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IELTS

We can help you prepare for the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training test to ensure you attain your required band score.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardised test that measures the English language proficiency of non-native English language speakers who want to study or work in English-speaking countries. It uses a nine-band scale to clearly identify levels of proficiency, from non-user (Band 1) through to expert (Band 9).

The IELTS was established in 1989 and is jointly managed globally by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English.

IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, European, Irish and New Zealand academic institutions, by over 3,000 academic institutions in the United States, and by various professional organisations across the world. It is the only Secure English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for people applying for visas both inside and outside the UK. It also meets requirements for immigration to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

IELTS tests are offered up to four times a month at over 1,600 locations in more than 140 countries. Test locations can be found on the official IELTS website. The test can be taken either on paper or by computer, and results are issued to test takers 13 days after paper-based tests and 5–7 days after computer delivered tests.

Two Versions of IELTS Test

Generally speaking, there are two versions of IELTS test available:

The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher, or tertiary, level education or professional registration in an English speaking environment. It

The IELTS General Training test is for those 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.

The IELTS Life Skills test is another test that is available, intended for those who need to prove their English speaking and listening skills at Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) levels A1, A2 and B2. It is specifically designed to meet the requirements of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for certain visa categories and other immigration purposes. More information about which level of IELTS Life Skills test is appropriate for each UK Visa category can be found on the official IELTS website.

Test Format

The IELTS is a test of two hours and 45 minutes duration that assesses the four language abilities: listening, reading, writing and speaking, in four individual sections. The Listening and Speaking sections are identical for Academic and General Training versions of the IELTS, however the Reading and Writing sections differ between the two. The Listening, Reading and Writing sections of all IELTS tests are completed on the same day, with no breaks in between. The Speaking section, however, can be completed up to a week before or after the other tests.

Listening

The Listening section of the IELTS test is allocated 30 minutes, plus an additional 10 minutes to transfer answers to the answer sheet (paper test only). It is composed of four parts:

  • A conversation between two people set in an everyday social context.
  • A monologue set in an everyday social context.
  • A conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context.
  • A monologue on an academic subject.

Each part consists of ten questions, and each question is worth one mark. 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.
  • Short-answer questions.

IELTS incorporates a mix of native speaker accents from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US in the Listening section.

Reading

The Reading section of the IELTS test is allocated 60 minutes and is designed to test a wide range of reading skills, including reading for gist, reading for main ideas, reading for detail, skimming, understanding logical argument and recognising writers' opinions, attitudes and purpose.

The section consists of 40 questions, each or which is worth one mark. A variety of question types are used, chosen from the following:

  • Multiple choice.
  • Identifying information.
  • Identifying the writer's views/claims.
  • Matching information.
  • Matching headings.
  • Matching features.
  • Matching sentence endings.
  • Sentence completion.
  • Summary completion.
  • Note completion.
  • Table completion.
  • Flow-chart completion.
  • Diagram label completion.
  • Short-answer questions.

IELTS recognises both British and American English spelling, grammar and choice of words in the Reading section.

IELTS Academic

The Reading section of the IELTS Academic test includes three long texts which range from descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. These are taken from books, journals, magazines and newspapers, and are selected for a non-specialist audience.

IELTS General Training

The Reading section of the IELTS General Training test includes three sections:

  • Section 1 - two or three short texts or several shorter texts.
  • Section 2 - two texts.
  • Section 3 - one long text.

The texts include extracts from books, magazines, newspapers, notices, advertisements, company handbooks and guidelines. These are materials likely encountered on a daily basis in an English-speaking environment.

Writing

The Writing section of the IELTS test is allocated 60 minutes and comprises two tasks. The first task should be completed in 20 minutes, and the second task in 40 minutes.

IELTS Academic

For the IELTS Academic writing exam, topics are of interest to, and suitable for, candidates entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration.

For Task 1 a graph, table, chart or diagram is presented and candidates are asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in their own words. They may be asked to describe and explain data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object or event. For Task 2 candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. Responses to both tasks must be in an academic or semi-formal/neutral style.

IELTS recognises both British and American English spelling, grammar and choice of words in the Writing section.

IELTS General Training

For the IELTS General Training writing exam, topics are of general interest.

For Task 1 a common, everyday situation is presented and candidates are asked to write a letter requesting information, or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style. For Task 2 candidates are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be quite personal in style.

Speaking

The speaking section of the IELTS test is allocated 11-14 minutes and assesses use of spoken English. It consists of an oral interview between the candidate and an examiner, and is recorded. This section is made up of three parts:

  • Part 1 – Introduction and interview lasts 4–5 minutes, and consists of the examiner asking the candidate general questions on some familiar topics such as home, family, work, studies and interests. To ensure consistency, questions are taken from a script.
  • Part 2 – Long turn lasts 3–4 minutes, and the candidate is given a task card which asks him to talk about a particular topic. It includes points to cover in his talk and instructs thim to explain one aspect of the topic. The candidate is given one minute to prepare his talk and can make notes. The examiner asks the candidate to talk for 1-2 minutes, stops the candidate after 2 minutes, and asks one or two questions on the same topic.
  • Part 3 – Discussion lasts 4–5 minutes, and involves the examiner and the candidate discussing issues related to the topic in Part 2 in a more general and abstract way and, where appropriate, in greater depth.

How the Test is Scored

A band score is given for each test section of the IELTS test - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. These individual scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an overall band score. All band scores are reported in whole bands or half bands.

Each section of the test is scored as follows:

Listening

The IELTS Listening test contains 40 questions, with each correct question awarded one mark. Band scores, ranging from Band 1 to Band 9, are awarded on the basis of raw scores as follows:

Raw score out of 40Band score
399.0
378.5
358.0
337.5
307.0
276.5
236.0
205.5
165.0
134.5
104.0
83.5
63.0
42.5
32.0
21.5
11.0
00.0

This table is a guide only since sometimes test scores are adjusted slightly depending on test difficulty.

Reading

The IELTS Reading test contains 40 questions, with each correct question awarded one mark. Band scores, ranging from Band 1 to Band 9, are awarded on the basis of raw scores. Reading band scores for the IELTS Academic test are allocated as follows:

Raw score out of 40Band score
399.0
378.5
358.0
337.5
307.0
276.5
236.0
205.5
165.0
134.5
104.0
83.5
63.0
42.5
32.0
21.5
11.0
00.0


Reading band scores for the IELTS General Training test are allocated as follows:

Raw score out of 40Band score
409.0
398.5
388.0
367.5
347.0
326.5
306.0
275.5
235.0
194.5
154.0
123.5
93.0
62.5
52.0
31.5
21.0
00.0

These tables are guides only since sometimes test scores are adjusted slightly depending on test difficulty.

Writing

For the IELTS Writing test, detailed performance descriptors are used to award a band score for each of four assessment criteria:

CriterionWeighting
Task achievement (Task 1) /
Task response (Task 2)
25%
Coherence and cohesion25%
Lexical resource25%
Grammatical range and accuracy25%


Speaking

For the IELTS Speaking test, detailed performance descriptors are used to award a band score for each of four assessment criteria:

CriterionWeighting
Fluency and coherence25%
Lexical resource25%
Grammatical range and accuracy25%
Pronunciation25%


There is no pass or fail as such in the IELTS test. Each band corresponds to a level of competence in English, and each institution will have their own specific competency requirements.

For a description of the overall English language competency level that corresponds to each IELTS band score, see the table to the left.


Visit the Official IELTS Website

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