The IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a standardised English exam which is becoming increasingly recognised on an international scale. The IELTS test is used to assess the English level of people who wish to work or pursue their studies in an English-speaking environment. The majority of candidates are students wishing to continue their education abroad and individuals who are looking to begin an international career.
IELTS is asked by more than 10,000 organizations in over 140 countries around the world. IELTS is a real career asset: candidates take the exam for various purposes such as education, employment and immigration. If the university you’re applying to asked you to take the IELTS test and you don’t know what it is exactly nor which specific version of the test you should take, this article is for you!
The Listening section (oral comprehension) consists of answering 40 diverse questions in the form of multiple choice
The Reading section (written comprehension) also consists of answering 40 diverse questions on 3 different texts in the form of multiple choice
The Writing section (written expression) takes the form of two essays: one of 150 words and the other of 250 words
The Speaking section (oral expression) takes the form of a face-to-face interview with an IELTS examiner. It consists of 3 parts: the examiner poses a personal question to the candidate, then asks the candidate to talk about a random subject, and then finally initiates a larger dialogue stemming from the same subject
If you are looking to work, live or study in an English-speaking country, then you must be able to demonstrate a high level of English language ability.
English is the third most spoken language in the world, with 379 million speakers worldwide.
When you can communicate in the native language of the country you wish to work or study in, it’s a massive benefit. Plus, it’s a must for job opportunities, as well as for integrating into the community.
IELTS is the most popular test for those looking to migrate to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. It is recognised worldwide by more than 11,000 employers, universities and schools, including 3,400 institutions in the USA – and by immigration bodies globally.
IELTS Band Scores Scale and Skill Level Description
Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English is graded on a scale of 1-9:
Total mastery of the language. Understands perfectly and is at ease orally.
Very good user
Very good operational mastery of the language. Some occasional faults.
Good general mastery of the language, despite some errors and misunderstandings.
Competent mastery of the language in unfamiliar situations. Good mastery of everyday situations. Multiple errors and misunderstandings.
Ability to understand the general meaning of a situation, despite numerous errors and misunderstandings.
Ability to deal with a few daily situations. The candidate does not use complex language.
Extremely limited user
Can only deal with very familiar situations. Has difficulties communicating.
Has great difficulties communicating and being understood.
Does not know how to speak the language except for certain ideas.
Did not sit the exam
Did not sit the exam.
What Is the IELTS Test Format and the Skill Assessment?
In the table below, you will learn the skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking sections:
40 questions based on audio excerpts
– Each section is marked out of 9 points (giving 4 subscores).
– The average of the 4 subscores gives a overall score (called the overall band)
40 questions based on 3 texts or sections
Face-to-face interview with an examiner
10 to 15 min
2 essays (150 and 250 words)
How Long Does It Take to Complete Each Section?
The Listening section lasts 40min :
30 min of listening.
10min to transfer your answers onto the answer
The Reading section lasts 60 min :
20min per text.
The Writing section lasts 60 min :
20min for the first essay of 150 words.
40min for the second essay of 250 words
The Speaking test lasts between 10 and 15min:
2 to 3min for the first part (personal questions)
4 to 5min for the second part (questions on a randomly-selected subject).
4 to 7min for the third part (general questions).
The IELTS section tests last in total between 2 hrs 50min and 2 hrs 55min.
Main Differences Between IELTS Academic and General Training
The IELTS General Training test is aimed towards professionals wishing to work within an English-speaking environment.
The IELTS Academic test is taken by students wishing to certify their level of English proficiency in order to enroll in universities abroad.
The table below summarizes the differences between the two in regards to the 4 test sections:
IELTS General Training
– 3 text extracts taken from books, newspapers or magazines
– They are descriptive, factual, analytical or discursive
– 3 sections including text extracts:
・1st section: 2 or 3 short factual texts
・2nd section: 2 factual texts with a professional theme
・3rd section: 1 long text which has a general subject
Writing (2 essays)
・1st essay: 150 words summarising, describing or explaining a table, graph or diagram
・2nd essay: 250 words on a mandatory topic
・1st essay: essay of 150 words taking the form of a letter
・2nd essay: 250 words on a mandatory topic
The IELTS test certificate is valid for two years. Institutions consider that the IELTS test score is no longer valid after two years because it no longer represents the person’s current language level.
IELTS Exam: Is It Available on Paper or on the Computer?
The IELTS exam is available on paper and on the computer. It is the exact same test that will take place in an exam center. The only difference depends on whether you’d rather write down your answers on a piece of paper or type them on a computer.
They both offer some advantages and disadvantages.
There are more time test dates available for the IELTS computer-based test.You will receive your results in 3 to 5 days after sitting the computer based test (instead of having to wait 13 days when taking the paper based test)
If you have specific needs (such as visual impairment, hearing impairment or learning disabilities for example), you should opt for the paper-based test and contact your test center three months prior to taking the test to know what special conditions they can set up.
IELTS Exam Registration and Results (Test Report Form)
Take a look at the registration process:
Keep your passport handy – you’ll need your passport number at the time of registration. You’ll also need your passport on the test day. To register:
Find your nearest test centre.
Register for the IELTS test and pay online.
You’ll receive confirmation of the date and time of your IELTS test.
You can register and pay online at IELTS.org or download an application form to print and complete for your local test centre.
If you have taken an IELTS on paper test, your Test Report Form will be available 13 days after you complete the test.
If you have taken an IELTS computer test, your results will be available in three to five days after your test.
When you check your results using our IELTS online results portal using the link provided by your test centre, you will see a table with an explanation of your scores, and advice for improvement.
Your results and explanation are available to view for 28 days.
What Is the Price of the IELTS Test Around the World?
The price of the test varies depending on the country in which you take it and the version of the test you wish to take (Academic, General Training, for UKVI or Life Skills). To find out more about the different fees applied, visit the British Council website.
Here are the fees for some countries on different continents:
The Prices In North America, Central And South America
Prepare For the IELTS Academic and General Online With GlobalExam
Now that you know more about the IELTS test type, it’s time to practice. Regardless of your basic English level, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with the test beforehand so that you know what to expect on the day of the exam.
Many IELTS preparation are available for your study, and GlobalExam is one of them. In order to optimize your chances of achieving your goal, GlobalExam has created an online practice platform. Test takers can practice in real exam conditions thanks to several mock exams and exercises, provided with a correction.
You can create a revision schedule to guide you and concentrate on certain skills according to your results. In addition, vocabulary and grammar study sheets are available on the blog, along with some IELTS tips and tricks for your training as well as IELTS format and FAQs. These subjects are important areas to keep in mind when training for the IELTS exam.
Make a giant step in your training and sign up for a free trial. You will get the equivalent of a full IELTS practice test for free. And if you want to go further in your revision, we also offer a Premium version which gives you access to even more exercises and mock exams to maximize your chances of success.