The IELTS FAQ section tries to answer all the questions that candidates might be wondering to know. We really appreciate your visit to the IELTS FAQ section. Try to find the answers of your questions from the questions & answers listed below and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further query or for the questions that are not listed here.
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What is IELTS?
IELTS stands for International English Language Testing System. IELTS exam is designed to assess the readiness of candidates to study or train in further or higher education courses held in English at college or university. IELTS provides a profile of a candidate’s English proficiency. The profile contains not only an indication of a candidate’s ability in a particular module but also an indication of overall ability.
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.
For you, the IELTS score is a proof of your English proficiency in general. IELTS is recognised worldwide and that’s why if you have a good IELTS score, you can use this certificate as proof of your proficiency of handling English as a second language.
Why are you taking IELTS?
Who owns the IELTS test?
IELTS is owned and administered by the following organizations:
University of Cambridge ESOL Exams, The British Council, IDP Education Australia & IELTS Australia.
These organizations set the exam standard, maintain the IELTS exam, monitor the standard, review and change the exam format and everything related to the IELTS exam.
What is the purpose of the IELTS?
The purpose of the IELTS exam is to test the candidates’ ability of handling English language who want to study or work in a country where English is the language of communication. IELTS result is also necessary for the immigration purposes.
Each year millions of people take the IELTS exam to achieve a score that would prove their English language proficiency. IELTS is one of the most widely accepted international exams. IELTS exam is available for students and immigration applicants to demonstrate their English language proficiency for specific purposes.
Not necessarily you will get admission to a foreign country or get visa to live there because of your IELTS score. But the college/ University you are going to apply or the immigrant authority would ask for an accepted proof of your English skill and your IELTS score your serve the purpose.
What are the two types of IELTS?
» Academic Module is suitable for those who are going to apply for further studies and professional registration. If you are planning to get admitted in undergraduate or post graduate course at a college or university where English is necessary, you should take the Academic IELTS test. In fact your university would ask your academic IELTS score and the General Training IELTS score might not be accepted for this purpose.
» General Training Module is appropriate for those who are going to English-speaking countries to complete work experience and training programs or for immigration purposes. General training IELTS tests the candidates communication skills which is needed for people who is not a English speaker and want to migrate to a country where English is the language of communication.
The university or the immigration authority who will be receiving your papers can tell you in prior which form of IELTS you are required to complete. So, if you have any confusion, contacting the corresponding authority would be the best thing to do.
Should I take IELTS Academic or GT Module exam?
The IELTS Academic Module exam is intended for those who want to study in an English-speaking country or where the medium of communication is English, as well as for medical professionals who want to practice abroad.
The IELTS General Module exam is for those who want to emigrate to Australia, Canada or New Zealand, undergo practical vocational training, or do a work placement. Before you register we strongly advise you to check directly with the institution you are doing the test for. It is your responsibility to choose the module that suits your purpose.
Consider the fact that, you need an academic IELTS score (as the name implies) to get admitted in an academic (be it a college or university). For general training or immigration purposes you would require the General Training IELTS score.
If you have an academic IELTS score that would be usually accepted for immigration or training purposes as well. But GT IELTS score might not be accepted by the college/ university authority where you are planning to complete your undergraduate or postgraduate studies.
It is advisable to contact to the appropriate authority who would be processing your papers (admission/ training or immigration) to be sure which version if IELTS you are required to sit.
What are the differences between Academic and GT version of IELTS?
The Academic Version of IELTS is designed and therefore intended for those who want to get themselves admitted in universities or any other higher educational institutes for undergraduate and postgraduate courses and for professionals who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
The General Training (GT) IELTS is intended for those who are willing to gain work experience, undertake non-academic training or for immigration purposes.
The listening and speaking sections are exactly same both for the academic and General training IELTS candidates. The reading and writing sections differ. For academic IELTS candidates the reading passages are longer and are generally related to academic reading. On the contrary the GT readings are designed to test the general instruction, basic reading ability. In writing part, the academic candidates need to write a report or summary from a given chart, graph or diagram whereas the General Training candidates need to write an application on real life issues.
IELTS Test format:
What are the 4 sections of IELTS?
There are 4 sections or modules in IELTS: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.
All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking tests, but Reading and Writing tests vary depending on whether a candidate is taking the Academic IELTS test or the General Training IELTS test.
The Academic Reading test examines the candidates’ ability to read and extract specific information from the reading materials. The reading passages are generally of academic interests and are designed to test how well the candidates would be able to conduct their academic reading where skimming and finding information, understanding themes of reading are necessary.
The General Training Reading module tests candidates’ ability to find specific instructions or information from reading materials which are generally found in everyday life.
