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There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version. There is also a separate test offered by the IELTS test partners, called IELTS Life Skills:

  • 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.
  • IELTS Life Skills is intended for those who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1 or B1 and can be used to apply for a ‘family of a settled person’ visa, indefinite leave to remain or citizenship in the UK.

IELTS is accepted by most AustralianBritishCanadian and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organisations across the world.

 

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is the world’s most popular English language test. More than 2 million IELTS tests were taken last year.

Taking IELTS opens doors – it can help you live, study and work around the world. More than 9,000 organisations worldwide accept IELTS, including Government, academic and employment institutions. In fact, IELTS is the only English language test accepted for immigration purposes by all countries that require one.

 

IELTS test format explained

Test takers who understand the format of IELTS are at an advantage. Make sure you’re familiar with how IELTS testing works.

There are two IELTS tests available, IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. Both tests are graded in exactly the same way. 

You’ll take the first three parts of the test on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or after that, depending on local arrangements.

Video-Call Speaking test

From July 2020, some of our IELTS test centres will start delivering the IELTS Speaking test via video calls. This means more flexibility and more availability of IELTS Speaking tests.

You will take the Video-Call Speaking test at an official IELTS test centre with the same high standard of identity verification. The test will be exactly the same as the in-person Speaking test in terms of content, scoring, timing, level of difficulty, question format and security arrangements.  Delivered by an IELTS Speaking Examiner, the video-call Speaking test will maintain the face-to-face feature of the in-person Speaking test.

This test is currently available in Albania, Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, North Macedonia, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

For more information, please contact us.

The IELTS Listening test is designed to assess a wide range of listening skills, including how well you

  • understand main ideas and specific factual information
  • recognise the opinions, attitudes and purpose of a speaker
  • follow the development of an argument

 

Listening

 

Format

You will listen to four recordings of native English speakers and then write your answers to a series of questions.

  • Recording 1: a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • Recording 2: a monologue set in an everyday social context, e.g. a speech about local facilities
  • Recording 3: a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context, e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment.
  • Recording 4: a monologue on an academic subject, e.g. a university lecture

Timing

The IELTS Listening test takes approximately 30 minutes, and you are allowed an extra 10 minutes to transfer your answers from your question booklet to your answer sheet.

Number of Questions

40 questions

Task Types

A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following: multiple choice, matching, plan/map/diagram labelling, form/note/table/flow-chart/summary completion, sentence completion.

Marks

Each correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Answer sheet

Download the Listening test answer sheet.  (329KB

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading

 

You will need to read quickly and efficiently, and manage your time. You will be asked to read three different passages and respond to related questions in your IELTS Reading test. The content of the Reading test is different for IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

The IELTS Reading test is designed to assess a wide range of reading skills, including how well you

  • read for the general sense of a passage
  • read for the main ideas
  • read for detail
  • understand inferences and implied meaning
  • recognise a writer’s opinions, attitudes and purpose
  • follow the development of an argument

Academic Reading

Format

Three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers.  They have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for people entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

Timing 

60 minutes including the transfer time

Number of Questions

40 questions

Task Types

Fill gaps in a passage of written text or in a table, match headings to written text to diagrams or charts, complete sentences, give short answers to open questions, answer multiple choice questions

Marks

Each correct answer receives one mark. Scores out of 40 are converted to the IELTS 9-band scale. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

Answer sheet

Download the Reading test answer sheet (97KB)

 

 

Writing

 

The IELTS Writing test is designed to assess a wide range of writing skills, including how well you

  • write a response appropriately
  • organise ideas
  • use a range of vocabulary and grammar accurately

Academic Writing

Format

Write in a formal style in the IELTS Academic Writing test. In Task 1 you will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram. You will be asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. This might involve describing and explaining data, describing the stages of a process or how something works, or describing an object or event. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You should find the issues interesting and easy to understand.

Timing 

The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2. You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

Number of Questions

2 questions

Task Types

Two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2

Marks

Your Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner. Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test. Scores are reported in whole and half bands

General Training Writing

Format

The topics used in the IELTS General Training Writing test are of general interest. In Task 1 you will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. You can write the letter in a personal, semi-formal or formal style. In Task 2 you will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You can use a fairly personal style.

Timing 

The IELTS Writing test takes 60 minutes. Spend 20 minutes on Task 1, and 40 minutes on Task 2. You will need to manage your own time, so make sure you move on to Task 2 after 20 minutes.

Number of Questions

2 questions

Task Types

Two tasks: Task 1 and Task 2. You will be asked to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2

Marks

Your Writing test will be marked by a certificated IELTS examiner. Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1 in the IELTS Writing test. Scores are reported in whole and half bands

 

Speaking

 

You will talk to a certified examiner in the IELTS Speaking test. The test is interactive and as close to a real-life situation as a test can get. A variety of accents may be used, and the test will be recorded.

