IELTS indicator test: All you need to know

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Let’s start with the basics.

What is the IELTS indicator test?

It is a new test introduced by the British Council to support students who are unable to proceed with their plans to take their actual IELTS test because of Covid 19.

By taking the indicator test, you will receive an indicative score for each section along with an overall indicative score. Indicative scores will help you know how you performed and where you need to improve.

As IELTS Indicator provides an indicative score only, it is not accepted by all organisations. Before you book, be sure to check with your university or educational institution.

It is a computer-based test – which you take safely and securely at HOME. Of course, this is perfect because in lockdown you are unable to go out and often, even if lockdown has been easing where you are, you may not feel totally comfortable going to an exam centre right now. Also, in many countries we have no idea when the centres will reopen and quite possibly you need your results NOW so you can make plans for September 2020, the start of the academic year.

When and where? Only available for a limited time.

The academic IELTS indicator test is only available for a limited time while IELTS testing is currently suspended due to COVID-19. 

One of its aims is to help educational providers, such as universities who can use the IELTS indicator to help them gauge or measure the English language ability of future students while IELTS testing is suspended. Country availability will continue to be updated in the coming weeks. The test is not available in Mainland China.

Note: we don’t know how long it will be available for but if you think this might suit you get involved now!! Do not miss out on this chance.

Who is the IELTS Indicator test for?

Essentially it is for any test taker seeking to study abroad who needs to continue their application process with their prospective University or educational institution while IELTS testing centres are suspended. This is really relevant, and the timing is great because many applications to Universities are approaching their final deadlines so not only do you NEED to know where you stand but the admission decisions need to be made soon.

IMPORTANT: IELTS Indicator is an academic test only and has not been developed for immigration purposes. It is currently only intended for university applications and there is no general test indicator.

When do I get my results?

The good news is that the results are quick. You will receive your results digitally within seven days of completing all sections of the test. Retakes? And if you need to you can retake the test you can. Tests take place once a week while normal testing is suspended.

You will receive an indicative score for each part of the test and an overall indicative score as well. This is fantastic as it will be the best chance you have to work out what your strengths are and what you may need to work on – for example, if you need to focus on writing then you can get going on that immediately (mention online course!!)

What does it test?

Listening : 30 minutes - 40 questions

Reading : 60 minutes - 40 questions

Writing : 60 minutes - 2 tasks

Speaking: 11 to 14 minutes

3 tasks over video call

The listening, reading and writing:  The test covers all four skills just the same as the usual exam, it asks the same kind of questions as IELTS (we have no suggestion that the level is any easier so that is an important thing to note), and it is marked by genuine IELTS examiners so the validity of the test as far as it’s authenticity is excellent. It’s really important to stress that the quality of the test is the same as you would have in a test centre!

The L, R and W part of the tests are all done in one sitting – so make sure you have enough breakfast that day and plenty of water near you – just because you are doing it at home does not mean that you can pause the test and make a coffee in the middle. Again – the test will replicate exam conditions and this is good because with a bit of adrenalin on your side you will be able to perform really well!

Speaking: The speaking test will be done with a real IELTS examiner but over Zoom (so you need to make sure you have this downloaded), and will take place either a few days before or a few days after the main part of the test.

For your speaking test, you will need to have your passport/identity document which you booked your IELTS indicator test with, along with a paper and pen. You have to download the Zoom video call application to your laptop or computer and ensure you have a web camera.

Remember that both IELTS and the IELTS indicator have a one-to-one speaking test with an IELTS examiner. IELTS indicator speaking test is conducted over a video call.

By hosting the speaking test with a trained examiner, the IELTS indicator maintains focus on real-life conversational English ability – just like in the real world. No penalties for accents (that can be clearly understood).

How does it work?

The best thing about the IELTS indicator, of course, is that you are safe and at home. All you need is a suitable desktop computer or laptop with a reliable internet connection. You do not want to be worrying about a bad internet connection while you are doing this exam. The time window for each part of the test will be strictly controlled and this works through a software browser called SEB (Safe exams browser) downloaded on your internet. There are full instructions on this on the IELTS indicator website so don’t worry about it.

You will need a webcam for the Zoom speaking test!

Will my university accept an indicator test result?

It is important to remember that the IELTS indicator does not replace an in-person IELTS test at a test centre, and it is not accepted by all organisations. We recommend that you check with your university or education provider before you book. But to help you there is a very comprehensive guide on the British council IELTS indicator website and I have checked quite a few UK Unis and the band needed vary between 5.5 and 6.5 mostly.

The results are given electronically to your nominated institutes by the British Council. Of course, if you retake it would be wise to tell the Uni you are planning to retake so that they know not to rely on the first result!

How much does it cost?

Here’s some more good news. The cost of this IELTS indicator is $149 USD compared to around $258 USD for the ordinary IELTS depending on where you are. Clearly, a cheaper cost, not having to travel, getting the results in a week and doing the exam at home all has to be a good thing!

Is this ‘worth’ as much as IELTS?

Absolutely YES in that this is a genuine IELTS product and will be recognised by universities. IELTS indicator is designed to support organisations during the COVID-19 situation. It uses official IELTS test questions and the test taker’s performance is marked by qualified IELTS examiners.

Therefore, in terms of test construction and assessment, the IELTS indicator is a valid assessment of English language proficiency.

Obviously, it is not the same as the usual IELTS exam but it is the same standard, same format and same question level so if you need access to study abroad, and the Uni you want to go to it happy to accept this and you need a result now, then this is the perfect solution for you!

Listen to this tutorial to learn about Maria's experience with the IELTS Indicator test.

Audio tutorial

You can download or listen to the audio version here:

|Direct Download Here | Stitcher | iTunes | Spotify | Soundcloud | Transcript