Last Updated: January 08, 2021
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
What is IELTS?
IELTS is an English Language Proficiency test that is required to be taken by people to study/work in countries where the medium of communication is English. It's purpose is to assess the proficiency in English. It is managed by three organizations - The British Council, IDP Education Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment. It is more popular than TOEFL (it has more test takers as compared to TOEFL
IELTS is accepted by universities in UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It has become a mandatory test for study in Australia. You cannot be granted an Australian student visa without an IELTS score (or TOEFL). It is popular in the US also. Almost all major US Universities accept IELTS. More than 9,000 organizations all over the world recognize IELTS score. There are over 1,000 test centers around the globe to assist foreign aspirants in taking the exam easily.
IELTS evaluates your English language ability (reading, writing, and listening). A good score (usually 6.0 and above) is an entry requirement for many colleges and universities worldwide.
IELTS is widely accepted by US Universities!
What are the 4 types of IELTS test?
There are two types of IELTS to choose from depending upon if you are an immigrant moving over to work or a student looking to pursue higher education or secondary education.
- IELTS Academic: This is a very popular test recognized by most of the educational organizations and professional organizations. If you are a student looking to pursue a higher education (for example, a Bachelor's or Master's degree) or if you are a professional immigrant looking to have professional registration (for example, be recognized as a doctor or engineer), then the Academic version is the way to go.
- IELTS General Training: This test focuses on basic survival skills. It is a visa requirement in countries like Australia and Canada. If you are moving to an English speaking country to work or train or as a student in secondary education, this test proves that you have the necessary English skills to be able to communicate in the new environment.
- IELTS Life Skills: This test is valid in UK for people looking to immigrate there or obtain citizenship. The purpose of this test is to ascertain that the candidate has everyday English communication skills. It focuses on listening and speaking English ability. There are two levels of this test - IELTS Life Skills A1 and IELTS Life Skills B2. The IELTS Life Skills A1 is needed to obtain a UK visa for self and/family. The IELTS Life Skills B1 is needed to obtain UK citizenship.
- IELTS Indicator: This is a new indicative test started by IELTS that can be taken online at the convenience of home during the Covid-19 lockdown. Bear in mind though that this is an indicative score only and although it follows all the original test structure, the organizations might still require the candidate to take the paper-based or computer-based IELTS later on whenever possible.
The choice of IELTS test depends upon the reason of moving to a different country and the organization in which you are applying, so check with the individual organization.
Is IELTS paper-based or computer-based?
IELTS is a largely paper based exam although they also provide the facility to take computer based exam located at certain locations for your convenience. The computer-based IELTS is available in over 30 countries including but not limited to Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria and China. Bear in mind that the speaking section of the test is always one-to-one with an examiner, regardless of the test method you choose.
Does it matter if I choose paper-based or computer-based method for IELTS?
The short answer is NO. The organizations are not picky about which method you choose. The main restriction with computer-based test is that there are not as many centers available as paper-based test. This is a major restriction with IELTS although they are trying to open more and more computer-based centers. If you are lucky enough to have a computer-based center nearby, definitely avail the benefits. There are many more dates available with the computer-based test as opposed to paper-based test.
What is the format of the IELTS test?
Regardless of which type of IELTS test you are taking, the test is divided into 4 sections. The test is 2 hour and 45 mins. The Listening, Reading and Writing sections have to completed in a single day with no breaks in between, however the Speaking section can be taken within a week before or after the test date.
All the 4 sections of the test have equal weightage. IELTS uses a 9-band scale to show the score. Each individual question is checked for accuracy and the raw score from each section is then converted to an individual component band score which is rounded off to the nearest half band (0.5) or full band (.0). These component band scores are then added and divided by 4 to get an average which is the overall band score. The final band score is also rounded off to the nearest half or full band.
|9 ||Expert user|
|8 ||Very good user|
|7 ||Good user|
|6 ||Competent user|
|5 ||Modest user|
|4 ||Limited user|
|3 ||Extremely limited user|
|2 ||Intermittent user|
|1 ||Non user|
|0 ||Did not attempt the test|
- IELTS score has no validity period. It is at the discretion of each organization to set their own validity period but IELTS recommends a validity period of 2 years.
- On an average most test takers score better in Listening and worst in writing.
- 55% of the test takers score more than 6.0 (academic test taken for higher education courses with a duration of more than 3 months).
There are no restrictions on re-taking IELTS. If you do not get the result you wanted, you can register for another test as soon as you feel you are ready to do so.
* Please note: Many Universities accept TOEFL in lieu of IELTS and vice-versa.