IDP vs British Council IELTS: Which one ?

In this tutorial, we talk about IDP and British Council IELTS

  • Learn about the two administrative bodies that run the IELTS exams: British Council and the IDP. IDP is an international education organisation offering student placement in Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, the Republic of Ireland and Canada. IDP has more than 100 offices in 31 countries
  • Find out if the IELTS test is the same in both or if there are any important differences.

This will help you choose between IDP and the British Council for your IELTS test. 

Are there any differences between taking IDP and British Council IELTS?

That's a very easy question to answer. The simple answer is no. Let's see why:

  • The IELTS exam has three owners: Cambridge English Language Assessment, based in Cambridge in the UK, IDP, Melbourne, Australia and the London-based IELTS British Council.
  • British Council and IDP administer the exam.
  • Cambridge English Language Assessment is responsible for writing and marking the IELTS test.

This means that:

  • The English language exam has exactly the same format and content.
  • Both IDP and British Council administered exams are equally valid. For example, if you take the exam with IDP in India, your grades will be valid all over the world, including in the UK. And, it's the same for the British Council administered exam. It's valid everywhere, including in Australia.

But is the IELTS speaking test the same?

Yes. Exactly the same. Same length, same structure.

What about the examiners?

Good question. First, remember that:

  •  All IELTS examiners, IDP and British Council, are experienced teachers who receive the same training.
  •  They all follow the same criteria to assess each candidate.
  •  They are regularly monitored to make sure they follow high interview and marking standards.

So, no problems. In fact, a lot of examiners work for more than one test centre - so they might be working for IDP one day and British Council the next.

I worry about different accents

Don't worry.

  • An examiner may come from a number of English speaking countries, including the UK, Australia, the USA, and Ireland, to name just a few.
  • The examiner may also be a bilingual non-native speaker of English.
  • Accents will vary and the same is true of the Listening section of the Test where you may hear people from different English speaking countries with distinguishable regional accents. But, what they all have in common is clarity. None will be difficult to understand.

Is it just a personal choice?

Mostly yes. Both IDP and the British Council are present in over 100 countries worldwide. So, in many places, it's a question of geographical location. In some countries, such as India for example, you can find both so you have a choice. Remember too that the test dates are the same.

Are there countries that prefer IDP or British Council?

No, not at all. I mentioned validity before. Take Canada as an example. It accepts both for immigration or study purposes as well as its own accepted language entrance exams.

Paper or computer?

Right. I was waiting for this question? Let's look at the facts:

  • All over the world, more and more students are studying and taking exams online, IELTS is no different.
  • IDP began offering a computer-delivered IELTS option in December 2017 in 20 countries,
  • The British Council currently also offers this alternative in an increasing number of British Council centres.
  • The difference between paper and computer is simply that the Listening, Reading and Writing parts are done on a computer.
  • The Speaking test is still face-to-face with an examiner.

What are the advantages of one over the other?

Maybe, those of us who are more accustomed to using a keyboard rather than a pencil would be attracted to the computer version. Apart from that, there is absolutely no difference at all. At the same time, the move away from paper exams to online ones is inevitable. Today, for example, IELTS paper version written exams are all scanned and sent to the UK to be marked online. We also have the IELTS Indicator test, which I believe could and probably should be made standard once it’s perfected. This would level the playing field and ideally reduce costs for test-takers.

In conclusion

British Council or IDP offer you the same product on the same test date and is corrected in the same way. It doesn't matter which test centre you choose because the product (the test) will be exactly the same. Take a look at some tutorials to learn more about IELTS:

Audio tutorial

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