The content of the IELTS Speaking test is the same for both the IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training tests.

The IELTS Speaking test is designed to assess a wide range of skills.

The examiner will want to see how well you can

  • communicate opinions and information on everyday topics and common experiences; to do this you will need to answer a range of questions
  • speak at length on a given topic using appropriate language
  • organise your ideas coherently
  • express and justify your opinions
  • analyse, discuss and speculate about issues

Make sure that you relax and talk fluently. You will need to speak naturally.

Format

Part 1: The examiner will introduce him or herself and ask you to introduce yourself and confirm your identity. The examiner will ask you general questions on familiar topics, e.g. home, family, work, studies and interests. This section should help you relax and talk naturally.

Part 2: The examiner will give you a task card which asks you to talk about a particular topic, including points to include in your talk. You will be given one minute to prepare and make notes. You will then be asked to talk for 1-2 minutes on the topic. You will not be interrupted during this time, so it is important to keep talking. The examiner will then ask you one or two questions on the same topic.

Part 3: The examiner will ask you further questions which are connected to the topic of Part 2. These questions are designed to give you an opportunity to discuss more abstract issues and ideas.

Timing

11-14 minutes

Marks

You will be assessed on your performance throughout the test by certificated IELTS examiners. You will be marked on the four criteria: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy, pronunciation. Scores are reported in whole and half bands.

 

Video-Call Speaking test

From July 2020, some of our IELTS test centres will start delivering the IELTS Speaking test via video calls. This means more flexibility and more availability of IELTS Speaking tests.

You will take the Video-Call Speaking test at an official IELTS test centre with the same high standard of identity verification. The test will be exactly the same as the in-person Speaking test in terms of content, scoring, timing, level of difficulty, question format and security arrangements.  Delivered by an IELTS Speaking Examiner, the video-call Speaking test will maintain the face-to-face feature of the in-person Speaking test.

This test is currently available in Albania, Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, North Macedonia, Oman, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

For more information, please contact us.

 

How to set IELTS entry scores

 

When establishing the IELTS scores required for entry to your organisation, consider:

  • your organisation’s English proficiency expectations
  • the preferred skill sets of applicants
  • the standard of language skills required (e.g. for presenting, researching, teaching etc.).

These considerations will help you set your overall IELTS band score, as well as individual scores for each section: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking.  

Guidelines for educational institutions

The table below outlines the required IELTS band scores for different courses.

Remember that many factors may affect students’ performance, with language ability being just one of these factors.

Band Score

Linguistically demanding academic courses

Linguistically less demanding academic courses

Linguistically demanding training courses

Linguistically less demanding training courses

7.5-9

Acceptable

Acceptable

Acceptable

Acceptable

7.0

Probably acceptable

Acceptable

Acceptable

Acceptable

6.5

English study needed

Probably acceptable

Acceptable

Acceptable

6.0

English study needed

English study needed

Probably acceptable

Acceptable

5.5

English study needed

English study needed

English study needed

Probably acceptable

IELTS Scores Guide

Whether you’re a teacher, employer or course designer, the IELTS Scores Guide is a handy tool that helps you to understand how IELTS scores reflect language ability.

The Scores Guide includes:

  • videos of spoken presentations at varying points on the banding scale, with comments from examiners
  • sample writing tasks supplied by test takers at various points on the 9-band scale, with comments from examiners
  • questions and answer samples from Listening and Reading tests
  • a supporting booklet, including a summary of the test format and IELTS assessment criteria
  • surveys to assist you when setting your score requirements
  • advice on setting up a score-setting committee.

 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

 

Find out answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about IELTS.

 

What is IELTS Test?

 

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration.

 

Which Organisations accepts IELTS Test?

 

IELTS is accepted by more than 10,000 organisations worldwide. These include universities, immigration departments, government agencies, professional bodies and multinational companies.

 

Who owns the IELTS Test?

 

IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. International teams of writers contribute to IELTS test materials. Ongoing research ensures that IELTS remains fair and unbiased. Test writers from different English-speaking countries develop IELTS content so it reflects real-life situations.

 

Why are there two types of IELTS Test?

There are two types of the IELTS test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.

 

The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.

 

The IELTS General Training test is for those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training programs. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.

 

Which IELTS test should I take ?

 

Please go to Which test should I take? and read the description of the Academic and General Training tests. Individual organisations have different requirements. Make sure you check which IELTS test the organisation you are applying to is asking for. Note that you must know which type to take when you complete the online application form.

 

What is the IELTS test format and how long will it take?

