What is the IELTS?

The IELTS is an English language proficiency test designed to assess the language ability of candidates aspiring to study or work in a country where English used as a medium of communication. More than 25 countries across the world accept IELTS scores for admission to higher educational institutes, training programs as well as for immigration purposes. In countries like Australia, the IELTS is mandatory. You will not be given a student visa without your IELTS score.

Who administers the IELTS?

The IELTS is jointly owned and administered by the University of Cambridge- Local Examination Syndicate, The British Council and the IDP Education Australia. The IELTS is available world-wide in more than 110 countries.

You may collect the IELTS handbook along with the application form from your local British Council office or your nearest IDP Education Australia office.

For detailed information on test dates and centers you may log on to

What are the different sections of the IELTS?

The different sections of the IELTS are the following:

  • A 30-minute Listening Section
  • A 60-minute Reading Section
  • A 60-minute Writing Section
  • A 11-14 minute Speaking Section

Depending on the requirements of the universities you're applying to you must select either the Academic or General Training Reading and Writing modules.

The Academic modules evaluate the ability of the candidate to use the level of language necessary to follow a course of study- example following discussions, complex arguments and dealing with information effectively.

The General Training modules are mostly for those seeking work-related training in English speaking countries. They assess a broader range of language skills.

The listening and speaking modules are mandatory. The speaking module is conducted through a face-to-face interview. Total test time is 2 hours 45 minutes.

What is the scoring pattern in the IELTS?

In the IELTS, for each of the four sections you will get a band score. The four band scores will then be added and averaged for an Overall Band Score. Each band gives an indication of the standard of English at that level. There are in total nine bands. Band one stands for non-user while band nine stands for expert user.

Usually, most institutes demand an IELTS score of 6 to 6.5. However, score requirements may vary from institute to institute. You will receive your scores within two weeks of taking the test.

Retaking the IELTS

Your IELTS score is valid for 2 years. In case you score less than what you expected or your score falls short of the minimum requirements of the universities you're applying to, you may retake the exam. However, you cannot retake it before three months of the first test date.

In US about 3500 institutions accept IELTS. Available in more than 800 locations throughout the world and offered 48 times per year, specific dates and locations for the IELTS can be found at

International English Language Testing System is an international standardized test to determine the proficiency in English language. It is jointly conducted by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations and the British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd.

There are two versions of the IELTS: the Academic Version and the General Training Version:

Students and professionals such as doctors and nurses who want to enroll in good universities and institutions will opt for The Academic Training.

Those who are planning to undertake non-academic training in order to gain work experience for immigration purposes etc will choose The General Training.

IELTS does not require any minimum score to pass the test. IELTS results will be measured in bandwidths. These range from "band 1" ("non-user") to "band 9" ("expert user"). Those who did not attempt the test will get “band 0”. For IELTS each institute has its own thresholds. Institutes did not consider a report older than two years to be valid, unless the user shows that he has worked.

More than 400 test centers organize IELTS worldwide. Majority of the test centers are run by either the British Council or IELTS Australia.

Coming to the pattern of the exam, there are four sub-tests, or modules: Writing, Reading, Speaking, and Listening. Students must obtain all four sub-tests. While Listening and Speaking tests will be same for all students, Reading and Writing tests may differ, depending on which version of IELTS test they have selected.

On the day of the test, the four subsections will be taken in the following order:

The Speaking test might be delayed a day or two at some centers.

IELTS listening test lasts for about 30 minutes, which consists of four sections. To increase the difficulty levels these will be played on cassette tape. Each section might be a dialogue or a monologue. The questions must be answered while listening and the cassette is played once only. However, time will be given for students to check their answers.

Reading test lasts for 60 minutes. Depends upon the version, students are given either a General Training Reading test or an Academic Reading test. Both tests consist of three sections, and in both tests the sections are intended to increase difficulty.

Writing test also lasts for 60 minutes. Again, students take either an Academic test, or a General Training test. Students must perform two writing tasks, in which they need to present different styles of writing. There is no choice of questions.

Speaking test consist a one-to-one interview with a specially trained examiner. The same examiner will lead the candidate through the three phases of the test:

The interview will last for 11-14 minutes, where the candidate gives the introduction, speaks for one or two minutes on a particular topic, and then a mutual discussion takes place.

Test tactics:

  • Aim for a Target Score and prepare accordingly.
  • Correct answers for first 5 questions will lead to higher scores.
  • Cross check every answer and avoid wrong answers using the process of elimination.
  • You can neither skip any question nor go back after you've answered a question. So fill it carefully.
  • Don’t spend too much time on any questions. Even the toughest ones should be done in 1-2 minutes and the easiest ones in seconds.

Bring all the necessary belongings (for ex: watch, all the IDs which are having clear pictures, and a confirmation letter from the Educational Testing Service) to the test center. Don’t bring calculator or any other electronic devices since you are not allowed to use them.

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