The Academic Writing tests candidates’ ability to write summary of a given illustration and the ability to write essay on several issues. The presentation, writing pattern, logic, coherence and relevancy etc. are tested in writing task two (essay writing).
The General Training Writing examines the test takers skill on writing letters, applications as well as essay writing ability.
Note that the writing task two i.e. essay writing is same both for the academic and GT test takers.
The Listening part test examinees’ ability to understand the language and then recall the information heard.
The Speaking part tests the candidates ability to introduce themselves, talk about known issues, giving details of their background, discussing in details about general, social and international issues of common interest, the vocabulary, fluency and overall speaking skill.
Which countries accept the IELTS Score?
IELTS is accepted as the standard international test system for English language proficiency by a whole range of institutions. These include the majority of all education establishments operating in English in Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand. US educational institutions are also now starting to use it. Many international immigration services also use the IELTS as well as various professional organizations including the British and Australian Medical Councils and the UK Ministry of Defence.
In most of the countries where university courses are offered in English or people speak English to communicate, IELTS score is accepted as a proof of your English proficiency. Many European countries where English in not the first or even second language would ask for IELTS to get admitted in a university or college that offers courses in English.
Simply consider the fact that, IELTS is a test that demonstrates a candidate’s English proficiency and this exam and its score is accepted worldwide wherever you need to show a proof of your English skill.
What is the computer-based IELTS test?
The computer-based version of IELTS is an alternative of paper-and-pencil based IELTS exam. This test is also called CB IELTS and this was introduced in May 2005. You can sit for any of the two types. However computer based IELTS is only available for academic modules at selected centers only. To find out if your nearby center offer the computer based IELTS or not, you will need to contact them.
The Reading and Listening modules in CB IELTS are conducted in a Computer and the writing module can be done in a computer or in a paper based on candidate’s preference. However, the speaking module would still be administered the way it had been, i.e. face-to-face interview session with an examiner.
What is the minimum age requirement for IELTS?
IELTS is recommended for candidates over the age of 16. In other word, to take the IELTS test a candidate must be 16 years old or over.
For how long the IELTS test result is valid?
Generally a Test Report Form (TRF) or IELTS result is valid for 2 years. However there are other factors to determine the validity period. But usually you should consider your IELTS score valid for 2 years and if your IELTS Report Form is older than 2 years, you should consider sitting for the exam again to get another TRF form to send to your University or immigration authority.
What can I do if I am not satisfied with my results?
You might apply for an inquiry on results (EoR) procedure within six weeks from the date you took the IELTS exam, using a prescribed form by the IELTS authority if you are dissatisfied with the result you got. The application for re-examining the score needs you to fill the form which must be paid prior to the processing of the appeal. The fees may vary depending on the countries and IELTS centers. Then your result will be re-examined and if necessary will be corrected.
How long does the IELTS exam take?
The IELTS examination takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. The time schedules for the reading, writing and listening sections are fixed but for the speaking section that may vary.
Reading and Writing sections each one takes 1 hour. The listening test takes 30 minutes. The speaking part usually lasts for 15 minutes but there is no fixed time limit for the interview or speaking section. you can expect to finish the speaking module in 15-20 minutes.
For details of the IELTS exam structure please visit About IELTS
How much does it cost to take IELTS?
The cost of the IELTS exam is not fixed. It is set by test centers. Fees may vary depending on the countries and test centers. On an average the cost is approximately GBP 140. You can find the exact fees from the official IELTS website by locating your nearby test center from http://www.ielts.org/test_centre_search/search_results.aspx
Can IELTS be an alternative to TOEFL?
The answer is YES and NO. Both the IELTS and TOEFL are designed to evaluate the test takers English skill for academic and communication purposes. Though the exam formats of these two exams are similar, there are few differences as well. You can take either TOEFL or IELTS if the college or university you are going to apply accepts either one. If they have any strict requirement for TOEFL, your IELTS score won’t be accepted. But in practice, most of the colleges, universities and immigration authorities accept both of these exams.
It is commonly known that USA universities prefer TOEFL score whereas European and other universities accept both. But recently USA agreed to recognize IELTS and accept either IELTS or TOEFL for admission purposes and hence they will accept both the exams. However there are still some institutes and universities those want a TOEFL score and do not accept IELTS. For an updated list of the universities those accept IELTS, please visit www.ielts.org
To be on safe side, double check with your university or immigration authority before sitting for an exam.
Where are the IELTS test centers?
IELTS test centers can be found in almost all of the countries including yours. If you have seen a British Council, idp or ESOL Examination office somewhere in your locality, you can get details from there. Selct your country name and the city you live in, it will show all of the IELTS test centers around your locality. Currently there are more than 900 test centers present in 130 different countries.
