What is the IELTS?
The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is an worldwide standardized test of English language ability for non-native English speakers. It is mutually managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment, and was established in 1989. IELTS is one of the main English-language exams in the world.
IELTS is recognized by most Australian, British, Canadian and New Zealand academic organizations, by over 3,000 academic organizations in the United States, and by various professional administrations across the world.
IELTS is the only Secure English Language Test accepted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa clients applying both outside and inside the UK. It is also a prerequisite for immigration to Australia and New Zealand. It is also accepted in Canada for immigration purposes.
IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are intended to cover the full assortment of aptitude from non-user to expert user. The Academic type is for students who want to study in an English-speaking country or pursue professional registration. The General Training type is for students who want to work, train or study at a secondary school or migrate to an English-speaking area.
The difference between the Academic and General Training versions is the subject matter, setting and purpose of the tasks. All other features, such as timing distribution, extent of written responses and reporting of scores, are the same.
Many students find that using test preparations books help to improve their scores.
See our list of the best IELTS prep books here.
10 questions each
|Writing||2 prompts||60 Minutes|
|Speaking||Oral interview||11-14 minutes|
IELTS Scoring Structure
Students obtain a score for each test module – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The separate scores are then averaged and rounded to yield an Overall Band Score.
There is no pass or fail. The IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band conforming to a specified aptitude in English. Overall Band Scores are stated to the nearest half band.
The following rounding settlement applies: if the average across the four modules ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.
A Test Report Form is sent to students 13 days after their exam. It shows:
- An Overall Band Score (from 1-9)
- A band score (from 1-9) for each unit of the test (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)
- Whether IELTS Academic or General Training was finished
- The student’s photo, nationality, first language and date of birth.
Students obtain one copy of their Test Report Form, apart from students who are applying to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) who obtain two copies.
Test Report Forms are valid for two years.
Students can take IELTS in more than 140 countries and in over 1,000 sites.
There are up to 48 test dates offered per year. Each exam center offers exams up to four times a month contingent on local demand. The Academic version is offered on all 48 dates per year and the General Training version is offered on 24 dates.
Find your nearest testing location here.
There used to be a minimum time limit of 90 days before which a test taker was not permitted to retake the exam. However this limit has been withdrawn and currently there is no limit for candidates to retake the exam.