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IELTS-International English Language Testing System.

Updated on August 14, 2022
SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

I have been a college teacher and journalist. As a freelance content writer, I research the subject to write without prejudice and malice.


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s leading English language test and conforms to the highest international standards of language assessment. It is recognized in many countries.

IELTS is a secure, valid and reliable test designed for the people who want to work, study or live in a country where English is the main language of communication. It measures the ability of English communication by testing all four language skills viz.listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Over 7,000 organizations in the world including employers, universities, government agencies, professional institutions and immigration authorities accept the test scores. About 3,000 higher education institutions and programs in the USA also accept the test scores as proof of English language proficiency. The test is conducted at more than 800 locations in 130 countries and has 48 test dates per year. More than 1.4 million test takers around the world take the test each year.

Fees of the test are set by test centers which vary from country to country. It is about £115 GBP, €190 Euros or $200 USD.

The test and the most of the test centers are managed by the British Council, IDP Education, IELTS Australia, some universities and language schools. The British Council’s staff and their facilities help to take the IELTS easy for the candidate. Few testing centers offer off-site testing for larger groups by making prior arrangements with IELTS.

The aspirant should contact the nearest examination center or visit the official IELTS website for information about the procedure of application and the location of the nearest test center.


The IDP Education is a proud owner of the IELTS. In the beginning, the IELTS Australia, British Council, and Cambridge ESOL were involved in the development of the IELTS test. The test was launched in 1989, and today it is the most popular and high-stake English-language test in the world.

Still, the IELTS Australia, the British Council, and Cambridge ESOL develop, administer and deliver the test globally.

IELTS Australia Pvt.Ltd is a subsidiary of IDP Education. It is a company co-owned by 38 Australian universities and SEEK Ltd. The IELTS Australia globally manages the test centers in more than 35 countries.

Test Versions

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training are the two versions of the test. The candidate should decide which is the right one, depending upon the need before registering for the test.

IELTS Academic is meant for the eligibility to study at undergraduate or postgraduate level, or to register with any professional organization.

IELTS General is for those candidates who plan to work or undertake work-related training or to study or train below undergraduate level.

A particular IELTS score is required by the immigration authorities of English-speaking countries. The score varies according to the situation, need, and country. So check with the concerned immigration authorities.

Levels and scores

The candidate should find out the IELTS score needed for education, immigration, employment, professional registration or training opportunity of his/her choice.

The test has multiple levels. The candidate can get a score between 1 and 9. Scores in fractions such as 6.5 are also possible. The Universities generally demand an IELTS score of 6 or 7 or they may also put a condition of minimum scores in each of the 4 sections.

Various sites on the internet provide the facility of "convert calculator" for IELTS score bands and to compare the IELTS score with other exams.

Test Format

IELTS test has four sub-tests called modules. They are Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking tests. All THE four sub-tests are necessary.

Listening and Speaking tests are the same for all candidates.

But the Reading and Writing tests, are different, depending on whether the aspirant is going for the Academic IELTS or the General IELTS test.

Test Time is 2 hours 45 minute and the result is declared after 13 days

On the day of the test, the four subsections will be taken in the following order. But the Speaking test may be conducted one or two days later at some test centers.

IELTS listening test has four sections with an order of increasing difficulty. It is played on a cassette tape. Each section may be either a dialogue or a monologue. The test is played only once and the questions for each section are to be answered while listening. The candidates are given the time to check their answers. This test lasts for about 30 minutes.

IELTS Reading test has either an Academic Reading test or a General Training Reading test and both tests consist of three sections. The order of difficulty increases in both the tests. The duration of the test is 60 minutes.

IELTS Writing test again has two options of either an Academic test, or a General Training test. The candidates have to perform two writing tasks. These tasks require different writing styles.No choice of question topics is given. This test lasts for 60 minutes.

IELTS Speaking test consists of a face to face interview with an examiner. The specially trained examiner leads the candidate through the three parts of the test consisting of an introduction, an interview and an elocution where the candidate speaks on a given topic for one or two minutes, followed by a discussion related to the topic. This interview takes approximately ten to fifteen minutes.

How to prepare

There is a wide range of materials to prepare for the test.

First of all download the free information from the net.

IELTS gives official practice materials to understand the format of the test.The Official IELTS Practice Material has two volumes consisting of samples of the listening, writing, reading and speaking sections with sample answers and comments of the examiner.

The first volume is in the form of CD, having samples of the Listening test.

The second volume is in the form of DVD, showing the candidates taking the Speaking test.

These two volumes are the only IELTS practice materials and are endorsed by the IELTS partners too.

Also try some free sample questions online to get an idea about expected questions.

Some IELTS centers organize workshops to prepare the candidates for the test.For details contact the local IELTS test center. Preparation courses are also offered by various language schools.

Some Hints

The candidate should not change the accent for the IELTS test. The emphasis is on speaking clearly and at a natural pace so that the examiner can clearly understand.One should practice every day by listening to different native accents to pronounce difficult words more exactly.

In writing test the minimum word limit is important. At least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2 are sufficient, otherwise, the marks are deducted. But writing more than this will not increase your marks. The most important thing is the correct English, exact grammar, rich vocabulary and appropriate syntax.

Remember that IELTS is not more difficult than any other exam and requires thorough preparation. The straightforward questions are designed to assess the command over English. The test is not to trick the candidate.

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. The test result is reported on a 9-band scale which has remained consistent for the last 20 years. Here 1 means the lowest and 9 is the highest score.

The required score depends upon visa requirements of desired institution or organization to which the aspirant is applying. Check the score needed before taking the test.

There are no right or wrong opinions in writing and speaking tests. The candidate is assessed for the proper use of English, the capability to report information exactly and to express the ideas.

Regular practice of sample tests will sharpen the English skills and help to learn what is expected in each part of the test. To improve the command over language practice the everyday use of English language. Speak in English with your friends. Write detailed SMS', take notes and draft email in proper English, read newspapers regularly, listen to BBC radio etc. Join an English speaking course, if there is a need.

The test is protected by sophisticated and multiple security measures for preventing cheating. This is to safeguard the interests of candidates and of those organizations which use the test scores. For this purpose, the photograph and fingerprints are scanned when a candidate registers or arrives for the test. This ensures that the same person is taking the test.

Remember that no two tests are the same and each test paper consists of a unique combination of questions.

© 2013 Sanjay Sharma


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