What is the IELTS Exam?
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognised standardised test designed to assess the English language proficiency of individuals who wish to study, work, or migrate to English-speaking countries. The test evaluates four key language skills: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The test is available in two main formats: Academic, for those seeking higher education opportunities, and General Training which focuses on practical language skills for work and migration purposes.
Why is IELTS required?
IELTS scores are used by universities, employers, immigration authorities, and other institutions to determine an individual's ability to effectively communicate in English. IELTS plays an important role in facilitating international mobility and communication across diverse contexts.
Recommended Read: Top 5 reasons why IELTS is required.
Which IELTS test is right for you?
There are two primary types of IELTS tests available: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training.
IELTS Academic evaluates your English language proficiency and determines its suitability for an academic setting. This test assesses your grasp of academic language and determines if you are adequately prepared to commence training or studying in English.
IELTS General Training measures your English language skills in practical, everyday scenarios. This test includes both workplace and social situations, providing a comprehensive evaluation of your language abilities in real-life contexts.
Choosing the right test depends on whether your objective is to pursue education or employment in your desired country.
What is the format of the IELTS test?
All IELTS tests include four sections: Listening, Reading, and Writing. However, the Speaking test may be scheduled within the week before or after the other sections.
Let us discuss the four sections in more detail.
|Speaking||The IELTS Speaking test assesses an individual’s capability to communicate in English and is conducted in person by an examiner. It consists of three tasks and lasts for about 11-14 minutes.
With the help of a speaking test, the examiner assesses the candidate’s performance based on four criteria: fluency and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range, and pronunciation.
|Listening||The IELTS Listening test assesses a candidate’s ability to comprehend spoken English. The test is divided into four sections, each featuring a different Listening task. The entire test lasts for about 30 minutes, including 10 minutes at the end to transfer answers to the answer sheet.
During the test, candidates are given four recordings to hear. Each recording is played only once, and the candidate will be given time to read the questions before each section begins.
|Reading||While the IELTS Reading test format is similar for both Academic and General Training, the content of the texts and tasks are different.||Academic Version The Reading test under the Academic version comprises three sections, each containing a lengthy passage. These passages are generally taken from various sources, including books, magazines, and newspapers.||Recommended Read:
|General Training There are three sections in the General Training version of the IELTS Reading test. These sections include factual passages related to everyday life, work-related topics, and general topics taken from sources such as company handbooks, official documents, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, or notices.|
|Writing||Both the General and Academic Training Writing tests are evaluated at the same level. The IELTS Academic Writing test covers topics that are appropriate for undergraduate and postgraduate students, while the IELTS General Training module includes passages on common topics from sources like books, magazines, notices, company handbooks, and guidelines.||
There are two tasks under the Writing test, and both require an academic, semi-formal or neutral writing tone.
Task 1: The candidate will be given a graph, table, chart, or diagram and asked to summarise and report the information in their own words. He must then select and compare data, describe the stages of the process, and explain how the process works or describe an object.
Task 2: The candidate will be asked to write an essay responding to a point of view, argument, or problem. This task carries twice the weight of the first task in the writing score.
The topics addressed under both tasks are of general interest and are easily understood by candidates who plan to enter undergraduate or postgraduate courses.
Under General Training, the Writing test also consists of two tasks addressing general interest topics.
Task 1: Under this first task, the candidate must write a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. The letter can be written in a personal, semi-formal, or formal tone, depending on the given situation.
Task 2: Under the second task, the candidate must write an essay responding to a point of view, argument, or problem. The essay can be less formal in tone and have more of a personal approach.
How is IELTS band score calculated on the basis of 0-9 scale?
|Band score||Skill level||Description|
|9||Expert||The test taker has a fully operational command of the language. Their use of English is appropriate, accurate and fluent, and shows complete understanding.|
|8||Very good||The test taker has a fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and inappropriate usage. They may misunderstand some things in unfamiliar situations. They handle complex and detailed argumentation well.|
|7||Good||The test taker has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriate usage and misunderstandings in some situations. They generally handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning.|
|6||Competent||The test taker has an effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriate usage, and misunderstandings. They can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.|
|5||Modest||The test taker has partial command of the language and copes with overall meaning in most situations, although they are likely to make many mistakes. They should be able to handle basic communication in their own field.|
|4||Limited||The test taker’s basic competence is limited to familiar situations. They frequently show problems in understanding and expression. They are not able to use complex language.|
|3||Extremely Limited||The test taker conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. There are frequent breakdowns in communication.|
|2||Intermittent||The test taker has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.|
|1||Non-user||The test taker has no ability to use the language except a few isolated words.|
|0||Test not attempted||The test taker did not answer the questions.|
What IELTS score do you require?
