IELTS is short for International English Language Testing System. It is one of the most widely known and used English language exams in the world. There are about 1000 IELTS test centres in almost all the countries of the world.
Many people take the IELTS test to provide proof of their English skills either for immigration or academic purposes. A huge number of post-secondary institutions, governmental bodies and private corporations recognize IELTS results as confirmation of English proficiency level for countries like New Zealand, USA, Canada and Australia. It is the only English Language Test approved by UK Visas and Immigration for applications outside and inside of the UK.
It is very important for you as a test taker to study in depth in order to excel at this exam.
You should do practice tests or take private lessons because the IELTS testing process is quite challenging and the results decide a lot in the test candidate’s life.
Most importantly, you can prepare for all the parts and types of the IELTS test using the lessons, blog posts and tutorials on our website and the courses we offer.
Types of IELTS
How many types of IELTS tests are there? Which one should I take?
There are two types of IELTS exams:
- General Training IELTS – needed to confirm language proficiency to an employer, or for immigration purposes, or to obtain citizenship.
- Academic IELTS – needed for admission to colleges or universities.
- IELTS Life Skills – needed for people who are applying for UK citizenship.
How many parts does the IELTS test have?
Both IELTS General Training and Academic have 4 sections: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
All exam sections are always taken in the same location, which is the same testing centre.
You will always do the Listening, Reading, and Writing section on the same day, without any breaks between them.
The Speaking exam may be scheduled either on the same day, after the rest of the parts, or even before or after the other test segments (up to 7 days).
Your test centre will let you know about the exact dates.
How long does IELTS test take?
2 hours 45 minutes.
The time is split as follows:
- Listening: 30 minutes
- Reading: 1 hour
- Writing: 1 hour
- Speaking: 11-15 minutes
How is IELTS exam test taken?
IELTS can be taken in two formats:
- Paper-based IELTS test: you read test materials off a paper exam booklet and write on paper using pen or pencil
- Computer-delivered IELTS: all test materials are read off a computer screen and the writing part is typed.
However, IELTS Speaking is always taken with a real person, no matter which format you choose to take.
IELTS PREPARATION TIPS
Make sure that you study for the IELTS Exam and practice doing sample tests using official IELTS practice materials, which you can find and purchase either online (for example from official IELTS websites) (https://www.ielts.org/book-a-test/prepare-for-your-ielts-test) or from your test centre.
Such preparation books are published by either Cambridge University Press, British Council or IDP.
It is important to make using official IELTS materials a priority because they are the closest version of what the real IELTS test format look and feel like because they are carefully designed by actual IELTS test creators.
IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training?
What is IELTS Academic for?
If you want to be admitted to higher education in an English-speaking country or to many other colleges or universities around the world, you will have to sit for the Academic IELTS exam.
Who accepts IELTS Academic results?
More than 10,000 public and private higher education institutions, including all the top universities, all over the world accept IELTS Academic scores as confirmation of your language command for study.
Remember, IELTS Academic is not only required in countries which have English as the official language. For example, if you apply for a program taught in English in Switzerland, you may have to submit an IELTS certificate. This test will be taken by applicants who want to apply for higher education or professional registration abroad.
Make sure that you always check on your post-secondary institution’s (college or university) website whether they can accept an IELTS Academic certificate before you book your exam or sign up for prep classes.
What is IELTS General Training for?
If you want to work or to emigrate to an English-speaking country such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, USA you will need to take General Training IELTS exam.
GT IELTS is also one of the exams accepted as proof of language proficiency for the citizenship exam in certain countries, such as Canada.
Who accepts IELTS General Training results?
A huge number of private corporations, from the smallest to the largest, and certainly all medical institutions accept GT IELTS certificates.
They require a GT IELTS band score because it serves as a trustworthy, internationally recognized proof for professionals from abroad of appropriate language skills proficiency for employment.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) accepts GT IELTS as proof of language proficiency with applications for work visas, when registering for a certain profession, to obtain permanent residence, or to finalize a citizenship application.
