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The IELTS english test is asked by more than 10,000 organizations in over 140 countries around the world. We will tell you about:

  • What IELTS meaning is;
  • How the test is structured and what themes are addressed;
  • How much it costs (and much more useful info);
  • And how to train properly to have the best score.

Keep reading ! You’ll learn everything there is to know about IELTS in this article.

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What is IELTS?

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!

What are the different versions of the tests?

The IELTS involves 2 versions of the test:

1. The IELTS Academic test is aimed towards students who wish to join higher education institutions abroad.

2. The IELTS General Training test allows professionals who wish to work abroad to certify their level of English

The two tests assess 4 linguistic competencies:

  • 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 wish to know more about the IELTS band score and how does it work, we have written an article for you. If you are wondering what is the cost of the IELTS test please read through.

Why Should You Take the IELTS Exam?

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:

Language Proficiency
9Expert UserTotal mastery of the language. Understands perfectly and is at ease orally.
8Very good userVery good operational mastery of the language. Some occasional faults.
7Good userGood general mastery of the language, despite some errors and misunderstandings.
6Competent userCompetent mastery of the language in unfamiliar situations. Good mastery of everyday situations. Multiple errors and misunderstandings.
5Modest UserAbility to understand the general meaning of a situation, despite numerous errors and misunderstandings.
4Limited userAbility to deal with a few daily situations. The candidate does not use complex language.
3Extremely limited userCan only deal with very familiar situations. Has difficulties communicating.
2Intermittent userHas great difficulties communicating and being understood.
1Non userDoes not know how to speak the language except for certain ideas.
0Did not sit the examDid 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:

Listening40 questions based on audio excerpts40min
– 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)
Reading40 questions based on 3 texts or sections60min
SpeakingFace-to-face interview with an examiner10 to 15 min
Writing2 essays (150 and 250 words)60min

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 Academic
IELTS General Training
No difference
Reading– 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

Source: Understand the IELTS test format, British Council

IELTS Test Topics: What Are The Themes And Subjects?

As the IELTS tests measure candidates’ general level of English, all current themes can be dealt with in any of the 4 sections:

  • Modern society as a whole (globalisation, scientific developments, new technology, health, etc.)
  • Daily life (transport, food, entertainment, etc.)
  • Education (studies, learning foreign languages, university programmes, etc.)
  • Environment (ecology, climate change, endangered species, etc.)
  • Professional world (unemployment, retirement, governmental impact, etc.)

Please note that the IELTS General Training Reading section involves texts more focused on the theme of work, while the IELTS Academic Reading section can focus on any of the themes discussed above.

You can also find information about the IELTS Life Skills on our platform.

IELTS Exam: How Much Time Is the Test Valid for?

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.

When registering for your test, you’ll have to choose between the two options.

  • 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.

If you have more questions about the differences between the paper based and the computer based tests, please read our article “IELTS Computer-Based: Everything You Need To Know About The Test”.

a calculator and some money

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 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

  • USA – USD 295
  • Mexico – MXN $4,647
  • Canada – CAN 309-319 depending on the region.
  • Argentina – ARS 2,860

The Prices in Europe

  • United Kingdom – GBP 195
  • Germany – EUR 257
  • Italy – EUR 265
  • France – EUR 262

The Prices In Asia

  • China – RMB 2,170
  • Hong Kong – $2,340
  • Korea – KRW 304,000
  • India – INR 15,750
  • Bangladesh – BDT 21,100

The Price In Oceania

  • Australia – AUS $330
  • New Zealand – NZ$385

Start looking for an IELTS test center to book a sit at you exam.

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.

Read the IELTS testimonial of one candidate to get more insight.