Your proficiency level in IELTS correlates with a deeper understanding and effective communication in English. Various immigration bodies, universities, workplaces, and institutions have their own specific score requirements for IELTS. The score you need to achieve depends on your intended purpose in the country, such as work, study, or migrate.
Read our article on IELTS Band Scores to understand how these scores are calculated and how you can prepare to score an 8+ band.
Countries where IELTS is accepted
IELTS is used to test the English language proficiency of individuals who wish to study, work, or migrate in Canada, the USA, Australia, UK, New Zealand, and Ireland. Every country has set their own IELTS band score requirements. Let’s discuss the requirements of these countries in detail:
IELTS for Canada
IELTS is a popular choice in Canada that is accepted by a wide range of universities. It is scored on a band of 0-9, but if you plan to work, study, or migrate to Canada, you must score 6 and above. To know more about the minimum score required by the top universities in Canada, read our more comprehensive article on IELTS for Canada.
IELTS for USA
IELTS evaluates your English language proficiency, particularly when applying for education or job opportunities in the United States. Recognised and accepted by the CELTA (Cambridge ESOL Examinations), IELTS holds acceptance by over 3300 universities and employers in the US.
You can read our article on IELTS for the USA to learn more.
IELTS for the UK
The UKVI is a part of the Home Office in the UK that manages the immigration processes to the UK. UKVI accepts IELTS as an English language proficiency test for various immigration applications, including:
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Family Visa
- Student Visa
- Graduate Visa
- Start-Up Visa
- Innovator Visa
- Global Talent Visa
To be eligible to study in the UK as an international student, you must take the Academic test and achieve a minimum overall score of 6. This test must be taken within two years of applying for your visa.
You can read more about the IELTS requirements for the UK in our article IELTS for the UK.
IELTS for Australia
A good IELTS band score can greatly benefit your Australian study visa application and enhance your prospects for admission to universities and various job positions. It holds significant recognition across numerous colleges and universities in Australia. Achieving an overall band score of 5.5 or higher in each of the four skills is important to meet the minimum requirement. Apart from being accepted by educational institutions, a certified declaration of your band score holds significant weight in the visa application process.
Read our article on IELTS for Australia to learn more.
IELTS for New Zealand
New Zealand is a popular study destination for international students, and one of the requirements for admission to most universities and colleges is a minimum IELTS band score. The minimum score required for admission to a New Zealand university or college will vary depending on the institution and the program of study. However, most universities require an overall band score of 6.0 or above.
Additional Reading: IELTS for New Zealand.
IELTS for Ireland
Ireland has earned widespread recognition as an appealing destination for international students seeking opportunities to study, work, and live abroad. This vibrant country boasts a reputation for offering excellent education, a welcoming atmosphere, and abundant prospects for both academic and professional growth. As part of the admission process for universities and employment opportunities in Ireland, all applicants are required to take the IELTS test, which assesses their English language proficiency. The minimum overall IELTS score band required to study in Ireland is 6 and 5.5 in each section.
Recommended Read: IELTS for Ireland
IELTS test fees in India
The IELTS test fee in India is based on the type of test. Here is a table discussing the information on the fee structure for the exam.
What are the types of IELTS exams and their respective purposes?
There are different types of IELTS tests for different purposes. You can choose to take your IELTS tests according to your intended purposes. The following are the IELTS test types:
IELTS for General Training
The IELTS General Training test assesses the English language proficiency of individuals who want to work, immigrate, or study below the degree level in an English-speaking country. It is mandatory for applicants planning to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
Unlike IELTS Academic, which is for students who plan on studying at a higher education institution, IELTS General Training is focused on testing a person’s ability to communicate effectively in everyday situations.
Under the General Training, an individual’s English language proficiency is tested by assessing his Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills. The Listening and Speaking sections are the same for both IELTS Academic and General Training, while the Reading and Writing sections differ slightly.
The IELTS Academic test is designed for individuals who want to study or join a professional organisation in an English-speaking country.
The main purpose of IELTS is to evaluate your readiness to study or train, where English is the primary means of communication. If you plan to move to an English-speaking country for education or work, you must demonstrate your English language proficiency. IELTS band scores are accepted by over 11,000 institutions, including universities, employers, professional associations, and governments in 140 countries worldwide.
Along with IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training, it is also required for UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) and Life Skills. Let’s discuss them in more detail.