For a comprehensive and most recent list of the IELTS test centers go to the page http://www.ielts.org/test_centre_search/search_results.aspx
What is the pass/ fail mark in IELTS?
In IELTS exam there is no pass or fail. IELTS results are prepared on a nine-band scale. In addition to the score for overall language ability, IELTS provides a score in the form of a profile for each of the four skills i.e. Listening, Reading, Writing and speaking. If you attend the IELTS exam and compete it, you will be given report of the result that would include individual band score of the four module as well as the Average band score. This band score would reflect your skill and ability of handling English language.
What should I bring to do the IELTS registration?
You will need the following to register yourself for the IELTS exam:
1. Registration fee. (you can pay in your local currency)
2. Valid Passport.
3. Two copy colour passport size photographs.
4. Country and Language code.
( Don’t worry if you do not know the Country and Language code. You can find it from the help desk of the test centre or browse the country codes from IELTS Registration Country Code )
The above mentioned materials and papers are usually required for the IELTS exam registration. However, the requirement might change and you should always contact the local IELTS authority before going there for registration. They can give you the details of requirement for IELTS registration. Check the list and make sure you have all the necessary papers and materials for the registration.
What happens if I’m unable to appear for the IELTS test?
Don’t take the IELTS exam like one of your class tests where you can contact your course teacher or administrative officer and sit for the exam at an alternative schedule. IELTS tests are pre-scheduled and you won’t get an alternative exam schedule if you miss your exam.
There are some unavoidable reasons that might hinder you to take part in the exams and If you fail to appear for the IELTS test, you will be treated as a ‘No Show‘ candidate by the IELTS exam authority. No refunds will be possible for a ‘no shows’ candidate. However, there are some special circumstances under which your application may be considered with some conditions. Acceptance of your form is subject to approval by the test center and if you can’t give a strong reason with supporting papers you won’t get any refund.
In which Countries IELTS exam is taken?
The IELTS test is taken every year across 130 countries and the number is rapidly growing. It is not far away when all of the countries of the world would have IELTS test centers. To find the complete list click in « IELTS CENTERS ». It is one of the fastest growing English language tests in the world, and sets the standard in integrity, research and innovation and that’s why candidates from all around the globe are taking this exam.
Can a native English speaker take the IELTS exam?
Yes, a candidate who speaks English as the primary language can sit for the IELTS exam. There is no restriction imposed on that.
If you are a native English speaker and studied your previous degrees from institutions where English was used as part of the academic practice, you can be exempted to supply the IETLS score to the intended university/ college or in immigration offices. Contact to the university or college you are going to get admitted or contact to the immigration office to be sure if you need this test to prove your English skill or not.
Is there any special consideration in IELTS exam for the disable candidates?
IELTS aims to assess the English language communication skills of all test takers fairly and objectively. The IELTS test centers can make arrangements to accommodate special circumstances or requirements to enable test takers to attend a test centre, and to understand questions and tasks and give their answers. Test centers require three months’ notice to put special arrangements in place. Generally some special circumstances are considered like: Visual difficulties, Hearing difficulties, Illness.
If you are genuinely ill on the day of the exam or during the test you should let the test supervisor know. Special consideration may be given to test takers who report their illness on the day of the test. Like all other standard exam centres there might be some limitations on the facilities offered.
When will I get my IELTS result?
The IELTS test center will produce the result after 13 calendar days of the test. At some centers candidates may collect their results on the 13th day from the test centers or it is mailed to candidates on the 13th day.
Most candidates now collect their IELTS result from the internet. However, test centers do not give results to the candidates over the phone or by fax or e-mail. In some countries the result is sent via SMS to the number the candidate has given while registering for the test.
You can check your IELTS result online from https://results.ielts.org
Can I make some notes on the Listening & Reading question paper?
Yes you can. The examiner will not see your question papers. You can take notes like a date, a place name or other important keywords that might help you answering your listening or reading exams questions. However, DO NOT write or mark on the answer sheet.
Be careful about what you write on the questions papers. After the exam you are not allowed to take the exam papers with you. You need to submit your questions papers along with your answer sheet.
Does the IELTS test differ in various parts of the world?
IELTS is a global standard test. It does not assess candidates from different geographical location differently. However the questions may vary depending on the test locations or centers. But the IELTS authority strictly maintains the standard and questions format in all location. You are likely to get a different question set for a different geographic location but the standard of the questions, test and evaluation would be same.
There are some misconceptions that certain test centers’ exams are easy compared to others, a native examiner would be hard to convince in speaking exam … etc. But don’t bother about these misconceptions and strictly focus on your exam preparation.
Can I take the IELTS exam more than once?