 

The IELTS test has four sections Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11-14 minutes). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. you'll take the first three sections of the test on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or two days after that, depending on local arrangements.

 

What help is available for IELTS test takers with visual, hearing,speaking or learning difficulties?

 

Our official IELTS test centres can help if you have visual, hearing, speaking or learning difficulties. If you need a modified version of IELTS, please give the test centre three months’ notice. If special arrangements (for example, extra time) need to be made then please give the test centre six weeks' notice. Your English language ability will be assessed objectively, regardless of any disability or special needs that you may have.

 

How are IELTS Test marked?

 

IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores in a consistent manner. You receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.

 

When can I take an IELTS Test?

 

IELTS is available on 48 fixed dates a year up to four times a month, depending on local demand.

 

How much does a IELTS test cost?

 

IELTS has a set fee for its test. The Academic and General Training tests are the same cost. When you apply online, you will be told the fee.

 

Is the IELTS test completed on one day?

 

The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are always completed immediately after each other and with no break. The Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or two days after that, depending on local arrangements.

 

Who sets the pass mark for IELTS test?

 

There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Scores are graded on the 9-band system. Each educational institution or organisation sets its own level of IELTS scores to meet its individual requirements

 

What can is bring to IELTS test room?

Only pens, pencils and erasers. You must bring the passport/national identity card you used on the IELTS Application Form to the test. You must leave everything else outside the testing room. Mobile phones, pagers and electronic devices of any kind must be switched off and placed with personal belongings in the area designated by the supervisor. If you do not switch off your phone/pager or any other electronic devices, or keep it on you, you will be disqualified. Personal watches are not allowed in the test room.

 

Which part of the IELTS test do I take first?

 

You will take the Listening test first, followed by the Reading and Writing tests (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or two days after that, depending on local arrangements.

 

What accent can be heared in the IELTS Listening and Speaking test?

 

As IELTS is an international test, a variety of English accents are used in both tests

 

Does the IELTS Listening tape provide instructions and pauses?

 

Yes. At the beginning, you hear instructions. Then you read section 1 questions, listen to section 1 and answer the questions.

 

Is there a similar period of 10 minutes in the IELTS Reading test transfer answers?

 

No. The Reading test is one hour, and you must write all your answers on the answer sheet in this time.

 

Can I use pen for the IELTS Reading and Listening test?

 

No. You must do it in pencil. The answer sheet is scanned by a computer which cannot read pen.

 

Can I make a note on the IELTS Listening and Reading question paper?

 

Yes. The IELTS Examiner will not see your question paper.

 

What is the IELTS Speaking test?

 

The Speaking test is a conversation with a certified IELTS Examiner. The Speaking test is made up of three parts. It is recorded on an audio cassette or a digital recorder.

 

What do I need for the IELTS Speaking test?

 

You must bring the same identification documents you supplied on your IELTS Application Form and used for the rest of the test. Your ID will be checked before you enter the interview room. Personal items, including electronic devices and watches, are not allowed in the Speaking test room.

 

What if I am not satisfied with my IELTS score?

 

If you would like to make an enquiry about your test results, you need to apply at the centre where you booked your test within six weeks of your test date. You can choose which sections of the test you want to have re-marked. There is a charge for an enquiry on IELTS test results (EOR), however this charge will be refunded if your score increases for any section of the test. Your result will normally be available in 2-21 days, depending on several factors including the number of sections requested for re-mark.

 

When will I receive my IELTS test result?

 

Your Test Report Form will be posted to you 13 days after your test date. Some test centres also provide SMS alerts and an Online Results Service. Keep your Test Report Form in a secure place as you only receive one copy.

 

What if I want to postpone or cancel my IELTS test application?

 

If you postpone or cancel your application more than 5 weeks before the test date, you will receive a refund minus an administration charge. If you postpone or cancel within 5 weeks of the test date, you will be charged the full fee unless you have a medical reason. If you provide a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost.

 

What if I am absent or sick on the test day?

 

If you are absent on the test day with no prior notice, you will lose your full fee. However, if you provide a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost.

 

What do I do if I lose my test report form?

 

Test Report Form (TRF) is valid for two years. Copies cannot be sent to test takers but we will send a TRF to your relevant institution or embassy. Up to five copies will be sent free of charge. Additional copies will incur a small administration charge. Talk to your test centre for further details.

 

How soon can I re-sit IELTS test?

 

There is no limit on sitting the test. However, we recommend you do additional study before taking the test again. Some test centres offer preparatory courses and language classes. You can also improve your skills by using the IELTS Official Practice Materials - ask for details.

 

What if I am delayed by the circumstances beyond my control?

 

The IELTS test centre may offer you a test on the next available test date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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