ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Take the IELTS English Language Test

Updated on June 19, 2013

Many people need to show how good at English they are by taking a test. The IELTS is taken by over 1.4 million people every year.

It is an entrance requirement for many universities. It is also needed to migrate to several English-speaking countries.


What is the IELTS?

IELTS means 'International Language Testing System.' It is a test of English language proficiency. There are two versions: the Academic Version and the General Training Version.

  • The Academic Version is for people who want to enrol in Universities or other institutions of higher education. The IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African universities, as well as some in the United States.
  • The General Training Version is for people who want to do work experience or migrate to an English-speaking country. The IELTS is a requirement for immigration to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The IELTS is developed by writers from all over the world.The test does not have a pass mark. You get a score from 'Band 1' (non-user) to 'Band 9' (expert user). Different universities have different requirements. For example, Oxford University requires a minimum IELTS score of 7.0.

Modules of the IELTS

The IELTS is made up of four modules: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

  • Listening. This lasts for 30 minutes. There are four sections. They can either be monologues or dialogues. The first three sections have a break in the middle, giving you some time to look at the questions. Each section is heard only once. A variety of accents are used in recordings.
  • Reading. This lasts for 60 minutes. In the academic section, there are three texts. They are followed by about 14 questions. In the general training, there can be up to five shorter texts.
  • Writing. This lasts for 60 minutes. In the academic test, there are two tasks. In the first, candidates have to describe a diagram, graph, process or chart. In Task 2, they have to respond to an argument. In the general training test, there are also two parts. In the first part, you have to write a letter or explain a situation. In the second part, you have to write an essay.
  • Speaking. This lasts between 11-14 minutes. There are three sections. The first part is a general interview with the examiner about hobbies, interests and reasons for taking the exam. In section two, you have one minute to think about a topic and then talk about it. The third section is a discussion with the examiner, usually about the topic talked about in Part Two. The speaking part is recorded in case there is a dispute about the band given.

How to Take the IELTS

  1. Find your nearest IELTS centre. There are more than 800 test centres in over 130 countries. In the USA there are 49 centres. There are 47 centres in both the UK and Australia. You can search for one near to you on the IELTS website. Make sure you note the deadline for registering.
  2. Check whether you need to sit the Academic or General Training test. You can find out about the requirements of the institution you are applying to here.
  3. Print out the IELTS application form. You can get a copy as a PDF file or you can ask your test centre for a copy.
  4. You need two identical passport size photographs. They should be less than six months old and in colour. You need to sign them each on the back. Don't wear glasses in the photographs.
  5. Photocopy your current passport. It must be valid.
  6. If you want your details sent to a particular university, make sure they are entered on the application form.
  7. Take your application form into your test centre with money. If you send it by post, talk to your centre about how to pay.
  8. On the day of the test, take your passport or national identity document. You should also take pencils and pens to write with.
  9. The results will be available 13 days after the test.

Preparing for the IELTS

You can take a course at a language school which will help you get a higher score at the IELTS. There are also plenty of books available.

The Cambridge Self Study Pack contains four authentic IELTS papers. The students books with answers has four Academic tests, as well as extra reading and writing modules for General training candidates.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      This is new to me but I found this very interesting. I had no idea such a test existed, but I can see from your hub it not only exists but is a very popular test. Thanks for the information.

      Voted up and interesting.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)