IELTS for UKVI
IELTS for UKVI (UK Visa and Immigration) is a specific version of the IELTS exam that is designed for those who want to study, work, or settle in the UK. It is used to demonstrate the language proficiency required for visa applications.
There are two types of IELTS for UKVI exams, namely, IELTS Academic for those who plan on studying in the UK and IELTS General Training for those who want to migrate or work there.
The format and content of the test are the same as the regular IELTS exam, but the test is conducted at an approved UKVI test centre. The band score required for UKVI purposes may differ from others, so you must check the requirements of the relevant visa category before taking the test.
IELTS for Life Skills
IELTS for Life Skills is a specialised version of IELTS that assesses a candidate’s English language proficiency in everyday contexts. It is designed for individuals who need to demonstrate their English speaking and listening skills for UK visa applications.
The test assesses a candidate’s ability to communicate in English using simple everyday language required for social interaction and basic survival situations. The test has two levels (A1 and B1) aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
The IELTS Life Skills A1 test assesses the candidate’s ability to listen, respond to basic questions, and provide personal information. The candidate must engage in simple conversations on familiar and everyday topics. The test is generally required for those applying for a UK spouse/partner visa.
The IELTS Life Skills B1 test assesses the candidate’s ability to converse in English on a set of topics and to give their opinion. The candidate participates in discussions on various subjects and provides information and opinions on familiar topics. The test is generally required for those applying for UK citizenship or indefinite leave to remain.
An IELTS examiner conducts the test in person, and the results are usually available within a week.
The requirements for IELTS can vary depending on the institution or the employer.
IELTS for studying abroad
The IELTS requirements for studying abroad vary depending on the institution or country you plan to study. Generally, most universities require a minimum band score of 6 or 6.5 on the Academic IELTS test to obtain admission into undergraduate and postgraduate courses. However, some universities may require a higher band score of 7 or 7.5.
It is essential to note that some institutions may have different band score requirements for different courses. For example, highly competitive courses such as medicine or law may require a higher IELTS band score for admission.
Additionally, some institutions may require a minimum band score in each of the four criteria (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). For example, some universities may require a minimum band score of 6.5 in each criterion.
It is always recommended to check the specific IELTS requirements for the institution and course you are applying to and any additional language proficiency requirements they may have.
IELTS for working abroad
The IELTS requirements for working abroad depend on the profession and the country of employment. Some employers require a minimum band of 6 or 6.5 on the General Training IELTS test, while others may require a higher band score of 7 or 7.5.
There are specific language proficiency requirements for certain professions, such as healthcare, teaching, or engineering. For instance, healthcare professionals in the UK must obtain a minimum band score of 7 to work in the National Health Service (NHS).
How to prepare for IELTS?
Preparing for IELTS can greatly enhance your chances of achieving a desirable band score. By developing a structured study plan and utilising effective strategies, you can build the necessary skills and confidence to excel in the test. Here are some tips, techniques, and resources to help you prepare for the test.
IELTS online study material
We have a wide range of online study materials for IELTS to help you prepare. Our online study material includes practice tests, sample questions, and interactive exercises to improve your listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. You can access these resources from the comfort of your home, allowing you to study at your pace and convenience.
The practice tests closely resemble the actual IELTS exam, helping you familiarise yourself with the test format. With our online study material, you can enhance your English language proficiency.
IELTS familiarisation tests
The Computer-Delivered IELTS Familiarisation test allows you to familiarise yourself with the computer-based format. This test provides an opportunity to experience the various features and functionalities of the computer-delivered test, including the navigation system and question formats.
By taking the familiarisation test, you can gain confidence and become more comfortable with the computer-based format, ensuring an efficient test-taking experience for the actual exam day. This practice test is available free of cost and can be accessed online, providing you with a valuable resource to prepare for the computer delivered IELTS test.
IELTS practice tests
We offer IELTS practice test videos to assist you in preparing for the exam. These videos provide valuable insights into the different sections of the test, including Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. By watching these practice videos, you can familiarise yourself with the test format, question types, and timing, enabling you to develop effective strategies and improve your performance. The videos also provide tips, techniques, and model answers to help you enhance your skills and understand the expectations of each test component.
Read our preparation planner
We provide an IELTS Preparation Planner to assist you in organising and optimising your IELTS study schedule. This planner provides a structured framework to plan your preparation, set goals, and allocate time for each section of the exam. It offers valuable tips and strategies to enhance study efficiency and maximise performance. This preparation planner allows you to create a customised study plan, track your progress, and stay motivated throughout your preparation journey. This tool is a valuable resource to help you effectively manage your time, focus on key areas, and achieve your desired IELTS band score.
