Everything you need to know about the IELTS exam

What is the IELTS?

There’s a lot of preparation involved in studying internationally. Apart from having to prepare mentally and emotionally, students need to sort out various documents and requirements as well. The IELTS exam is one of the most common requirements for education in English-speaking countries and can be one of the most important steps in a learner’s journey to study abroad.

The IELTS full form is International English Language Testing System. It’s a globally recognised language proficiency test designed to evaluate an individual’s ability to communicate effectively in English. The IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP IELTS and Cambridge University Press & Assessment and has set the standard for English language testing for higher education and global migration for over 40 years.

In this article, we break down the essential details to help you grasp the fundamentals of taking the IELTS exam.


Understanding the IELTS Exam

The IELTS exam consists of four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. There are two different types of the IELTS exam: Academic and General Training. The Speaking and Listening parts are the same for both modules, but they differ in the Reading and Writing parts. (More on that below)

IELTS results are based on a 9-band scale where the overall band score is the average of the four section band scores rounded to the nearest half band. While Cambridge English has conducted several studies to map the IELTS results to the six levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), the IELTS website notes that “[t]he relationship of IELTS with the CEFR is complex as IELTS is not a level-based test, but rather designed to span a much broader proficiency continuum. … It is important to bear in mind the differences in test purpose, test format, test populations and measurement scales when seeking to make comparisons.”

Below, we dive into some of the most commonly asked questions about the IELTS Exam.:

What is the difference between the IELTS Academic vs. Regular (General Training)?

The IELTS Academic exam is designed for students who plan to pursue higher education in English-speaking countries. It assesses if you are ready to begin studying in English and features vocabulary that is familiar within an academic setting. This is the ideal exam for those seeking to attend university, pursue higher education or for professional registration.

The IELTS General Training, on the other hand, assesses everyday English language skills that you will need in social situations and workplace environments. The test is suited for those looking to migrate to an English-speaking country (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK) for work or to study or train at a below-degree level.

Additionally, there is also an IELTS Life Skills exam, which is a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) that assesses only one’s English speaking and listening skills.

When is the IELTS exam date?

Each test-taker can choose their own IELTS exam date depending on their schedule and preference, since IELTS spreads schedules throughout the year. Availability varies per location, test centre and IELTS exam module. You can check the available dates here.

Where can I take the IELTS exam?

IELTS has over 4,000 test locations in 140 countries across the globe. Some countries offer the exam online.

How much does the IELTS exam fee cost?

The IELTS exam fee varies depending on the test location and currency exchange rates. For example, in Australia, it would cost approximately AUD$410.00. It’s best to visit the official IELTS websites to find out the exact fees for your region.

What do my IELTS results mean?

As mentioned, results for the IELTS are based on the test taker’s average score across the four test sections. This score is then measured on a scale from 0 (did not attempt the test) to 9 (expert). The score you need to enter university would depend on your chosen institution’s specific score requirements.

After taking the IELTS exam, you can expect your results within approximately 13 days.

People have different reasons and motivations for taking the IELTS exam. It can be a daunting task for some while a walk in the park for others. But with a proper understanding and preparation, anyone will be able to enhance their chances of meeting the language proficiency requirements for their desired purpose.

Get in touch with our business development experts today to learn more about supporting students as they navigate the IELTS!

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