Yes, you can take the IELTS exam as many times as you want. Even if you have got a decent band score and the score has its validity, and you expect to get a higher score, you can sit for the IELTS exam once again at your convenient.
Few years back there was a restriction on sitting for the exam second time within a prescribed duration, but this is no longer applicable and you can sit for your IELTS exam as many times as you want. Each exam would require you to register for it and there is no waiver if you have taken the exam previously.
Will my previous IELTS score affect my new score?
No, your previous IELTS score will not affect your new IELTS score. You do not need to bother about your previous score if you are sitting for the IELTS a second time. Your score would be given as if you are sitting for the IELTS first time. In your Report Form (result), previous score won’t be mentioned.
What happens if a candidate is absent on the IELTS test date?
If a candidate is absent on the day of the IELTS test s/he will be treated as a ‘No Show‘ candidate. S/he will not get any result and if s/he was absent without giving prior notice, will normally lose the full test fee unless he/she is provides appropriate medical evidence to the center to explain the absence. Medical evidence must be provided within 5 days of the test.
What if I become ill during the IELTS test?
If you get seriously ill during the test, you should report it to the test supervisor immediately. Then the test center will take special care about the situation and might give special consideration. No consideration or favour is possible if it is not brought to the attention of the test supervisor.
Your test is important so report to the test supervisor as soon as you feel sick and you might get a favour.
How soon can I repeat the IELTS test?
From May 1, 2006 the policy on candidates re-taking IELTS has been amended. According to this new policy a candidate can re-take exam anytime s/he likes. The restriction on re-taking IELTS within 90 days has been removed and candidates are able to repeat the test whenever they wish.
Please note that, you will still be asked to indicate on your application form whether you have taken the IELTS test before or not. This information will not appear on the Test Report Form (TRF) and will only be used for monitoring purposes. So you can take the IELTS exam whenever you wish.
Can I leave the Exam room during my IELTS exam?
No, you are not permitted to leave the test room during the examination in normal circumstances. You should be prepared not to leave the exam room during the test. The time is very crucial in your test.
However, if there is an emergency or special circumstance when you have to go out, just explain it to your test supervisor. You won’t be given any extra time in IELTS exam.
Can I get a better score at an IELTS test center than at others?
Absolutely NOT! IELTS officials use many means to ensure standardization of Band Scores throughout the world. Of course, it could be true that taking IELTS in an English speaking country is beneficial, but only because you are being exposed to English every day not because taking test there would give you any privilege regarding the exam.
IELTS questions, tests and result standards are strictly maintained all over the world.
Focus on your preparation and improve your English skill, you will get a high band score from your nearby test centre.
Can I use a driving license/student ID card as a proof of my identity?
NO, driving licenses and student identity cards are not acceptable forms of identification for the IELTS registration and test. Candidates must have a valid passport or accepted identity card like Social Security Card, National ID card to register for the IELTS exam. The ID document specified on the application form has to be brought along on the test day.
Please note that, Non-EU nationals must carry their passport as a proof of their identity.
Using the Passport is the best form of presenting your identification.
What can I do if I wants to postpone or cancel my application?
If you request a postponement or cancellation of your IELTS test within 5 weeks of the test date, you’ll normally be charged the full fee. You should not expect any refund from the test center but notifying would save you from marked as a No Show Candidate.
If the reason is strong enough and you are able to provide appropriate papers, medical evidence to support your request within 5 days of the test date, the test authority might return you a partial refund.
How IELTS is scored?
IELTS results are prepared on a nine-band scale. In addition to the score for overall language ability, IELTS provides a score in the form of a profile for each of the four skills (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). These scores are also reported on a nine-band scale. Each Overall Band Score corresponds to a descriptive statement which gives a summary of the English language ability of a candidate classified at that level. The nine bands and their descriptive statements are as follows:
9 Expert User
Has fully operational command of the language: appropriate, accurate and fluent with complete understanding.
8 Very Good User
Has fully operational command of the language with only occasional unsystematic inaccuracies and in appropriates. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.
7 Good User
Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriateness and misunderstandings in some situations. Generally handles complex language well and understands detailed reasoning.
6 Competent User
Has generally effective command of the language despite some inaccuracies, inappropriates and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.
5 Modest User
Has a partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. The candidate should be able to handle communication in his or her own field.
4 Limited User
Basic competence is limited to familiar situations. Has frequent problems in using complex language.
3 Extremely Limited User
Conveys and understands only general meaning in very familiar situations. Frequent breakdowns in communication occur.
2 Intermittent User
No real communication is possible except for the most basic information using isolated words or short formulae in familiar situations and to meet immediate needs. Has great difficulty understanding spoken and written English.
1 Non User
Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.
0 Did not Attempt The test
No accessible information provided.