The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS , is an international standardised test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers. It is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment and was established in 1989. IELTS is one of the major English-language tests in the world.
IELTS is the only Secure English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for visa customers applying both outside and inside the UK. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and New Zealand.
There are two modules of the IELTS:
Academic Module and
General Training Module
IELTS Academic is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practise in an English-speaking country.
IELTS General Training is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.
The IELTS test has four parts
- Listening: 30 minutes (plus 10 minutes' transfer time)
- Reading: 60 minutes
- Writing: 60 minutes
- Speaking: 11–14 minutes
The test total time is: 2 hours and 55 minutes.
Listening, Reading and Writing are completed in one sitting. The Speaking test may be taken on the same day or up to seven days before or after the other tests.
All test takers take the same Listening and Speaking tests, while the Reading and Writing tests differ depending on whether the test taker is taking the Academic or General Training versions of the test.
The module comprises four sections, with ten questions in each section. It takes 40 minutes: 30 - for testing, plus 10 for transferring the answers to an answer sheet.
The Reading paper has three sections and texts totaling 2,150-2,750 words. There will be a variety of question types, such as multiple choice, short-answer questions, identifying information, identifying writer’s views, labeling diagrams, completing a summary using words taken from the text and matching information/headings/features in the text/sentence endings. Test takers should be careful when writing down their answers as they will lose marks for incorrect spelling and grammar.
The Writing paper has two tasks which must both be completed. In task 1 test takers write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes. In task 2 test takers write at least 250 words in about 40 minutes. Test takers will be penalised if their answer is too short or does not relate to the topic. Answers should be written in full sentences (test takers must not use notes or bullet points).
The speaking test is a face-to-face interview between the test taker and an examiner.
Test takers receive a score for each test component – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score.
There is no pass or fail. IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest half band.
A Test Report Form is posted to test takers 13 days after their test. It shows:
- An Overall Band Score (from 1-9)
- A band score (from 1-9) for each section of the test (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking)
- Whether IELTS Academic or General Training was completed
- The test taker’s photo, nationality, first language and date of birth.
Test takers receive one copy of their Test Report Form, apart from test takers who are applying to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) or UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) who receive two copies.
Test Report Forms are valid for two years.