IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, is designed to assess the language ability of candidates who need to study or work where English is used as the language of communication.
IELTS is jointly managed by the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations (Cambridge ESOL), British Council and IDP: IELTS Australia. IELTS conforms to the highest international standards of language assessment. It covers the four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking.
IELTS is recognized by universities and employers in many countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA. It is also recognized by professional bodies, immigration authorities and other government agencies. IELTS is not recommended for candidates under the age of 16.
IELTS tests are administered at centers throughout the world – there are currently more than 270 centers, in over 100 countries. Centers supervise the local administration of the test and ensure the provision of qualified and trained examiners.
Test centers run regular test administrations, according to local need and results are available within two weeks. Candidates are not allowed to repeat the test within 90 days at any centre.
Academic and General Training
IELTS is available in two formats – Academic and General Training.
The Academic Reading and Writing Modules assess whether a candidate is ready to study or train in the medium of English at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses should be based on the results of these Modules.
The General Training Reading and Writing Modules are not designed to test the full range of formal language skills required for academic purposes, but emphasize basic survival skills in a broad social and educational context. General Training is suitable for candidates who are going to English speaking countries to complete their secondary education, to undertake work experience or training programs not at degree level, or for immigration purposes to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is the responsibility of the candidate to inform the test centre whether they wish to take the Academic or General Training Modules. Centers are not responsible for providing this information.
Candidates are tested in listening, reading, writing and speaking. All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules. There is a choice between Academic and General Training in the Reading and Writing Modules.
The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from nonuser to expert user.
The first three modules – Listening, Reading and Writing – must be completed in one day. The Speaking Module may be taken, at the discretion of the test centre, in the period seven days before or after the other modules.
IELTS Test Results
Marking is carried out at the test centre by trained examiners whose work is closely monitored. This ensures that test results are available without any administrative delay.
Results are available within two weeks of the test and Test Report Forms are sent to the candidates and to the sponsor(s)/receiving institution(s). Test centers are not permitted to give results out over the phone, nor by fax or e-mail.
IELTS provides a profile of a candidate’s ability to use English.
Candidates receive scores on a Band Scale from 1 to 9.
A score is reported for each module of the test. The individual module scores are then averaged and rounded to produce an Overall Band Score. Overall Band Scores and Listening and Reading scores are reported in whole and half Bands; Writing and Speaking Band Scores are reported in whole Bands only.
For how long is a test score valid?
There are a number of variables affecting the length of time over which an IELTS score remains valid. As a general rule it is recommended that a Test Report Form that is more than two years old should only be accepted as evidence of present level of ability if accompanied by proof that a candidate has actively maintained or tried to improve their English language proficiency.