Common questions about the IELTS test, the application process and taking a test.
'What is IELTS?'
'The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is the worlds most popular English language proficiency test for higher education and global migration, with 3.5 million tests taken in the past year. For more information, please visit http://www.takeielts.org.'
'Which organisations accept IELTS?'
'IELTS is accepted by more than 10,000 organisations worldwide. These include universities, immigration departments, government agencies, professional bodies and multinational companies.'
'Who owns IELTS and who writes the test?'
'IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge Assessment English. International teams of writers contribute to IELTS test materials. Ongoing research ensures that IELTS remains fair and unbiased. Test writers from different English-speaking countries develop IELTS content so it reflects real-life situations.'
'Why are there two versions of the test?'
'There are two types of the IELTS test: IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training. The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education or professional registration in an English-speaking environment. It reflects some of the features of academic language and assesses whether you are ready to begin studying or training.The IELTS General Training test is for those who are going to English speaking countries for secondary education, work experience or training programs. It is also a requirement for migration to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.The test focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. Listening and Speaking are the same for both tests, but the subject matter of the Reading and Writing sections differs depending on which test you take.'
'Which test should I do'
'Please go to https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/take-ielts/what-ielts and read the description of the Academic and General Training tests. Individual organisations have different requirements. Make sure you check which IELTS test the organisation you are applying to recognises. Note that you must know which version to take when you complete the online application form.'
'What is the test format and how long will it take'
'The IELTS test has four sections Listening (30 minutes), Reading (60 minutes), Writing (60 minutes) and Speaking (11-14 minutes). The total test time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. you' ll take the first three parts of the test on the same day, in the following order: Listening, Reading and Writing (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or two days after , depending on local arrangements.'
'What help is available for test takers with visual, hearing, speaking or learning difficulties?'
'Our official IELTS test centres can help if you have visual, hearing, speaking or learning difficulties. If you need a modified version of IELTS, please give the test centre three months notice. If special arrangements (for example, extra time) need to be made then please give the test centre six weeks' notice. Your English language ability will be assessed objectively, regardless of any disability or special needs that you may have.'
'When can I take IELTS?'
'IELTS is available on 48 fixed dates a year up to four times a month, depending on local demand.'
'How much does IELTS cost?'
'IELTS has a set fee for its test. The Academic and General Training tests are the same cost. When you apply online, you will be told the fee.''
'What if I need to postpone or cancel my application?'
'If you postpone or cancel your application more than 5 weeks before the test date, you will receive a refund minus an administration charge. If you postpone or cancel within 5 weeks of the test date, you will be charged the full fee unless you have a medical reason. If you provide a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost.'
'What if I am absent or sick on the test day'
'If you are absent on the test day with no prior notice, you will lose your full fee. However, if you provide a medical certificate within 5 days of the test date, you will receive a refund minus the local administrative cost.'
'Is the IELTS test completed in one day'
'The Listening, Reading and Writing tests are always completed immediately after each other and with no break. The Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or two days after that, depending on local arrangements.'
'What can I bring into the test room?'
'Only pens, pencils and erasers. You must bring the passport/national identity card you used on the IELTS Application Form to the test. You must leave everything else outside the examination room. Mobile phones, pagers and electronic devices of any kind must be switched off and placed with personal belongings in the area designated by the supervisor. If you do not switch off your phone/pager or any other electronic devices, or keep it on you, you will be disqualified. Personal watches are not allowed in the test room.'
'Which part do I take first?'
'You will take the Listening test first, followed by the Reading and Writing tests (there are no breaks between these tests). Your Speaking test will be held either on the same day or seven days before or two days after that, depending on local arrangements.'
'What kinds of accents can be heard in the Listening and Speaking tests?'
'As IELTS is an international test, a variety of English accents are used in both of these tests.'
'Does the Listening tape provide instructions and pauses?'
'Yes. At the beginning, you hear instructions and a sample question. Then you read section 1 questions, listen to section 1 and answer the questions.'
'Is there a similar period of 10 minutes in the Reading test to transfer answer'
'No. The Reading test is one hour, and you must write all your answers on the answer sheet in this time.'
'Can I use a pen for the Listening and Reading tests?'
'No. You must do it in pencil. The answer sheet is scanned by a computer which cannot read pen.''
'Can I make notes on the Listening and Reading question papers?'
'Yes. The IELTS Examiner will not see your question paper.'
'What is the Speaking test?'
'The Speaking test is a conversation with a certified IELTS Examiner. The Speaking test is made up of three sections. It is recorded on an audio cassette or a digital recorder.'
'What do I need for the Speaking test?'
'You must bring the same identification documents you supplied on your IELTS Application Form and used for the rest of the test. Your ID will be checked before you enter the interview room. Personal items, including electronic devices and watches, are not allowed in the Speaking test room.'
'How are the tests marked'
''IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores in a consistent manner. You receive individual band scores for Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.'
'Who sets the pass mark for the IELTS test?'
'There is no pass or fail in IELTS. Scores are graded on the 9-band system. Each educational institution or organisation sets its own level of IELTS scores to meet its individual requirements'
'When will I receive my test results?'
'Your Test Report Form will be posted to you 13 days after your test date. Some test centres also provide SMS alerts and an Online Results Service. Keep your Test Report Form in a secure place as you only receive one copy.'
'What if I lose my Test Report Form?'
'Test Report Forms are valid for two years. Copies cannot be sent to test takers but IELTS will forward a Test Report Form to your relevant institution or embassy. Up to five copies will be sent free of charge. Additional copies will incur a small administration charge. Talk to your test centre for further details'
'How soon can I re-sit the test?'
'There is no limit on sitting the test. However, IELTS recommends you do additional study before taking the test again. Some test centres offer preparatory courses and language classes. You can also improve your skills by using the IELTS Official Practice Materials - ask for details.'
'What if I feel my test result is wrong?'
'If you would like to make an enquiry about your test results, you need to apply at the centre where you booked your test within six weeks of your test date. You can choose which sections of the test you want to have re-marked. There is a charge for an enquiry on IELTS test results, however this charge will be refunded if your score increases for any section of the test. Your result will normally be available in 2-21 days, depending on several factors including the number of sections requested for re-mark.'
'What if I am delayed by circumstances beyond my control?'
'The test centre may offer you a test on the next available test date.'