liz.

  26. Thank you so much dear,

    my exam is after tomorrow would you please tell my what I should write (capital or small) letter if the gap in listening is in the beginning of the sentence although it is not a name but it must be capital right??!!!

  27. are perfect..focusing on exactly what we really need. .you are such a pretty good teacher

  28. thanks liz , i want speaking topic

  29. Thanks Liz

    I was confused with hyphens and sampols
    are they counted as one word or not but I got it now. 🙂

  30. According to Vocabulary for IELTS written by Pauline Caullen, candidates aren’t allowed to write a decade like this: 1960’s, meaning that this format is wrong. In other words, you are supposed to write 1960s.

  31. Thank you very much liz

  32. Madam Liz really your work is excellent nobody in this age do this for others,\

    Thanks a lot,


  33. You need any help from me, Sorry for up

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