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International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardised test of English language proficiency. It is jointly managed by University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council and IDP Education Pty Ltd, and was established in 1989.

IELTS tests are held in over 500 centres with tests up to four times a month

You can choose from two types of IELTS test: Academic or General Training, depending on whether you want to study, work or migrate. Both modules are made up of four parts – Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. IELTS results are graded on the unique IELTS 9-band scale

    * The Academic Version is intended for those who want to enroll in universities and other institutions of higher education and for professionals such as medical doctors and nurses who want to study or practice in an English-speaking country.
    * The General Training Version is intended for those planning to undertake non-academic training or to gain work experience, or for immigration purposes.

It is generally acknowledged that the reading and writing tests for the Academic Version are more difficult than those for the General Training Version, due to the differences in the level of intellectual and academic rigour between the two versions.

IELTS is accepted by most Australian, British, Canadian, Irish, New Zealand and South African academic institutions, over 2,000 academic institutions in the United States, and various professional organisations. It is also a requirement for immigration to Australia and Canada.

An IELTS result or Test Report Form (TRF - see below) is valid for two years.

IELTS test structure

All candidates must complete four Modules - Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking - to obtain a band score, which is shown on the IELTS Test Report Form (TRF). All candidates take the same Listening and Speaking Modules, while the Reading and Writing Modules differ depending on whether the candidate is taking the Academic or General Training Versions of the Test.

The total test duration is around 2 hours and 45 minutes for Listening, Reading and Writing modules.

    * Listening: 40 minutes, 30 minutes for which a recording is played centrally and additional 10 minutes for transferring answers onto the OMR answer sheet.
    * Reading: 60 minutes.
    * Writing: 60 minutes.

(N.B.: No additional time is given for transfer of answers in Reading and Writing modules)

Listening, Reading and Writing must be completed in one day. Depending on your test centre, the Speaking test may be offered on the same day or up to a week before or after the other parts
The tests are designed to cover the full range of ability from non-user to expert user.


  40 Items  
  30 minutes  
General Training   Academic
Reading   Reading
3 sections   3 sections
40 items   40 items
60 minutes   60 minutes
General Training   Academic
Writing    Writing 
2 Tasks   2 Tasks
150 - 250 words   150 - 250 words
60 minutes   60 minutes
  11 - 14 minutes  


Band scale


IELTS is scored on a nine-band scale, with each band corresponding to a specified competence in English. Overall Band Scores are reported to the nearest half band.


The following rounding convention applies: if the average across the four skills ends in .25, it is rounded up to the next half band, and if it ends in .75, it is rounded up to the next whole band.


The nine bands are described 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 inappropriacies. Misunderstandings may occur in unfamiliar situations. Handles complex detailed argumentation well.


7 Good User


Has operational command of the language, though with occasional inaccuracies, inappropriacies 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, inappropriacies and misunderstandings. Can use and understand fairly complex language, particularly in familiar situations.


5 Modest user


Has partial command of the language, coping with overall meaning in most situations, though is likely to make many mistakes. Should be able to handle basic communication in 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.


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.


1 Non User


Essentially has no ability to use the language beyond possibly a few isolated words.


0 Did not attempt the test


No assessable information provided at all.



There  is a separate Band Score for each section. The four Band Scores, one for each section are added together and averaged for an Overall Band Score.

The minimum score accepted for a course ranges from 5.0 to 7.5, depending upon courses and institutes you are applying to. The most common requirement is a band score of 6 to 6.5.

Overall IELTS band scores and Listening and Reading IELTS band scores are reported in half bands. Writing and Speaking band scores are reported in whole bands. This feature helps the Universities in following their guidelines at the time of admission.

You can retake the test if you do not achieve the desired score but not before three months from the first test date.



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