What is IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular high stakes English-language test for study, work and migration, with more than 2.2 million tests taken each year.IELTS assesses all of your English skills — reading, writing, listening and speaking — and is designed to reflect real life use of English — at study, at work, and at play.

The IELTS test is developed by some of the world’s leading experts in language assessment. It has an excellent international reputation, and is accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including schools, universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

IELTS is the most widely accepted English language test that uses a one-on-one speaking test to assess your English communication skills. This means that you are assessed by having a real-life conversation with a real person. This is the most effective and natural way of testing your English conversation skills.

You can choose from two versions of the test – IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training – depending on the organisation you are applying to and your plans for the future. Both versions of the test are made up of four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. IELTS results are graded on the unique IELTS 9-band scale.

Why choose IELTS?

IELTS scores are accepted by over 9,000 organisations worldwide, including universities, employers, immigration authorities and professional bodies.

IELTS is designed by experts to fairly assess the language ability of candidates who want to study or work where English is the language of communication.

International English

IELTS recognises both British and American English in terms of spelling, grammar and choice of words. It also incorporates a mix of native speaker accents from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US in the Listening component.

International consultation

IELTS has been developed in close consultation with academics, professional bodies and immigration authorities from around the world.

International content

The IELTS approach is recognised as being fair, reliable and valid to all candidates, whatever their nationality, cultural background, gender or special needs. The test questions are developed by a network known as the IELTS item writers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US. They are based on real life sources (for example, advertisements, books, newspapers and company policies), so ensuring that they are always fit for purpose.

International partners

IELTS is owned by a global partnership of education and language experts: the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and the Cambridge English Language Assessment. These bodies are dedicated to academic excellence, cultural understanding, student recruitment and creating success worldwide.

Choose from more than 1,000 locations worldwide

IELTS tests are offered up to four times a month in over 900 test venues in more than 140 countries. The cost of taking the test is set locally and payable in the local currency, making registration convenient. Results are issued 13 calendar days after the test. Official IELTS test centres can send Test Report Forms directly to your organisation or institution (provided it has been nominated), either by mail or as an electronic download.

Test format

Academic

For candidates taking the test for entry to undergraduate or postgraduate studies or for professional reasons.

General Training

For candidates taking the test for entry to vocational or training programmes not at degree level, for admission to secondary school and for immigration purposes.

The test modules are taken in the following order:

Listening

4 Sections,40 items 30 minutes

Academic Reading

3 Sections,40 items 60 minutes

General Trainig Reading

3 Sections,40 items 60 minutes

Academic Writing

2 tasks, 60 minutes

General Trainig Writing

2 tasks, 60 minutes

Speaking

11 to 14 minutes

Total test Time

2 Hours 44 minutes

You have a choice of two versions of IELTS:

Academic or General Training

Everybody takes the same Listening and Speaking components. It is the Reading and Writing components that differ.

You will take the Listening, Reading and Writing tests all on the same day one after the other, with no breaks in between them.

Your Speaking test will either be after a break on the same day as the other three tests, or up to seven days before or after that. This will depend on your test centre.

Understanding the format of each section

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Listening

30 minutes

You will listen to four recorded texts, monologues and conversations by a range of native speakers, and write your answers to a series of questions.

These include questions which test your ability to understand main ideas and detailed factual information, ability to understand the opinions and attitudes of speakers, ability to understand the purpose of an utterance and the ability to follow the development of ideas.

A variety of voices and native-speaker accents are used and each section is heard only once.

Section 1

A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.

Section 2

A monologue set in an everyday social context e.g. a speech about local facilities.

Section 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.

Section 4

A monologue on an academic subject e.g. a university lecture.

Reading

60 minutes

The Reading component consists of 40 questions. A variety of question types is used in order to test a wide range of reading skills. These including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument, recognising writers’ opinions, attitudes and purpose.

IELTS Academic

The Academic version includes three long texts which range from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. The texts are authentic and are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers. These have been selected for a non-specialist audience but are appropriate for candidates entering university courses or seeking professional registration.

IELTS General Training

The General Training version requires candidates to read extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials you are likely to encounter on a daily basis in an English speaking environment.

Writing

60 minutes

IELTS Academic

The Writing component of IELTS Academic includes two tasks. Topics are of general interest to, and suitable for candidates entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

Task 1

You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in a formal style.

IELTS General Training

The Writing component of IELTS General Training includes two tasks which are based on topics of general interest.

Task 1

You will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.

Task 2

You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style than the Academic Writing Task 2 essay.

Speaking

11 to 14 minutes

The Speaking component assesses your use of spoken English, and takes between 11 and 14 minutes to complete. Every test is recorded. The Speaking component is delivered in such a way that it does not allow candidates to rehearse set responses beforehand.

Part 1

The Examiner will ask you general questions about yourself and a range of familiar topics, such as home, family, work, studies and interests. This part lasts between four and five minutes.

Part 2

You will be given a card which asks you to talk about a particular topic. You will have one minute to prepare before speaking for up to two minutes. The examiner will then ask one or two questions on the same topic to finish this part of the test.

Part 3

You will be asked further questions connected to the topic in Part 2. These questions will give you the opportunity to discuss more abstract ideas and issue. The part of the test lasts between four and five minutes.

A reliable, secure test?

IELTS Scoring

The IELTS nine (9) band score system grades scores consistently. It is secure, benchmarked and understood worldwide. Test materials are designed carefully so that every version of the test is of a comparable level of difficulty.

IELTS Examiners

IELTS Examiners are fully qualified and follow the specific IELTS assessment standards around the world. IELTS has a quality-controlled system of recruitment, training, benchmarking, certification and monitoring. IELTS markers are regularly monitored and tested every two years to retain their certification.

Test Delivery

Our test centres are managed by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia or by independent organisations that meet strict standards of quality, security and customer service. These centres have strict protocols for all aspects of test design, delivery, marking and administration.

Academic or General Training?

There are two versions of IELTS to choose from

The following definitions are to be used as a general guide only. Check with the organisations you wish to apply to before you book your test.

IELTS Academic – Institutions of Higher and Further Education

The Academic format is, broadly speaking, for those who want to study or train in an English-speaking university or Institutions of Higher and Further Education. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses is based on the results of the Academic test. IELTS Academic may also be a requirement to join a professional organisation in an English-speaking country.

General Training – for school, work or migration

The General Training format focuses on general survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. It is typically for those who are going to English-speaking countries to do secondary education, work experience or training programs. People migrating to Australia, Canada and New Zealand must sit the General Training test.

Check with your organisation

Every organisation sets its own entry requirements. In some cases both versions of IELTS may be accepted. Visit who accepts IELTS? to search for the organisations you want to apply to, and find out which version you need.While the IELTS Global Recognition System is committed to maintaining an up to date record of English language requirements, it is strongly recommended that you also check the English language requirements with the recognising organisation, by visiting their website or contacting them directly.