What is the main purpose of IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) has become the world's leading test to assess English language skills for those that require reliable evidence of such skills for any of the following purposes:

  • to study at a higher education institution where English is the language of communication
  • to obtain a visa to study or work in an English speaking country
  • to obtain a visa to take up residence in an English speaking country

The IELTS range of exams comprises both the Academic and General Training exams and well as the more recent Life Skills options. IELTS Life Skills tests at A2 and B1 levels are part of the UK's Secure English Language Test scheme aimed at checking the general listening and speaking skills of family members of UK citizens wishing to take up permanent residence in the UK. Life Skills results are on a Pass-Fail basis whereas IELTS Academic and General Training are assessed on an overall scale from 0 to 9 which includes the four skills of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK fix their own criteria in terms of the minimum score acceptable for immigration or short term work purposes, for example, Universities worldwide will do the same. (https://www.ielts.org/about-the-test/who-accepts-ielts-scores)

What having IELTS means

  • IELTS is internationally recognised by thousands of institutions worldwide. This includes not only educational institutions but companies, professional bodies and government agencies.
  • Academic IELTS is not only a pre-requisite to for university entry for non-native speakers but is also essential for those wishing to register with professional bodies and organisations. (https://www.ielts.org/what-is-ielts/ielts-for-work)
  • General Training IELTS allows you to fulfill the English language requirements for immigration purposes and to find employment.
  • Your IELTS score will be valid for a period of two years following the test date. This gives you the chance to present your IELTS report document to any private or public organisation during that two year time lapse without the need to take any further tests.
  • The rigorous nature of the exam provides a proven, objective assessment of your English language abilities. The score you obtain thus gives you and any interested organisation a clear picture of your level and capabilities in the language. We can no longer rely on subjective, often anecdotal language proficiency labels such as "advanced level" but rather on a verifiable internationally accepted frame of reference that the IELTS band score provides.
  • At the personal level, IELTS helps you to prepare for your future and achieve your goals .
  • Learning never stops and the work that goes into IELTS test preparation will undoubtedly help to improve both your English language competence and performance.
  • The satisfaction of raising your language proficiency has a value which includes but also goes beyond, your study or vocational goals. Take for example, the benefits for example of learning valuable social survival skills when studying for the General Training IELTS.

Test scores and "good" scores

  • Remember the IELTS test is not a question of pass or fail. You receive an overall score which is the average of your 4 scores in each area of the test.
  • What makes a good IELTS score?

There's no one answer to that question. In a way, it's very simple. If a university asks you to get an average of 7.0 with no score less than 6.5 in any of the four areas and you do, then it's a "good" score. The same if for migration purposes, they ask you for an overall 5.0 or maybe 6.0 in General Training.

At the same time, you may work towards perfecting your English language proficiency and by doing so, obtain a score of 8.0 or higher. That may go beyond what is required of you but would certainly give you a great sense of personal achievement.

IELTS Indicator

An option available from March 2020 as a response to many test centres suspending IELTS exams because of Covid-19. IELTS Indicator is a mock Academic IELTS test to assess your likely IELTS score. You do it at home. Results are given after 7 days and can be used as give educational institutions useful and reliable information on your proficiency in English. The benefit for you is that it allows you to accurately measure your abilities. It will only be available in places where official IELTS exams are temporarily suspended.(https://www.ieltsindicator.com/)

Can IELTS be re-taken?

Yes. You can take it as many times as you wish. Of course, you have to pay for it each time! There are candidates that re-take the test because the first time around, they didn't get a high enough score in one or more area.

This happens of course but one way to reduce the chances of it happening is to prepare very well for the test and take it when you know you have a very strong chance of obtaining the score you need. Most candidates naturally prefer to seek professional help in order to achieve this.

IELTS Validity

IELTS is valid for 2 years from the date you take the test.

This means it may be necessary for you to eventually re-take the exam to obtain professional the assessment of your English language skills.

The cutoff date of two years is not arbitrary but based on the premise that we all need to continue using a language so as not so lose touch with it.

Note that continued practice using the English language either through studies or your chosen career, during the 2 years after taking the test, will be considered if further proof of proficiency is required.


In the case of those applying for Canadian residence, IELTS results remain valid for as long as the case is being considered even if that exceeds the 2 year time lapse.


Is it not valid now for 3 years?
Only in the case of Australian Skilled Migration applications. From July 2018, this was extended to 3 years.

Audio Tutorial

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