Similarly, the Australian Citizenship and Immigration requires GT IELTS for the same purposes as Canada.
If you intend to apply for UK citizenship, the IELTS Life Skills exam is one of the tests that is accepted.
However, band score requirements are different for various countries and purposes.
Which exam is more difficult: GT or Academic?
There is no difference at all between General Training and Academic IELTS in the Speaking and Listening sections.
The only difference between GT and Academic IELTS is in the Reading and Writing parts.
IELTS Academic is thought to be somewhat more challenging, especially Writing. But in Reading you will need fewer correct answers to get a higher band score. For example: 32 marks = Band 7.0.
On the other hand, IELTS general is believed to be a bit easier, but in certain sections will need more marks to achieve a better result. For example: 32 marks = Band 6.5.
How to book your IELTS Exam
- You should find a test centre near you. You can use the centre locator webpage on the official IELTS.org website here. (https://www.ielts.org/book-a-test/find-a-test-location)
- Consult the exam schedule calendar of your centre and choose one day from the dates available. Remember, you can sign up for only one exam at a time.
- Then you can register online or go to your test centre in person to submit an application. You can find more information about exam fees from the testing centre from your area.
Copies of valid identity documents (for example, passport, national ID card, driving license, etc., but depends on the country) will be required from you at registration. The same ID will need to be presented on test day.
When your registration request is processed, you will receive an email with information about your upcoming IELTS exam: dates, time and location of each exam section.
Read the emails you receive from your test centre very carefully: they also list important rules of the IELTS testing procedure.
Don’t forget that the Speaking section of the exam may be scheduled on a different day from the rest of the parts (Listening, Reading, Writing) – up to 7 days before or after them.
There is no difference between IELTS GT and Academic in terms of applying,
To find out more information you can consult the Official IELTS Information for Candidates booklet. (https://www.ielts.org/-/media/publications/information-for-candidates/ielts-information-for-candidates-english-uk.ashx?la=en)
How soon can I retake the IELTS exam?
There is no limitation on how many times you can sit the IELTS as long as your test centre can provide enough exam dates.
Should I retake the IELTS exam?
If your last IELTS certificate is more than 2 years old, and you need to submit a score to be admitted to college, to apply for work or migration, then YES, you need to resit the IELTS exam.
What if I don’t like my IELTS results, can they be changed?
Yes, you can apply for a re-evaluation within six weeks from your test date. You will have to pay a fee, which will be refunded only if your results are changed.
It may take from 2 to 21 days, depending how many test segments you have requested to be reassessed. After this reassessment, you will not be able to request another re-mark.
You can find out more about appealing the results of your exam results here, on the official IDP IELTS website. (https://www.idpielts.me/results/request-a-re-mark/)
How to start IELTS preparation
Which is the best way to prepare for IELTS?
There is no perfect answer to this. Some students choose to use books and do tests on paper on their own, others pay for one-on-one classes with an instructor, and finally some others enroll in online courses, with lectures, extensive speaking and writing practice and essay feedback from exam experts.
All of these approaches are effective only if you are focused on your goal and ready to work hard. No doubt, it is slightly easier to work when there is structure, direction and constructive feedback. And It is more challenging to motivate yourself when you are completely on your own, without any help from outside or anyone to ask a question.
Yet, if you sign up for a well-structured course, with an experienced teacher as a guide, you may be ready for the IELTS exam in as short as one or two weeks.
It is completely your choice which path to choose, as long as you realize the importance of the goal in front of you: your IELTS score may play a decisive role in your education, work and immigration plans.
Which is the secret to get the desired band score?
- Make the best of the time you have left until test day: plan your IELTS preparation.
- Learn specific exam strategies.
- Learn something new every day.
- Build your English language vocabulary.
- Practice how to write and say things in other words.
- Do timed mock tests.
- Train your attention skills.
- Practice all test parts: listening, reading, writing, speaking.
The IELTS Podcast team wish you all the best of luck in your International English Language Testing Exam and hope our materials, advice and tips will help you achieve your desired band scores that will get you one step closer to your dream.