How to register for the IELTS test?
There are three ways to register for the IELTS exam:
- Register online and pay the test fee using a credit card
- Register in person at any IDP branch or Input Node
- Register by courier and pay the test fee by Demand Draft or ICICI deposit/HDFC deposit slip
Additional information: How to register for IELTS.
Upcoming IELTS test dates
IELTS offers 48 fixed test dates in India throughout the year, with up to four test sessions every month. IELTS Academic is available on all 48 dates, while the IELTS General Training is offered on 24 dates. The tests are usually held on Saturdays and Thursdays to provide flexibility and convenience for applicants. Also, IELTS on Computer is available 3 times a day, 7 days a week, you must note that the Listening, Reading, and Writing tests are conducted on the same day, while the speaking test can be scheduled after the others. You must check the availability of the test dates at your nearest test location, as dates may vary between different centres.
You can check the available IELTS test dates in India.
IELTS test modes of delivery
You can appear for the test in two ways - Pen and Paper based and Computer-delivered based. Let’s discuss these in detail.
IELTS Pen and paper-based test
The Pen and Paper-based IELTS test is the traditional format where you must complete the Listening, Reading, and Writing sections using a physical test booklet and answer sheet. The Speaking test is conducted in person with an examiner. For this format of the test, you will be provided with question booklets and answer sheets for respective sections. You must write and complete the test in the allocated time.
IELTS Computer-delivered based test
The computer-delivered IELTS exam is an alternative format to the traditional paper-based test. It allows you to complete your listening, reading and writing sections on a computer at the ease of your home or any location with a stable internet connection. The speaking test is still conducted in person with an examiner. The advantages of the computer-delivered format include faster results, flexible test dates, and a user-friendly interface.
IELTS vs other english tests
When assessing your English language proficiency, there are several tests available. One of the most recognised and globally accepted exams is the IELTS exam. However, it is essential to understand how it compares to other English tests to decide which test is the most suitable for specific needs. Here we’ll discuss IELTS vs TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo.
IELTS vs TOEFL
Here is a table that summarises the main differences between IELTS and TOEFL:
|Format||Academic and General Training||IBT and PBT|
|Time||2 hours 45 minutes||4 hours|
|Sections||Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking||Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking|
|Tasks||Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, essay, and speaking||Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, essay, and speaking|
|Scoring||Band 9-1||Scale 0-120|
|Acceptability||Over 11,500 organisations worldwide||Over 130 countries|
Additional Reading: IELTS vs TOEFL
IELTS vs PTE
Here’s a table that summarises the key differences between IELTS and PTE:
|Format||Academic and General Training||Academic|
|Time||2 hours 45 minutes||3 hours|
|Sections||Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking||Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Comprehension|
|Tasks||Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, essay, and speaking||Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, essay, and speaking|
|Scoring||Band 9-1||Scale 10-90|
Additional Reading: Difference between IELTS and PTE.
IELTS vs Duolingo
Here are some of the key differences between IELTS and Duolingo:
|Feature||IELTS||Duolingo English Test|
|Format||Academic and General Training||Online|
|Time||2 hours 45 minutes||45 minutes|
|Sections||Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking||Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking|
|Tasks||Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, essay, and speaking||Multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and speaking|
|Scoring||Band 9-1||Scale 1-5|
|Acceptability||Over 11,500 organisations worldwide||Over 4,000 organisations worldwide|
Additional Reading: IELTS vs Duolingo.
FAQS on IELTS
The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam is used to assess the language proficiency of individuals who want to study, work, or immigrate to countries where English is the primary language of communication. It is one of the most widely recognized English language proficiency tests worldwide and is accepted by many universities, employers, and immigration authorities in English-speaking countries.
Though there is no specific age requirement for taking the test, the preferred minimum age is 16 years.
The IELTS scores are valid for two years.
There is no limit to the number of attempts that can be made to take the IELTS exam.
The test is jointly managed by the British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English.
The main purposes of taking the test are to study abroad, work opportunities, immigration and visa applications, professional recognition, and employment opportunities in countries where English is the primary language of communication.
The overall test time for the examination is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections are conducted in one sitting, while the Speaking section may be scheduled on a different day.
The IELTS test is scored on a band scale ranging from 0 to 9. Each section (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking) receives a band score, and an overall band score is calculated based on the average of the four sections.
Various resources are available to help you prepare for the test, including practice materials, sample tests, online courses, and coaching centres. You must familiarise yourself with the format of the test and practice regularly.
To know more commonly asked questions, read our IELTS FAQs.